Topics in Women'S Hist

$SAME AS V97.0820

After GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton “such a nasty woman” in the third presidential debate, the internet meme factory lit up overnight. Trump, whatever his intentions, had evoked one of the oldest tropes in misogyny. Why is the notion of women’s nastiness so provocative and persistent? What kinds of women have been labeled nasty, bitchy, bossy, witchy, slutty, and so forth, and how have these claims varied in different times and places? What purpose(s) have claims about women’s nastiness served? In this course we examine how myths around disgust, shame, (dis)honor, dirtiness and nastiness have been used to designate women as inferior, justify violence against women and support women’s exclusion from, or subordination in public life, often while enhancing the power of specific groups of men. We also examine moments when the supposed nastiness of certain women has been used to bolster exclusion and violence based on race, class, ethnicity, sexuality and other traits. Finally, we consider how thinking of gender as a “performance”, or as “socially constructed”, or as something we can change about ourselves can challenge and enrich our understanding of gender and power, both historically and in the twenty-first century. We will consider a wide range of topics from many countries and time periods, from antiquity to the present day. However, case studies will primarily address the U.S. and Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, their imagined “Western” past in classical and biblical antiquity, and their encounters with outsiders or “others”. The main task of the course is to engage with the readings, many of which are intellectually demanding; we will work through them and the authors’ concepts together.

Topics vary from term to term.

Course Information



4 Points

Term Section Instructor Schedule Location

Summer 2017

Elizabeth Ann Banks
TR: 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM 194M 206
Joanna E Curtis
TR: 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM 194M 206