Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship.

The Boston Seminar on the History of Women and Gender invites scholars and students to meet periodically and discuss new research. Sessions may consider any aspect of the history of women and gender without chronological limitations. A collaboration of the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America and the Massachusetts Historical Society, the seminar meets in turn at the facilities of the two sponsors.

Seminar meetings revolve around the discussion of a precirculated paper. Sessions open with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. After each session, the Society serves a light buffet supper.

October

History of Women and Gender Seminar Capitalism, Carceral Culture, and the Domestication of Working Women in the Early American City 8 October 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Schlesinger Library Jen Manion, Connecticut College Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut Ideas about race, gender, and sexuality were driving forces in the transformation of both ...

Ideas about race, gender, and sexuality were driving forces in the transformation of both manufacturing and punishment in the nascent years of industrial capitalism. Arrest and imprisonment was an occupational hazard for hucksters, sex workers, and tippling house operators, while the penitentiary imposed ideals of femininity defined by whiteness, domesticity, and submission on the poor working women behind its walls.

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December
History of Women and Gender Seminar A “fine looking body of women”: Woman Suffragists Develop Their Visual Campaign 10 December 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Allison Lange, Wentworth Institute Comment: Susan Ware, Schlesinger Library and American National Biography Suffragists coordinated a visual campaign to promote their cause and counter caricatures that ...

Suffragists coordinated a visual campaign to promote their cause and counter caricatures that depicted them as masculine. In the 1880s, they increased their efforts to establish a positive public image of their movement. Suffrage leaders—especially Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—began to change the way they represented themselves and fellow prominent figures. In the 1890s, as press committees took control of visual propaganda, suffragists honed their visual strategies to transform the imagery of political womanhood in the mainstream press.

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February
History of Women and Gender Seminar All Politics Are Reproductive Politics: Welfare, Immigration, Gay Marriage, Foreclosure 11 February 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Schlesinger Library Laura Briggs, University of Massachusetts—Amherst Comment: Suzanna Danuta Walters , Northeastern University The collision of  two forces—increasing unpaid care burdens, and ever more need for wage ...

The collision of  two forces—increasing unpaid care burdens, and ever more need for wage labor—have conspired over the past forty years to radically reconfigure both families and political common sense in particularly racialized ways. In this project, Briggs argues that this issue has driven nearly every other significant policy debate in the United States since the 1970s: not just abortion and daycare, but feminism in general, welfare, immigration, gay marriage, and IVF. Welfare reform was a “who cares for the children” fight; gay marriage cases have been decided in terms of “the children”; the majority of immigrants to the U.S. are women, disproportionately doing care work; and IVF is about the necessity of delaying childbearing into one’s 30s in the U.S., when fertility begins to be reduced. Furthermore, this is by no means a white middle-class or U.S. problem. While being out of the labor force may seem like a privilege particularly of white U.S. suburbanites in the 1950s, both the care crunch and the need to work longer and longer days for shrinking wages have disproportionately affected working-class people, people of color, and a growing segments of the Third World. The ways individuals, households, and communities grind up against these issues accounts for a great deal, including why race, gender, and reproduction have been such central issues in the U.S. and beyond since at least the 1970s.

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April
History of Women and Gender Seminar The Origins of “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”: Pan-American Feminism and the 1945 United Nation Charter 14 April 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM RSVP required Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Katherine Marino, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Comment: Kirsten Weld, Harvard University In June, 1945, at the conference in San Francisco that created the United Nations, a group of Latin ...

In June, 1945, at the conference in San Francisco that created the United Nations, a group of Latin American feminists pushed “women’s rights” into the category of international human rights in the founding documents of the UN and proposed what became the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The Brazilian delegate and feminist Bertha Lutz called their work a “Latin American contribution to the constitution of the world.” This paper examines what “women’s rights” and “human rights” meant to these Latin American activists and how a movement of transnational, Pan-American feminism shaped their ideas and activism. It argues that the notion that “women’s rights are human rights,” often assumed to be a product of U.S./Western European liberal democratic and feminist thought, was in fact forged through transnational collaboration in a context of fraught U.S./Latin American relations.

More
More events
History of Women and Gender Seminar Capitalism, Carceral Culture, and the Domestication of Working Women in the Early American City Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 8 October 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Location: Schlesinger Library Jen Manion, Connecticut College Comment: Cornelia Dayton, University of Connecticut

Ideas about race, gender, and sexuality were driving forces in the transformation of both manufacturing and punishment in the nascent years of industrial capitalism. Arrest and imprisonment was an occupational hazard for hucksters, sex workers, and tippling house operators, while the penitentiary imposed ideals of femininity defined by whiteness, domesticity, and submission on the poor working women behind its walls.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar A “fine looking body of women”: Woman Suffragists Develop Their Visual Campaign Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 10 December 2015.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Allison Lange, Wentworth Institute Comment: Susan Ware, Schlesinger Library and American National Biography

Suffragists coordinated a visual campaign to promote their cause and counter caricatures that depicted them as masculine. In the 1880s, they increased their efforts to establish a positive public image of their movement. Suffrage leaders—especially Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton—began to change the way they represented themselves and fellow prominent figures. In the 1890s, as press committees took control of visual propaganda, suffragists honed their visual strategies to transform the imagery of political womanhood in the mainstream press.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar All Politics Are Reproductive Politics: Welfare, Immigration, Gay Marriage, Foreclosure Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 11 February 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Location: Schlesinger Library Laura Briggs, University of Massachusetts—Amherst Comment: Suzanna Danuta Walters , Northeastern University

The collision of  two forces—increasing unpaid care burdens, and ever more need for wage labor—have conspired over the past forty years to radically reconfigure both families and political common sense in particularly racialized ways. In this project, Briggs argues that this issue has driven nearly every other significant policy debate in the United States since the 1970s: not just abortion and daycare, but feminism in general, welfare, immigration, gay marriage, and IVF. Welfare reform was a “who cares for the children” fight; gay marriage cases have been decided in terms of “the children”; the majority of immigrants to the U.S. are women, disproportionately doing care work; and IVF is about the necessity of delaying childbearing into one’s 30s in the U.S., when fertility begins to be reduced. Furthermore, this is by no means a white middle-class or U.S. problem. While being out of the labor force may seem like a privilege particularly of white U.S. suburbanites in the 1950s, both the care crunch and the need to work longer and longer days for shrinking wages have disproportionately affected working-class people, people of color, and a growing segments of the Third World. The ways individuals, households, and communities grind up against these issues accounts for a great deal, including why race, gender, and reproduction have been such central issues in the U.S. and beyond since at least the 1970s.

close
History of Women and Gender Seminar The Origins of “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”: Pan-American Feminism and the 1945 United Nation Charter Please RSVP  Seminars are free and open to the public; RSVP required. 14 April 2016.Thursday, 5:30PM - 7:30PM Location: Massachusetts Historical Society Katherine Marino, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Comment: Kirsten Weld, Harvard University

In June, 1945, at the conference in San Francisco that created the United Nations, a group of Latin American feminists pushed “women’s rights” into the category of international human rights in the founding documents of the UN and proposed what became the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The Brazilian delegate and feminist Bertha Lutz called their work a “Latin American contribution to the constitution of the world.” This paper examines what “women’s rights” and “human rights” meant to these Latin American activists and how a movement of transnational, Pan-American feminism shaped their ideas and activism. It argues that the notion that “women’s rights are human rights,” often assumed to be a product of U.S./Western European liberal democratic and feminist thought, was in fact forged through transnational collaboration in a context of fraught U.S./Latin American relations.

close

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