The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar at the MHS aims to host fresh conversations on the history of women, gender, and sexuality in America without chronological limitations. Most sessions will offer the opportunity to discuss new scholarship presented in pre-circulated essays. These sessions begin with remarks from the essayist and an assigned commentator, after which the discussion is opened to the floor. Other meetings will feature panel discussions and “state of the field” conversations.Each session is followed by a reception with light refreshments.

 

Attendance is free and open to everyone. Subscribers who remit $25 for the year will receive early online access to any pre-circulated materials. Subscriptions also underwrite the cost of the series. Pre-circulated materials will be available to non-subscribers who have RSVP’d for a session on the day prior to the program. Subscribe to this seminar series and you will receive access to the seminar papers for SIX series: the Boston Seminar on African American History, the Pauline Maier Early American History Seminary, the Boston Seminar on Environmental History, the Boston Seminar on the History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality, the Boston Seminar on Modern American Society and Culture, and our new Seminar on Digital History. We recognize that topics frequently resonate across these four fields; now, mix and match the seminars that you attend!

 

Join the mailing list today by emailing seminars@masshist.org.

 

Join us for an in-depth exploration of the latest scholarship.Subscribe
October 2020
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/wgs_banner.jpg History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar Queer Institutions – A Panel Discussion 8 October 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Marc Stein, San Francisco State University; Ashley Ruderman-Looff, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Comment: Aaron S. Lecklider, UMass Boston This panel discussion considers the queer histories of two modern institutions: colleges and prisons ...

This panel discussion considers the queer histories of two modern institutions: colleges and prisons. Marc Stein explores how activists at more than twenty colleges went to court in the 1970s to challenge their institutions’ refusal to recognize LGBT student groups. Stein’s paper analyzes these cases and situates the successful litigation at Virginia Commonwealth University in relation to contemporaneous Virginia rulings that upheld the criminalization of same-sex sodomy and the prosecution of an interracial threesome. Ashley Ruderman-Looff’s essay considers the Lavender Scare's impact on women's prison reform. Her essay tells the story of Dr. Miriam Van Waters, a superintendent of the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women who was dismissed from her post in 1949. This paper analyzes Van Waters’ subversive use of the Rorschach inkblot test, allowing her to eschew homosexual diagnosis and include queer women in the reformatory’s rehabilitative programs.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to come join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

 

More
December 2020
History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar “To Make Her Own Bargains with Boats:” Gender, Labor, and Freedom in the Western Steamboat World 8 December 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Alisha Hines, Wake Forest University Comment: Tiya Miles, Harvard University Free and enslaved Black women have been rendered nearly invisible in the historical andpopular ...

Free and enslaved Black women have been rendered nearly invisible in the historical and
popular imagination of the antebellum steamboat world. This essay examines how enslaved and free Black women negotiated power and place in this environment that was fraught with danger, but also brimming with opportunity. Hines argues that Black women who were unmoored from plantation landscapes by way of the western rivers trouble prevailing tropes of gendered mobility and immobility that pervade scholarship on slavery in the United States

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
January 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/WGS_Banner.jpg History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar High Brow, Low Brow: Phrenology, Fashion, and Female Activism in the Nineteenth Century 19 January 2021.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program. Rachel Walker, University of Hartford Sari Altschuler, Northeastern University Between the 1830s and 1860s, Americans began fighting over a curious topic: female foreheads. While ...

Between the 1830s and 1860s, Americans began fighting over a curious topic: female foreheads. While feminists and phrenologists saw “high brows” as an alluring sign of intelligence in women, gender conservatives viewed them as a troubling assault on patriarchal hierarchies. At first glance, the public battles over female foreheads might seem like frivolous exchanges over women’s appearances. In reality, they were not just political conflicts but also scientific debates about the capacities of the female brain.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
February 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/WGS_Banner.jpg History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar Boston Women on Drugs 16 February 2021.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM Trysh Travis, University of Florida Elizabeth Lunbeck, Harvard University In the mid-20th century, Boston emerged as a laboratory for “the modern alcoholism movement ...

In the mid-20th century, Boston emerged as a laboratory for “the modern alcoholism movement,” a campaign to replace penal responses to chronic drunkenness with medico-moral treatment focused on returning white men to their appropriate breadwinner roles. In the late 1970s, radical feminist and women of color community health activists in Boston and Cambridge critiqued this system. This paper examines their attempts to create a more equitable, responsive, and genuinely feminist approach to substance abuse, and assesses their strengths and shortcomings.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
April 2021
Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/WGS_Banner.jpg History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar Contesting Domesticity – a Panel Discussion 20 April 2021.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Authors: Kwelina Thompson, Cornell University; Shoniqua Roach, Brandeis University; Laura Puaca, Christopher Newport University Comment: Allison Horrocks, Lowell National Historical Park The domestic realm has long captivated feminist scholars who have sought to understand the lives of ...

The domestic realm has long captivated feminist scholars who have sought to understand the lives of women and the workings of gender. How have women experienced, challenged, leveraged, and shaped the domestic? This panel will consider these questions and discuss the domestic as a contested site of constraint and possibility. Shoniqua Roach theorizes the meanings of black domesticity as a deeply fraught space marked by anti-black sentiment and yet full of insurgent potential. Kwelina Thompson explores the history of the La Leche League – a Catholic mothers group that organized to support breastfeeding mothers in the mid-twentieth century. Finally, Laura Puaca tells the story of the expansion of post-WWII vocational rehabilitation programs to include disabled homemakers in the US.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

More
History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar Queer Institutions – A Panel Discussion 8 October 2020.Thursday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Marc Stein, San Francisco State University; Ashley Ruderman-Looff, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Comment: Aaron S. Lecklider, UMass Boston Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminar_2019-2020/wgs_banner.jpg

This panel discussion considers the queer histories of two modern institutions: colleges and prisons. Marc Stein explores how activists at more than twenty colleges went to court in the 1970s to challenge their institutions’ refusal to recognize LGBT student groups. Stein’s paper analyzes these cases and situates the successful litigation at Virginia Commonwealth University in relation to contemporaneous Virginia rulings that upheld the criminalization of same-sex sodomy and the prosecution of an interracial threesome. Ashley Ruderman-Looff’s essay considers the Lavender Scare's impact on women's prison reform. Her essay tells the story of Dr. Miriam Van Waters, a superintendent of the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women who was dismissed from her post in 1949. This paper analyzes Van Waters’ subversive use of the Rorschach inkblot test, allowing her to eschew homosexual diagnosis and include queer women in the reformatory’s rehabilitative programs.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to come join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

 

close

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar “To Make Her Own Bargains with Boats:” Gender, Labor, and Freedom in the Western Steamboat World 8 December 2020.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program Alisha Hines, Wake Forest University Comment: Tiya Miles, Harvard University

Free and enslaved Black women have been rendered nearly invisible in the historical and
popular imagination of the antebellum steamboat world. This essay examines how enslaved and free Black women negotiated power and place in this environment that was fraught with danger, but also brimming with opportunity. Hines argues that Black women who were unmoored from plantation landscapes by way of the western rivers trouble prevailing tropes of gendered mobility and immobility that pervade scholarship on slavery in the United States

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar High Brow, Low Brow: Phrenology, Fashion, and Female Activism in the Nineteenth Century 19 January 2021.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online program. Rachel Walker, University of Hartford Sari Altschuler, Northeastern University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/WGS_Banner.jpg

Between the 1830s and 1860s, Americans began fighting over a curious topic: female foreheads. While feminists and phrenologists saw “high brows” as an alluring sign of intelligence in women, gender conservatives viewed them as a troubling assault on patriarchal hierarchies. At first glance, the public battles over female foreheads might seem like frivolous exchanges over women’s appearances. In reality, they were not just political conflicts but also scientific debates about the capacities of the female brain.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar Boston Women on Drugs 16 February 2021.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM Trysh Travis, University of Florida Elizabeth Lunbeck, Harvard University Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/WGS_Banner.jpg

In the mid-20th century, Boston emerged as a laboratory for “the modern alcoholism movement,” a campaign to replace penal responses to chronic drunkenness with medico-moral treatment focused on returning white men to their appropriate breadwinner roles. In the late 1970s, radical feminist and women of color community health activists in Boston and Cambridge critiqued this system. This paper examines their attempts to create a more equitable, responsive, and genuinely feminist approach to substance abuse, and assesses their strengths and shortcomings.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar Contesting Domesticity – a Panel Discussion 20 April 2021.Tuesday, 5:15PM - 6:30PM This is an online event. Authors: Kwelina Thompson, Cornell University; Shoniqua Roach, Brandeis University; Laura Puaca, Christopher Newport University Comment: Allison Horrocks, Lowell National Historical Park Image entitled /2012/juniper/assets/section37/Seminars_2020-21/WGS_Banner.jpg

The domestic realm has long captivated feminist scholars who have sought to understand the lives of women and the workings of gender. How have women experienced, challenged, leveraged, and shaped the domestic? This panel will consider these questions and discuss the domestic as a contested site of constraint and possibility. Shoniqua Roach theorizes the meanings of black domesticity as a deeply fraught space marked by anti-black sentiment and yet full of insurgent potential. Kwelina Thompson explores the history of the La Leche League – a Catholic mothers group that organized to support breastfeeding mothers in the mid-twentieth century. Finally, Laura Puaca tells the story of the expansion of post-WWII vocational rehabilitation programs to include disabled homemakers in the US.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites you to join the conversation. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper. Learn more.

Please note, this is an online event held on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive an email with links to join the program.

close