Our focus area on Women, Gender, and Family history employs a wide range of departmental
historians whose specializations vary across geographical and chronological divisions.
As a group, we are particularly interested in understanding women’s lives in the past,
as well as the many ways that gender shapes both individual experience and larger
social institutions and ideals. Towards those ends, we conceptualize family relationships,
reproduction, sexuality, and gender relations as intertwined. We also view these factors
as crucial to understanding broad questions about race, labor, politics, religion,
and health across time and place. This focus area includes a number of faculty members
who work on the United States, as well as those who concentrate on the Ancient World,
Latin America, Medieval Europe, and the Modern Middle East. We also build on the University’s
strength in women and gender studies, including the Center for Research on Women,
the Women's and Gender Studies Program, and a number of other departments and colleges
Our faculty members’ scholarship and teaching interests expose students to a variety
of approaches to the study of women, gender, and family in an array of historical
contexts. We have a particular strength in this focus area among our American historians.
For instance, Dr. Beverly Bond’s research and teaching interests center on the lives
of African American women, with an emphasis on the social, political, and economic
activities of African American women in the nineteenth century urban upper (trans-Appalachian)
South. Dr. Susan O’Donovan’s research analyzes the gendered dimensions of work in
slavery and freedom, an inquiry that has led her to reconsider black politics in the
age of emancipation and, more recently, the multi-valanced politics of slaves. Dr.
Margaret Caffrey is a women’s and gender historian whose research has dealt with questions
of gender in everyday life. She has also considered the lives of American women, particularly
those who were predominantly lesbian or bisexual. Dr. Sarah Potter’s work on family
and sexuality history in the twentieth-century United States highlights the political
dimensions of the family across race and class.
The Women, Gender, and Family focus area also has a strong and important global dimension.
For example, Dr. Guiomar Dueñas-Vargas’s research on Latin American women’s history
focuses primarily on nineteenth-century Colombia. In her research and teaching, she
examines themes such as women and the family, children in colonial times, and gender
and the nation. Likewise, Egyptologist Dr. Suzanne Onstine is especially interested
in investigating the lives of women, and in particular the ways in which women's lives
intersected with religion, class, and ethnicity. Beverly Tsacoyianis works on the
Modern Middle East, with research and teaching interests in gender, health, and colonialism
in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt. Dr. James Blythe
writes about the complex ideas of gender and family in medieval scholastic texts and
teaches a course about medieval and Renaissance women and gender.
This focus area is rounded out with a number of full-time instructors whose research
and teaching revolves around questions of women, gender, and family. Dr. Chrystal
Goudsouzian’s main areas of interest are family and private life in the ancient world.
Within her field of Egyptology, she studies the ways in which myth and religious beliefs
and practices both reflected and shaped ancient Egyptian conceptions of sexuality,
gender, and the body. Dr. Christine Eisel’s teaching and research interests center
on women in colonial British North America, with a particular focus on the ways women
both resisted and supported masculine authority associated with formal institutions.
Dr. Colin Chapell’s research examines the relationships between Protestant theology
and gender construction in the American south, while his classes emphasize the importance
of gender ideologies in American history. Dr. Michele Coffey considers racialized
constructions of gender and gendered rhetoric as political tools utilized by diverse
populations of southerners in efforts to mobilize in the 20th century.