Gender, Race, & Sexuality

In recent years, the role of race, gender, and sexuality in the construction and marking of identity has become increasingly central to historical scholarship of every period and region. Courses in this thematic area examine the ways in which race (and/or ethnicity), gender, and sexuality have shaped social and political hierarchies and communal relations within and across specific societies and times.

At Stony Brook, faculty in American, European, Latin American, and Asian history conduct research and teach courses with a focus on race, gender, and sexuality, allowing many opportunities for comparison across cultures and times. Many graduate students who take coursework in this theme area also complete the Women’s and Gender Studies Certificate program while pursuing their doctorates.

Topics might include: technologies of reproduction, discourses of sexuality, the intersection of class, race and gender in social movements, inter-ethnic relations and representations, the sexual division of labor, and the family.

Women, Gender & Sexuality is one cluster in the History Department’s thematically-organized Research Program.

Gender, Race, Sexuality News

Conference Presentation: “Global People’s War, Global People’s Love”

I’ll be giving a presentation at this year’s James A. Barnes Club Graduate Student History Conference. My topic will be a summary of my research on the racial and sexual politics of the radical leftist organization Weatherman.

In the late 1960s, radical leftist activism was consumed by debate and strife over identity politics, leading to factional disputes and increasing extremism. In the eye of this political storm stood the arch-radical Weatherman faction of the Students for a Democratic Society. These white radicals considered themselves allies of the vanguard of a people’s war against global imperialism. This worldview set the pattern for all their ideas and actions. Weatherman believed that it had answers for all the varied social-structural riddles posed by every form of oppression and exploitation, or rather, the answer: identifying the struggle against capitalism in its imperialist mode as the central conflict for liberation, they explained all oppressions as descending from capitalism.

My research details the effects of Weatherman’s ruling ideology on its interactions with other radical left groups and its own internal organization. I argue that Weatherman undermined its own goals by ideologically simplifying the complexity of identity politics. Although they claimed to fight on the side of Black Nationalists and Third-World revolutionaries, their conception of the meaning of revolution made effective work with these groups impossible. Likewise, they claimed to support women’s liberation and sexual freedom, but the demands of their unquestioning commitment to violent revolutionary struggle subverted these aims. This subversion was manifest in “smash monogamy,” a sexual policy that both abetted male sexual privilege and constrained its members’ genuine sexual desires and relationships. By studying the ways in which Weatherman’s liberatory aims were undermined by its ideological orientation, my research sheds light on the inherent danger in espousing a sweeping ideal of social justice while subsuming all causes and issues into one all-encompassing theory of oppression.

The 18th Annual Barnes Club Graduate History Conference will be held Friday evening March 22, 2013 and Saturday March 23, 2013, from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM at Temple’s Center City Campus in downtown Philadelphia.

Graduate Core Seminar Recommended Readings, Part 4

Gender, Race, Sexuality

Brown, Wendy. States of Injury: Power and Freedom in Late Modernity. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1995.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1999.

Bynum, Caroline Walker. Fragmentation and Redemption: Essays on Gender and the Human Body in Medieval Religion. New York: Zone Books, 1992.

Chauncey, George. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books, 1994.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. Vintage Books ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1990.

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993.

Goldberg, David. The racial state. Malden Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 2002.

Hunt, Lynn Avery. The Family Romance of the French Revolution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Nirenberg, David. Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1996.

Sinha, Mrinalini. Specters of Mother India : the global restructuring of an Empire. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006.

Stoler, Ann Laura. Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things. Durham: Duke University Press, 1995.

History 532–History/Culture of Consumerism

This course will look at the history of “modern” consumption patterns with particular emphasis on gender identities.  We will look at changing conceptions of “producers” (traditionally represented as  male) and “consumers”(traditionally gendered as female) and explore the ideas (“rational consumption”), practices (shopping), and  institutions (department stores, advertising agencies) that intertwine to create local and national cultures of consumption.    We will also look at forms of resistance and critique, particularly those from feminist and environmental perspectives.   Readings will introduce students to the theoretical and interdisciplinary diversity of this field, along with interesting new examples of historical work on the topic.  Although readings will focus on the period 1880-1960, students interested in other time periods are very welcome.   In addition to a set of common readings, participants will have the chance to do in depth work on their own specific interests.  Course requirements are regular attendance, participation in class discussion, and a review essay and annotated bibliography on a topic of the student’s choosing.    Readings will include Kristin Hoganson, Consumers’ Imperium: The Global Production of American Domesticity, 1865-1920; Susan Strasser, Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash; Lisabeth Cohen, A Consumer’s Republic;  Brent Shannon, The Cut of His Coat: Men, Dress, and Consumer Culture in Britain, 1860 –1914, and Sherman Cochran, Chinese Medicine Men: Consumer Culture in China and Southeast Asia.

History 532: Theme Seminar on Gender, Religion and Modernity

This is one of the theme seminars in the Doctoral program of the Department of History.  It is open to all doctoral students and MA students in the History program.  All others, including MAT students, must have the instructor’s permission to enroll.

The readings will include a mixture of thematic, theoretical and geographically focused texts.  Most of our readings will derive from European history and from the Christian experience, modern and early modern, but there will be several readings that focus on East Asia, North America, Latin America, Russia (my area of specialization), Islam and Judaism.  Students from all of the department’s fields of concentration are welcome to enroll.

Each week will have a body of common readings that will form the basis of our discussion.  In addition, each student will select one week’s theme and develop a bibliography of supplementary readings that connect that theme to the student’s area(s) of interest.  That bibliography will form the basis of a historiographic or bibliographic essay (approximately 15-20 pp.) that each of you will write, due on the final class meeting.  You are encouraged to work with your advisor in developing the bibliography.

There will be at least two other-and much shorter-writing assignments, in which you will be asked to apply some of the ideas raised in the readings to brief documents that I will distribute in class.

BOOKS:

Natalie Davis, WOMEN ON THE MARGINS

Marilyn Westerkamp, WOMEN AND RELIGION IN EARLY AMERICA

Miriam Peskowitz, SPINNING FANTASIES: RABBIS, GENDER, AND HISTORY

Calum G. Brown, THE DEATH OF CHRISTIAN ENGLAND

Irene Silverblatt, MOON, SUN, AND WITCHES: GENDER IDEOLOGIES AND CLASS IN INCA AND COLONIAL PERU

Carolyn Bynum, FRAGMENTATION AND REDEMPTION; ESSAYS ON GENDER AND THE HUMAN BODY IN MEDIEVAL RELIGION

History 532 — Gender, Religion and Modernity

This is one of the theme seminars in the Doctoral program of the Department of History.  It is open to all doctoral students and MA students in the History program.  All others, including MAT students, must have the instructor’s permission to enroll.

The readings will include a mixture of thematic, theoretical and geographically focused texts.  Most of our readings will derive from European history and from the Christian experience, modern and early modern, but there will be several readings that focus on East Asia, North America, Latin America, Russia (my area of specialization), Islam and Judaism.  Students from all of the department’s fields of concentration are welcome to enroll.

Each week will have a body of common readings that will form the basis of our discussion.  In addition, each student will select one week’s theme and develop a bibliography of supplementary readings that connect that theme to the student’s area(s) of interest.  That bibliography will form the basis of a historiographic or bibliographic essay (approximately 15-20 pp.) that each of you will write, due on the final class meeting.  You are encouraged to work with your advisor in developing the bibliography.

There will be at least two other-and much shorter-writing assignments, in which you will be asked to apply some of the ideas raised in the readings to brief documents that I will distribute in class.

BOOKS:

Natalie Davis, WOMEN ON THE MARGINS

Marilyn Westerkamp, WOMEN AND RELIGION IN EARLY AMERICA

Miriam Peskowitz, SPINNING FANTASIES: RABBIS, GENDER, AND HISTORY

Calum G. Brown, THE DEATH OF CHRISTIAN ENGLAND

Irene Silverblatt, MOON, SUN, AND WITCHES: GENDER IDEOLOGIES AND CLASS IN INCA AND COLONIAL PERU

Carolyn Bynum, FRAGMENTATION AND REDEMPTION; ESSAYS ON GENDER AND THE HUMAN BODY IN MEDIEVAL RELIGION