Now Available: A Perspectives on History Forum on Teaching Women’s History

We are pleased to make available, in the “ungated” section of Perspectives Online, a series of articles on women’s history in the classroom. In four short essays, these experienced teachers capture the amazing breadth, depth, and opportunities presented by this dynamic and centrally important study. Readers will gain a retrospective view while learning of new trends and questions being posed in both teaching and research. Follow the links below to the full articles.

Teaching Women’s History: Accuracy, Objectivity, and Critical Thinking
By Katherine Hijar
“Many undergraduates enter women’s history classes (even upper division ones) with little experience in thinking about women historically. Students often assume that their own experiences and observations represent the experiences of women in the past. Some insist that women’s social roles and behaviors are always biologically determined; others believe that feminism is destructive to the social order and that feminists past and present should be reviled and feared. Indeed, the image of the man-hating, militant feminist—a stand-by since the 19th century—persists with great vigor.” Read more…

Looking Back at the Longue Durée of Women’s History
By Mary Kelley
“Each of us has participated in what Gail Collins calls the ‘amazing journey’ women have taken over the last five decades. Those of us who have taught and been taught women’s history have documented this revolution. As individuals, we have been its witnesses, and as historians we have contributed to scholarship that has made women’s and more recently gender history one of our discipline’s prominent fields. With thousands of courses at colleges and universities throughout the nation, it is difficult to recall that once there were none.” Read more…

Teaching Chicana History
By Ana Elizabeth Rosas
“Using an accessible and humane continuum of sources lies at the heart of preparing students to reconceptualize the importance of Chicana history to their education. Crafting and facilitating introductory discussions of the emotions entangled in the Chicana experience has been imperative to teaching the gendered realities Chicanas have and continue to face across space and time. Focusing their attention on the relationships between a continuum of sources that capture the emotional contours of the Chicana experience, as well as their own coming of age, compels students to reflect on the continuity, intensity, and longevity of the emotional pressures they share with the Chicanas they study.” Read more…

Teaching the History of Women in the Middle East and North Africa
By Sara Scalenghe
“[H]ow, in this tense climate, can we present our students with honest, critical, and nuanced information about contentious topics such as veiling, Islamic family law, ‘honor’ killings, or female genital cutting … without reinforcing deeply ingrained stereotypes about Islam and the Middle East, and without at the same time assuming a defensive or apologetic position?” Read more…

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