Department of History

History of Gender and Sexuality

During the past twenty years, the discipline of women's history has gained prominence.  Since the publication of Joan Scott’s “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis” in the Indiana University-based American Historical Review, women’s history has grown to reflect important new theoretical insights about discourses and practices of gender. Gender has indeed become a fundamental analytical category for historians working not only in women’s history as a distinct field, but also in the histories of labor, imperialism, sexuality, political culture, and cultural history broadly understood. Simply put, questions about men and women’s gender roles have become increasingly apparent, indeed central, to virtually all varieties of historians.

This significant development is reflected in the gender and sexuality field, whose breadth and topical diversity represent one of the great strengths of the History Department. This field consists of around 20 faculty (over 40% of the department) who work on gender and sexuality in terms of research and/or teaching. Their specializations span the early modern period to the present and cover Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Topically, they have focused on everything from political movements to citizenship, legal concepts and practices, war and memory, race and gender, medical practices, spirituality, immigration, empire, labor, and other vibrant themes in this field. The PhD field requirements emphasize the comparative aspects of gender and sexuality historical analysis, and aim to enable students to use gender analysis as a tool for interrogating the specific case study focus of their research. In addition, the gender and sexuality field works with colleagues in the Gender Studies Department to provide the multidisciplinary theoretical and methodological tools that have become important in this field. In addition, excellent library sources (both the main library and the special collections at the Lilly Library, as well as the Kinsey Institute offer rich and unique resources for historical research in virtually all of these themes.

Affiliated Faculty

Requirements and Guidelines

Students interested in minoring or majoring in this field are encouraged to take courses with an emphasis on gender and/or sexuality as a means of preparing for the Ph.D examinations. In addition, students should consider taking courses that would enable them to develop the comparative components of the Ph.D. examination. Overall, in choosing courses to take in preparing for the exam students are encouraged to consult with the chair of the gender and sexuality field, as well as gender and sexuality faculty with expertise in their geographic/temporal area of specialization.

For information on our Graduate program requirements and guidelines see the “Guide to Graduate Study in History”, “Graduate School Bulletin” and the “Ph.D. Qualifying Exam Guidelines”.