Fall 2017 HC 231H: Gender and Sexuality in the West to 1500

Fall Term, 2017-2018

Professor: Emily Gilkey

4 credits

  • CRN 12789: Tuesday & Thursday, 12:00 – 13:20 @ MAC 111

This course is a survey of civilization and culture to 1500 using the lens of gender to illuminate key historical themes. In addition to providing an overview of ancient history in the West, the class will also help students to think critically about how the story of the West has been told. In the past, women have been almost entirely absent from classic historical narratives. As a class we will work not only to place women back in the story, but also to develop tools for considering how gender informs every aspect of the human experience. We will unpack historical definitions of masculinity and femininity, considering the social, political and literary use that these distinctions served.

During the course, students will use gender as a category of analysis to consider several important themes. These include the rise of civilization, urban life in the ancient world and the nature of state power. We will also look at the place of religion in society, looking at how Greco-Roman polytheism and the spread of monotheism shaped both the wider cultural context and everyday life. In studying the Middle Ages, we will consider the evolving cultural and political role of the Catholic Church, as well as the ways in which Christianity influenced relationships between the sexes.