Gender and Sexuality in Twentieth-Century US History


Spring 2017
141 Giannini
Day & Time: 
TuTh 11-12:30
Class Number: 
  • This course satisfies the American Cultures Requirement.
  • This course introduces students to the history of gender and sexuality in twentieth-century United States. We will learn about the distinctive history of women and men from 1900 to the present, the transformation of gender relations and sex roles, and how gender and sexuality have shaped the lives of different groups of women and men in twentieth century America. While paying attention to broader historical trends, we will specifically focus on the intersection of gender, race, sexuality, and class and its consequences for the experiences of women and men.

    Topics include new womanhood; gender and the Jim Crow South; suffrage and citizenship; sexuality and birth control; eugenics; women's entry into the paid labor force and trade union activism; social welfare; the rise of consumer culture; changing medical and scientific conception of masculinity and femininity; the experiences of different groups of women and men during WWII; the civil rights movement; cold war heteronormativity; second wave feminism; the sexual revolution; the gay rights movement; the feminization of poverty; the women’s health movement, and post/transgender identity politics.

    Students will leave this class with a broadened view of the history of the United States. They will understand the importance of gender and sexuality and their interplay with race and class for changing the life experiences of women and men in the history of modern America. They will also understand how women and men have overcome major obstacles and succeeded in transforming gender relations and sexual norms in the twentieth century. In addition, students will learn how to critically analyze primary documents as well as secondary sources. As a result, they will be equipped with a historical perspective that enables them to critically examine contemporary struggles and debates on gender and sexuality.