Gender in Early Modern Europe

History 103B.002

Spring 2014
Day & Time: 
Tu 12-2P

In Emile, his treatise on education, Jean Jacques Rousseau writes that "the education of women should always be relative to that of men.  To please, to be useful to us, to make us love and esteem them, to educate us when young, to take care of us when grown up, to advise, to console us, to render our lives easy and agreeable Even if she possessed real abilities, it would only debase her to display them."  Women should, in other words, be taught to confine themselves to the private sphere of home and family.  Did this ideal, though, ever reflect reality?  In this course, we will seek to answer this question by exploring how gender constructs impacted the lives of women and men in early modern Europe.  By reading a combination of primary and secondary source material, we will examine how gender ideals developed over time, with particular attention paid to how major historical events (i.e. the Reformation, Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, etc) did (or did not) affect these ideals.  Though there will be an emphasis on western European countries, I will endeavour to make the course as geographically broad as possible.