Gender, Race, and the Construction of the American West, 1880 - 1945

Spring: Thursdays, 5:30 - 8:30 pm ~ February 1 - May 10, 2007

This course explores the historical experiences and cultural productions of women in the North American West during the time it was being explored, settled, and imagined. Challenging the myths of western expansion as an exclusively male endeavor, and the formation of western myth and enterprise as exclusively male domains, the course pays particular attention to the roles of women in promoting, resisting, transforming, and constructing the trans-Mississippi West as reality and imaginary.  
The North American West of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provides a fascinating case study of the shifting meanings of gender, race, citizenship, and power in border societies.   As the site of migration, settlement, and displacement, it spawned contests over land, labor disputes, inter-ethnic conflicts and peaceful relations, and many kinds of cultural productions.  


KAREN V. HANSEN is Professor of Sociology & Women's and Gender Studies at Brandeis University.   She teaches courses on feminist theory, historical methods, and families.   Her research on the upper Great Plains analyzes the relationships between Scandinavian immigrants and the Dakota people at the turn of the twentieth century.   She has published Not-So-Nuclear Families:   Class, Gender, and Networks of Care for Children and A Very Social Time:   Crafting Community in Antebellum New England , and co-edited two anthologies, Families in the U.S.:   Kinship and Domestic Politics and Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination .  

MARILYNN S. JOHNSON is Professor of History at Boston College where she teaches modern U.S. social history and the history of the American West.   She is the author of The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II and Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City . In 2002 she was co-curator of "Cowboys, Indians and the Big Picture," an exhibition of western art at the McMullen Museum at Boston College.   She is currently completing an edited collection entitled Violence in the American West: The Mining and Range Wars .

LOIS RUDNICK is Professor of English and American Studies, and director of the American Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she teaches courses on Immigration and Multi-Ethnic History and Literature, and on Modern American Literature and Culture. She has published widely on modern American culture, on the literature and arts of New Mexico, and on American Studies pedagogy. Her books include American Identities:   An Introductory Textbook ; Ma bel Dodge Luhan:   New Woman New Worlds ; Utopian Vistas:   The Mabel Dodge Luhan House and the American Counterculture , and 1915, the Cultural Moment:   the New Politics, the New Woman, the New Psychology, the New Art, and the New Theatre in America , edited with Adele Heller.

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Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14N-211
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: 617-324-2085