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History of Feminism




Admission Requirements

Introduction to Gender Studies or Transnational History are recommended, but not required.


What is feminism? Why does the very word so often evoke discomfort and controversy? This course will help us understand feminism’s history — both as a social movement and as a body of social thought. Beginning with the era of the French Revolution and extending to the present day, we will ask a number of interrelated questions:

  • What has accounted for the rise and development of feminist thought and action?

  • What have been feminism’s major preoccupations, challenges, and goals — and how have these changed over time and across space?

  • How have the processes of colonization, industrialization, democratization, and globalization shaped feminist movements around the world?

  • How has feminism intersected with different world religions?

  • And how have feminists been divided amongst themselves over questions of race, class, nationality, faith, or sexuality?

As we engage these questions, we will pay particular attention to the historically reciprocal relationship between feminism and other political and intellectual formations, including liberalism, nationalism, socialism, anti-racism, and gay liberation. In effect, the course offers a broad intellectual and social history of political thought and activism focused on gender relations and the connections between private and public life.

Course Objectives

By successfully completing this course, you will:

  • gain a broad familiarity with major themes in the history of feminism as a global phenomenon.

  • be able to explain how and why feminist movements have intersected with other social, political, and intellectual formations.

  • hone your skills in locating and interpreting primary and secondary source documents in the same archives that professional historians use.

  • improve your oral presentation skills.

  • devise and execute a well-argued research essay, while polishing your academic prose.


Course readings will be made available via Blackboard.

Contact Information

Dr. Ann Marie Wilson,