History of Gender and Sexuality

HIST 23516  Problems in the Study of Gender and Sexuality: Medieval Masculinity  (J. Lyon)  This course will introduce students to concepts of masculinity in the Middle Ages, especially in the period between approximately 1000 and 1500 CE. Special attention will be paid to medieval notions of honor and to the roles that knighthood, chivalry, and monasticism played in promoting (often contradictory) masculine ideals. The course has two main goals. First, to assess and discuss recent scholarly debates and arguments about medieval masculinity. Second, to read closely a variety of medieval sources—including Arthurian literature, chronicles of the Crusades, biographical texts, and monastic histories—in order to develop new perspectives on masculinity during the Middle Ages.

HIST 24007  Chernobyl: Bodies and Nature After Disaster  (P. O'Donnell)  When reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station exploded, it quickly made headlines around the world. Swedes found radiation in their air, Germans in their milk, Greeks in their grain, and Britons in their sheep. Ukrainians and Belarusians found it in their rain, wind, water sources, homes, and in their children's thyroids. Americans worried about finding it in their bodies, especially in pregnant or fetal bodies. A lot of roads led to the Chernobyl disaster: the Soviet state system, to be sure, but also the Cold War arms race, a faith in scientific progress shared in East and West, and a global disregard for the natural world and the human body. This course will follow those roads to the climax of the explosion and then examine the many paths out of Chernobyl: the disaster's aftereffects on geopolitics, environmentalism, feminism, and body politics. We will draw on a recent outpouring of scholarly and popular works on Chernobyl, including books, podcasts, and television series. We will also read texts on feminism, environmentalism, and other nuclear disasters, Cold War histories, and fiction to provide context and sites for further inquiry.

HIST 28703  Baseball and American Culture, 1840–Present  (M. Briones)  This course examines the rise and fall of baseball as America's national pastime. We will trace the relationship between baseball and American society from the development of the game in the mid-nineteenth century to its enormous popularity in the first half of the twentieth century to its more recent problems and declining status in our culture. The focus will be on baseball as a professional sport, with more attention devoted to the early history of the game rather than to the recent era. Emphasis will be on using baseball as a historical lens through which we will analyze the development of American society and culture rather than on the celebration of individuals or teams. Crucial elements of racialization, ethnicity, class, gender, nationalism, and masculinity will be in play as we consider the Negro Leagues, women's leagues, the Latinization and globalization of the game, and more.

HIST 29422  Ancient Stones in Modern Hands  (A. Goff and S. Estrin)  Objects from classical antiquity that have survived into the modern era have enticed, inspired, and haunted those who encountered or possessed them. Collectors, in turn, have charged ancient objects with emotional, spiritual, and temporal power, enrolling them in all aspects of their lives, from questions of politics and religion to those of race and sexuality. This course explores intimate histories of private ownership of antiquities as they appear within literature, visual art, theater, aesthetics, and collecting practices. Focusing on the sensorial, material, and affective dimensions of collecting, we will survey histories of modern classicism that span from the eighteenth century to the present, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific. Historical sources will include the writings of Johann Gottfried Herder, Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Emma Hamilton, Vernon Lee, and Sigmund Freud, among others; secondary source scholarship will draw from the fields of gender studies, the history of race, art history, and the history of emotions. We will supplement our readings with occasional museum visits and film screenings. Assignments: Active participation in class, one secondary text analysis, one analysis of a controversy, and one proposal for a monument, museum, or school curriculum. Special Prerequisite: instructor consent required. Email both instructors describing your interest in the course, how it fits into your broader studies, and any relevant background (agoff@uchicago.edu & sestrin@uchicago.edu). This is a traveling seminar that includes a 4-day trip to visit California museum collections.

HIST 29803  Historiography  (P. O'Donnell)  The course provides a systematic introduction to historical methodology and approaches (e.g., political, intellectual, social, cultural, economic, gender, environmental history), as well as research techniques. Students will gain analytical, research, and writing tools that will assist them in their research colloquia and their BA theses. Historiography is required for all majors beginning with the class of 2021, but open to all students.