Smith USask History 384 Course Syllabus

History 384.3: Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe (Autumn 2012)

Instructor:       Dr. Lisa Smith               Seminars:         Monday 1330-1620

E-mail:          Room:                Arts 207

Twitter:           @historybeagle                 Office Hours:  M 1130-1230, W 1030-1130

Hashtag:          #hist384                                                          Or by appointment

Telephone:      966-2583                           Office:               Arts 821

Course Description

This course investigates gender in Europe from c. 1500 to 1800. We will focus on families and the household as fundamental to the understanding and experience of gendered roles.  We will explore the themes of how sex and gender were defined, how ‘sexed’ bodies were experienced, and the ways that gender relations were negotiated. This course is designed to broaden your understanding of early modern European history, women’s and gender history, and historiography.

For the building-block assignment over the course of the term, we will be undertaking an exciting hands-on collaborative project: an online transcription and online analysis of Johanna St. John’s seventeenth-century household book. Don’t worry if you think the techie side of things sounds complicated—as long as you know how to send an email, you will be fine!* We will spend time learning technical skills, as well as talking about history. The course will develop your oral, writing, analytical, collaborative and technology skills. As such, the final grade of the course is based on your seminar participation, transcription, and research essay.

*If you don’t have regular access to the internet or a home computer, please come speak with me as some accommodations can be made.


If you have not previously taken any early modern history, please consult a general history text on the period.  I can recommend more detailed books, but the one commonly used at the university for History 121.3 would be adequate for general knowledge.

  • Kagan, D., Ozment, S., Turner, F. The Western Heritage (any year/edition).
  • Oxford English Dictionary Online – extremely useful for defining words you don’t understand (modern and early modern).

A list of readings related specifically to the recipe book project will be posted online. Please note that you are expected to read all of them in addition to the ones listed below. We may not discuss those ones in class, but they are directly connected to your ability to understand the recipe book you will be transcribing and to participate in blogging.

Woodcut of kitchen from Kuchenmeisterey Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
Woodcut of kitchen from Kuchenmeisterey
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

Course Breakdown

Seminar Participation               30%

Transcriptions (up to 16 pp.)   20%

Tags                                               7.5%

Proofreading (up to 16 pp.)      7.5%

Blog Post                                       10%

Blog Participation                       5%

Argument Assignment               20% (Dec. 12)

Seminar Participation

You will be expected to read the assigned readings for the seminar discussion. It is necessary for each of us to do all the readings in order to make the seminar function well. Moreover, a broad base of knowledge will be invaluable while working on your transcription and assignments. If you are having trouble getting a reading, contact me as soon as possible, as I may be able to offer a solution.  If you cannot attend class, ensure that you complete the readings and ask your classmates for details of the discussion.

You will be graded on your participation in each seminar: regular tardiness, more than one absence, and irregular contribution in class will affect your grade.  The weekly grades will be assessed out of ten points and will take into consideration the following: how well have you understood the readings? How much do you contribute to the discussions?  Have you thoughtfully questioned the readings?  Are your contributions insightful?  Do you effectively fit your discussion within the context of the weekly topic and readings, as well as the course as a whole?  How well are you able to apply your readings of the secondary sources to interpreting primary sources?

Please make an appointment with me in early to mid-October to discuss your participation grade.

Blog Post and Participation, Argument Assignment, and Transcriptions

Details of the assignments and grading scales can be found on Blackboard.

Submission of Assignments

All assignments are to be submitted electronically. If I cannot access or open attached documents, your assignment will be not be considered submitted until the problem has been fixed. When submitting by email, please make sure that you send it from your university account with the following subject “Hist 384 [Assignment Name]”. This is important to ensure that it is easy for me to locate and to prevent it from going into a spam folder.

Late Policy

Owing to the collaborative nature of blogging and proof-reading, no extensions can be given. Assignments are due electronically by 11:59 p.m. on the due date.  Only in the most extraordinary circumstances will arrangements for a late assignment be considered; even then, the online nature means you can submit your assignment or part of your assignment from a distance, assuming that you have been organized. For the argument assignments and transcriptions, extensions of up to a week may be given provided that you ask 24 hours in advance of the due date. Only one extension for the entire term will be granted.

Any assignments received late will lose 5% for each late day. I will not accept any assignment two weeks past the deadline.

Technology failure is not a good excuse for late submission. Computers get viruses, servers go down, files corrupt… etc.  They are part of the process and you need to manage your time in order to protect yourself. Make sure you learn how the course technology works. Back up your research notes and assignment files (eg. save them in your PAWS file space and keep copies on an external hard drive or a thumb drive). You should also make sure that you have saved or printed copies of online readings in advance. Avoid leaving file transfers until the last moment. Keep copies of emails.

E-mail Policy

I check my email regularly, though not outside of regular business hours (Monday to Friday, 8:30-5:30), and will normally reply to students within 48 hours (two business days). For very quick questions—or further discussion outside class—you can also find me on Twitter.  If I have not replied to an email within three business days, please do send another email in case the first went astray. I do, however, make a point of replying quickly to emails during my office hours if I am not with another student. If you really need to reach me urgently, as in the case of an emergency, please specify ‘emergency’ in the subject line: but this should only be used in a dire situation, not for issues such as a last minute query the night before your paper is due.

Before emailing, consider first whether an email is the best option. If you have several questions or require a lengthy answer, you should see me in person. When you do email, please use your university account (no ‘’), provide a specific subject in the subject line, offer a salutation (not just “hey”) and identify yourself (course, tutorial group and full name).  If you don’t provide sufficient information, I won’t be able to help you as quickly—and if you email from a non-university account, it might end up in my spam folder.


Civility is always important in a classroom setting. This means: arriving on time, listening to people in class, not eating noisy or smelly foods, turning off your cell phone ringer, avoiding behaviours that distract other learners (such as surfing the internet or whispering), and speaking politely.  The classroom should be a place to learn and a comfortable environment for discussion. Civility is also important in an online environment: writing in formal English (check your spelling and use capitalization and punctuation), ensuring that your tone and intention is clear, avoiding ‘flaming’ others or writing in upper case, acknowledging others’ assistance or replies to you, and participating in the discussion in a timely fashion. The classroom (including its related activities—e-mail, telephone, office hours or online activities) is a professional environment.

It is important that students read and understand the University’s regulations governing academic misconduct, which apply to all University courses. Plagiarism is one of 23 examples of misconduct that are outlined in these regulations. Because it concerns the use of sources in the production of one’s own work (term essays, prepared in-class essays, take-home exams, book reviews, historiographic overviews, artistic or historical reproductions, and any other written requirements), a clear understanding of plagiarism is particularly important in History and CMRS courses, where such work often constitutes an important component of the course. Accordingly, every student must understand the distinction between plagiarism and the legitimate use of external sources.

As stated in the University’s regulations:

“Plagiarism is the presentation of the work or idea of another in such a way as to give others the impression that it is the work or idea of the presenter.

     Adequate attribution is required. What is essential is that another person have no doubt which words or research results are the student’s and which are drawn from other sources.  Full explicit acknowledgement of the source of the material is required.

         Examples of Plagiarism are:

(i)                   The use of material received or purchased from another person or prepared by any person other than the individual claiming to be the author. 

(ii)                 The verbatim use of oral or written material without adequate attribution.

(iii)                The paraphrasing of oral or written material of other persons without adequate attribution.”

It is also unethical to submit the same essay to two different classes, unless you have made a special arrangement with the instructors of both classes

If your instructor believes that plagiarism or any other type of academic misconduct has occurred, s/he will follow the University regulations governing these matters, which are available at:

Topics and Readings

September 10, Introduction

Seminar: Introductions and Course housekeeping

Lecture:  1) The Recipes Project

2) What are household books and why do they relate to gender?

In-class assignment: Paleography

September 17, Historiography *Practice transcription due*

Lecture:  What is Women’s History? Gender History?

Seminar: Gender History: Some Debates from Gender and History 20, 3 (2008)

Shepard, S. and G. Walker, “Gender, Change and Periodisation”, 453-462.

Wiesner-Hanks, M.E. “Do Women Need the Renaissance?”, 539-557.

Boydston, J. “Gender as a Question of Historical Analysis”, 558-583.

September 24, Sexed Bodies                          

Lecture:  Sex and Gender

Seminar: The Anatomy of Sex: A Debate from Isis 94, 2 (2003)

Stolberg, M. “A Woman Down to Her Bones: The Anatomy of Sexual Difference in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries”, 274-299.

Laqueur, T. “Sex in the Flesh”, 300-306.

Schiebinger, L. “Skelettestreit”, 307-313.

October 1, Rumours and Reputations

Lecture:  Sexual Reputations

Seminar: Honour

Behrend-Martinez, E. “Manhood and the Neutered Body in Early Modern Spain”, Journal of Social History 38, 4 (2005): 1073-1093.

Gowing, L. Common Bodies: Women, Touch and Power in Seventeenth-Century England, ch. 2 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003).

Hindle, S. “The Shaming of Margaret Knowsley: Gossip, Gender and the Experience of Authority in Early Modern England”, Continuity and Change 9, 3 (1994): 391-419.

October 15, Manliness

Lecture:  Masculinities

Seminar: Defining Manhood

Clark, A. “The Chevalier d’Eon and Wilkes: Masculinity and Politics in the Eighteenth Century”, Eighteenth Century Studies 32, 1 (1998), 19-48.

Wiesner, M.E. “Wandervogels and Women: Journeymen’s Concepts of Masculinity in Early Modern Germany,” Journal of Social History 24, 4 (1991): 767-782 or in her Gender, Church and State in Early Modern Germany.

McClive, C. “Masculinity on Trial: Penises, Hermaphrodites and the Uncertain Male Body in Early Modern France”, History Workshop Journal 68, 1 (2009): 45-68.

*Initial transcriptions due October 17*

October 22, Marriage

Lecture:  Generation

Seminar: Marriage

Amussen, S. An Ordered Society: Gender and Class in Early Modern England (Oxford, 1988), ch. 2.

Hanley, S. “Engendering the State: Family Formation and State Building in Early Modern France”, French Historical Studies, 16 (1989): 4-27.

 October 29                   Class cancelled!

 November 5, Managing the Household *Transcription due*

Lecture: Family Hierarchies and Legal Status

Seminar: Marital Economies

Erikson, A. “The Marital Economy in Comparative Perspective”, ch. 1 in M. Ågren and A. Erickson, eds., The Marital Economy in Scandinavia and Britain 1400-1900 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005).

Vickery, A. Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England, ch. 7 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

November 12               No class!

November 19, The Household and the Community

Lecture:  The Household and the Community

Seminar: Patronage

Chapman, S. “Patronage as Family Economy: The Role of Women in the Patron-Client Network of the Phélypeaux de Pontcharain Family, 1670-1715”, French Historical Studies 24, 1 (2001): 11-35.

Harris, B. “Women and Politics in Early Tudor England”, The Historical Journal 33, 2 (1990): 259-281.

*Proofreading due November 21*

November 26, Motherhood

Lecture:  The Good Mother

Seminar: The Anti-Mother

Rizzo, T. “Between Dishonour and Death: Infanticides in the Cause Celebres of Eighteenth-Century France”, Women’s History Review 13, 1 (2004): 5-19.

Roper, R. Witch Craze: Terror and Fantasy in Baroque Germany, ch. 6-7 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).

December 3, Beyond the Household           

Lecture: Women’s Work

Seminar: The Mind Has No Sex? And Course Conclusions!

Schiebinger, L. The Mind Has No Sex: Women in the Origins of Modern Science , ch. 3 (Boston: Harvard University Press, 1991).

Findlen, P. “Science as a Career in Enlightenment Italy: The Career Strategies of Laura Bassi”, Isis 84, 3 (1993): 441-469.

*Term Assignments due December 5*

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