A woman’s work is never done, part II: and even when it is, it’s not on the syllabus.

annetaintorpantsWARNING:  Inflammatory post ahead.  This is a follow-up post to yesterday’s post, A woman’s work is never done, part I:  the daily churn.

My return to blogging yesterday was inspired by a recent conversation over winter break with a former student of mine who’s now enrolled in an impressive Ph.D. program.  She was telling me all about the interesting syllabus she read through for a readings course in early American history, a version of which she took eight years ago as a master’s student with me at Baa Ram U.  As she was telling me about the books she read and her opinions about them–it was an interesting list and she had worthwhile and frequently spiky opinions–I was gripped by a horrible dread.  I hadn’t heard her mention any books that featured women or gender as either subjects or authors.  So I asked:

“Did you read any books about women’s and gender history, or the history of sexuality?”

“No,” she said, “and come to think of it, I don’t think we read many books by women, either.”

thisisfinedog

A popular meme I’m repurposing here.

Seriously, friends?  Why are feminist scholars (of whatever sex) still having to ask this question, why are we the ONLY ONES asking it, and why aren’t all of us more outraged about the continuing, ongoing, perpetual exclusion of women as historical actors and writers?  Why do we put up with the disparity in assignments and citation rates for men’s vs. women’s scholarship?  It’s time for us to get personal.  It’s time to get up in people’s grills about this.  It’s time to take names and kick some a$$.  We can’t just sit around and pretend like the exclusion of women from the historical profession described by Bonnie Smith in The Gender of History is going to change anytime soon, when this kind of syllabus gets written every semester in every history department.

I’m betting that few North American historians feel comfortable any longer in writing syllabi that exclude people of color as subjects or even as authors.  Race is a critical category of analysis in my classes, and I try every semester in every class to assign at least one book by a nonwhite scholar, or at least some articles.  The claim that “women weren’t important in what I study” is an ideologically motivated fiction.  If you believe women are human, you look for them in what you study, teach, and write.  If you don’t, then you don’t believe women are human, full stop.

Why were enough (but not a majority!) of Americans skeptical enough of Hillary Clinton’s claims to presidential power to hand the presidency over to the Human Stain?  Do you think it has anything at all to do with the fact that the United States specifically excluded women as citizens and politicians for 150 years?  OF COURSE IT DOES.  Historians who don’t question the assumptions that “women weren’t there,” “women didn’t do anything notable,” and “women don’t write on this topic” aren’t very good historians, not to mentioned crabbed, unimaginative, and generally thoughtless people.

Don’t give me any crap about “I’m not just going to look for tokens to include on my syllabus when I don’t think their contributions/scholarship merit it/fit with my course design/etc.,” or “I don’t just assign what might be hot, or fashionable, or sexy, or politically correct.”  You don’t assign it because you don’t think women are important.

So why don’t I just name a name here and call out this dude for his shockingly biased syllabus?  I wish I could, but I’m sure many of you will appreciate that I also have a strong interest in protecting my former student’s privacy and anonymity.  She doesn’t want me to declare war on her behalf; she wants to engage her proffie and learn what she can from him, and the truth is that this problem is so widespread that we all need to examine ourselves.  Also, it’s really unfair to put the burden of this on the backs of our students, when there are tenured scholars like me who can kick up a fuss.

Short of infringing on other scholars’ intellectual liberties, what can we do about this persistent problem?  The answer, friends, is the oldest tool in our kit, peer review.  Let’s peer review the $hit out of each other:

  • Talk about this issue openly and frequently–in person as well as on the internets!  Bring it up with colleagues.  Say you’ve noticed that women’s work doesn’t get assigned as frequently as men’s work, and ask your colleagues how they make decisions about the books and articles they assign in class.
  • Review our own syllabi to make sure we’re being sufficiently attentive ourselves to this issue.  I also ensure that nonwhite scholars have their voices on every one of my syllabi too, but we can’t do this unless we ask these questions every semester, for every class.
  • Promote women’s scholarship in your peer review work.  Don’t give articles, book manuscripts, conference papers, books submitted to prize committees, or fellowship and job applicants a pass if they’re not citing a sufficient variety of scholars.  Make that the hill you want to die on in terms of academic rewards and emoluments.  Here’s an example in my field I’ve seen time and time again:  everyone loves to cite William Cronon’s Changes in the Land:  Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (1983) in their environmental history and early New England history articles, but few also cite Carolyn Merchant’s important contemporary, Ecological Revolutions:  Nature, Gender, and Science in New England (1989) unless they’re also historians of women and gender.  Now why is that?  Is it because Merchant’s book was bad or derivative of Cronon?  Is it because it only addressed issues pertinent to women’s history?  No–in fact, like Cronon’s book, it also has been released in a second edition!  (It’s also, TBH, a much more intellectually complex and longer book than Changes in the Land.)  So why the systemic diss., unless some boys are afraid to have our menstrual blood smeared all over them after they pick up our books.  Ensuring that you haven’t missed important titles in your research is called scholarship.  Some of you need to work harder at it.
  • Let’s consider adding citation equity to the American Historical Association’s Gender Equity in the Academic Workplace document.  Why not?  Isn’t actually reading and engaging women’s scholarship an important aspect of gender equity in the academic workplace?  This document focuses narrowly on office culture and evaluation processes.  While it’s good to make sure that job and tenure applicants are evaluated fairly and that no one is sexually harassed, that’s a pretty low bar!  Since the production of scholarship is what makes Ph.D.-holding historians different from other historians and is the primary qualification for getting and keeping university and college-teaching jobs, it seems imperative that the profession address this inequity as well.

Other ideas for what we can do?  Please drop them in the comments below.  I’m done with being polite.

(Keep your browser pointed here this weekend–I’ll be offering some #protips for surviving and thriving at the American Historical Association’s annual conference in Denver next week, #AHA17!)

50 thoughts on “A woman’s work is never done, part II: and even when it is, it’s not on the syllabus.

  1. Pingback: A woman’s work is never done, part I: the daily churn. | Historiann

  2. If this is inflammatory, then this is a fire that needs to be started. Pour on the lighter fluid! I don’t teach, and I’m not affiliated with a college or university, but I would think you’d almost have to try very hard not to include works on women or gender or by women in assigning reading on early American history. I just don’t know how one would even do it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • One detail I left out: the student reported that of the two books by women, the proffie said he’d never assign one of them again! (It only won a Pulitzer Prize. Just sayin’.)

      But Gordon Wood’s Creation of the American Republic (1967) was on the list, and staying there I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You have all sorts of reasons to be annoyed by this, but not the Pulitzer thing. In my field within the last few years a book won the Pulitzer Prize that literally was not one of the ten best books in its subfield that year. It was a book by (white) journalists about how awesome (white) journalists were when it came to civil rights. The Pulitzer Prize does not obligate a professor to keep a Pulitzer Prize winning book in his/her syllabus in perpetuity. I get that you’re annoyed, but I’d suspect that you know this if you took a step back. I’d go so far as to say that in the time that I’ve been on this crazy roller coaster ride the Pulitzer Prize winning book in history has rarely been one of the five best actual books in history — and I’m also talking about the quality of writing, and not just territorial pissings about scholarship. (And of course Wood is a Pulitzer winner.)

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      • You’re right that prizes, even (or especially) the big ones, don’t always reward “the best,” but I use that as an example of the high bar women’s scholarship had to meet or exceed to get on this list.

        But seriously: telling me to “take a step back?” That takes gall.

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  3. I agree with your rant. That’s why I devoted three chapters (1/4 of my book) to gender and marriage history. It simply wasn’t being covered, and when it was, it generally wasn’t covered well. I hope that’s changed.

    I don’t think a bureaucratic solution is the answer, though. I think that leading by example, which you are, will have a greater effect. That is what I tried to do. And look at me now. People everywhere are discussing cross-cultural Victorian scientific marriages. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not in the business of commanding that people teach this or that syllabus–they’re the subject experts. But I sure can “peer review” their syllabi and ask questions about their choices!

      Like

  4. I set it as a goal to have my course readings at gender parity and it’s usually really easy. That’s because there are so many great historians publishing these days who happen to be women. Great political historians! Great religious historians! Great cultural historians! Great military historians. Simply great historians, writing important and exciting history.

    The toughest challenge in these days of budgetary cuts is making sure that our library collection reflects this. Our entire institutional book-buying budget this year is what our history department had as a budget ten years ago. Sheesh! So I end up donating some important books that I know they won’t be able to buy, in order to see our collection grow properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Janice, I hadn’t even thought about parity in the library. I need to check this out! (But truth be told, when I order books they tend to be by the ladies, about the ladies, and/or queer scholarship.)

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  5. As a non-academic I read, hear and agree (as a woman, experience) that the gender bias exists. Please start giving us (others that read these that are not academics) lists of books to read, book / article reviews, women authors / researchers names etc. I know it sounds ridiculous but keeping them anonymous to the general public keeps them, well, anonymous. Flood the media with them. I read the blogs about the problem but they rarely seem to end with suggested readings of women’s material.

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    • That’s a great idea for a near-future post, Janeal–I should bleg the question to my wider audience but also offer some suggestions for rigorous scholarship that’s also a delight to read. It exists–and when I write about a book on my blog at length (recent examples like Nick Syrett’s American Child Bride and Theresa Kaminski’s Angels of the Underground), I always choose books that are well-written and accessible to educated non-specialists.

      Thanks for the tip, and please comment here again!

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  6. Thanks for posting this, greatly appreciated as an inspiration to keep writing on this topic in the new year. Throughout 2016 and heading into 2017, I’ve embarked on a related public history project featuring the lives of early American women intellectuals (with plentiful bibliographies and free, hyperlinked resources) over at the Society for U.S. Intellectual History blog. All ideas & suggestions welcome!
    More: http://s-usih.org/category/a-womans-work

    Like

    • Sarah, thanks for dropping this link. I’ve left a comment over there suggesting a few more of Rosemarie Zagarri’s works. Caroline Winterer’s stuff has been overlooked generally in the profession–forgot to check if her second book was on your list, but I’d also suggest her 2007 book The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women & the Classical Tradition, 1750-1900. (And she’s so prolific that I think she’s got a third book out already!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks! Caroline Winterer’s Mirror of Antiquity was a huge help when I was in chapter 2 of disslandia. You’re right, here’s her newest: American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016).

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Excellent call to arms with steps we can each take. I recently reviewed a manuscript for an academic publisher. The proposed book was a guide to writing engaging narrative history. The author failed to cite a single female historian or scholar in the narrative. Not a cite, a mention, or a quote. Each example of “good” historical writing featured only male actors building bridges, fighting battles, making America great . . . Indeed, even the “poor” writing examples featured only men. The only woman in the manuscript was the author’s mother who was held up as an example of a non-academic who likes a good historical read. This manuscript was proposed as a book for undergraduate history methods & writing courses. I think not.

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    • OMG. I hope you called attention to this imbalance! I was recently asked to review a similar title, with similar faults. I have no idea what happened to the book, but I said that I couldn’t see publishing it unless the book were rewritten as though women were human too.

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    • Yes–that’s a terrific resource. Maybe we can crowdsource a name for this new website about women historians & their work. Ideas? What about something straightforward, like Women Write History?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. A plug for Cliometrics: Economic history is full of amazing women writers writing about all sorts of topics including those that directly relate to women in history. (Martha Bailey is heavily represented on one of my syllabi next semester, though she is by far not the only woman on there. I will need to finish getting together my readings to see if I’ve got parity.)

    Also I just got Leah Boustan’s new book on the Great Migration in the mail a couple of weeks ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As a former tenured professor who is currently a university museum curator of history, I lament the lack of gender equity in both universities and museums. Museums still have more women than men in the lower ranks, but more men as directors. But that also means that a lot of scholarship undertaken by women historians about women takes place in historical societies, museums, and like institutions, but is often overlooked by university-based scholars. We may do well to consider the bias in the forms of history we place in our syllabi–books and articles produced through the scholarly apparatus of journals and publishers–over exhibitions, exhibition catalogues, research reports, and the like. A lot of this is going online, so it’s getting easier to find.

    I am so happy to read this, Historiann; I had mentors–women all–in grad school and in my early years as a university professor who offered sage advice about how to make myself known to the profession. More importantly, though, they taught me how to be a member of the profession in order to change it. I was the first full-time faculty member at my last university to teach US women’s history, and I was able to have the department surrender its adherence to an approved list of survey textbooks, to find funds to add to the library’s pretty embarrassing collection in women’s history, and to consistently and successfully compete for internal funds for workshops on gender, race, and class. I had to fight for a few of my graduate students’ thesis topics, too. If syllabi aren’t reflecting the breadth of the profession or pointing to the potential richness of historical topics left untapped, we aren’t really doing our jobs. We’re reproducing a narrow canon and limiting our students.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed. Some women’s & gender historian friends and I have a solemn pact never to tell a student “well that’s a neat idea, but you’ll never find any sources for that.” How many times did we hear this in our student days? I lost count.

      It’s as clear as the Colorado sunshine that history moves not on the sources we have, but on the questions we ask of them. The questions are almost always MUCH more important than the sources!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I think this is tied to two other problem areas: job listings and press for books. There have been very, very few women’s/gender history positions in the past several years. I remember hearing a senior prof of women’s history saying she was waiting to retire because she knew they wouldn’t replace her with a women’s history scholar. Race is certainly getting a lot more attention than gender in both hiring decisions and in public discourse (aside from biographies of women, I’m having trouble thinking gender history books that have gotten lots of public attention). The attention to race is deserved, but intersectionality with gender is often missed, not to mention studies focused primarily on gender.
    Academics have often questioned whether my book (Founding Friendships) can really prove that women’s friendships with men really mattered politically in the early republic. To “matter”, for many historians, still means being tied back to narrow definitions of politics, power, and change over time–which probably helps to explain why gender history doesn’t get assigned as often.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure you’re right, Cassandra. We are all dependent on our own networks, but also on other sites of professional knowledge distribution (librarians, presses, book reviews, mainstream press attention). There are many interlocking systems that help decide which books & which topics get more airtime, and which less.

      You’re right that there are fewer job listings specifically for women’s historians these days, but I’ve noticed locally that we’ve considered and even hired candidates who were women’s historians AS WELL AS historians of other things (public history, environmental history, etc.) Again, speaking only very locally, I’ve never heard (or overheard) a conversation about whether someone was really right for the job because she did women/gender/sexuality. In a department like mine, we all wear a number of hats, so the more subspecialties you can offer, the better, but I realize that n=1 is an anecdote, not data.

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      • Back in the 1990s (and I’m sure earlier), being a women’s historian could be used against one! People actually said things like “but we’ve already got ONE women’s historian!” and “but will she teach BROADLY enough,” etc. In my dept. in recent years, we’ve hired a British historian who also did gender & sexuality, and a public historian who also does women/gender/sex, and no one said anything negative. In fact, their gender/sexuality work was seen as a plus, not a minus.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I wonder about the student demographics (and instructors’ attentiveness to them, and to their students in general) at schools where people design syllabi as cluelessly as the dude you describe. In my period and discipline the study of gender and sexuality is pretty well established (I think I made this comment here before, but the importance of theory in literary studies means that even het white men tend to feel obliged to deal with gender and sexuality as topics, if not always to give women writers as full a representation as they might deserve), but it’s VERY easy for a scholar of pre- or early-modern literature not to deal much with race. I’m probably guilty of it, too. But teaching at a diverse, urban institution means that I’m now constantly trying to think about ways to discuss race, ethnicity, religion, and various kinds of “othering.” If teaching is genuinely dynamic and dialogic. . . don’t you think about your students’ subject positions at least a little? Don’t you notice how they react to certain topics?

    Frankly, this has led me to teach issues of gender differently, too. My female students openly bring up issues of consent and predation when we’re reading seduction poems, or plays that feature the bed trick — things that literally never came up in the classes I took in college and that I didn’t always address myself in my first few years of teaching. It’s not that student perspectives are always “right,” but I see what interests my students, and how they want to talk about something. . . and I try to come up with intellectually sound ways to address them!

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    • YES. Any teacher or proffie who isn’t responsive to student interest is dead as an educator.

      I’ve found much the same interest among students–both women and men–around the issue of consent. I also found that teaching students who are for the most part Colorado natives demands a different approach to teaching early America. It would seem insane to teach the same way as I was teaching in Massachusetts, Washington D.C., or Ohio–there’s a local context and set of interests that a savvy prof. will engage. Fortunately for me, my field has become much more open to including western North America in its vision of #VastEarlyAmerica, one no longer focused so intently on the scrim of Anglo-American colonization on the Atlantic littoral.

      I sometimes get Colorado students who are all like, “Hey, we took your class to hear about eastern history, not western history,” but most of them seem to appreciate at least considering the desegregation of early America from its historically European empire-specific context.

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  12. this problem is so widespread that we all need to examine ourselves

    Thank you for the rant and the call to action, H’ann, and for this point in particular. Outrage is only righteous if we actively examine where we place our own feet. I’m really struck by the comments here from folks who engage in critical evaluation of their own syllabi.

    This is not only relevant to the humanities. The scientific endeavour is truly hung up on its own exceptionalism and the elevation of white male paradigms. Our work is much the poorer for this and the mainstream is blind to what is lost. Unlike the humanities, where many scholars seem to understand diversity of voices (and analytical viewpoints) as a strength, we think that science has some kind of special purity confered by (what we weirdly believe to be) objectivity.

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    • Thanks, truffula, and happy new year! It’s good to hear from you.

      It’s surely not just relevant to the humanities; see for example this obit for Vera Rubin (1928-2016), the “maverick astronomer” who found proof of dark matter. We get the Wall Street Journal weekend, and in the entire time I’ve been subscribing (13 months) I don’t believe the featured obituary has ever been a woman. The obit here is too brief to do her justice (they’re usually reserved for some great Captain of Industry, natch.), but its angle is that she had to train *outside* the prestige & power centers of mid-20th C astronomy, and it’s that exclusion that gave her a powerful contrarian angle on her field (and also a “zero effs” attitude toward career development. With nothing at stake, what did she have to loose?)

      This is just one example for the intellectual value of ditching a “greatest hits/most important work” approach to teaching one’s field. If we don’t assign the research and books of the outsiders–the women, the nonwhite scholars, the queer scholars–we’re missing so very much.

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      • Great point. I’d add among the many irritants my male colleagues who, now having recognised that this amazing scholar actually existed, feel the work has been done and the great era of equity is upon us.

        Anyway. I’m typing this from ’round about 78 South. We are about to head off camping (and working) on the snow with a team of four, two of whom are excellent young women. It’s not actually hard to find well qualified scholars and technicians from underrepresented groups, you just have to decide to pay attention.

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      • See also the New York Times Magazine’s sketch (in it’s December 25 review of people who died in 2016) of Ruth Hubbard (biologist at Radcliffe and then Harvard) who published dozens of papers based on bench science, won a major research prize, then in the upheavals of the 1960s decided that it was “imperative not to close my eyes to the fact that science is part of the social structure.” She “… declared herself done with the ‘pretended objectivity’ of lab work, and instead dedicated herself to writing and editing books that challenged the male paradigms of science.” And to mentoring young women scientists.

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  13. Bravo, Historiann! Thank you for this call to action.

    Your words have prompted a critical evaluation of my own, currently emerging syllabus. I’m teaching in a new-ish area to me (so am a bit overwhelmed) and am curating the reading list as we speak. A quick glance would show that women scholars are well-represented, but now I want to go back over it and make sure that there is gender equity.

    And I definitely think we need a Twitter hashtag along the lines of #womenwritehistory–there was one that circulated a month or so ago called #historybooksbywomen, but that’s a bit limiting, since I would like to see it include all the work by women historians–so maybe #womendohistory so that we could include podcasts, public history, articles, books, op-eds, etc?

    Like

    • Twitter is a useful technology, and my account has been buzzing and pinging with reactions (so far, all positive) to my post yesterday and my other comments on Twitter about it. But Twitter is such an evanescent medium–a more permanent yet also infinitely revise-able and add-onable technology is a blog or a web page.

      I would volunteer to host such a page at this blog, but I’m afraid that the kind of experts that the modern print and electronic media use are overwhelmingly modern U.S. historians, and I am not that. However, I wonder if I could host a subset here of people like you and me who have particular kinds of knowledge (Catholic religious women, for example; a longue duree of women’s political leadership in Europe and North America, for another) that might sometimes be relevant. (And I’m pretty good at rigging the SEO of this site, when I choose to!)

      Or do you think I’m thinking too small? I guess I’d be reluctant to offer my blog as a space to help advertise modernists whose work might get buried amid the flurries of words here about early modern history.

      Like

      • Perhaps all of the above? 😉 I’m sort of joking, but sort of not. I feel like addressing this needs to happen at a variety of levels. That is not to say, of course, that YOU have to lead all of those efforts. And so I really like the idea you’ve proposed about hosting a page on your blog focused somewhat more specifically on the areas that your own work touches upon.

        Like

  14. Was just thinking about this as I was browsing the history section in my local bookstore: most books were authored by men, the few women authors were not academics, and the books about wome were all queens. I and my companion talked loudly about this as an employee stocked books, and I ordered your book and told them to buy one for themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for ordering my book, K.!

      Bookstores are another portal that serves to limit the public perception of what history is and who are the historians, an issue raised by Cassandra upthread. But in the end, we professional historians can hardly blame publishers & bookstores if we’re in the business of assigning only a very narrow slice of human experience and of human authors in our history classes! We have a great deal of power in terms of how our students, majors, and grad students define and understand history–we have to acknowledge this power and use it thoughtfully.

      Like

  15. Really appreciate this post and the comments, here and on twitter. In addition to syllabi and citations, I think more attention to who is invited for book talks or any other department-level activities. I’ve noticed that certain people (often, though not always, white men) get invited over and over and over again (to different departments, true, but that helps cultivate a sense of them as the “it” people). In particular, in addition to seeking out women, POC, and queer folk, pay attention to and INVITE PhDs who have postdocs, VAPs, or are in “alt-ac” fellowships (ALCS, etc). Without the label of TT professor, they tend to be forgotten (and, yes, can be harder to find as they switch institutions but google does wonders) even if they’re the people who have the expertise on whatever specific topic — or lend a new perspective. We know academia isn’t a meritocracy, let’s stop acting like only the folks who got “real” jobs or jobs at high-falutin’ places are the only ones who know things.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bravo, Ann. I applaud you for advocating these measures. Names **should** be used. People should be shamed for what they’re doing. Not enough of us are being cited and given credit for our scholarship and emotional labor, and I fear that turns in scholarship toward capitalism or foreign policy will be another excuse to push gender to the margins.

      For a few years now I’ve been taking some steps of my own. Like you, I’ve been demanding that male journal article authors include more women in their narratives and sources. I include such critiques in reader reports. I don’t tell journals or presses to reject the authors; instead I submit my reports as late as possible and do the same for resubmissions. As I see it, the burden is on the author, and male authors deserve no benefit of the doubt. If this results in ‘career changes’ after certain books and articles haven’t been published “on time,” all the better. I share your view that we should “peer review the $hit out of” these men. I’m done with being a good colleague if that means we don’t get the jobs and prizes.

      Another thing I’d suggest is that if someone cannot avoid assigning a male-authored reading, you only do so by distributing a pdf or ebook. None of my students buy books by men. I also will not give out JSTOR links for male-authored journal articles (so they will not be credited with those downloads). Like you I’m done with Cronon.

      Something that came up at AHA (where I heard about this post!) was whether we should start a wiki for the Bad Men of the profession. There was alot of mansplaining at my panel. Maybe a feminist version of the watchlist to call this out?

      Like

      • I don’t agree with NEVER assigning books or articles by men, but I appreciate your perspective. I also don’t agree with delaying overlong peer reviews–if we want people to do the work, they have to have the time to read & contemplate.

        We have to give people the benefit of the doubt if they have any hope of changing.

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  16. I love this. 100%. I am a literature rather than history professor, but I have stopped having students purchase any books by men for my classes and try to make sure that more than half the authors are POC)–it doesn’t matter whether I’m teaching American Literature or Science Fiction or Women’s Lit. And almost all secondary reading is by women and/or queer/poc scholarship. It is Not That Hard to find More Than Enough EXCELLENT work by women to fill a syllabus. And I’m not too worried about the students missing out on anything. They’ll get plenty of men elsewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I’m sure it’s even easier in lit than in history, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not hard in either field if you give a damn! And you’re right: they’ll hear plenty from the menz in your colleagues’ classes. We don’t all have to do everything–let 1000 flowers bloom & all that.

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  17. Thanks for this post! It is a timely reminder now that I am at my desk revising my Syllabi for the spring semester. I am quite conscientious about assigning women in my Western Civ class because one of the themes I use to organize the class is Gender and Work. The problem is that it does not come through to the students, even though they are interested in the readings we do that are written by or about women. Right now I am assuming that the students recognize Gender when they see it and can plonk it down in the right part of their mental map of the course. I think I need to redesign the course to make sure that the different components about gender are aligned with the readings, lectures, in class assignments and exams and that I remind the students that these things work together.

    I have entirely neglected to apply this same principle of gender parity in my upper division courses, I will have to make sure that I do that in the future. I did take a look at my syllabus from last semester and figured out that about 1/3 of the readings were by women, but I know can do better, even in the stodgy field of Habsburg history.

    One of my projects for the new year is to develop new and improved recommended reading lists for all my courses. I will definitely be using gender parity and an organizing principle.

    Happy 2017 to you and your readers!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Include Readings By, About, And For Women On Your New Syllabus | Conditionally Accepted

  19. Pingback: Women’s History, Primary Sources, and the United States History Survey « The Junto

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