March marks Women’s History Month, which commemorates and encourages the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. This national celebration started in 1981, when Congress authorized and requested the President to declare the week beginning March 7 as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 the month of March became Women’s History Month.
Women’s history is interwoven in our curriculum at Dean College. Highlighted below are a few standout courses Dean offers that focus on important women in U.S. history.
Taught by Jo-Ann Reid, Associate Professor of English, Dean’s Literature by Women Writers focuses on the study and discourse of intersectional literacy voices. The course discusses timely issues like the #MeToo movement, Election 2020 and ongoing threats to the autonomy of cis women, gender-nonconforming, and LGBTQ people on various social, economic and political fronts. Among others, this course includes works in multimodal forms by Patricia Smith, Sarah Kay, Lee Mokobe, Sandra Cisneros, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Beattie, Andrea Gibson, Danez Smith, Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, Natasha Trethewey and Margaret Atwood.
Taught by Rob Lawson, Professor of History, Beyond Henrietta Lacks: Race and Medicine in 20th Century America is a course that highlights the story of Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman whose cancerous cells were extracted in 1951 without her knowledge or consent, leading to the first immortal cell line, which continues to contribute to medical discoveries today. More broadly, this course allows students to learn about the history of medicine and race and to make their own discoveries in the biology lab. This course was developed at Dean with a major grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities.
The History of Gender and Sexuality course, taught by David Dennis, Associate Professor of History, takes students on a historical journey. Starting with the 18th-century Enlightenment, definitions of womanhood and manhood in the West evolved into an increasingly rigid and unequal gender system, even as new ideas about human sexuality began to take root. This course allows students to explore the ways that women and men have adopted, negotiated, resisted or transformed social expectations of gender and sexuality over the past 200 years. This historical journey traverses’ themes such as marriage, reproduction, work and family as well as desire, love and intimacy. It covers a range of topics from changing body presentation and fashion to developments in law and politics.