The discipline of history provides a foundation for the humanities and the social sciences. Our courses and research specialties span centuries of human experience and deal with an array of thematic and area emphases. Our strong undergraduate program offers opportunities for internships, overseas study, and advanced research. Our small, high-quality graduate program combines emphases in specific regions of the world (America and Latin America, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and Africa) and specific thematic specialties ( gender and sexuality; medicine and science; slavery, race, diaspora; empire and colonialism; environment). We especially encourage a self-conscious use of theoretical perspectives and historical approaches that stress global and transnational connections.
Most theories of nationalism have taken a supposedly gender neutral approach that have resulted in a pattern of minimizing women's contributions to the nation in scholarship. However, culturally specific conceptions of gender difference inform nationalisms and are produced by the nation as seen in the political exclusion of French women during the French Revolution. The nationalisms of the French Revolution were in part inspired by enlightenment philosophies and championed universal rights for the people of France but the limits to these universal rights were made clear as women were systematically excluded from political participation. If gender differences and nationalisms are understood as being contingent then the exclusion of women from the full benefits of citizenship during the French Revolution henceforth is defined by conceptions of gender and interpretations of enlightenment values by the French nation. Furthermore, particular women who defied beliefs concerning the nature of their gender found ways to participate in politics during the French Revolution and not only became early voices for women’s rights, but at times found themselves in a state of tension with the nation. Future scholarship holds the potential for “recasting the study of gender and of the nation” when nations are understood as inherently gendered. Considerations of the interactions between gender differences and nationalisms will provide new insight into the larger workings of historical events, like in the case of the French Revolution.
This essay examines approximately one hundred newspaper articles from the Pennsylvania Gazette to analyze the depiction of women in infanticide and neonaticide accounts. This study builds upon previous scholarly work and emphasizes a late-eighteenth-century shift in punishment and assessment of women who killed their illegitimate infants, which pre-figured the abolishment of capital punishment for infanticide. Throughout the eighteenth century, the Pennsylvania Gazette’s depiction of women accused of killing their illegitimate children consistently depended on their marital status. However, in the late-eighteenth century, the Gazette changed the way it described women accused of killing their illegitimate children; instead of focusing on the crime and the deceased infant’s location, it emphasized the infant’s clothing.