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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of History

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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.

Department of History

There are 67 publications in this collection, published between 1992 and 2023.
2015 Undergraduate History Conference (3)

Gendered Nations:The French Revolution and Women’s Political Participation

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.

Mothers Who Kill: Infanticide in the Pennsylvania Gazette,1728-1800

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.

Open Access Policy Deposits (64)

“Silencing the Widow with a Prayer for Peace: Gerson, Valentina Visconti and the Body of Princess Isabelle (Paris, 1404-1408)."

This study explores the historiographical significance of the influential medieval misogynist Jean Gerson’s personification of the all-male University of Paris as a female figure called the daughter of the king. Gerson’s voluntary assumption of a female identity for this seemingly powerful institution reveals the gendered nature of the university’s political and epistemological position in relation to the French royal court, suggesting that the university found itself in competition for the king’s protection and attention with the king’s most powerful female relations: Queen Isabeau, Duchess Valentina Visconti, and Princess Isabelle of France. Gerson’s famous misogynist polemics may be at least in part explained by the fact that he sought to win this competition by characterizing his competitors as the embodiments of deadly sin for the purpose of solidifying the university’s claim to speak with the voice of wisdom and prudent counsel. More significantly, the fact that he took this competition seriously emphasizes both the important role contemporaries perceived that royal women played in the government of the realm and the extent to which prevailing gender discourses influenced the development of male intellectual authority.

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