American Studies Seminar - 2018

Early American Transgender Studies
with Jen Manion, Amherst College

A revolution in transgender rights in the United States is underway. Once marginalized and denigrated by mainstream society, the medical establishment, the legal system, and even the lesbian and gay rights movement, transgender people are increasingly gaining rights and recognition. This seminar will survey a wide range of transgender practices from the past and explore the intersection between the fields of early American history and transgender studies. Students will work extensively with the American Antiquarian Society archival riches, including newspapers, dime novels, children’s literature, crime fiction, adventure narratives, and reports from carceral institutions. The course will cover key theories of gender from the eighteenth century to the present, including the ways in which gender intersects with race, class, and sexuality. We will explore the methodological issues involved in researching sexual and gender minority communities that predate our contemporary concepts of identity and our rapidly changing terminology. Students will conduct an original research paper based on the archival holdings of the American Antiquarian Society. All-gender, single-user restrooms are readily accessible to the classroom.

Jen Manion is associate professor of history at Amherst College. Jen is author of Liberty's Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) and coeditor of Taking Back the Academy: History of Activism, History as Activism (Routledge, 2004). Manion is currently writing a book on the nineteenth-century transgender past.

The Fall 2018 seminar met on Wednesday afternoons from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM at the American Antiquarian Society, 190 Salisbury Street, Worcester, MA. The first class was be Wednesday, September 5 at 3:30.

The seminar welcomes applications from students in all disciplines whose academic record, personal statement, and letters of recommendation indicate a commitment to academic excellence, the ability to work independently, and a sincere interest in the seminar’s subject matter.

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