European Women’s History
Fall 2010, MW 11:20-12:50
HST 239, section 101
Instructor: Prof. Lisa Z. Sigel
Office: Lincoln Park SAC439,
Monday before and after class, Wednesday before class and by appointment.
In this course we will examine the conditions that influenced women’s lives and explore how women
negotiated the changing circumstances of European history.
The enormous transformations in European society between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries
include the French Revolution, the industrial revolution, the development of mass politics and mass
society, the expansion of urban centers, the arrival of consumer culture, new gender and sexual identities,
the first and second world wars, and the growth of the welfare state. These changes affected all Europeans
whether they were peasants, members of the working class, the middling classes, or the aristocracy.
However, these changes often affected women quite differently than they did men. The social
expectations placed on women and their place in the center of the evolving family in many ways limited
their ability to act equally during these “big events.” This inequality does not mean that women did not
act. In fact, women have been central both to public and private life, productive and reproductive labor
throughout the period. (Actually, women have been alive and kicking throughout history.) Women’s
bodies, minds, and labors, though often in hidden ways, have allowed these enormous changes to occur.
We will explore the ways that women lived and contributed to these “big events” by examining the ways
that women fit into the class structure, the family structure, and the state structure between 1750 and
1950. We will explore when, how, and why women acted, including the manner in which they exploited
the divisions of society for their own benefits. Lastly, we will discuss approaches to women’s history and
evaluate whether traditional historical methodologies work in excavating the lives of those who have been
“hidden from history.”
Understanding the Past Learning Domain Information
Note: This course carries Liberal Studies credit in the Understanding the Past Learning Domain. It
belongs to the geographical category of Europe. Students may not take more than one U. P. course in any
given geographical category.
The central U. P.
is to help students become literate about the past and the methods used to
understand the past. DePaul considers that this learning goal is achieved if students are able to
demonstrate the following
in their written work, exams, and/or contributions to class
that they have acquired knowledge of prehistoric or historical events, themes, and ideas;
that they can reason through analysis, evaluation, and/or synthesis of a range of primary and
secondary source evidence;
that they understand that there are different perspectives on the past, whether those be historical or