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Women’s history course to return to Tech

November 14, 2016

Starla Gatson

Staff Reporter | sjg021@latech.edu

 

The Louisiana Tech history department will focus on women who shattered the social norms of their time with the revival of the women’s history course.

 

The class will be reintroduced during winter quarter and will be taught by Kristen Burton, a visiting professor of history.

 

Burton said the course will focus on historical narratives that are not typically studied as well as the way women rebelled against gender norms of the period.

 

“The class itself is going to be focused on the 17th through 19th centuries, roughly,” Burton said. “It’s going to look at the history of women involved in what I’ll be referring to as the Colonial Atlantic world. We’re looking more specifically at the way women engaged this history and kind of shook it up in a way that a lot of people don’t really think about.”

 

Burton said the class’s title, “Witches, Pirates and Patriots: Women in the Colonial Atlantic World,” refers to a few of the course’s main study points, including women being tried as witches and women in battle settings.

 

“Going along with the title of the class, we’re going to look at the way women were accused of witchcraft, why specifically this outbreak happened and what kind of role women played in perpetuating these accusations,” she said. “We’ll also be looking at the way women engaged in warfare, specifically women disguising themselves as soldiers and fighting in the Revolutionary War or in a more subversive way as pirates.”

 

Burton, a research fellow at the Waggoner Center for Civic Engagement and Public Policy, said preparing to teach the course gave her an opportunity to research a subject she had not previously studied in detail.

 

“It’s not a class that I’ve done before,” she said. “But I’ve taught in this area, as I’ve taught a course on the history of alcohol in this time period, and I wanted to do something where I could get back in that period again.”

 

Burton said she believes the course’s subject matter is significant because the topic of women breaking gender norms in history has long been avoided, and the acknowledgment of it as a historical subject is a relatively recent development.

 

“A lot of people don’t talk about these narratives,” Burton said. “For a long time, women weren’t even a part of historical studies and narratives. It wasn’t until the 1970s that historians even began looking at women as not just a topic of study but as a historical subject in their own right.”

 

Burton said she hopes the course will allow students to gain a better understanding of the women they will study and apply the issues they faced to the current age.

 

“I want to see students think about the way people identify gender and the expectations of gender roles for both women and men,” she said. “I’d like the students to come away from this class with a more critical view of women’s roles and what it means to be a woman in today’s society versus in the past.”

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