Topic outline

  • Course Description

    The course traces the history of family life in the U.S. from the time of European settlement to the end of the nineteenth century. Drawing on an interdisciplinary array of sources from popular literature to material culture, we will explore how the family both affected and was affected by the major historical developments of these centuries. Our study will include Anglo-American nuclear families as well as families and groups which did not fit the norm--slave families, immigrant families and utopian communities. A central focus of the course will be the importance of the family in defining and reproducing gender roles and relationships.


    • Required Texts

      D'Emilio and Freedman, Intimate Matters

      Susannah Rowson, Charlotte Temple  (get an edition edited by Cathy Davidson)

      Christine Stansell, City of Women

      All other readings listed on the syllabus are posted on this courses page. Bibliographic information is available on the first or last page of each document.
      • Writing and Evaluation

        20 pages of writing.  Designated Writing Course.  3 and 4 credit options.

        Details to be determined with student input.

        • Theorizing the Family in History

          Th 8/31 Thorne, "Feminist Rethinking of the Family”



          • Family in Colonial Era with an Emaphsis on the Puritans

            Essay #1 Due September 21

            Use multiple sources to write a 5-7 page paper on a topic relating to the colonial era (roughly 1620 to 1770).Topics might include the place and status of women, children and childhood, issues of sexual regulation, or any other theme or issue you find compelling.You could start with a thesis and draw on varied sources to support it--i.e. "Town Officials in Puritan New England used coercive measures to shape their communities, intervening in personal and family matters in matters we now consider private.” You may focus on any geographic region, though more of our class materials pertain to New England. It is optional to find and incorporate additional source materials for your essay. Papers should  incorporate direct quotations from the readings.  Cite primary sources amply to support your claims and give the reader a robust appreciation for the time period.

          • This topic

            Changing Family Life in the Revolutionary Era

            There are several readings for each class session. To prepare class, take a few notes on the main arguments of each reading and focus on the specific sections you find most compelling.  Come to class with examples to share and questions to pose.

          • Domesticity and the Victorian Middle Class