This work is a collaborative project made by the students in Dr. Yarfitz’s Gender and Sexuality in World History section in the fall of 2020 at Wake Forest University. The class wrote this text collectively throughout the semester, along the way honing their skills on how to research, analyze primary sources, and write history in an effort to share diverse perspectives. All of the work for this text was done remotely, as it was written amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, but we are excited that a cohesive text could still be created. While we made an effort to pick topics from a variety of different time periods and places, we also acknowledge the abundance of Western viewpoints in our selections and analyses.
The project comprises four different sections, each chronicling a different topic within gender or sexuality in history. “The History of the 19th Century Doctress” explores the development of female medical education, sexual harassment within the field, and an exceptional “doctress.” “Feminist Organizing and Women’s Rights” unpacks the role of women in not only fighting for their liberation but for many others across the globe. “Gender Roles in Visual Culture” explores how through visual media and fashion, gender roles have been upheld by cultural norms that result in women’s conformity and the restriction of their self-expression and identity, but also how women have overcome these societal barriers, setting the stage for new standards. Lastly, “Masculinity through Time, Space, and Literature” explores through the interpretation of written and printed works how perceptions of masculinity have evolved over time, and the interactions between social expectations and individual expressions.