Course Schedule

Class meets Mondays and Wednesdays 12:00 to 1:15 PM in Ryland 210

A History of Women, A History of Gender Representations

Jan. 17: Course Introductions: Biography, History and Representations

Jan 22: Women’s history, sexuality and gender studies: An Overview

Class reading:      1. Cissie Fairchilds, ch. 1 “Inferiors or Equals?” on BlackBoard (BB).

  1. Joan Scott, “Gender a Useful Category of Historical Analysis” (BB)


Joan the Visionary

Jan. 24: Childhood and historical reality

What do we know of Joan’s background and upbringing? What information do we have about her life? What can we discern of her character from the testimonies of those who knew her?

Class reading:      1. Larissa Juliet Taylor, The Virgin Warrior, Prologue & Chapter 1 (pp. xxi-xxv, 1-17)

  1. Fairchilds, Ch 2, “Girls and Maidens” (on BB)


Jan. 29: Peasant realities and saintly role-models

Given what you read about the rural life and work of people like Joan, what might have inspired her to leave her village? In what ways did her religious beliefs provide her the assurance of her convictions?  What made her a credible visionary to others?

Class reading:      1. Taylor, Chapters 2 & 3 (pp. 18-50)

  1. Merry Weisner-Hanks, “Women, Religion and Gender” (on BB)
Joan the Military Leader

Jan. 31: A Girl Inspiring Men – From the Siege of Orleans to Rouen?

How did Joan, the maid of Lorraine, inspire French soldiers, given the predominantly misogynist attitude toward women in the fifteenth-century? How do we explain the anomalous behavior and unorthodox gender role of Joan, the warrior? What made her a skillful tactician in battle?

Class reading:      1. Taylor, Chapters 4 & 5 (pp. 51-91)

Scenes from “The Messenger” (2000) Directed by Luc Besson

Feb 5: Renaissance myth-making of a “femme forte”  

How does Pisan’s poem create a new image of Joan as the heroine of France? Given what you know about Pisan’s life, who is her audience? What does Pizan’s other writing about women tell you about her point of view in regards to the Querelle des Femmes?

Class readings: 1. The “Querelle des Femmes” in the Fifteenth and Early Sixteenth Centuries, Fairchilds, Ch 1, pp. 15-31 (on BB)

  1. Christine de Pisan, “Ditié de Jehanne d’Arc” and selections from The Book of the City of Ladies (on BB)
  2. Deborah Fraioli, “Why Joan Never Became an Amazon” (on BB)

Feb. 7: Losses and Setbacks

Where did the interests of Joan and the King diverge? Given her military setbacks, how do you explain her determination to continue the war? How does divine inspiration guide her choices? Had she lost sight of her mission?

Class reading:      1. Taylor, Chapter 6 (pp. 92-113)

Scenes from “Saint Joan” (1957) Directed by Otto Preminger

***View UR Student production of “Vinegar Tom” by Caryl Churchill***

Show dates Thursday Feb 8 – Sunday Feb 11. Tickets are required and FREE!

Feb. 12: Witchcraft in early modern Europe

Class reading:      Fairchilds, “Witches” Chapter 11 (on BB)


Joan the Convicted Heretic

Feb.14: Captured by the English, tried by Holy Inquisitors

Why do you think the Charles and his courtiers let Joan be taken by the English? How do the criminal convictions she faced fit with her actions? Why is the choice of the trial location and examiners so important?

Class reading:      Taylor, Chapters 7 & 8 (pp. 114-138) do not read all of chapter 8!

Feb 19: The Trial Records, Pt. 1

How does the way Hobbins edits this published edition of a primary source help us see how it was put together? How does the editor defend the “reliability” of these trial documents?

Class reading:      “The Preparatory Trial” in Hobbins (ed.), The Trial of Joan of Arc, READ pp. 1-19 and 33-85

Feb. 21: The Trial Records, Pt. 2

Did the examiners give Joan every opportunity to redeem herself? Where do you see the suspension of judgment on the part of the inquisitors? Or did the trial condemn her from the beginning?

Class reading:      1. “The Preparatory Trial” pp. 86-116, and selections from

  1. “The Ordinary Trial” in Hobbins (ed.), The Trial of Joan of Arc, pp. 118-178.

**READ, pp. 118-124, SKIM articles 1-70 (pp. 124-155), READ pp. 157-178**

Feb. 26: Joan’s Recantation, Relapse and Execution

In your opinion, did her punishment fit her crimes? Consider the criminalization of her cross-dressing and idolatry. What were the boundaries of gender and sexuality that women were expected to respect? How did certain women, such as Joan, successfully transgress these boundaries? How did Joan’s accusers use her transvestism as a religious sin, if not a social threat? In your opinion, does Joan’s relapse show a weakness of character?

Class reading:      1. Taylor, chs. 8&9 (pp. 139-171) and finish The Trial, pp. 178-203

  1. Bonnie Wheeler, “Joan of Arc’s Sword in the Stone” (on BB)
  2. Scenes from “The Passion of Joan of Arc” (1928) directed by Theodore Dreyer


Joan Redeemed: Rehabilitation, Canonization, and Legacy

Feb. 28: Vindicating the mission and person

What inspired the rehabilitation trial of Joan of Arc? How was it successful?

Class reading: 1. Taylor, ch. 10 and Epilogue (pp. 172-190)

  1. The Trial, pp. 204-218
  2.  Jane Marie Pinzino, “Speaking of Angels: A Fifteenth-Century Bishop in Defense of Joan of Arc’s Mystical Voices” (on BB)

Mar 5: Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Representations of the Maiden Warrior

Class reading:      1. Dolgin, “Divine Threads: The Canonization in Context” (on BB)

  1. Nadia Margolis, “The Joan Phenomenon and the French Right” (on BB)


Marie-Antoinette the Blue-Blooded

Mar. 7: Antonia’s Beginnings at the Hapsburg Court

What were the greatest aspirations for the young duchess, given all that was available to her? How do you characterize the designs that her mother, Maria-Theresa, had for her? Which interests did Maria-Theresa’s serve when choosing a spouse for her daughters?

Class reading:      1. Evelyn Lever, Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France, Chs. 1-3 (pp. 3-26)

  1. Larry Woolf, “The Hapsburg Letters” (on BB)

*****SPRING BREAK******

Mar. 19: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”

View Film:             1. “Marie Antoinette” by Sofia Coppola (2007)

Class reading:      2. Jennifer Milam, “Imagining Marie-Antoinette” (on BB)

Mar 21: Public ceremony and private pastimes

How did M-A and her courtiers spend their time? In what ways did life at Versailles exemplify the “domestication” of the nobility?

Class readings:     1. Lever, chs. 4-6 (pp. 27-53)
2. Fairchilds, Ch 12 “Rulers” (on BB)

    **Friday, March 23rd Proposal and Bibliography Due by 5 PM**        

Marie-Antoinette’s Image Problem

Mar. 26: Fulfilling the role of queen

What political pressures did M-A face and what power did she have to address them? How did the queen’s isolation at court encourage her to delve into other pursuits? How did her Austrian ties pose a political threat to the French state?

Class reading:      1. Lever, chs. 7-10 (pp. 54-86)

March 28: French Monarchs and Salic Law

How did Marie-Antoinette understand the roles of wife and mother? Where did she break with tradition?

Class reading: Lever, chs. 11-14 (pp. 87-121)


 Marie-Antoinette, Victim of the French Revolution

April 2: Mistresses, Lovers and the Problem of Happiness

How did the queen’s isolation at court encourage her to delve into other pursuits?

Class reading: Lever, chs 15-20 (pp. 122-172)
2. Clare Crowston, “Madame Deficit and Her Minister of Fashion” from Credit, Fashion and Sex: Economies of Regard, Chapter 6 (on BB)

Apr. 4: Scandalous behavior? Or easy scapegoating? The Diamond Necklace Affair

How did Marie -Antoinette’s actual court blunders affect the public’s opinion of her?

Class Reading: 1. Lever, chs 21-24 (pp. 173-207)
2. Sara Maza, “The Diamond Necklace Affair Revisited” (on BB)

Apr. 9: Rebellion and Reaction

How did M-A confront the public challenges to what they saw as despotism? How did she respond to the call for liberty and equality?

Class reading:      1. Lever, chs. 22-25 (pp. 208-241)
2. Selections from the memoirs of Madame Campan and revolutionary women of the October Days (on BB) **Response Paper 5 due**

April 11: Taken captive by the mob, the prisoners plan their escape

What role did M-A play in the flight to Varennes? Did her family ties to Austria help or hurt her in the end? Why did the world of pornography choose the queen as their favorite subject?

Class reading:      1. Lever, chs. 26-31 (pp. 242-268)

***ESSAY 2 Due Monday, April 16th by 5 PM***

April 16: The fall of the monarchy

To what extent were the events leading to the king’s death contingent upon the prevailing climate of the Revolution? What protection did M-A and her have, if any, while imprisoned and awaiting trial? How did she meet the end of the monarchy?

Class reading:      1. Lever, chs. 32-34 (pp. 269-291)
2. Pierre Saint-Armand, “Terrorizing Marie-Antoinette (on BB)

April 18: The death of Marie-Antoinette

On what grounds was the queen put to death? To what extent was she a victim of the Terror? What responsibility did her execution and the execution of her children play to end the Old Regime?

Class reading:      1. Lever, chs. 35, 36 & Epilogue (pp. 292-309)


Reacting to the end of the French monarchy

Apr. 23: Conservative Responses from the French and English

How did the European aristocracy react to the execution of the Bourbon King and Queen?  What is Marie-Antoinette’s historical legacy?

Class reading:      1. Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, selections
2. Carlyle, The French Revolution, selections

April 25: Contemporary Representations of the “Wicked Queen” and others

Class reading/viewing:    Lauren Gunderson, “The Revolutionists”

May 2: Wednesday 9 AM to 12 PM —  Class presentations of independent research
Final Paper due at the time of presentation