Since the seventies of the twentieth century historical research has shown an increasing interest in the fields of Women and Gender Studies and their integration into the analyses of the past. In its further development, the interest in gender as a historical category has moved away from rather dealing with isolated and de-contextualized questions and phenomena towards the analysis of relationships, interdependencies, and influences as well as to trans- and interdisciplinary approaches.
The class is an introduction to the historical study of women and men and femininity and masculinity in Europe from the Middle Ages unto the recent past. Special attention is paid to the theoretical and methodological aspects of analysis, the usage of various types of sources (written and visual material, archaeological evidence), and their critical interpretation within a number of historical sub-disciplines. We also concentrate on questions of source intention, representation, image and “reality”, norm and practice, social agency, contrasts, connotations, ambiguities, and ambivalences. The discussion of aspects of conflict and compromise is considered as particularly relevant. At the end of the course, it should have become evident that any field of historical research has to be seen as indispensably and decisively connected with various gender-specific phenomena.