History | Gender History: The Case of the History of Prostitution
B303 | 30076 | Roos

Above class open to undergraduates and Education MA’s only

Historians of gender and sexuality argue that their research adds
vital new insights to our understanding of past societies. By
focusing on the problem of prostitution, this course explores how
gender history has been used to shed new light on the history of
class and gender relations, state structures, scientific and medical
beliefs, the market, and ideologies such as nationalism and racism.
We will encounter a broad range of analytical approaches to the
study of prostitution and thereby learn about the different ways in
which historians define their subject matter and go about examining
it. Topics covered include prostitution’s economic origins,
historical efforts to legalize commercial sex, feminist campaigns
against state-regulated prostitution, twentieth-century movements
for prostitutes’ rights, prostitution and colonialism, as well as
the more current debate about the question whether selling sexual
services is “a job like any other.” The main focus will be on Europe
in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the course also includes
comparative segments on the United States, Asia, and Africa.

Some of the readings are: Judith R. Walkowitz, "Prostitution and
Victorian Society: Women, Class, and the State" (Cambridge, England:
Cambridge University Press, 1980); Timothy J. Gilfoyle, "City of
Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex,
1790-1920" (New York: Norton, 1992); and Louise White, "The Comforts
of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi" (Chicago and London:
University of Chicago Press, 1990). There also will be various
shorter readings available as e-resources.

Requirements: Two 4-6 page papers, two exams, and short weekly