May 2012: Welcome to the WOMEN’S HISTORY Issue!

Welcome to the Women’s History Issue of Re/visionist! Our school year is winding down, so we’ve decided to showcase some of the brilliant work done by our Women’s History grad students. As our program’s founder, historian Gerda Lerner, wrote in her seminal essay, “Placing Women in History,” “The true history of women is the history of their ongoing functioning in the male-defined world, on their own terms.” Women’s historians, she writes, bring forth “not a single framework for dealing with women in history, but new questions to all of universal history.”

Gerda Lerner next to her honorary plaque in front of North Building

This is the task of SLC’s women’s history students: finding new questions for universal history–questions that will encompass and illuminate the marginalized, under-represented, and under-told stories of women from all spaces, places, and times in history. In this issue, learn about the women we study: Jenn Garvey uncovers the work of a New York City immigrant midwife at the turn of the 20th century; Kristy Staniszewski explores lobotomy as a gendered practice in the 1930s and 40s; Katy Gehred revives of the complex legacy of Martha Jefferson Randolph, the daughter of Thomas Jefferson; and Frieda Vizel introduces us to Hassidic Jewish women in Eastern Europe. As you can see, our topics span centuries, ethnicity, class, and race; our primary source documents are medical records, oral histories, municipal birth certificates, labor union documents, and letters. Each of the women in our histories has something to teach us about universal history, helping us to envision a story of humanity that takes into account gender and power relations.

This issue also highlights some political and artistic interests shared by our cohort: Sian Leach shares her experience with women’s healthcare in light of current state-level legislation that has prevented women’s access to basic services; Brittany Chevalier reviews the film Boys Don’t Cry, featuring Hillary Swank, which tells the story of a transman named Brandon. With coursework in politics, film, economics, and sociology, our class has been able to bring interdisciplinary perspectives to the project of women’s history.

So without further ado, enjoy the May Women’s History Issue of Re/visionist!

Emma Staffaroni

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