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For this assessment, you should select one essay question from the list below, and respond in the form of a research essay. 

1.Was the impact of the printing press more ‘evolutionary’ than ‘revolutionary’ in its effects on early modern European society?  Consider the debates around the work of Elizabeth Eisenstein in particular.

2.What distinctions have historians made between ‘women’s history’, and ‘gender history’?  Are these distinctions worthwhile, or do they just serve to divide historians among themselves?

3.Is oral history a suspect form of history, or does it offer insights into the past not otherwise available?

Discussion

It is only fair enough to assert that some women in the past never missed history as a subject due to lack of women appearance in such a discipline. This does not come as a surprise as extraordinary women ranked to be of high social caste and had some impact on the political scene of the males which got ignored leading to a phenomenon known as compensatory history[1]. The goal and objective of feminine history as evidenced currently is to expound the validity of some of the experiences and roles played by a variety of women and to challenge perceptions that are historically and biologically determined which cannot be altered from those that are unimportant to real history.

It is thus imperative to recall that women’s history is not an idea that was invented in the early 1970’s[2]. It is evidence of how a young modernist by the name Keith Thomas availed a plethora of undergraduate studies on women history at the University of Oxford at around 1960. Though his colleagues found this idea peculiar, the students were a fan of such work and always assembled in small groups for such studies.

To comply with the research that has been conducted since the 19th century with regards to the subject matter of history, the first phase of western history was followed by crucial task on the history of women in the 20th century. For instance, in the UK, there were numerous works done by people such as Eileen Power in medieval history. Others such as Alice Clark and Ivy Pinchbeck specialized in women’s history, and Ray Strachey majored in movements such as women suffrage. Though much of such practices were ignored for many years until the take-off of feminine history that was linked with the second phase of feminism and also due to the expansion of boundaries associated with works of history from the early 1960’s. It is such works that have elevated research to an unprecedented height with much bigger ambitions to attain a primary rewriting of the subject history and most of these approaches have had to grapple with specific problems such as lack of evidence and interpretation. Such issues entail but not limited to identifying contemporary or rejected sources, approaching the ancient ones in contemporary ways and often lending techniques from other subjects. The expansion and development of social history was an obstacle to developing basics in other fields such as political history which shallowly defined rulers and governments that could not get disentangled from such an area as it offered new perspectives and focused on other subjects that vital to the history of women[3]. This case was true as evidenced in the early 20th century though people tend to think of social history as economic history and this was before the intervention of the statisticians who helped rectify the issue.

The Emergence of Gender History

In the second phase, some of the women considered pioneers of women’s history such as Sheila Rowbotham were both socialists as well as feminists. However, such a nexus was not a simple one, and social history could constantly marginalize women. For instance, labor history could be predominantly masculine and myopically delved on institutions where work and labor are defined in different manners. Such type of labor history tends to be despised despite the significant contributions it has made to women labor, the kind, and importance of the paid work that women have always been engaged in an in some cases try to exclude the work that was unpaid. The nexus between Marxism and feminism has surprisingly been classified as one sad relationship.

A strong strand in the field of feminine history has archived the women’s struggles in gaining acceptance to the public domain and always strive to have equal say with their men with regards to employment opportunities, legal status, and freedom when it comes to voting. This is a primary component of some dubbing herstory, a way of retelling history from the angle of a woman with an aim to remember the experiences of women, culture and to document a distinctive part of the females.

According to historians such as Rowbotham, women had been avoided in history, and it was the perfect time to put an end to that. Such a move was going to be robust and still is about reclaiming history far and beyond the mind and frameworks of academicians. Though it went beyond covering the biographical worthiness of women or the type of compensatory history approach, her story focused on the histories of brilliant women, types of revolutions against patriarchal traditions and either public or private political aspirations that define feminism desires and friendships.

However, the big question is how the world of women could be aligned with the world of mainstream history. Thus, it was not apparent how such an strategy could independently be a complement to real history due to ignorance. Also, there was another grave matter with regards to identifying the kind of women in the history of women as either white or middle-class caliber. As it is the case, women are not identical. Also, the class of influence that these women belong to, religion and social or cultural identities vary significantly among women.

The recognition of such issues led to the rise and emergence of gender history. Gender as a concept should be noted and be utilized in more than one dimension. More often, it can be used to give reference to learning the nexus between women and men and the various methods in which gender roles and functions are interconnected socially. However, there is a more theoretical definition of history that is linked to poststructuralism orchestrated by Joan W Scott who postulated that gender was a vital element of historical examination and that it was fundamental to understand how femininity and masculinity were traditionally informing about each other with regards to the usage in different societies[4]. The category with regards to the concept of women had to be deconstructed.

Debates and Challenges

Issues such as gender history focusing on the subject of decentering women. The history of masculinities is considered as a field that is fast gaining recognition. People like Joan Hoff demonstrated her concerns and worries that it would allow men to retake the lead and that the history of women will vanish in the process. Though, Hoff failed to help her cause by labeling male feminists as Tootsie. It is fair enough to assert that the contemporary histories of men are unlike the traditional history of men, the works of women continue to be written, and the line between women’s history and gender history is not defined precisely.

Marilyn Lake, the author of an article by the name the politics of Respectability that discusses and expounds on essential aspects revolving around the concept of masculinity context. Marilyn asserted that it was that moment for historians that were fascinated in gender to go further and transcend the idea of feminine history beyond the stagnant ideology of women’s role that prevails in the center of contribution history. According to Marilyn, it was the perfect moment where gender became a key element of all analysis in history. Jill Mathews also in her article the feminist history approached the concept from the same angle as Marilyn and asserted that though the subject was vital to the history of women, the main component to such a history was the identification of gender ties as a primary power mechanisms in the field of history.

The impetus underlying the concept of contemporary feminist history was initially much identical as that of the nineteenth century characterizing feminist philanthropy with an aim to rescue the perceived lost sisters. The purpose was also moral and was thus identified as political. According to Jill, women have been left out and segregated from history, and that absence was critical. Thus, women had to be integrated and included in the making of history. Jill makes a fascinating view by drawing what would be referred to as an analogous syllogism where Jill remarks that women seem lost to god and that such loss mattered with regards to morality and it was thus fundamental that women be reunited to god. Thus, relating the two concepts exemplifies another version where history is seen as a god. However, currently, it is fair enough to assert that the equation involving feminist history is both revealing and deposing.

The contemporary feminist history that emerged more than two decades served as an arm of female liberation movement or what was known as the second wave of feminism and continues to serve as the political purpose. Its intellectual products were the history of people and the new social history, and both even share many preoccupations and strategies for identifying and encrypting sources and techniques of interpretation. As of observed in the late 1960’s and 1970’s the new cohort of women who served as historians had many of them trained in ancient history departments that were academic and thus became conscious of how women had been forgotten in historical disciplines and actors and thus went looking for such actors[5]. The ancient histories of women were disregarded not because they were antiquarian but because they acted as little compensation histories. In the contribution history there lay the discourse about women in standard political, social or ideological histories. The only problem with such histories is the fact that they treated women with the same standards and measures used in masculine categories. Thus, they gave a detailed description of what ancient men told women to do and also what ancient men perceived what women ought to behave.

Conclusion

The biographies were composed of women considered worthy and exemplary as they displayed standards that were beyond of those exhibited by average women. Such women were supposed to be as good as their fellow men counterparts in all aspects[6]. The political histories thus displayed women who acted and behaved like men with specialized tasks such as organizing men to harness what was regarded as valuable for instance the campaigns that were feminist-oriented that advocated for female suffrage. Also, political histories revealed how women acted alongside men helping to contribute to global social or political movements such as the male suffrage and the eight-hour shift for males that belonged to trade unions. For instance, labor histories have been depicted as one that recognized women only when such women were doing the same work as men.

On the other hand, social history managed to lose women in the context of families, traditions and national groups with the exception of those moments when women appeared as problems or as deviants with regards to prostitution. There were also the ideological histories where the views and perceptions of women were published by doctors and displayed the images of women in both the newspapers and the paintings[7]. Such forms of contribution history received much criticism from the feminist historians for employing the use of ancient conceptual frameworks and also for slotting women into meaningless of male-defined historical relationship making women become marginalized to the extent of masculinist writing. The feminist challenge was not only to have women added to the standard canon but also in bridging the gaps in the genres that existed. It also entailed having the history of women added to the expanding list of types of historical writing. Thus, it was essential to have the entire discipline of history recast as women’s lives and experiences were unequivocally important just as those of men. Therefore, this was limiting the women history.

Feminine history includes women of standard classifications of historical analysis and thus deals with them based on such terms. On the other hand, feminist history, makes gender appear as a problematic relationship in the different categories of history[8]. What this translates to is that a feminist historian includes women to work making the meaning of work and its definitions in the context of gender and division of labor questionable. When women are involved in politics, the feminist historian does not arbitrarily develop the contribution of women to Chartism. Thus, based on such context, it makes meaning of politics in the confines of public-private dichotomy raise questions.

The last classification with regards to feminist history by introducing gender components that spurs problems is that of boundaries. The discipline of history that is conventionally conceived, a line is drawn to distinguish between the public and the private is crucial. However, it is absurd how the women history reveals that boundary as being readily permeable. Also, other sub-categories of history such political and social history have bounded territories that are well defined and only cover activities related to masculinity.

Conclusion

Based on such arguments, it is clear that women’s history led to women being elevated to the standard historical classifications, feminist history, on the other hand, included gender as a catastrophic association. The campaign for a change of direction from feminine to gender history has raised concerns and worries among the feminist historians as they fear that women may once again be forgotten and lose sight of the bigger picture. Based on a survey that was conducted focusing on the women history in Australia, Susan was concerned about one of the discussions by one male historian who suggested alternatives for substituting reservations for gender for women in a proposal that is more of a feminist in reforming the syllabus[9]. According to Magarey, men appeared to be comfy with gender and indicated that this was due to the fact it was more or less of a threatening designation.

Though it appears implausible to summarize the activities in women’s history or gender history due to the fields being too vast and often diversified based on journals used in such fields, an area such as ancient, contemporary social history, there is a field of importance known as the agency. The agency explores the many ways that ordinary women led their lives irrespective of constraints bestowed on them, how they survived such predicaments. It also entails analyzing how women negotiated with a system for great deals without necessarily rebelling against such a system and also how practice is related to prescriptions.

Jill argues that the practices of feminist history continue being multifarious are destined to remain that way for as long as time allows. He goes further asserting that the good theoretical intentions are becoming challenging to translate into research programmes that are coherent even the polished monographs have no place. However oblivious it looks for both the research and teaching and the many assumptions and principles that have been developed Jill, he emphasizes that it is essential such ideas to be borne in the mind of his readers.

References

Burton, A., 'History" is now: Feminist theory and the production of historical feminisms', Women's History Review, (1992, pp. 25-38.

Fiume, G., ‘Women's history and gender history: The Italian experience’, Modern Italy, Volume 10, Issue 2,2005, pp 207-231

Hoff, J., 'Gender as a postmodern category of paralysis', Women's History Review vol. 3, issue 2, 1994, pp. 149-68.

Parr, J., 'Gender History and Historical Practice', The Canadian Historical Review, Vol. 76, No. 3,1995, pp. 354-76

 Scott, J.W., 'Gender: A useful category of analysis', American historical Review 91, 1986, pp. 1053-75.

Bennett, J.M., 'Feminism and history', Gender & History vol. 1, issue 3,1989, pp. 251-271.

Mathew, J., ’Feminist History’, Labor History, Volume 3, Number 50,1986, pp 147-153.

Marilyn, L., ‘Women, gender and history’, Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 7–8, 1988, pp. 1–9.

Morgan, S (ed)., The feminist history reader, London: Routledge, 2006.

[1] L. Marilyn, ‘Women, gender and history’, Australian Feminist Studies, vol. 7, no.8 1988, pp. 7.

[2] J. Mathew, ’Feminist History’, Labor History, vol. 3, no. 50,1986, p. 150.

[3] G. Fiume, ‘Women's history and gender history: The Italian experience’, Modern Italy, vol.10, no. 2,2005, p. 220.

[4] M.Sue(ed), The feminist history reader, London: Routledge, 2006, page 34.

[5] J. Bennett, 'Feminism and history', Gender & History, vol. 1, no. 3 ,1989, pp. 251-71.

[6] J. Parr, 'Gender History and Historical Practice', The Canadian Historical Review, vol. 76, no. 3,1993, p. 354

[7] J. Hoff, 'Gender as a postmodern category of paralysis', Women's History Review vol. 3, no. 2 1994, p. 155.

[8] A. Burton, “History" is now: Feminist theory and the production of historical feminisms', Women's History Review, vol. 1, no. 1, 1992, p. 30.

[9] J. Scott, 'Gender: A useful category of analysis', American historical Review 91 1986, p. 1060.

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