HIST 475: Women in History

Louisiana Tech University – Winter 2016-2017 – Department of History & Social Sciences

About this Course


Focusing within the geographic space of the Atlantic World, this class will explore the ways certain women subverted and changed expected gender roles in the early modern era. This will include a broader understanding of the contexts behind the evolving notions of ‘gender’ and femininity. We will discuss why women came to be associated with sorcery and witchcraft; how women pursued a life of adventure and crime on the open seas; and how women took up arms to fight for ideals that fed into a call for revolution.

Required Texts


  • Carol Berkin, Revolutionary Mothers: Women in the Struggle for America’s Independence (Vintage Books, 2005).
  • Kathleen M. Brown, Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs: Gender, Race, and Power in Colonial Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 1996).
  • David Cordingly, Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors’ Wives (Random House, 2007).
  • Carol F. Karlsen, Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England (W.W. Norton & Company, 1998).

Learning Outcomes


Following the completion of this course, students should:

  • Understand the cultural constructs that informed gender identities during the early modern era.
  • Critically analyze the ways women challenged, upheld, or were persecuted by socially constructed gender roles.
  • Explain ways women helped shape the broader history of the colonial Atlantic World.

About the Professor


cropped-headshot.jpgKristen D. Burton is a Research Fellow at The Waggonner Center for Civil Engagement and Public Policy and a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Louisiana Tech University. She received her Ph.D. in Transatlantic History from the University of Texas at Arlington, and she specializes in the history of the early modern Atlantic World, colonization of North America and the Caribbean, and the history of alcohol (focus: seventeenth and eighteenth centuries). Her book manuscript, (tentatively titled) “Spirits of Resistance: Alcohol, Drunkenness, and Rebellion in the Early Modern Atlantic,” looks at the ways slaves, indigenous peoples, and backcountry settlers used drunkenness as a means of resistance in North America and the Caribbean during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Dr. Burton works to incorporate digital platforms into the classroom with the objective of finding new ways for students to engage with the course material and with each other. In this course, students will use Twitter and weekly blog posts to analyze and discuss the assigned readings, as well as the lives of individual early modern women. The use of these digital spaces extends the course beyond the physical walls of the classroom. Through these approaches, Dr. Burton aims to see her students make meaningful connections between the lives that shaped the past and the world we inhabit today.