Reading Canadian Women’s and Gender History
Inspired by the question of "what’s next?" in the field of Canadian women’s and gender history, this broadly historiographical volume represents a conversation among established and emerging scholars who share a commitment to understanding the past from intersectional feminist perspectives. It includes original essays on Quebecois, Indigenous, Black, and immigrant women’s histories and tackles such diverse topics as colonialism, religion, labour, warfare, sexuality, and reproductive labour and justice. Intended as a regenerative retrospective of a critically important field, this collection both engages analytically with the current state of women’s and gender historiography in Canada and draws on its rich past to generate new knowledge and areas for inquiry.
- Series: Studies in Gender and History
- World Rights
- Page Count: 368 pages
- Dimensions: 9.3in x 1.0in x 6.4in
“Reading Canadian Women’s and Gender History taps into the pulse of the ever evolving field of women, gender, and feminist studies in Canada with emphasis on diversity and the theoretical debates that are and have been at the heart of the discipline over a number of years. Featuring extraordinary and memorable essays, this volume fills an important gap by offering the state of Canadian women’s and gender history as well as proposing new directions for scholarly pursuit."
Carol Williams, History and Women and Gender Studies, University of Lethrbridge
"This is an important and timely collection of original and thought-provoking historiographical essays. By tracing the theoretical and activist origins of the field and thoughtfully challenging historians to address ongoing silences, it makes a significant contribution to the diverse and rich field of gender and women’s history in Canada."
Lara Campbell, Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, Simon Fraser University
Author InformationNancy Janovicek is an associate professor of History at the University of Calgary.
Carmen Nielson is an associate professor of History at Mount Royal University.
Table of contents
Introduction: Feminist Conversations
Nancy Janovicek and Carmen Nielson
1. Our Historiographical Moment: A Conversation about Indigenous Women’s History in Canada in the Early Twenty-First Century
Mary Jane Logan McCallum and Susan M. Hill
2. Writing Black Canadian Women’s History: Where We have Been and Where We are Going
Karen Flynn and Funke Aladejebi
3. Le Québec, l’histoire des femmes et du genre et la question nationale
4. Class, Race, and Gender Roles in Early British North America
Katherine M.J. McKenna
5. Performative (Ir)rationality: Rethinking Agency in Canadian Histories of Gender, Religion and Beyond
Beth A. Robertson
6. Home Fronts and Frontlines: A Gendered History of War and Peace
Tarah Brookfield & Sarah Glassford
7. Historical Feminisms in Canada to 1940: Further Reflections on the So-Called First Wave
8. Never Done: Feminists Reinterpret Their Own History
9. Beyond Sisters or Strangers: Writing Feminist Histories of Immigrant Women in Canada and Rewriting Canadian History
Marlene Epp and Franca Iacovetta
10. Primal Urge/National Force: Sex, Sexuality and National History
11. Challenging Work: Feminist Scholarship on Women, Gender, and Work in Canadian History
Lisa Pasolli and Julia Smith
12. Realizing Reproductive Justice in Canadian History
Shannon Stettner, Kristin Burnett, and Lori Chambers
Read An Excerpt
Introduction: Feminist Conversations
Nancy Janovicek and Carmen Nielson
This collection began as a conversation between the co-editors about middle age. In reflecting on our own experiences, we made connections between our lives and the life course of women’s and gender history in Canada. We, like the field, were born in the late 1960s and early 1970s and could be perceived as both young and old, depending on one’s perspective. As our conversation drifted from the personal to the professional, we agreed that while Canadian women’s and gender history as a field was not as long-lived or well-established as national political history, for example, it is often talked about as if it were much more immature and fragmentary than it really is. Although several excellent essays that assessed the contours of women’s and gender history in northern North America have been written for international audiences, these unintentionally amplify the impression of a small field that can be apprehended in 10,000 words or less. We knew that Canadian women’s and gender history could sustain, and merited, a broadly historiographical volume of its own. And, as middle age inspires self-reflection, stock-taking, and contemplation of “what next?,” a collection of essays that coped with the field’s past and future seemed like an idea that’s time had come. We envisioned a book that captured the field’s continuities and identified discontinuities; offered a platform for established, mid-career, and emerging scholars to reflect on reading and writing Canadian women’s and gender history; and brought together the themes, issues, and questions that had animated the field over the long term. We also wanted to show the field’s maturity, extensiveness, variety, sophistication, and connectedness to international literature and theoretical perspectives.
Our call for chapters prompted contributors to critically examine Canadian women’s and gender history from its first texts to its most recent contributions with the aim of generating new connections, vantage points, and knowledge about the field. The proposals we received exceeded our expectations, and we were inspired by the diverse ways the authors approached our questions. Most were co-authored, demonstrating that feminist history continues to be a collaborative scholarly endeavour. Since we wanted to preserve the contributors’ unique interpretations of their projects, we encouraged them to chart their own paths through the literature according to their particular interests and experience. Our objective as editors was to create an open platform for contributors to offer their critiques, judgments, and evaluations according to their own perspectives. What follows are not conventional historiographies.
At the 2015 annual meeting of the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) in Ottawa, we hosted a one-day workshop for the contributors to share drafts, give each other feedback, and discuss the volume’s key themes. In this way, the book became a continuation of our initial conversation that extended to include the contributors. Those who could not be present video conferenced into the discussion. We talked about how various streams of women’s and gender history have informed each other, how to deepen the field by privileging diverse and marginalized voices, the ongoing disconnection between English and French historiography, and the potential for new directions. Our introduction to this collection is organized according to some of the themes arising out of our conversations that day: representation and meaningful inclusion in academe and in historical consciousness; the interconnections between feminist politics and the development of the field; and “recovery” history as an ongoing political project. A touchstone question guided our discussions: How can putting past and present historiography into dialogue with each other help us address the field’s ongoing silences and absences?
Although the following chapters cover many of the major themes in Canadian women’s and gender history, there are some important areas of scholarship that have been left out. Politics, the law, family and domesticity, medicine, and education, for instance, have been topics of interest to women’s and gender historians since the field’s beginnings, but due to considerations of space or in the absence of viable proposals, these have not received sustained analysis here.
There are also new topics and themes that have emerged relatively recently as distinct subfields – such as healthism and disability, body history, and the histories of affect and emotion – which are not represented but are acknowledged by several contributors as offering important theoretical and methodological insights that will shape future research. The impossibility of achieving anything approaching complete coverage in one volume offers only more evidence of the field’s breadth and extent.
Please click the icon below to preview the book.
Subjects and Courses