Trivia Tuesday: This Landmark Critique of Women’s History and Gender Inequality Examines the Use of Gender as a Tool for Historical and Cultural Analysis

Joan Wallach Scott’s Gender and the Politics of History played a significant role in the movement of women from the margins of historical focus to the center in the 1980s. This collection of essays was inspired by Scott’s tenure as Director of the Pembroke Center for Teaching and Research on Women at Brown University. She interrogates the meaning and connotation of the word ‘gender.’ By using a Foucauldian framework, Scott comes to the conclusion that “gender is the social organization of sexual difference.” Her examination of gender as referring to the knowledge that establishes meanings for bodily differences rather than as the physical differences themselves helped revolutionize the use of this then-controversial term. She brings history into her approach by examining the ways in which history is “a participant in the production of knowledge about sexual difference.” Although the term ‘gender’ is no longer as controversial as it was when Scott wrote her essays, the publication of this 30th anniversary edition of her work shows that it remains relevant to humanities and social sciences scholars today!

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