Gender & Sexuality

Our current strength in gender builds on the department’s well-established reputation in women’s history.  Women’s history remains a central concern for many of us.  We explore the contours of women’s lives, their active participation in the dynamics of history, and the societal structures that defined the limits and possibilities they faced.  For many of us, those questions about women remain connected to our current engagement with gender.  Gender, however, also transcends the field of women’s history, because it shifts the focus to the specific historical contexts that shaped what it meant to be a man as well as a woman.  Gender emphasizes how conceptions of men’s and women’s roles have always been socially constructed, making it possible to historicize qualities of masculinity and femininity that were once attributed to nature.  Gender also reveals the broader implications of conceptions of masculinity and femininity for various power dynamics—social, cultural, economic, and political.  Given its analytical power, gender features in our work differently.  Some of us study the development of gender roles and conceptions of femininity and masculinity as subjects in their own right.  Others use gender primarily as an analytical tool to obtain new insight into topics such as race relations, economic inequality, sexuality, legal change, policy and politics.  But what connects all of our work is the way that we use gender to reveal new, exciting elements of the past.

The Research Triangle area is home to a longstanding women’s history community and rich local resources for the study of women and gender.  Faculty and graduate students from Duke, UNC, and NCSU meet regularly in the Working Group in Feminism and History to share work-in-progress.  Area libraries have excellent collections for research on women and gender, including Duke’s Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture.  It collects manuscripts featuring Southern women, girl culture, domestic culture, women authors, publishers, and artists, church women, the history of feminist theory and activism, women’s sexuality and gender expression, and women of color.   History graduate students may pursue a Certificate in Feminist Studies as well as take courses in Duke’s Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies and UNC’s program in Women’s and Gender History, participate in the Pauli Murray Project or attend the annual Anne Firor Scott Lectures, which honor Duke Emeritus Professor Anne Scott’s pioneering work to launch the field of women’s history by bringing leading scholars to speak and meet with graduate students in this area.



Nicole Elizabeth Barnes, Assistant Professor in the Department of History

Office: 114 Campus Drive, 226 Carr Building, Box 90719, Durham, NC 27708-0719
Phone: (919) 684-8102

I research public health and medicine in twentieth-century China from a gendered perspective, incorporating the changing life stories of men and women into my analysis of how health regulations and medical practices reflect Chinese society's principal values as well as the assumptions and political... full profile »

Juliana Barr, Associate Professor in the Department of History

Associate Professor Juliana Barr received her M.A. and Ph.D. (1999) in American women’s history from the University of Wisconsin Madison and her B.A. (1988) from the University of Texas at Austin. She joined the Duke University Department of History in 2015 after teaching at Rutgers University and... full profile »

Sarah Jane Deutsch, Professor of History

Office: 326 Carr Building, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-2602

My work engages issues of difference, particularly racial, gender, class, and spatial formations. My current book project is “Making a Modern U.S. West, 1898-1942.” I have written three other books, Women and the City: Gender, Space and Power in Boston, 1870-1940 (2000); From Ballots to Breadlines... full profile »

Laura F. Edwards, Peabody Family Professor of History in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences

Office: 231 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-1435

My research focuses on women, gender, and the law in the nineteenth-century, particularly the U.S. South. In addition to articles on these topics, I have published four books: A Legal History of the Civil War and Reconstruction:  A Nation of Rights (2015); The People and Their Peace:... full profile »

Thavolia Glymph, Professor of African and African American Studies

Office: 236 Friedl Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-1625

Thavolia Glymph is Associate Professor of History at Duke University in the Departments of African & African American Studies and History and a Faculty Affiliate in the Duke University Population Research Institute (DuPri) and the Program in Women's Studies. Glymph is a historian of the... full profile »

Anna Krylova, Associate Professor of History and the Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminism Studies

Office: 209 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27710
Phone: (919) 684-3871

Anna Krylova is Associate Professor of History and the Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminism Studies. A gender historian, she works on Russia in the twentieth century and the challenges of envisioning and building a socialist alternative in the age of industrial and post-industrial modernity... full profile »

Adriane D. Lentz-Smith, Associate Professor in the Department of History

Office: Dept of History, Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-2837

My interests lie in African American history, twentieth-century United States History, and the history of the US & the World. My 2009 book, Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I, looks at the black freedom struggle in the World War I years, with a particular focus on... full profile »

Nancy MacLean, William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy

Nancy MacLean is an award-winning scholar of the twentieth-century U.S., whose new book, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America, has been described by Publishers Weekly as “a thoroughly researched and... full profile »

Sucheta Mazumdar, Associate Professor of History

Office: 226 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-5490

Grounded primarily in Chinese history, and secondarily in Indian history, I am excited by the intellectual challenges of writing and teaching comparative global history. Two broad questions frame my research agenda: the radical transformation of circuits of consumption and commodity production that... full profile »

Jocelyn Olcott, Associate Professor of History

Office: 201 Carr Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 668-5298

Jocelyn Olcott is Associate Professor of History and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. Mexico. Her first book, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico, explores questions of gender and citizenship in the 1930s.  Her second book, International Women’s Year:  The... full profile »

Sumathi Ramaswamy, Professor of History

Office: Dept of History, 325 Carr Bldg, Box_90719, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-5764

I am a cultural historian of South Asia and the British Empire and my research over the last few years has been largely in the areas of visual studies, the history of cartography, and gender. My recent publications in this area include The Goddess and the Nation: Mapping Mother India (Duke... full profile »

Peter Sigal, Professor in the Department of History

Office: 234 Carr, Durham, NC 27708
Phone: (919) 684-3551

The relationships between gender, sexuality, and colonialism have intrigued me since I began my first book on Maya sexuality. I recently completed a study on the interaction of writing and sexual representation in sixteenth and seventeenth-century Nahua societies--The Flower and the Scorpion:... full profile »

Susan Thorne, Associate Professor of History

Office: 336 Carr, Durham, NC 27708-0719
Phone: (919) 593-2810

My research and teaching interests are most broadly put in the imperial history of industrial capitalism.  I am particularly interested in exploring the intersecting histories of poverty, race-thinking, and class formation in nineteenth century Britain.  Congregational missions and the making... full profile »