The history of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at the University of Virginia explores the past through the lens of gender and sexual difference. Since gender and sexuality are central to many of the of systems, hierarchies, and divisions that have structured societies in the past, our graduate students and professors research topics that transcend scholarly, conceptual, and generic boundaries. Our department has particular strengths in the history of women, gender, and sexuality in the US South and in Latin America. What unites our scholarly community is an insistence on the historical relevance and meaning of the personal, the domestic, and the intimate in understanding all aspects of the past. Our work in the history department often features close collaboration with the Department of Women, Gender, & Sexuality, as well as other departments and programs here at the University.
As a field, histories of gender and sexuality emerged from struggles to establish women in history as an important and valued form of study. Building from this legacy, some of our faculty and graduate students do write primarily about the history of women. Others understand that the tools that helped historians first find women and other marginalized groups in history can also help historians look in new ways at both men and women as gendered, sexualized subjects. Historians of gender and sexuality also use gender and sexuality as categories of analysis for related social divisions and social constructs such as race, class, culture, and religion. By showing how the norms and meanings of gender and sexuality have shifted over time and place, historians offer new insight into our own cultural worlds in the present as well as the past.