In the early 1990s, feminist scholars developed gender as an analytical tool for deconstructing relationships of power and sent a shock wave through the field of history. Some historians celebrated the prospect that gender history would replace women’s history with a more nuanced understanding of the interlocking historical categories of race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. Others asserted that gender history would refocus attention away from women and back onto men.
In the 2000s, transnational and global history transformed the field again, challenging frameworks that had situated identities and institutions within national boundaries. The debates surrounding these new challenges are still in their formative stages and have lively iterations in other disciplines beyond history. It is therefore an ideal moment to collaborate on a new synthesis of gender and women’s lives in American history, integrating transnational and international contexts.
The Oxford Handbook of American Women’s and Gender History will consist of 31 chapters by leading scholars, each a synthetic and interpretive essay on a key part of American women’s and gender history. Our aim is to create an accessible volume that foregrounds the field’s dynamism and highlights key analytical tools developed in recent years, including gender, racial construction, sexuality, law, and transnationalism.