HIST 380F: Gender and the Presidency in American History – Syllabus

Course Description

With the recent 2016 presidential election in mind, this course uses the history of American presidential elections to examine how gender has shaped campaign issues and outcomes in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Presidential candidates throughout US history have used gendered rhetoric as a campaign strategy to appeal to voters; at different moments they have touted their status as self-made men, emphasized their virility and toughness, reminded the public of their religious or moral virtue and sexual propriety, and/or feminized their opponents to slander them in campaign advertisements and speeches. This course asks how gendered and sexualized rhetoric informed presidential elections; why specific campaign issues became entangled in debates about gender; to what extent candidates have engaged in discussions of masculinity and femininity as a form of slander; and how gender has influenced the outcome of presidential elections. Course readings will highlight a variety of elections during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among others, we will pay particular attention the campaigns of Andrew Jackson (1828); William Henry Harrison and John Tyler (1840); James Buchannan and John C. Fremont (1856); Grover Cleveland (1888); Theodore Roosevelt (1904); Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt (1932); Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson (1952); John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon (1960); Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan (1980); and Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ross Perot (1992). Students will read and analyze primary sources from the American Presidency Project (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/) and Cornell University’s digital archive on Political Americana (https://library.artstor.org/#/collection/87730637) as well as press releases, political cartoons, material culture (campaign buttons, bumper stickers, etc.), print and television advertisements, publicized debates (for elections since 1960), and conventions speeches or letters. Along with weekly primary and secondary source readings, class discussions, and oral presentations, students will complete a final research project on a presidential election of their choosing, placing it in historical context and explaining how gender factored into that particular electoral cycle.

This course is appropriate for history majors, non-majors, and first-year students.  This course also fulfills the university’s general education requirements for Social Science (“N”) and Joined Comp and Oral Presentation (“J”).

Learning Objectives

As part of a liberal arts education, this course will follow the learning objectives outlined by the History Department of Binghamton University. As such, students will refine their skills in critical reading, analysis, interpretation, and writing.

By course completion students will have:

  • The ability to read primary and secondary sources with a critical eye and express these ideas in effective papers; the skills to analyze a variety of different types of written texts (or in some cases material evidence, images, or oral accounts) and identify how each of them is shaped by the author, audience, and context in which they were constructed.
  • The ability to communicate effectively in writing in a manner that is coherent, well-developed, and expressive of complex, original thought.
  • Knowledge of some major themes in history as well as some of the critical and theoretical methods for interpreting texts; although no single core course or survey is required, and thus students have widely varying areas of expertise, they should have a general understanding of the development of the region(s) or specialties in which they have concentrated.
  • Knowledge of some of the interactions between different parts of the world (or between different groups within a single society) and how these relationships have affected the development of respective regions, ethnicities, or identities.

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism is defined in the University Bulletin and in “Rules and Expectations” as:

“Taking and passing off as one’s own the ideas, writings, computer-generated materials, etc., of others: that is, the incorporation into one’s written or oral reports of any unacknowledged published, unpublished, or oral material from the work of another.”   (Section II)

You must distinguish clearly between your work and the work of others. To do otherwise may constitute plagiarism. You can avoid plagiarizing by doing the following: When you incorporate another person’s words into your work, you must enclose them in quotation marks and provide a citation (footnote, endnote, or parenthetical citation). Even when you paraphrase another person’s words or use another person’s ideas or information, you must provide a citation. Only when the ideas, information, and words are yours alone is it permissible to include no citation. See the section on Plagiarism in Rampolla’s A Pocket Guide to Writing in History and/or me if you have any questions about this. It is far better to ask me for an extension and/or receive a late penalty on an assignment than to submit plagiarized work!

The Writing Center

The Binghamton University Writing Center is a wonderful, free resource to help students with writing skills and to offer another set of eyes to examine your work. Take advantage of this service, available at: Bartle Library, LN 2411. You can make an appointment to have someone look over your writing online by following this link: https://www.binghamton.edu/writing/writing-center/index.html


Students who need special accommodations should work with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office in University Union 119. Students should inform the instructor and provide appropriate documentation prior to the first assignment’s due date. It is the student’s responsibility to consult with the instructor and teaching assistant as exam times or due dates approach to finalize arrangements.

Credit Hours and Expectations

This is a 4-credit upper division course, which means that in addition to attending class meetings, students are expected to do at least 9.5 hours of course-related work each week. This includes things like: completing all of the assigned readings, preparing notes and studying for course discussions, preparing written assignments, and other tasks that are necessary for completing the course assessments.

Course Etiquette and policies

Every class includes an implied contract between the students and teacher. It is my job to be available through email (please give me 24 hours to respond) and office hours and to make our classroom environment as conducive to learning as possible. It is your responsibility to:

  • Interact and communicate regularly with your instructor and peers in person or over email as needed. It is vital that you check your school email on a regular basis because it the fastest way for me to contact you with announcements, notes about the reading, or any miscellaneous information.
  • Have assigned course materials readily accessible (i.e. in hand) during class meetings and thoroughly read (ideally, with notes to assist you) by the day assigned.
  • Attendance is required for this course because it is designed to be student-led and discussion based. Having more than two (2) unexcused absences will result in a failing course grade. If you are late, please come in quietly to avoid distracting the rest of the class. Frequent tardiness will be addressed on an individual basis and will affect your grade negatively. Please arrive on time and stay for the entire class period; be sure to talk to me if there are extenuating circumstances affecting your attendance and/or you need to leave class early or arrive late.
  • Pay attention when others are speaking and engage in our group discussions.
  • Laptops and tablets are allowed solely for the purpose of taking notes, however, I have a once strike rule. If I catch you off task on your laptop or tablet—at any point—or I notice that you appear disengaged from the course discussions, then you will not be permitted to bring your laptop or tablet back for the remainder of the semester. So, don’t shop online, read the newspaper, scroll through social media sites, do homework for another class, chat with friends, etc. Those activities are distracting and disrespectful to me, your peers, and our learning environment; this policy is for your own educational benefit and I ask that you kindly respect it.
  • Phones are not permitted in our class meetings, please keep your phones put away and on silent during class. If you have extenuating circumstances (i.e. child care issues, family emergency, etc.) you may leave your phone on vibrate and quietly exit the classroom to take phone calls in the hallway but please let me know in advance.
  • Be respectful of your classmates and me. Dissent and debate are encouraged during class discussions, but always remember that this is a course about the past, not the present, and we must always be respectful of others’ opinions in order to learn and grow.
  • Communicate with me! Attend my office hours or email me when you have problems, concerns, or questions about the class, assignments, and readings.

Grading Breakdown

Plagiarism Tutorial and Syllabus Quiz 5%
Library Assignment 5%
Weekly Book Notes (20 in total) 20%
Historiography and Research Proposal 10%
Peer Review of Research Plan 5%
Oral Presentation of Historiography and Research Proposal 10%
Primary Source Analysis 5%
Draft of Your Research Paper 10%
Final Revised and Improved Research Paper 15%
Oral Presentation of Final Research Project 15%

You must complete all assignments in order to pass the course. Failure to turn in your final paper will result in automatic failure for the course.

Late policy – All work is due on the day listed in the syllabus (at the start of class). Late assignments will lose a full letter grade per day (i.e. a B+ à C+ after one day). This includes weekends. Your Historiography and Research Proposal, Peer Review of Research Plan, Primary Source Analysis Papers, and Final Revised and Improved Research Paper must be turned in through Turn-it-in by the due date and time. If your paper is not uploaded to Turn-it-in, it will not be graded and will counted as late for every day that it is not uploaded, even if you have emailed me a copy or submitted a paper copy to me. I will only consider giving an incomplete for the course to students who 1) cannot complete the course because of circumstances beyond their control and 2) have kept me informed of these circumstances as they develop.

Assignment Descriptions

Plagiarism Tutorial and Syllabus Quiz (5%): In lieu of our first-class meeting 1/22/19, you will complete a plagiarism tutorial online and a syllabus quiz through blackboard. The syllabus quiz will check that you have read and comprehended this syllabus and the tutorial covers definitions of plagiarism, the importance of citing material, paraphrasing and summarizing, and acceptable use guidelines for copyright. You will find the plagiarism tutorial here: http://lib.usm.edu/plagiarism_tutorial/whatis_plagiarism.html

The syllabus quiz will automatically show up for me to grade on blackboard when you have completed it. To get credit for the plagiarism tutorial, you will need to take a few extra steps to demonstrate you have completed this portion of the assignment. Once you have completed the plagiarism tutorial you are required to take the final test. You may take this test as many times as you like (keep going until you get 100%!). The important thing is that you fully understand plagiarism: if you have any questions or concerns after doing this tutorial come see me for help. When you are done with the test built into the plagiarism module, please select the “print this result” link and print your results as a PDF. You should then upload the PDF of your results on our course blackboard page under the assignment link titled “Plagiarism Tutorial.” You must complete the syllabus quiz and upload your results to blackboard 11:59 pm (EST) on 1/22/19 in order the get credit for this assignment.

Library Assignment (5%): The library scavenger hunt will take the place of our class meeting on 1/24/19 and accounts for 5% of your course grade. This assignment improves your research and media literacy skills by introducing you to the services provided by the BU libraries and by teaching you how to locate sources for your research project (books, articles, and databases). The scavenger hunt then tests your knowledge by asking you to locate resources online and in-person at the Bartle library. Please upload your library scavenger hunt answers to the appropriate link on the course blackboard page by 11:59 pm (EST) on 1/24/19.

Weekly Book Notes (20%): Using the instructions provided on the book notes template (available on blackboard), you will type out and submit book notes for 20 of 22 the weekly readings. These book notes should cover all of the assigned readings for the day (ex. if there are 2 journal articles and 1 book chapter for that day then your book notes should cover all 2 journal articles and 1 book chapter to get credit). Book notes are graded on a pass/fail basis; there is not a set page limit for them, but the quality of your analysis is as important as (if not more important than) the quantity of what you produce. Book notes are in lieu of participation for the course thus it is your choice when you submit the book notes. Please note, however, that you MUST have received credit for all 20 book notes in order to get credit for this portion of the course grade (put differently, if you only receive passing credit on 19 book notes, instead of 20 you will receive a 0% for this portion of your course grade).

Historiography and Research Proposal (10%): For this course, you will each construct an original research paper on gender in a presidential election year of your own choosing up through the election of Clinton in 1992. Your research project will be composed of several parts; the historiography and research proposal essay is the first step in this semester-long process. Your historiographical essay should be 5-8 pages long (double spaced, times new roman font, and with one-inch margins) and is due on 2/28/19.

Historiography basically means the history of history—the history of historical scholarship—the history of historical interpretations.  For this assignment, you will locate a substantial body of historical literature on your presidential election and/or the president you have selected. At minimum, you should use 5-7 books as well as a number (3-5) of articles from scholarly journals (more on finding these later). After you have read the material, but before you begin to write, chart out the historiography of your topic by answering the following questions:

  • Who and what seems to have inspired this line of scholarly inquiry?  When did it begin?
  • Who wrote what when? (line them up chronologically by publication year)
  • How do individual scholars seem to be responding to or building on their predecessors?
  • What past or contemporary events might individual scholars have inspired this work?
  • Can you group the scholarship into categories?
  • Do some of the works seem to take a particular approach, use particular types of sources, ask particular types of questions, make particular arguments, etc. while others do something else? There will be overlaps but it can help to sort by key themes or questions asked, methods of analysis, types of sources used, etc.
  • What might explain the differences you see between these categories of scholarship?
  • Can you come up with a descriptive label for each category?          
  • Finally, and most importantly, what questions has the historical scholarship NOT asked about this topic? What gaps or missing pieces of the story can you look for? What approach or angle can allow you to tell a different or more complete history?

Now, that you’re ready to write the historiographical paper and research proposal, do the following:

  • Organize your paper around an argument about the nature or arc or evolution (or something) of the scholarship. 
  • Write an essay that not only surveys the field of historical literature on your topic but that also brings this literature into conversation and tells your reader what needs to be studied next. In other words, don’t just link up a bunch of summaries and call it an historiographical essay. Strive to produce a more elegant, integrated, and interpretive piece of work that justifies or explains the research you are proposing to do. 
  • Include criticism and praise where appropriate, offering examples to support your criticism and/or praise.
  • Finally, in the last paragraphs of the essay, make an argument about where you think scholarship in this area should go next and how you will accomplish that task.  What hasn’t been done (and why)?  How might one do it? What questions need to be answered and how will you as the historian answer them?

Peer Review of Research Plan (5%): For this portion of your research project, you will be partnered with a peer who has selected a presidential election to study that is chronologically close to the one you are studying. Feedback is essential for the development of all great scholarly works so for this exercise we will practice how to construct effective criticism that aims at improvement. You will send a revised and improved version of your historiography and research proposal essay to your assigned partner by 3/7/19. After receiving your partner’s paper, you should read through it and carefully consider about the following questions:

  • Are the books and articles reviewed for the historiography reputable and scholarly?
  • How is they essay organized? Around themes, approaches to analysis, types of sources, etc.
  • Are the books and articles discussed merely summarized or does the essay include an analytic argument?
  • What future research questions are being proposed? Do you think they are justified given the background offered in this essay?
  • How clearly articulated are your partner’s arguments? Do writing and grammar mistakes impede your ability to understand their arguments?

After you read and consider those questions, compose a 2-3 page (double spaced, times new roman font, and one-inch margins) analytic response essay to help your partner improve their historiographical analysis and research proposal. No essay or scholarship is ever perfect, even after substantial feedback and revision! Consider how to can pose your criticisms respectfully—for example, phrasing a critique of what is missing as a question like “have you considered examining x, y, and z to make this argument?” is far more helpful than simply saying “you did not do x, y, or z and should have done x, y, or z in this essay.” Use evidence and examples to support your feedback. And, finally, be sure to offer your partner both praise and encouragement as well as criticism and analysis.

Oral Presentation of Historiography and Research Proposal (10%): Once you have revised and improved your already revised and improved historiography and research proposal essay according to the feedback you received, you will present it to the class orally. This oral presentation will be scheduled on one of these two class sessions 3/12/19 and 3/14/19, and it should be no more than 5-8 minutes in length. To receive full credit on this assignment, you must deliver an effective oral presentation and ask a minimum of 2 questions during the Q&A section of your classmates’ presentations. Effective oral communication requires advanced preparation! I strongly suggest you write out what you are going to say and practice with a timer before your come to class. 8-10 minutes is far less time than what you would need if you were to read your historiography and research proposal essay aloud to the class so you will need to condense, paraphrase, and plan out what is most important for your audience to know. Consider the following questions as you prepare and respond to your classmates’ presentations:

  • Do you argue a central thesis about what the historical scholarship on your election has already covered and not covered?
  • Does your audience understand why you argue this subject is significant to the history your presidential election?
  • Do you show awareness of the specifics of your topic (who, what, when, where, why) and the larger historical context?
  • Is it evident that you used secondary readings and independent research to inform the research questions you are proposing to answer? Do you have a plan for how you will answer these research questions (i.e. sources, methodology, etc.)?

Primary Source Analysis Paper (5%): You will read about primary sources in the Rampolla’s guidebook and find different types of primary sources related to your election throughout the semester. We will discuss the different types of primary sources available for your project and how you will locate, read, and analyze primary sources specific to your election during the semester. However, it is your job for your larger research paper to find good primary source examples—some you will find are readily available through the UCSB Presidency Project Website (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/) whereas others will require you to search the campus library and Internet databases for newspapers, magazines, political cartoons, campaign ads, and other types of media and material culture not available through the Presidency Project. I strongly urge you to follow the timeline I have provided under “Research Project Preparation Tips” to locate, read, and take notes. Your final research paper will not be very strong if you leave this part of the process until the last minute thus the Primary Source Analysis Paper will help get you started.

For this paper, you will select either: one or two campaign speeches (if they are short you will want two and you may prefer to use one from each candidate) or two newspaper articles and two political cartoons from your election. You will use these primary sources as well as the secondary readings you found for your historiography and that we read in class to compose primary source analysis paper. This a 2-3 page (double spaced, 12 point times new roman font, and one-inch margins) primary source analysis paper is due on 3/26/18 and should explain how gender informed campaign strategies and outcome of the presidential election you are studying. The purpose of this assignment is to assess your ability to read primary sources with a critical eye and construct a well-developed argument that places them in the larger history of the time period that you read about in your secondary sources. This primary source analysis paper is also a practice for the larger research paper. It should answer the questions: How did masculinity and femininity inform or influence the election? What were the candidates’ definitions of manhood on the campaign trail? How did specific social issues (that you read about in the Zinn textbook and in the secondary literature you used for your historiography) become entangled in debates about both candidates’ manhood? To what extend did the candidates use gender as a rhetorical weapon (name calling, slander, mudslinging, pandering, etc.) Did gender matter to the outcome of the election?

Draft of Research Paper (10%): Your original research papers should include the following components:

  • an introduction that offers a thesis statement
  • a historiography section that explains how you determined your research questions and why what you are doing in this paper is different from what other historians have done before you
  • an analysis of a variety of primary sources—you should have at least two of each type of the primary sources that you read about in Rampolla and we discussed in class—that you have collected to support your overarching thesis.
  • And, finally, a concluding paragraph that bookends your essay and leaves your reader with something to think about.

The draft of your research paper should be 12-15 pages (double spaced, 12 point times new roman font, and one-inch margins) in total and is due on 4/16/19. It should be a complete essay that includes all of the above sections listed above ad footnotes or endnotes in Chicago Manual Style. It should also have been edited and proof-read for grammar mistakes. Your research paper should address following questions: How did masculinity and femininity inform or influence the election? What were the candidates’ definitions of manhood on the campaign trail? How did specific social issues (that you will read about in the Zinn textbook) become entangled in debates about both candidates’ manhood? To what extend did the candidates use gender as a rhetorical weapon (name calling, slander, mudslinging, pandering, etc.) Did gender matter to the outcome of the election?

Final Revised and Improved Research Paper (15%): Your revised and improved final paper and should be 12-15 pages (double spaced, in Times New Roman 12 pt. font, with one-inch margins) and is due in person and digitally through Turn-it-in on 4/30/19. It will include all of the sections listed above and answer all of the above questions. Your final paper (emphasis on revised and improved) MUST demonstrate that you have understood and responded to the feedback that offered on your draft; this means your revisions should be substantial and noticeable. Ideally, your final research paper should be very polished and something that you would be proud to submit to an undergraduate history journal or present at an undergraduate history conference.

Oral Presentation of Final Research Project (15%): On 5/2/19 and our assigned final exam date, you will be assigned to a conference panel where you will present your final research project to the audience, offer an oral commentary on your partner’s final project, and ask your classmates a minimum of 2 questions about their research during the Q&A portion of our in-class research conference.

Like the earlier oral presentation, you will not have enough time to merely read your paper aloud so you should make some advanced preparations to be sure that you have articulated the important parts of your own research project effectively. I urge you to practice your 10-15-minute presentation with a timer and with a friend so that you can be sure that you clearly address the following questions:

  • What is your thesis or original argument about how gender informed your presidential election?
  • What is the intervention you are making to the historical scholarship on your election?
  • Are there a few compelling examples that you can select to show how you supported your thesis?
  • What did you leave unexamined in your paper? Where do you think the scholarship on your election should go next?

After your partner has presented their research to the class, you will offer them oral feedback on their project. The commentary you offer your partner should take no more than 3-5 minutes and open up the Q&A portion of the panel by addressing the following questions:

  • What is your partners’ thesis? Paraphrase it in no more than 1 sentence.
  • What historiographical intervention is your partner making in their research project? Paraphrase it in no more than 1 sentence.
  • What do you think your partner has done particularly well in their research paper? What examples or arguments are most innovative and convincing to you? What ideas or approaches to could be useful to future historical scholarship on the topic?
  • Where do you think your partner fallen short in their stated goals? Have they not convincingly answered their research questions? Did they overlook a set of primary sources available to them? Did they over- or under- analyze their sources? Explain in your own words and brief but related examples to support your criticism.
  • Finally, what questions do you have left for your partner and the audience? What unexplored research topics come to mind now that you have read your partners’ historical scholarship?

Required Texts

These following required books for this course are available to rent or buy at the University bookstore or online at sites like Amazon.com. Please purchase the assigned edition, earlier editions may not have some of the assigned readings and will not follow the same page numbers! I have limited the number of readings to keep your costs down and provided copies of Zinn and Katz on reserve for you in the library, but please keep in mind that for your independent research project you may need to purchase or borrow additional books not included on this syllabus. All additional readings will be available on our course blackboard site.


Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (reprint 2003; New York: Harper Perennial, original copyright 1980).

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, eighth edition (Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martins, 2015). 

Jackson Katz, Leading Men: Presidential Campaigns and the Politics of Manhood (Northampton, MA: Interlink Books, 2012).

And assorted secondary works related to your research project that you will find and obtain a copy of.

Course Reading Descriptions

Background Reading (Zinn): The readings assigned from Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States will provide you an overview of American history from the viewpoint of ordinary people. While US presidents have often been exceptional citizens—those with elite educations, business and political connections, and/or exorbitant wealth—to win the presidency they have had to understand and answer to issues that concerned the body politic (or the people who made up the nation) at the time of their election. While your other secondary source readings will look at the office of the presidency from the top down, the assigned readings from Zinn should be included on the 20 book notes you are required to submit because they will provide you with a bottom up understanding of people during the time period we are discussing.

Background Reading (Rampolla): The Rampolla reading, quite differently, will give you a better understanding of how to ask historical questions, develop historical thinking skills, and work with your primary and secondary sources in your research project. It might seem tedious to read a book about reading and writing about history in order to read and write about history yourself, but (I cannot stress this enough!) the skills you learn from this book will not only transfer to and improve your performance in other history courses, but also help you in the jobs you will hold in future, even if your future employment is unrelated to history.

Secondary Source Books and Articles (Katz and the PDFs I have provided you online): Together, the class will read some of the major secondary works on politics and gender to help us understand how other historians have used and interpreted their primary sources. These readings (in addition to Zinn) are what you will use to compose your 20 required book notes; they will help us build some background knowledge about gender, manhood/womanhood, masculinity/femininity, and presidential elections. And, as you will see, similar ideas about gender and politics will appear throughout the readings but in a different times and places, and usually with a slightly different spin. You will use these for your required book notes assignment and spend time during each class meeting discussing them with me and your classmates.

Secondary Sources for your historiography (i.e. books and articles about your presidential election to be found and obtained by you): In addition, each student (with my assistance, as needed) will also select secondary readings about their assigned presidential election and/or the political context in which the election occurred. These will provide you with the historical context as well as an understanding of how other historians have interpreted and thought about your election. You will need to begin finding and reading these as early as week three so you have time to compose your historiography and research proposal essay and prepare your oral presentation.  

Primary Sources (i.e. historical documents and artifacts about your election to be found by you independently): You will read about, and we will discuss, different types of primary sources throughout the semester. You are required to locate, read, and analyze primary sources specific to your election that you have found for your primary source analysis paper and research project and paper. It is your job to find a good variety and number of primary source examples—some you will find are readily available through the UCSB Presidency Project Website (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/) whereas others will require you to search the campus library and Internet databases for newspapers, magazines, political cartoons, campaign ads, and other types of media and material culture not available through the Presidency Project. I urge you to follow the timeline provided in the “Research Project Preparation Tips” throughout the course calendar; you cannot compose an adequate research paper if you wait until the last minute to find these. Most U.S. histories are written using primary sources located on the dusty shelves of archives across the country, so consider yourself lucky that the topic of this course allows you to use online archives instead!!


Midterm and Final Exams: There are none, hooray! Ok, but we need to get serious for a minute, having no exams might sound exciting BUT please keep in mind that the assignments for this course will require more writing, reading, and discussing than any midterm and final exam. You have a significant amount of work to do during the semester—and much of it will be self-directed work on your own time—so don’t lose sight of that and/or delude yourself into thinking that not having exams means the course will be easy and take you less time than other history courses. Reading and writing always take longer than you expect, especially if they are done analytically and effectively! I have offered you tips and benchmarks for your research projects throughout the course calendar to help you maintain an even pacing for your project so please plan accordingly and do not hesitate to contact me if you find yourself falling behind or struggling to keep up.

Course Schedule

*All reading assignments must be fully completed by the start of class on the day they are due*

Week One: Introduction to the Course, Plagiarism, and the Library

Tuesday 1/22/19

(no in-person class meeting)


  • Syllabus
  • Plagiarism tutorial


  • Syllabus quiz on blackboard
  • Plagiarism tutorial test

Thursday 1/24/19

(no in-person class meeting)


  • Bartle Library Directory and Website
  • Assessment:
  • Library Scavenger Hunt

Week Two: Introduction to Gender and the Presidency

Tuesday 1/29/19

 First day of in-person class meeting! Introductions, what is gender, etc.


  • Rampolla, “Why Study History,” p. 1-3
  • Joan Wallach Scott, Scott, Joan Wallach. “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” American Historical Review Vol. 91 (1986): 1053-1075.
  • Jeanne Boydston,“Gender as a Question of Historical Analysis,” Gender & History Vol. 20, no. 3 (November 2008): 558-583.

Thursday 1/31/19

How are presidents elected? And, what election do you want to research this semester?


  • Jackson Katz, “Introduction: Presidential Campaigns Since the 1980s,” and “Chapter 1: It’s the Masculinity Stupid!” in Leading Men.


  • Submit three (3) presidential election years that you would like to research this semester.

Week Three: Gendered Politics in the Early Republic

Tuesday 2/5/19

Why don’t women appear in the constitution? And, why were US politics gendered masculine to begin with?


  • Rosemarie Zaggari, Revolutionary Backlash: Women and Politics in the Early American Republic (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007), 165-173 (just the section titled “The Turn to Biological Essentialism”).
  • Linda Kerber, “Introduction: The Women’s World of the Early Republic” and “The Republican Mother: Female Political Imagination in the Early Republic,” in Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America, p. 1-13 and 265-288.
  • Rampolla, “Approaching Typical Assignments in History,” p. 24-39 (sections 3a-3d-2).


  • Finalize who gets which presidential election year for the research project.

Thursday 2/7/19

Women’s role in early presidential politics and getting started on your research project


  • Catherine Allgor, “Louisa Catherine Adams Campaigns for the Presidency,” Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2000), 147-189.
  • Zinn, “The Intimately Oppressed,” p. 103-125.        
  • Rampolla, “Working with Sources,” p. 8-11.
  • Guide to Finding Secondary Sources

Research Project Preparation Tip:

  • Read the guide to finding secondary sources, then find approximately 5-7 books as well as a number (3-5) of articles on the presidential election you chose for your historiography and research proposal essay. If you cannot find anything on your assigned election you should look for readings on the president or the political context of the appropriate time period in which the presidential election occurred (you might find something on their presidency as a whole or on congress or the end of the previous person’s presidency). Begin reading through them right away; you should have them all read by week 4 so that you have time draft your historiography and research proposal essay. For each, identify each author’s argument. Take notes after you read each selection: in 1-2 paragraphs, explain the author’s argument, what people living in the time of that election might have been concerned about (economic, social, political issues), and how that president dealt with those issues. Include Chicago Manual Style citations for your secondary readings as you take notes (this will make writing your essay much easier!).

Week Four: Gendered Politics and Sexual Propriety in Antebellum America

Tuesday 2/12/19

Sexual propriety and gender in Antebellum America


  • Allgor, “The Fall of Andrew Jackson’s Cabinet” in Parlor Politics, 190-238.
  • Elizabeth R. Varon, “Tippecanoe and the Ladies, Too: White Women and Party Politics in Antebellum Virginia, Journal of American History 82 (September 1995): 494-521.
  • Rampolla, “Evaluating Sources,” p. 12-23.

Thursday 2/14/19

Racial politics and the presidency


  • Michael D. Pierson, “Gender in the 1856 Republican Campaign” in Free Hearts and Free Homes: Gender and American Antislavery Politics (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 115-138.
  • Zinn, “Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation without Freedom,” p. 171-210.


  • Assign partners for peer review of historiography and research proposal

Research Project Preparation Tip:

  • Continue reading and taking notes on secondary sources related to your assigned presidential election.

Week Five: Domesticity, Sexuality, and Politics During the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Tuesday 2/19/19

Domesticity, Economics, and the Presidency


  • Rebecca Edwards, “Democrats and Domestic Economies” in Angels in the Machinery: Gender in American Party Politics from the Civil War to the Progressive Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 59-74.
  • Zinn, “Robber Barons and Rebels,” p. 253-296.
  • Rampolla, “Following Conventions of Writing for History,” p. 51-67.

Thursday 2/21/19

Sexual Politics and Masculinity


  • Kevin J. Mumford, “‘Lost Manhood’ Found: Male Sexual Impotence and Victorian Culture in the United States, Journal of the History of Sexuality vol. 3, no. 1 (July 1992): 33-57.
  • Zinn, “The Empire and the People,” p. 297-321.

Research Project Preparation Tip:

  • Read any remaining secondary sources related to your presidential election and begin outlining your historiography and research proposal essay.

Week Six: Manifest Destiny and Martial Masculinity

Tuesday 2/26/19

Citizenship, Jingoism, and American Manhood


  • Kristin L. Hoganson, “The Manly ideal of Politics and the Jingoist Desire for War” in Fighting for American Manhood: How gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 15-42.
  • Zinn, “The Socialist Challenge,” 321-358.
  • Rampolla, “Writing a Research Paper,” p. 82-86.

Thursday 2/28/19

The Strenuous Life, Manifest Destiny, and the US Presidency


  • Gail Bederman, “Theodore Roosevelt: Manhood, Nation, and ‘Civilization’” in Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), 170-215.
  • Rampolla, “Following Conventions in Writing in History,” p. 69-80.


  • Historiography and research proposal (due to me through turn-it-in and in hard copy and to your assigned partner in their preferred format)

Week Seven: The New Deal and the Toughening of the Presidency During WWII

Tuesday 3/5/19

New Deal Politics, the Economy, and Threats to Male Breadwinning


  • Julia B. Devin, “The 1932 Presidential Election: The Tough Minded Common-Man and the Virtuous Savior,” Perspectives: A Journal of Historical Inquiry 40 (Spring 2013): 1-23 (you can skim or skip p. 3-7).
  • Zinn, “Self-help in Hard Times,” p. 377-406.
  • Rampolla, “Evaluating Sources,” 12-23.

Thursday 3/7/19

The Male Body and the Body Politic


  • Christina S. Jarvis, “Building the Body Politic from the Depression to World War II” in The Male Body at War: American Masculinity During World War II (Dekalb, IL: Northern Illinois University, 2004), 10-55.
  • Zinn, “A People’s War?”, p. 407-442.


  • Peer review of historiography and research proposal (due through turn-it-in and in hard copy)

Research Project Preparation Tip:

  • Use the UCSB Presidency Project to select 2 speeches from each candidate (4 total) in the presidential election you chose for your research paper (make sure these were given during or right before the election). As you read them slowly and methodically see if you can identify how that candidate is defining appropriate political manhood (highlight or mark those passages in the text and take notes as you go!). Consider the following questions after you read and are taking notes: What gendered language is used by each candidate to explain what it means to be a “man” that will the country as president? How did each candidate portray his opponent? Did they use gendered language or tropes in doing so?

Week Eight: Cold War and Civil Rights Movement

Tuesday 3/12/19

Cold War Manhood: Softness and Homosexuality


  • K. A. Courdileone, “Anti-Communism and the Right: The Politics of Perversion,” in Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War (New York: Routlege, 2005), 37-96.
  • Zinn, “‘Or Does It Explode?’”, p. 443-469.
  • Rampolla, “Conducting Research,” 89-98.


  • Oral presentations of historiography and research proposal

Thursday 3/14/19

Civil Rights and Political Masculinity in the United States


  • Steve Estes, “Introduction: Am I Not a Man and a Brother” and “The Moynihan Report,” in “I am a Man!”: Race, Manhood, and the Civil Rights Movement (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2005), 1-9 and 107-129.
  • K. A. Courdileone, “Reinventing the American Liberal as Superman” in Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War (New York: Routlege, 2005), 167-220.


  • Oral presentations of historiography and research proposal

Research Project Preparation Tip:

  • It is a good idea to use this week (and spring break) to focus on autobiographies and newspaper editorials. If one or both of your candidates has an autobiography, find it and read the section related to their election. Be sure to answer these questions in your notes: How does the candidate portray himself? What issues is he most concerned about? How does gender factor into these descriptions (i.e. does he emphasize a specific strand of masculinity and claim to embody it?)? In addition, find 4-8 newspaper articles written about your candidate and presidential election. The Binghamton library has access to the entire New York Times historical back file online and has a great search function you can use to find articles. Newspapers.com also offers a free trial subscription and it can be a great resource for finding articles from small local and/or specialized newspapers. IN either case, be sure to click the link that allows you to see where the your editorial or article fits on the actual newspaper page (where the column is placed can tell you how important or prominently featured it was). Then, in your own notes answer the following questions: Which candidate does the newspaper seem to endorse? Why? How does the editorial make the case for that candidate and use gendered language? What about the candidate’s family and/or physical appearance, are they mentioned by the author? Are these descriptions of these gendered? What about the opponent? What critiques are lobbed at the other opponent by the article’s author or by the other candidate? In what ways does the article highlight particular forms of political masculinity? Be sure to take notes (with citations) as you go so you can start thinking about how these different types of primary sources stack up against your secondary sources—are the secondary author’s correct of their assessment of your assigned election?

Week Nine, Spring Break 3/18/19-3/22/19: No class, have a relaxing spring break!

Week Ten: 1960s Feminist, Politics, and Female Presidents

Tuesday 3/26/19

Early Incarnations of Democratic Feminism


  • Mary Linehan, “Women in the 1968 Eugene McCarthy Campaign and the Development of Feminist Politics,” Journal of Women’s History 29, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 111-137.
  • Ruth Rose, “Limits of Liberalism,” in The World Split Open: How the Modern Women’s Movement Changed America (Viking Press, 2000).
  • Zinn, “Surprises,” p. 503-541.
  • Rampolla, “Quoting and Documenting Sources,” 111-122.


  • Primary source analysis paper due (through turn-it-in and in hard copy)

Thursday 3/28/19

Intersectional Feminism and Presidential Politics: Shirley Chisholm’s Bid for the Nomination


  • Anastasia Curwood, “Black Feminism on Capitol Hill: Shirley Chisholm and Movement Politics, 1968-1984,” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism vol. 13, no. 1 (2014): 204-232.
  • Shirley Chisholm, “Statement of Candidacy for the Office of President of the United States by the Honorable Shirley Chisholm,” 25 January 1972, New York, Shirley Chisholm Papers, Special Collections, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. 

Research Project Preparation Tip:

  • This week you should shift your focus to material culture, which includes campaign advertisements (in television, radio, music, printed ephemera, buttons, flyers, bumper stickers, etc.) and political cartoons. Find 6-8 sources or political artifacts (there will be less for 18th and 19th centuries) and read the “Cartoon Analysis Guide” and “PBS Guide to Analyzing Material Culture” I have posted online. Be sure to check out Cornell University’s digital archive on Political Americana (https://library.artstor.org/#/collection/87730637) to see if they have anything on your election. After you examine the sources and artifacts you have found, you should answer the following questions in your notes (and include citations!):  What political issue is this piece of material culture about? Read the language carefully; what gender tropes are present? How does the message in this artifact compare to the written pieces you have worked with in the previous weeks? Are the messages the same or different? Does gender play more or lesser of a role?

Week Eleven: The New Right, Religion, and Politics

Tuesday 4/2/19

Evangelicalism, the Family, and the Presidency


  • Lisa McGirr, “New Social Issues and Resurgent Evangelicalism,” in Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New Right (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), 217-261.
  • Zinn, “The Seventies: Under Control?”, p. 541-562.
  • Rampolla, “Plagiarism: What it is and How to Avoid it,” p. 103-109.

Thursday 4/4/19

Nixon, White Working-Class Masculinity, and Rights


  • Katz, “Chapter 2: Setting the Stage: The Election of 1972.”
  • Jane Sherron DeHart, “Gender on the Right: Meanings Behind the Existential Scream,” Gender & History vol. 3, no. 3 (1991): 246-267.

Week Twelve: The Culture Wars of the 1980s and 1990s Presidential Politics

Tuesday 4/9/19

Anti-Intellectualism and Cowboy Masculinity


  • Katz, “Chapter 3: 1980 Reagan vs. Carter.”
  • Zinn, “Carter-Reagan-Bush: The Bipartisan Consensus,” p. 563-600.
  • Rampolla, “Developing a Working Thesis, Making an Outline, and Revising and Editing Your Paper”98-102.

Thursday 4/11/19

Effeminacy, Toughness, Sexual Impropriety, and the Role of the First Lady


  • Katz, “Chapter 4: 1988 George H.W. Bush vs. Michael Dukakis.”
  • Katz, “Chapter 5: 1992: Bill Clinton vs. George H. W. Bush and Ross Perot.”
  • Zinn, “The Clinton Presidency,” p. 643-674.
  • Podcast: Slow Burn, “Alone, Together” (on Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky), Season 2, Episode 4.

Week Thirteen: Martial Masculinity and the War on Terror

Tuesday 4/16/19

National Security, the War on Terror, and a Return of Martial Masculinity


  • Katz, “Chapter 6: 2004 John F. Kerry vs. George W. Bush.”
  • Zinn, “The 2000 Election and the “War on Terrorism,” p. 675-682.


  • Draft of Research Paper Due

Thursday 4/18/19

Masculine Women, the Media, and the Presidency


  • Katz, “Chapter 7: 2008 McCain vs. Obama.”
  • Katz, “Chapter 8: 2012 and Beyond.”

Week Fourteen: Celebrity Presidents, Social Media, and Masculinity the 2016 Election

Tuesday 4/23/19

Gender, Civility, and the 2016 Election


  • Michelle Smirnova, “Small Hands, Nasty Women, and Bad Hombres: Hegemonic Masculinity and Humor in the 2016 Election,” Socius: Special Collection Gender & Politics vol. 4, no. 1-6 (published online March 30, 2018). 
  • Emily K. Carian and Tagart Cain Sobotka, “Playing the Trump Card: Masculinity Threat and the US 2016 Presidential Election,” Socius: Special Collection Gender & Politics vol. 4, no. 1-6 (published online March 30, 2018). 

Thursday 4/25/19

Online activity in lieu of in person class meeting (I am away at a conference)

Week Fifteen: Barriers to a Female President and Breaking the Elusive Glass Ceiling

Tuesday 4/30/19

Contemporary Barriers to a Female Presidency and Predictions for 2020


  • Jackson Katz, “2016 and Beyond” (Chapter 9) in Man Enough? Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and the Politics of Presidential Masculinity (Interlink Books, 2016).
  • Kristina Sheeler, “The First Shall be Last” (Chapter 1) in Woman President: Confronting Postfeminist Political Culture (Texas A&M University Press, 2013)
  • Jude Sheerin, “The Mental Rigors of Being President,” BBC News, April 15, 2019.


  • Final Revised and Improved Research Paper due to me through turn-it-in and in paper as well as your assigned partner (in their preferred format).

Thursday 5/2/19 and Tuesday 5/7/19

Oral Presentations of Final Research Project, part I.

Week Sixteen, Finals Week:

  • Time/Location TBD: Oral Presentations of Final Research Project, part II.

***This schedule is subject to change and alterations throughout the semester. Please pay careful attention to announcements, Blackboard, and your email for any changes to the schedule, due dates, or assigned readings.***

Special thanks to Dr. Carole Srole at Cal State University, Los Angeles, whose course on Political Manhood inspired me to create this course on gender in US presidential elections.

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