ActiveHistory.ca repost – Teaching Sexual Violence in History

The editors of ActiveHistory.ca are currently enjoying our annual end of summer hiatus, but we’ll be back with new content in September. During the hiatus, we’re featuring some of our most popular and favourite posts from the past year.  Thanks as always to our writers and readers.

The following post was originally featured on May 4, 2018.

Left, Artemisia Gentileschi, Susanna and the Elders, 1610. Right, Kathleen Gilje, Susanna and the Elders, Restored, 1998.

Left, Artemisia Gentileschi, Susanna and the Elders, 1610. Right, Kathleen Gilje, Susanna and the Elders, Restored, 1998.

Sanchia deSouza, Joel Dickau, Edward Dunsworth, William Fysh, Benjamin Lukas, Kari North, Maris Rowe-Mcculloch, Lindsay C. Sidders, Hana Suckstorff, Nathaniel Thomas, Erica Toffoli, and Spirit-Rose Waite

As movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp direct renewed and broadened attention to sexual violence and harassment, many sectors of society (especially workplaces) are being forced to reckon with and critically assess these forms of violence. This cultural shift has been most visible in the entertainment industry, politics, and the service sector, and has manifested in moments of both cacophony (the Women’s March) and whisper (“Sexual Harassment in the Academy” list). It has also illuminated the unequal ways that attention is paid to survivors (and alleged perpetrators) of different economic circumstances, racialized statuses, genders and sexualities, and abilities.

For a new generation of historians, this moment has prompted critical reflection beyond our contemporary workplaces to the object of our studies: the past. How should we, as historians and teachers, grapple with sexual violence in the past – in both our classrooms and our research projects – and how should we assess the intersection between historical inequities and sexual violence in the present?

To this end, a group of graduate students at the University of Toronto recently organized a five-day workshop entitled Teaching Sexual Violence in History. Over more than ten hours of discussion, debate, critique, and negotiation, grounded in secondary and primary historical sources, the group agreed that a radical transformation of how sexual violence is approached in the classroom is essential.[1]

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