Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Volume 6, Issue 1
fall 2015
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Moe Gardner
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

Faculty Perspective

by Carolyn Dean

Carolyn Dean
Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French, DGS History

I joined the Yale faculty in fall 2013 after nearly two decades on the faculty at Brown University. I am now the Charles J. Stille Professor of History and French as well as involved in both WGSS and the Sexuality Research Initiative, and am delighted to be part of both programs, which make Yale an extremely exciting place to conduct research in gender and sexuality studies. I’ve now taught a graduate seminar on the history of sexuality in modern Europe that emphasizes methods, and have had a wonderful reception from WGSS students interested in the subject from all over campus―indeed, WGSS serves a wide variety of graduate students whose own Ph.D programs do not give them the training they feel they need in gender and sexuality studies.  This spring I’ll venture to teach an undergraduate lecture course on the same subject and expect to meet undergraduates excited by the prospect of taking such courses.

My own work uses gender and sexuality to explore issues about the development of liberal democracy in France and more recently, the formation of the victim’s voice from the interwar period to the “witnesses” to suffering that are often heroes today.  I have written two books on interwar France, a synthetic book on the history of sexuality in modern Europe, and two books of essays on how we interpret critics who believe there is ’too much’ time devoted to the memory of the Holocaust of European Jewry at the expense of other genocides. The idea that we can devote the right amount of time to any genocide is not particularly productive, but using gender and sexuality has enabled me to think through the concept of the victim’s voice in its Western incarnation: that voice, now often the vehicle of truth, mimics the qualities of manly honor in its forthrightness and eloquent humility. The victim-centered narrative of genocide (as opposed to a documentary account of who was victimized and how) is recent, and we need to explore how it is shaped by gender.

I have enjoyed and look forward to being part of an even more vibrant WGSS program at Yale.  The work we do here is essential to all of our students and to all faculty who want to think in important ways about contemporary concerns.

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