Early America at the Berks

Berkshire ConferenceLater this week, thousands of women’s and gender historians will convene in Toronto for triennial meeting of the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. The Berks lineup attests to the vibrancy of scholarship in early American gender history. To help you navigate the 198-page conference program, we thought we’d spotlight panels with papers on early America and the early modern Atlantic World.

If you’re attending the conference, we hope this serves as a guide in choosing which panels to attend. (Of course, we hope you’ll venture outside of your chronological and geographic comfort zones too!) Or, if you’re not making the trip to Toronto, consider it an introduction to some of the newest and most exciting research in the field.

So, without further adieu, the list of panels, divided into rough thematic categories:

Gender and the Economy

#22 Working Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe and the British Atlantic

#48 On the Edges of Trade: Women, Commerce, and Space in the 18th-Century Anglo-Atlantic World

#175 Domesticity and Transpacific Exchange in China and the United States, 1830–1960

#197 New Methodological Perspectives on the Reconstruction of Women’s Lives in the Atlantic World, c. 1600–1800

Gender, Politics, Cultural Politics, and Identity

#49 Women and Letter-Writing Across the British Empire

#55 Edging Towards Manhood: Single Men in Household, Community, and Nation

#91 The Cultural Politics of Dance: Gender, Modernism, and National Identity

#97 Women and Portraiture: Historical Imagery and Women’s Voices

#98 Peripheral Identities and Material Culture

#144 Infidels: Religious Outsiders in the 19th-Century Women’s Rights Movement

#195 Communicating Across Borders of Knowledge: Science, Art, and Literacy in the Long 18th Century

#204 Labour, Schooling, and Indigenous Women in 19th-Century Canada, the US, and Australia

Gender, Slavery and Race

#6 Historicizing Bodies in Slavery and Freedom in the Anglophone Caribbean

#119 Women, Children, Slavery, and the Law in 18th-Century North and South America

#133 Birthing Black Babies in the African Diaspora

#150 A Religious ‘Triangle Trade’: Black Women and Missionary Agendas in Anglo-American Atlantic Empires

#214 Historicizing Racial Embodiment in the Transnational United States

#230 Women, Race, and Family in the Colonial and Revolutionary Atlantic

#179 Bonded Bodies, Bounded Freedom: Enslaved Women and the Politics of Freedom in the British Caribbean, c1600–1900

Gender and the Law

#5 Women in Pre-Modern Courts

#52 Marriage, Sexuality, and the Law: The Debate Over a Man Marrying his Wife’s Sister


#125 Voices from ‘the Edge’: Prostitution, Racial Order, and Urban Experiences in the 19th Century

#142 Sexualities in the City

Early Americanist readers may also want to check out several of the thematic and geographic “streams” compiled by conference organizers, particularly those for indigenous histories, Latin American women’s histories, francophone worlds, Canada, the Caribbean, and slavery and emancipation to 1890.

Lastly, if we inadvertently omitted any early Americanist panels, please let us know in the comments.

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