Womean, Gender and Sexuality in Canada, 1920 to the present

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HIST 2261
Womean, Gender and Sexuality in Canada, 1920 to the present
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Contact Hours
Lecture: 2 hours per week / semester Seminar: 2 hours per week / semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Class sections will be divided between lectures and seminar discussions. The seminar discussion sessions will serve as a forum for the analysis and discussion of scholarly literature and as a testing ground for student hypotheses. The instructor will encourage students to elaborate, refine and revise ideas. Discussion sessions will also include tutorials in conducting historical research, the exploration of primary source documents, and practice in oral presentations. Participation in both lectures and seminar discussions is required for the successful completion of the course.

Course Description
This course examines the history of gender and sexuality in Canada from the end of World War I to the present day, with a particular focus on Canadian women’s lives, work and place in the historical record. It examines the experiences of women within the family, the labour force, and religious, political, social and cultural movements. It investigates the intertwining constructions of gender ideology and sexual identity, exploring the diversity of women’s experiences, and interrogating how class, race, ethnicity, age, and region shaped the contours of women’s and men’s lives in different historical periods in Canada. Topics to be considered include gendered experience in wartime, sexual identity and militarism, efforts by women to achieve equality through the suffrage, paid and unpaid work, sexuality and reproduction, changing family structures, women’s changing relationships with the state, and the impact of and challenges to feminism.
Course Content


Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics


  1. Review of historical methods. Gender and sexuality in the research and writing of history
  2. Gender, sexuality and ethno cultural identity in the interwar period
  3. Marriage, family life and reproductive rights
  4. Domestic work and waged work in the interwar years
  5. Lives of immigrant women
  6. World War II on the Home front and in uniform
  7. Reconstructing family life after WWII: Teenagers, fathers and suburbia
  8. Body politics and the political body: The medicalization and professionalization of childbirth and childrearing
  9. Mrs. Chateleine: The media and gender roles in Canadian popular culture
  10. Second wave feminism: The Royal Commission and the Charter
  11. Here is queer: Challenges to heteronormativity and the politics of liberation
  12. Aboriginal women’s lives and patriarchy under the Indian Act
  13. The politics of the family
  14. Concluding themes: Gender history and the gendering of history
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course the successful student will be able to:


  1. Examine historical sources critically and analytically (reading history). These sources include not only survey texts and scholarly articles, but also short monographs and extended primary sources.
  2. Create and communicate personal interpretations of historical problems (writing history). Forms for communication of personal interpretations include medium-length essays (from 1500-3000 words), comparative book reviews, short interpretive essays, primary source studies, and final examinations.
  3. Independently analyze the ideas of other students and the instructor in class in both tutorials and seminars (discussing history).
Means of Assessment

The evaluation of this course will follow Douglas College policies. During the first week of classes the instructor will provide students with a printed and online course outline clearly setting out the evaluation scheme of the course. A general guideline for evaluation follows:


Any combination of the following totalling 100%


Primary source document analyses


Research proposal and annotated bibliography


Midterm examination


Seminar presentations


Class participation


Research essay (or short essays)


Final examination


Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students


Texts will be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically.


Adams, Mary Louise. The Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997.

Cavanaugh, Catherine, and Randi R. Warne, eds. Telling Tales: Essays in Western Women’s History. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2000.

Cavell, Richard, ed. Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada’s Cold War. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004.

Chambers, Lori, and Edgar-André Montigny, eds. Family Matters: Papers in Post-Confederation Canadian Family History. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press, 1998.

Christie, Nancy, and Michael Gauvreau. Mapping the Margins: The Family and Social Discipline in Canada, 1700-1975. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004.

Epp, Marlene, Franc Iacovetta, and Frances Swyripa, eds. Sisters or Strangers: Immigrants, Ethnic and Racialized Women in Canadian History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Frager, Ruth A., and Carmela K. Patrias. Discounted Labour: Women Workers in Canada, 1870-1939. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.

Gleason, Mona, and Adele Perry, eds. Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History, 5th ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Janovicek, Nancy, and Joy Parr, eds. Histories of Canadian Children and Youth. Don Mills: Oxford University Press Canada, 2003.

Kelm, Mary-Ellen, and Lorna Townsend. In the Days of Our Grandmothers: A Reader in Aboriginal Women’s History in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.

McLaren, John, Robert Menzies, and Dorothy Chun, eds. Regulating Lives: Historical Essays on the State, Society, the Individual, and the Law. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2002.

McPherson, Kathryn, Cecilia Morgan, and Nancy M. Forestell, eds. Gendered Pasts: Historical Essays in Femininity and Masculinity in Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2003.

Pickles, Katie, and Myra Rutherdale, eds. Contact Zones: Aboriginal and Settler Women in Canada’s Colonial Past. Vancouver: UBC Press, 2005.