Thoughts on "Women's Studies" at Barnard, 1971, page 5

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          Medieval history may be a specialized, remote field; but the dearth of
studies in English by comparison with French and German studies, in periods
closer to our own time, suggests a cultural bias among historians. Given
this situation, it is not surprising that in current discussions on the legal,
social and professional status of women the historical background is neglected,
or is at best slighted. Even in Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex, which by
now has acquired the authority of a classic, pronouncements on the nature and
role of women, for example by patristic authors such as Tertullian, are cited
out of their historical context.

Admittedly the question arises whether a college like ours should en-
courage courses where inquiry would be directed at such neglected subjects.
Would the inclusion of courses on women upset our balanced curriculum and
weaken its professional approach? Apprehension concerning the introduction
of new courses into the university curriculum is a phenomenon almost as old
as the university. In the 13th century there were prohibitions at Paris against
courses on Aristotle, and two centuries later, in order to teach Plato, Marsilio
Ficino had to set up the Florentine Academy. American colleges and univer-
sities, certainly in the past fifty years, seem to have been more receptive
to curricular.innovation in response to current interest than were their
medieval counterparts. The establishment of Israel as an independent nation
resulted in the introduction of courses on Jewish History. The growth of
courses in Russian History appears to be correlated to the rise of Communist
Russia as an international power. Courses in Labor History following upon
the Great Depression reflected an interest prevalent at that time which seems
to have waned in recent years. The objective examination of labor problems in
the classroom reduced polarization of public opinion and contributed to the

acceptance of much-needed reforms. The Labor History courses may have since

5.