History in the Making

History in the Making

Amanda Littauer’s students are making history on the Internet. “In all of my classes, students contribute weekly to a class blog. One of their weekly blog assignments is to relate class material to current events . . . in U.S. Women’s History, it is Women’s History Today.” Littauer is an assistant professor of history and women’s studies and the acting coordinator of the Women’s Studies Program . Women’s studies is a minor at Saint Mary’s, and this year is the program’s twentieth anniversary.

Littauer teaches U.S. History Surveys, Women’s History, Introduction to Women’s Studies, and American Girlhoods. She also contributes to the women’s history minor, and the concentration in history, which are new offerings in the history department .

Littauer had a number of reasons for wanting to teach at Saint Mary’s. “First as a women’s historian, I was attracted to the unusual opportunity to be jointly appointed in history and women’s studies,” explains Littauer. “There are very few such jobs in U.S. colleges and universities.” Her second reason was her interest in teaching in those fields at a women’s college. Her third reason comes from her perspective as a Reform Jew.

"I was attracted to Saint Mary’s College’s emphasis on ethics, social justice, and community. These are also core values of Judaism. My understandings and definitions of these values differ from Catholic tenets in ways that I sometimes find challenging. But I appreciate the opportunity to work in a community where justice issues are prioritized,” comments Littauer.

Littauer’s classes average around 20 students and she teaches first years through seniors. In her Introduction to Women’s Studies course (WOST), her students work on assignments such as analyzing magazine advertisements, examining greeting cards for heterosexism, and observing how others “do” gender. Littauer says she finds the topic of white race privilege (part of her Intro. to WOST) difficult to teach, but she also finds it “invigorating and satisfying.” In her history courses Littauer enjoys discussing the many ways in which free and enslaved women opposed and resisted the system of human bondage in the United States.

Littauer sees her classes as preparing students for graduate study, and many different careers, including publishing, writing, museum studies, secondary education, public service, legal and non-profit work, and historical consulting. “Women’s studies training also signals to potential employers that a student has a strong understanding of ‘diversity,’ which is increasingly important in the business world,” says Littauer.