Amy Morsman

Interim Dean for Faculty Dev & Research; Professor of History

19th-century America, U.S. Women

 work(802) 443-3223
 On leave 2017-2018 academic year
 Davis Family Library 225C

 Amy Feely Morsman came to Middlebury in the fall of 2001.  A native Virginian, she earned her degrees from Wake Forest University and the University of Virginia.  She teaches courses in American History, primarily around the topics of the Civil War and women's history.  Her research interests lie in the historical evolution of gender roles, race relations, and regional differences.  Her first book, The Big House After Slavery: Virginia Plantation Families and their Postbellum Domestic Experiment, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2010.  She is working on a new book project that focuses on race relations and the legacy of the abolition movement in the postbellum Northeast.

Morsman has served three years on the college's Faculty Council and is currently elected to the Educational Affairs Committee.



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1419 - Civil War & Civil Rights      

Civil War & Civil Rights
War is a time of national emergency, where the rules governing everyday life often get suspended to meet a more pressing need. What rights of citizens remain protected in these circumstances, and what gets sacrificed? Using scholarly works and historical documents from the American Civil War, we will explore the challenging issues that government leaders faced, including the suspension of habeus corpus, confiscation of private property, profiling of certain social groups, censorship of the mails and the press, and conscription of civilians for service in the military. 3 hrs. sem. CW HIS NOR

Fall 2014

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FYSE 1527 - The Woman Question      

"The Woman Question": Pondering Women's Place in a Changing Society*
When the 19th Amendment became part of the US Constitution in 1920, it stipulated that American citizens’ right to vote could not be denied “on account of sex.” For more than seventy years leading up to that moment, Americans debated who should shape public life and what it meant to be a woman. Both before and after ratification of the amendment, “the woman question” grew in importance, even while some women’s ability to exercise the right of suffrage remained contested. Anticipating the suffrage centenary, we will dig into historical documents to explore how race, class, and gender dynamics shaped this struggle. 3 hrs. sem. AMR CW HIS

Fall 2018

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HIST 0212 - Civil War and Reconstruction      

Civil War and Reconstruction: 1845-1890
This course explores the era of the American Civil War with an emphasis on the period 1861-1865. It combines lectures, readings, class discussion, and film to address such questions as why the war came, why the Confederacy lost, and how the war affected various elements of society. We will also explore what was left unresolved at the end of the war, how Americans responded to Reconstruction, and how subsequent generations have understood the meaning of the conflict and its legacy. We will make a special effort to tie military and political events to life on the home front. (formerly HIST 0364) 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. AMR HIS NOR

Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

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HIST 0373 / GSFS 0373 - History of American Women      

History of American Women: 1869-1999
This course will examine women's social, political, cultural, and economic position in American society from 1869 through the late 20th century. We will explore the shifting ideological basis for gender roles, as well as the effects of race, class, ethnicity, and region on women's lives. Topics covered will include: women's political identity, women's work, sexuality, access to education, the limits of "sisterhood" across racial and economic boundaries, and the opportunities women used to expand their sphere of influence. 3 hrs lect./disc. AMR CMP HIS NOR

Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

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HIST 0393 / GSFS 0393 - Gender in Early America      

A History of Gender in Early America
Exploration, conquest, settlement, revolution, and nation-building: no course in early American history should ignore such traditional topics. In this course, though, we will examine the various ways that gender shaped these historical processes. How, for example, did colonials’ assumptions about manhood and womanhood affect the development of slavery in America? Or how did the Founding Fathers’ identities as men inform their attitudes about democracy and citizenship? We will scrutinize historical documents, of both a private and public nature, and discuss several recent scholarly works on gender from 1600-1850 to consider these kinds of questions. Pre-1800. 2 hrs. lect./1 hr. disc. AMR CMP HIS NOR

Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

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HIST 0500 - Special Research Projects      

Special research projects may only be taken during the Junior or Senior year, preferable after taking HIST 0600. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.

Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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HIST 0600 - History Research Seminar      

Writing History
In this course students discuss historical methods and writing strategies to create convincing historical narratives. With the approval and guidance of the professor, students complete a 20-25-page research paper based on primary and secondary sources. Students take this course in their junior year or if they are away for the entire junior year in the fall of their senior year. 3 hr. sem

Fall 2016

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HIST 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

The History Senior Thesis is required of all majors. It is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. The project is generally begun in the fall and completed during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring, and such students must still attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops that take place in fall and winter.

Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019

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HIST 1021 - Digital "Twelve Years a Slave"      

Building the Digital World of “Twelve Years A Slave”
In 1840 Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Louisiana. After regaining his freedom, he wrote his memoir, Twelve Years a Slave. In this course we will use Solomon Northup as a way to understand the diverse worlds that existed within antebellum America. We will study his memoir alongside other materials and conduct historical research on the communities he inhabited as a free man and as a slave. Our work will then focus on the construction of a digital archive that captures the people, places, and issues of his time. HIS NOR WTR

Winter 2017

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Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

Chellis House Women's Resource Center
56 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753