Amy Morsman

Professor of History; Director, First Year Seminar Program

19th-century America, U.S. Women

 work(802) 443-3223
 Spring 2022: Tuesdays 1:45- 3:15PM, Thursdays 9:45 \e2\80\93 11:15AM, and by appointment
 Axinn Center at Starr Library 331

Amy Morsman came to Middlebury in the fall of 2001 after pursuing her PhD at the University of Virginia.  She teaches courses in American History, primarily around the topics of the Civil War and gender 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 two projects, a book that explores race relations and the legacy of the abolition movement in the postbellum Northeast, and a digital history project centered on Solomon Northup (Twelve Years a Slave) and the worlds he inhabited in antebellum New York and Louisiana.

Morsman has been a member of Faculty Council and the Educational Affairs Committee.  She served as Interim Dean for Faculty Development & Research in 2018-19 and as Director of the Digital Liberal Arts Initiative in 2019-20.  She is currently Director of the First Year Seminar Program.



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
In a time of national emergency, 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 liberties are vulnerable to erosion? Where are the boundaries of reasonable sacrifice? While these questions are applicable to every era, we will focus on the years of the American Civil War (the 1860s) to explore them most fully. We will use the thoughts of 19th-century Americans and Confederates and the arguments of historians as our guide towards deep thinking and discussion about rights, liberties, individual responsibility, and community cohesion. 3 hrs. sem. AMR CW HIS

Spring 2021, Fall 2022

More Information »

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

More Information »

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 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

More Information »

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 2019, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

More Information »

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 2020

More Information »

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 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

More Information »

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 the fall of their junior year or with permission in the spring. If students are away for the entire junior year, they can take the course in the fall of their senior year. 3 hr. sem.

Fall 2020, Fall 2021

More Information »

HIST 0700 - Senior Independent Study I      

Senior Independent Study I
The optional History Senior Thesis is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. Approval is required. Students submit thesis proposals in the spring before the year that they choose to write their thesis. Students generally begin their thesis in the fall and complete it during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring. All students must attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops in fall and winter semesters and work with a faculty advisor to complete a 55-70 page paper. Please see detailed guidelines under history requirements.

Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

More Information »

HIST 0701 - Senior Independent Study II      

Senior Independent Study II
With departmental approval, senior history majors may write a two-term thesis under an advisor in the area of their choosing. The final grade is applied to both terms. Students must submit thesis proposals in the spring before the academic year that they choose to write their thesis. They must attend the Thesis Writers' Workshops held in the fall and winter of the academic year in which they begin the thesis. The department encourages students to write theses during the fall (0700) and winter terms (0701), but with the permission of the chair, fall/spring and winter/spring theses are also acceptable. Under exceptional circumstances, the department may approve a thesis initiated in the spring of an academic year and finished in the fall of the following year. Further information about the thesis is available from the department.

Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022, Winter 2023, Spring 2023

More Information »

HIST 1041 - Chronicling COVID-19      

Chronicling COVID-19: Capturing the Pandemic Experience in Vermont
The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our lives and challenged the way our communities and institutions operate. The availability of vaccines has made it possible to gain some perspective on COVID and its impact. In this course we will work as chroniclers and interpreters of the local community’s responses to COVID. In addition to situating COVID among other notable public health emergencies in Vermont – the 1918 pandemic, the 1927 flood, and the 2011 Irene disaster – we will explore the experiences of Addison County residents as they navigated this pandemic. In collaboration with Special Collections, we will conduct oral history interviews and gather other historical materials for this multi-staged class research project. (Counts for HSMT credit) CW HIS WTR

Winter 2022, Winter 2023

More Information »

Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

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