Both the history of gender and the history of the Atlantic world have blossomed as fields of inquiry in the last 30 years, but the relationship between these two subjects remains unclear. Melding them is a profound challenge to historians in both fields. In part there is a need to make Atlantic history more than simply imperial history in a new guise. Rather, for the history of the Atlantic to be as wide-ranging as the Atlantic world itself, it is requisite that Atlantic history meets the challenge of gender. The place of gender — that is, the social and cultural categorization of sexual difference — in this world needs to be understood, as do other questions about cultural values, behaviors, and the organization of power at levels both large and small. Equally, gender historians can benefit from the more expansive, multinational approach offered by Atlantic history, placing broad changes into more precise contexts and replacing outmoded narratives of improvement or decline with more complex models of change and continuity.
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Sarah M. S. Pearsall
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