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Abstract

This paper features recent teaching and scholarship produced in U.S. Women’s History and Women’s History coursework at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana. We discuss using visual culture analysis and intersectionality in the U.S. History and Women’s History classroom to produce scholarship that interrogates the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality at a particular historical moment and examines visual primary sources. We give examples of scholarship produced in coursework using these methods, from studying the Lavender Scare and popular culture’s constructions of Democracy that equated communism with homosexuality to the ways in which middle class social reformers used their class status and white privilege to help prostitutes while also harming them in the early 20th century. We also look at contemporary popular culture constructions of Pocahontas and the ways in which her depictions reinforce white supremacy and distort narratives of Native-America history. The paper engages readers with images and discussion questions about a visual construction of what is considered civilized womanhood. We also examine and question what it means to be American and American ideologies on the right way of being a sexual being.

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