Women's History Week at Harvard will kick off today with a variety of lectures, films and presentations on women's issues through history.
Started eight years ago by a group of graduate students concerned that the study of women's history was not well-represented at Harvard, the week is aimed at increasing awareness of women's history.
Natalie Davis, a professor at Princeton and president of the American Historical Association, will highlight the week with a lecture next Friday afternoon.
Davis, who specializes in early modern European history, will speak on gender and pardon tales in 16th century France. The pardon tales come from stories told to the king by women attempting to gain clemency for their alleged crimes.
Other events include a lecture on Islamic eunuchs, given by Shaun Marmon from Johns Hopkins University, and "Hestor Street," a film based on Jewish immigrants' notion of gender roles.
For the first time in the week's eight-year history, a man will also speak. Thomas Laquer, a history professor at the University of California/Berkeley, will speak on the visual representations of anatomy.
"[Laquer's] work is very interesting and certainly on the cutting edge of the field," said Sonya Michel, a lecturer on history and literature and a member of the committee which organized the week.
The events will be funded in large part by the Committee on Women's Studies, Radcliffe College, the History Department and the history and literature program.
Seth D. Koven, a graduate student in history and member of the ad-hoc committee that organized the week, said the week's "first interest is to promote the study of women's history at Harvard."
Another goal of the week, said Angeliki Laiou, history department chairman, "is to bring to Harvard eminent practitioners of women's history to make women's history more widely know at this University."
Student presentations will include a History and Literature symposium of senior these on Women's Studies and an art exhibit featuring women artists of the Divinity School.
"We hope that the whole week will provide an impetus for women's history at Harvard," said Michel.