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Marta V. Vicente

Associate Professor
Primary office:
785-864-2235
Blake Hall
Room 322


History of sexuality and women's history in 18th-century Spain; European women's history from the 1600s to the present; feminist theory; gender and sexuality.

Research Profile:

After completing her first monograph Clothing the Spanish Empire Marta Vicente (Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University, 1998) became interested in examining how notions of sex and gender were constructed in the eighteenth century. After several years of trips to the Spanish archives, of research and writing, she is about to conclude her second monograph, The Invention of the Sexes: Debating Sex and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Spain. This book examines how medical controversies over individuals with ambiguous sexual and gender traits challenged early modern Spanish notions of sex and gender. After 1700, medical discoveries held the promise of resolving all mysteries about sex formation and establishing once and for all a clear-cut distinction between males and females. Yet, despite the euphoria of surgeons and anatomists, their discoveries failed to answer questions such as, why some men with “perfect” sexual organs acted like women, or why some women capable of giving birth looked like men. These unusual cases challenged a strictly medical explanation of sexuality, and led to debates about legal, philosophical, and social definitions of man and woman. Besides this monograph, recently finished articles and in the process of being published are “Pornography and the Spanish Inquisition: The Reading of Le Portier des Chartreux, a Forbidden Best Seller,” and “Staging Femininity in Early Modern Spain.”

Recent Publications:

  • “Fashion, Race and Cotton Textiles in Colonial Spanish America,” in Giorgio Riello and Prasannan Parthasarathi, eds., The Spinning World: A Global History of Cotton Textiles, 1200-1850. (Oxford University Press/Pasold Research Fund, 2009), 247-260
  • Clothing the Spanish Empire: Families and the Calico Trade in the Early Modern Atlantic World (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2006). 2010 Best First Book Prize awarded by the Association of Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies.

Teaching Profile:

Professor Vicente teaches courses in History and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in European Women’s History, History of Feminist Theory and History of Women and the Body.

Recent History Courses:

  • HIST 321: From Mystics to Feminists: Women's History in Europe 1600 to the Present
  • HIST 324: History of Women and the Body
  • HIST 649: History of Feminist Theory
  • HIST 696: Seminar in: Women, Gender, and Sexuality

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