Women's power in Ancient Egypt and China

Order Description
The culmination of the course is a paper of at least 10 pages that relies on primary ancient source material – in the form of ancient texts, ancient art, and/or archaeological evidence like artifacts and features from an ancient site – to understand a problem about feminine power (or the lack thereof) from one or more points in time in the ancient world. You can work with your TA to develop an appropriate dataset to answer your research questions. Your paper might focus on aspects of interest to this class, including the reasons for gender inequality, biological determinism, cultural creation of gendered roles, ways around gendered roles, feminine power in the home, feminine power amongst elites, feminine power at court, or feminine power on the throne, or you could examine feminine power using Michael Mann’s rubric of power being either ideological, economic, political, or military in basis. You could also include discussions of bureaucracy, systems of labor, systems of elite incentives, conspicuous consumption, the ideological underpinnings of power, state collapse, reaction to empire, or economic systems – all in relation to female influence, or the reasons for her exclusion.

The main point of this paper is to allow you to do analysis with primary sources, including ancient texts in translation, artifacts, buildings, and visual or archaeological data. We are interested in argument, not description. This is not meant to be a book report, but an examination of primary data to understand how a particular system may have touched, influence, or worked upon women. That system might be ideological, political, social, economic, and/or militarily oriented (as in Michael Mann’s The Sources of Social Power).

If you are asking WHY? or HOW? in your paper, then you are on the right track. If you are just asking WHAT happened?, then you will produce a descriptive paper with no real analysis.


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