The aim of this course is to interrogate historical perceptions of women and gender in the early modern era, and to develop a critical approach to primary source documents. We attempt to complicate constructions of ideal feminine behavior by examining the evidence that shows what women actually were up to. In addition to the ways in which major writers and thinkers saw women, we want to know – how did women see themselves in Europe and the British Isles from 1500 to 1800? If asked “what is important to you?” or “what do you do?” how might they have answered? And how do these answers about women and womanliness affect our understanding of early modern men and masculinity? Using letters, court records, journals, art, and published treatises, we explore beyond the veil of the Victorian era’s celebration of “separate spheres”.