Believing Women in the Late-Nineteenth Century

deadline for submissions: 
August 19, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Arielle Zibrak / University of Wyoming
contact email: 

Please consider submitting an abstract for this panel proposal at the 2020 C19 conference in Coral Gables, FL. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2018 helped make “Believe Women” a new rallying cry for the #metoo movement(s). This roundtable will examine the contentious issue of women’s believability during the latter half of the nineteenth century, a time when the credibility of women was also at the forefront of popular consciousness, occasionally heralded but more often interrogated. How did writers and activists push back against the persistent gaslighting of women during the postbellum period? Did they find their own credibility attacked on account of their efforts to stand up for women whose actions and/or accounts proved divisive? When and where did speaking up for other women amount to speaking for other women? To what extent was unreliability gendered during this period? What political and rhetorical strategies were used in nineteenth-century narratives to make the practices of gaslighting not just visible but believable to their readers? And what might such strategies teach us about our own moment?


Please send 300-word abstracts and vitae to Cynthia Davis ( and

Arielle Zibrak ( by Monday, August 19th.