Heather Martel


Assistant Professor
Associate Faculty, Women's and Gender Studies
(PhD UC-Irvine)
US/Gender History
Early Modern Atlantic World
Email: Heather.Martel@nau.edu
Office phone: 928-523-6993
Office BS 208 
Curriculum Vitae 

Research and teaching interests 

My research and writing falls under the working book title, Deadly Virtue:  Protestant Identity, Sexual Violence and Race in First Encounters with Indigenous Americans.  My thesis is that though many of the individual Europeans who met indigenous Americans found them to be sympathetic, the process of defining a new Protestant identity required resistance to indigenous American people and cultures that resulted in sexual violence and developed into modern racism.  I contextualize these encounters within the history of Christianity, the body, and early modern identity politics of gender, race, and sexuality.

Currently I am writing an essay titled “The Gender Amazon:  Indigenous Female Masculinity in Early Modern European Representations of Contact,” which has been accepted for presentation at the Newberry Library Seminar on Women and Gender.  This essay argues that English and French men exploring the Americas for the first time carried expectations of encountering Amazons:  physically powerful, martial women with a great deal of sexual and political agency who lived in matriarchal societies.  As a result, when they encountered real indigenous American women within cultures that provided them with sexual, spiritual, and political agency, these travelers were able to partially recognize alternatives to the western gender system. 

This research and my academic training draw upon a broad array of early modern historiography, theoretical approaches, and historical methodologies that prepare me to teach early modern Atlantic World History, comparative colonialisms, cross-cultural encounters, the history of science, the history of women, gender, race, class, masculinity, and sexuality, as well as postcolonial, queer, gender, and critical race theory. 

Courses taught  

HIS 200:  History and the Historian – Historicizing and Theorizing Thomas Harriot’s Brief and True Report on the New Found Land Virginia (1590)
HIS 295:  US Women and Gender
HIS 300W:  American Sexualities – Marriage
HIS 300W:  Atlantic Slavery
HIS 300W:  Travel Narratives
HIS 467:  Topics in Atlantic World History – Colonizing North America
HIS 467:  Topics in Atlantic World History – Early Modern Biopolitics
HIS 467:  Topics in Atlantic World History – Atlantic World Encounters
HIS 484:  Topics in Gender and Sexuality History – Women in Cultural Contact
HIS 484:  Topics in Gender and Sexuality History – American Sexualities:  Telling LGBTQ Histories
HIS 484:  Topics in Gender and Sexuality History – American Sexualities:  Marriage in America
HIS 484:  Topics in Gender and Sexuality History – Gender in America 1890-2010
HIS 484:  Topics in Gender and Sexuality – Gender, Culture and Colonialism in America
HIS 498C:  Senior Capstone – Cross-Cultural Encounters
HIS 499:  Contemporary Developments - US Immigrants and Refugees
HIS 565:  Readings in Gender, Race and Class – Feminist Theory
HIS 565:  Readings in Gender, Race and Class – 19th and 20th C US Gender
HIS 590:  Readings in US History – Historiography of Colonial America
WGS 399:  Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies – Global Queer History and Theory

List of recent publications 

 “Colonial Allure: Normal Homoeroticism and Sodomy in Sixteenth-Century French-Timucuan Encounters in Florida” Journal of the History of Sexuality (Invited to Revise and Resubmit)

“Dirty Things:  Bread, Maize, Women and Christian Identity in 16th C America” in Trudy Eden and Kenneth Albala, eds. The Lord’s Table Essays on Food and Christianity from the Middle Ages to the Present and Global in Perspective (Columbia University Press, Spring 2011)

“Ferocious Appetites:  Hunger, Nakedness and Identity in Sixteenth-Century American Encounters,”  in A. Scott and C. Kosso, eds., Poverty and Prosperity in Medieval and Early Modern Times(Brepols, Spring 2011)

“Hans Staden’s Captive Soul:  Identity, Imperialism, and Rumors of Cannibalism in Sixteenth-Century Brazil,” Journal of World History (March 2006)

Book reviews

Eve Keller, Generating Bodies and Gendered Selves:  The Rhetoric of Reproduction in Early Modern England.  Seattle, London:  University of Washington Press, 2007.  H-Net Reviews.  Forthcoming