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Introduction to Gender Studies

Vak 2017-2018

Tags

GS, HD, IJ, WP

Admissions requirements

None.

Description

In what ways does gender play a role in our daily lives and in our societies? How are our understandings and performances of gender and sexuality shaped by discourses and how do they inflect discourses in turn? How have perceptions of gender been changing and how do they vary across cultures and places? How do material factors and emotions interact with discourses in shaping gender? And, finally, how can we approach gender in a variety of manifestations and connect theory to practice?

The course will address these and related questions by providing an overview of ‘classical’ and contemporary theorizations of gender as well as looking at some differences in defining gender issues and shaping gender politics in Western and non-Western societies. Navigating the field of gender studies, we will start by looking into the history of debate about gender and sexuality, and the key definitions developed by feminist critics. This will include engaging with ways of ‘doing’ femininity and masculinity and constructing gendered identity at the interface of race and sex. Furthermore, we will focus on some contributions of gender theory to the larger field of critical humanities and social sciences. This part of the course will be concluded with students’ presentations that connect the discussed theories to current public debates.

In the following weeks, our focus will shift to the practice of doing gender analysis. Students will be introduced to a variety of materials (texts and film, mass and new media, everyday practices and international policies) and interdisciplinary approaches to working with different types of data (also by guest lecturers). During these weeks students will conduct gender ‘fieldwork’ and write a short essay reflecting on it.

Weekly topics:

Gender theory
Week 1: What is gender? Approaching gender and sexuality
Week 2: Doing gender: performativity and intersectionality
Week 3: Queer theory
Week 4: Applying theory (presentations & discussions)
Gender analysis
Week 5: Gender and cultural analysis
Week 6: Sociological and anthropological approaches to gender
Week 7: Gender and development; wrap-up
Week 8: Reading week

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course students will be able to

  • describe main conceptualizations of gender, including its intersections with other categories of difference such as race, class and sexuality;
  • reflect on the changing history and regional differences in discourses of feminism;
  • outline major theories of gender and sexuality and relate them to current social debates;
  • explain major approaches to analyzing gender practices in various disciplines/ fields of study (cultural and media studies, sociology, anthropology, development studies);
  • prepare and deliver group presentation;
  • write a short analytical essay.

Timetable

Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

This course will be conducted as a seminar, with two 2-hour sessions per week, running from week 1 to 7. During weeks 1-3, the focus will be on concepts and theoretical approaches, which will be introduced through readings, discussions and case studies selected by the lecturer. In week 4, the students themselves will present cases of applying theories in analyzing gender-related issues and debates. Weeks 5-7 will include introductions to several key disciplines and areas of doing gender studies and exercises of conducting such analysis. This will lead to students’ own projects of observing and analyzing gender practices which they will do in pairs. Students are expected to participate actively in classroom discussions and to bring in questions and materials relating to the topics addressed. During week 8 students will write an exam consisting of several short essay questions.

Assessment

Participation – 15 %
Presentation (in pairs) – 15 %
‘Fieldwork’ and a short essay (in pairs) – 30%
Written exam (short essay questions) - 40 %

Blackboard

There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

  • Ryle, Robin. Questioning Gender: A Sociological Exploration. Sage publishers (2nd edition).

This book will be used as the main reference; selected chapters will be assigned for the first weeks.

Links to other readings will be provided via the Blackboard.

Registration

This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.

Contact

k.robbe@hum.leidenuniv.nl