University of Warwick
Department of Sociology
Module: International Perspectives on Gender, 2008/9
Convenor: Caroline Wright
Tutors: Caroline Wright, Dominic Pasura
This module introduces students to the diverse manifestations of gender around the world in the 20th and 21st centuries. It uses case studies from Britain, Russia, China, South Africa, India, Iran and Ireland. Themes of nationalism, resistance, family, sexuality, religion and work are pursued in order to facilitate analytical connections between case studies. The module explores gender relations as socially and historically variable and emphasises the importance of disaggregating categories of female and male. Particular attention is paid to the symbolic importance of gender and the extent to which it is at the centre of religious and political ideologies that have dominated the last 100 years: colonialism; nationalism; socialism; religious fundamentalism. Attention is also paid to individual and collective resistance to and transformation of gender inequalities.
Autumn Term Lectures
Week 2 Introduction: What is Gender?
Week 3 Gender, School and Work in Contemporary Britain
Week 4 Gender, Family and Sexuality in Contemporary Britain
Week 5 Gender and State Socialism: The USSR
Week 6 Reading Week
Week 7 Gender and Post-Soviet Russia
Week 8 Gender and State Socialism: China
Week 9 Feminism, Orientalism and Nationalism
Week 10 South Africa: Apartheid and the articulation of gender, ‘race’ and class
Spring Term Lectures
Week 11 South Africa: Gender, resistance and the post-apartheid era
Week 12 Gender, Colonialism and Nationalism in India
Week 13 Gender and Post-colonial Nation-building in India
Week 14 Gender and Religious Fundamentalism
Week 15 Gender, Religion and the State in Iran
Week 16 Reading Week
Week 17 Multiple Meanings: Islamic women and the ‘veil’
Week 18 Women, the Nationalist Struggle and the Irish Free State
Week 19 Gender and Modernisation in the Irish Republic
Summer Term Lectures
Week 21 Revision Lecture
Week 22 Revision Lecture
By the end of the module the student should have an understanding of:
the diverse social and cultural manifestations of gender in the twentieth and twenty first centuries in Britain, Russia, China, South Africa, India, Iran and Ireland
the complex ways in which individual capacities to exercise agency are differentiated by gender
the way in which gender is constructed in articulation with other social and cultural identities, such as ‘race’, ethnicity, age, sexuality, class, religion
the relationship between gender and nationalism, and gender and orientalism
the diversity of social movements established to tackle unequal gender relations and the challenges they face
With reference to the above students should be able to:
understand and analyse the historical, social and political processes which underpin manifestations of gender in different parts of the world
locate, retrieve, process and evaluate a wide range of materials about gender manifestations internationally
participate effectively in seminars
draw on a range of sources to construct their own reasoned arguments
make scholarly presentations, verbal and written, on international perspectives on gender
In the process of developing a substantive understanding of diverse international social and cultural manifestations of gender in the twentieth and twenty first centuries, students will also acquire the ability to:
assess critically comparative social and cultural manifestations of gender, the complex ways in which gender is constructed in articulation with other social and cultural identities, and the differential impacts this has on individual capacities to exercise agency
locate, retrieve, process and evaluate a wide range of materials about gender, ‘race’, ethnicity, age, sexuality, class, religion and nationality in the twenieth and twenty first centuries
evaluate competing and complementary theoretical frameworks for understanding the interaction of gender with other social and cultural identities
make scholarly presentations, verbal and written, on the substantive and theoretical issues covered in the module material
Teaching and Learning Methods (which enable students to achieve learning outcomes)
A framework of 16 lectures that establish the module’s outer limits and internal logic
Weekly seminars, over 16 weeks, for structured discussions, including student presentations on specific topics
Two class essays, with written feedback
Self-directed individual and collaborative study in the library and on the internet, in preparation for seminar discussion and presentations
5. Two weeks of revision classes in term 3, including two revision lectures
Assessment Methods (which measure the aforementioned learning outcomes and
determine the final mark for this module)
One 2,000 word essay (due Tuesday 28 April 2009) 33% AND
One three-hour examination in the Summer term 66%
Non-Assessed Work (used to provide feedback on your progress, completion is compulsory)
1. Due in at the start of your seminar in week 7 (week beginning 10 November 2008):
A class essay of 1,500 words, the title to be chosen from the list below:
a) How worried should we be that girls are outperforming boys in the UK schooling system?
‘Equal opportunities in the workplace: fiction not fact’. Discuss.
How ‘symmetrical’ is the contemporary British family?
What is the crisis in the British family a crisis about? How is the crisis gendered?
Why might state socialism in the Soviet Union have been described as patriarchal?
2. Due in at the start of your seminar in week 17 (week beginning 16 February 2009):
A class essay of 2,000 words, the title to be chosen from the list below:
a) What impact has post-communism had on men and masculinities in Russia?
How is gender implicated in nationalist projects? Use particular examples in your answer.
‘It is impossible to make sense of the lives of female domestic workers in apartheid South Africa without analysing the complex intersections of class, race and gender’. Discuss.
To what extent has the end of apartheid brought gender equality in South Africa?
Critically assess the symbolic and material roles of Indian women and men in the nationalist movement to overthrow British rule.
Core readings are identified for each topic and must be read before the relevant seminar. All the core readings are available electronically as well as in hard copy in the Library. Most are available via the Library’s dedicated site for e-resources for this module:
You will need to complete Web Sign-on to access the site, and then you simply look for the reference you require. You can read it on screen using Adobe Reader (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html?promoid=DAFYK if you need to load it) and you should also print a copy to consult in your seminar.
Some of the core readings cannot be made available in this way because they are already available electronically, as electronic journal articles or e-books. In such cases, you will find the relevant link directly after the reference below. Depending on the interface, this may lead directly to the article, or to a download option, or to an invitation to identify the institution for access (University of Warwick). The article will be a pdf so you will need Adobe Reader (see above). You are recommended to save the pdf to your hard drive or data-stick (right click, select ‘save target as’, then choose a directory). You can then open the saved document, print it, search it etc. In the case of e-books, you will need to search within the book to find the chapter you want and may only be able to view on screen on a page-by-page basis; in this case you will need to make notes to bring to the seminar.
All the additional readings listed below for each topic are available in the library and should be used when doing more in depth work, eg. for a seminar presentation, class essay, assessed essay or revision for exams.
Week 2 Introduction: What is Gender?
Seminar Think of an example you’ve come across whereby differences between
Questions women and men are explained on the basis of biology.