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Gender: Theory and History

F: Gender: Theory and History (Convenor: Prof Helena Sanson)  

The mini-seminars on ‘Gender: Theory and History’ are designed to equip you with the critical and research tools needed to develop your research on gender issues across a variety of fields, genres, and languages. They will offer an exploration into the notion and category of ‘gender’ and its relevance across the centuries (from the Medieval times to the present) and across different contexts, traditions, subjects, and disciplines. 
It will allow students to explore the various meanings, understandings and implications of gender, its uses in the construction of ‘identities’, and its representation, across literature, history, art, cinema, and language. It will provide students with a critical and theoretical knowledge of gender that includes also feminist theory, queer theory, transgender/trans* theory, and critical sexuality studies. 
The nature and scope of the ‘Gender: Theory and History’ mini-seminars is to offer students both the option of in-depth investigation into gender-related issues and topics, and to transcend linguistic, national, and chronological divisions to pose broader comparative questions. Students interested in the subject will be able to create a Gender pathway within the MPhil, by taking also the module ‘Approaches to Gender’ taught during Lent term, as well as focusing on gender-related topics within other modules.

Some preliminary readings:
Butler, J. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge
Butler, J. (2004). Undoing Gender. New York and London: Routledge
De Beauvoir, S. (2010) [1949]. The Second Sex, transl. C. Borde and S. Malovany-Chevallier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf
Firestone, S. (1970). The Dialectic of Sex. NY: Bantam Books
Foucault, M. (1976). History of Sexuality: An Introduction, vol. I.  Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Freidan, B. (1963). The Feminist Mystique. NY: WW Norton
Halberstam, J. (2005). In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: NYU Press
Hall, D., and A. Jagose (eds) (2013). Routledge Queer Studies Reader. Abingdon: Routledge, Ch. 1, 2, 3 (by E. Kosofsky Segwick, J. Butler, J. Prosser)
Hill Collins, P. (1990.) Black Feminist Thought. London: Unwin Hyman
Hufton, O. (1996). The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, Vol. 1, 1500-1800 (London: HarperCollins), Ch. 1 and 2
Mill, J. S. (1970) [1869]. The Subjection of Women, ed. Alice S. Rossi. Chicago: UCP
Laqueur, Thomas, ‘Destiny is Anatomy’, (chap. 2), in his Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1992), pp. 26 62
Lugones, M. (2016). ‘The Coloniality of Gender’, in The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development: Critical Engagements in Feminist Theory and Practice, ed. Wendy Harcourt, Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 13-33
Millett, K. (1970). Sexual Politics. NY: Doubleday
Rose, S. O. (2010). What is Gender History?. Cambridge: Polity, Ch. 1
Tong, R. (2008). Feminist Thought: A More Comprehensive Introduction. Powell’s Books: Oregon.


Session 1: “Gender, Sexuality and Other ‘Queer’ Concepts: A Theoretical Introduction” (Dr. Isaias Fanlo). Week 2.
This session rehearses and reviews basic concepts of “gender”, “sex” and “queerness” and, more pointedly, sets its sights on the insistence and insufficiency of binary categories in the conceptualization, experience and performance of gender and sexuality, themselves at times bundled together and at times separated. It does so by following an intersectional approach that at once privileges and queries the signifier and concept “queer,” with its twists, bends, turns, windings and drifts. Critical questions will be addressed throughout the session, including the consideration of a historical approach to queerness and gender; the relevance of intersectional thinking (at the crossroads of gender, sexuality, class, race); the problematic dynamics between privileging and erasing sexuality in queer studies; the theoretical “turns” within the study of gender and sexuality (antisocial turn, temporal turn, spatial turn, archival turn, ecocritical turn, etc.); the impact of HIV/AIDS in the shaping of queer theory; the promiscuous identitary possibilities of trans*; and the problematic fixation of concepts such as gender or queer in the (Anglo-centric) global academia. 

Core texts to read ahead of the session:
Butler, Judith. “Imitation and Gender Insubordination.” Inside/Out: Lesbian and Gay Theories. Ed. Diana Fuss. London: Routledge, 1991, pp. 13-31.
Crenshaw, Kimberlé. “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1.8 (1989): 139-167. Available at:
Davis, Oliver, Tim Dean. “Does Queer Studies Hate Sex?” Hatred of Sex. Lincoln, U of Nebraska P, 2022, pp. 45-86. (Read 45-64 at least.)
De Lauretis, Teresa. “Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities. An Introduction.” Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 3.2 (1991), pp. iii-xviii.
Eng, David, Jack Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz. “What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?” Social Text, Vol. 23 (3-4), 2005, pp. 1-17.
Lugones, María. “The Coloniality of Gender.” The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development: Critical Engagements in Feminist Theory and Practice. Ed. Wendy Harcourt. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2016, pp. 13-33.
Puar, Jasbir K and Amit Rai. “Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots.” Social Text 20.3 (2002): pp. 117-148.
Stryker, Susan.  “My Words to Victor Frankenstein above the Village of Chamounix: Performing Transgender Rage.”  The Transgender Studies Reader.  Eds. Susan Stryker and Stephern Whittle.  New York: Routledge, 2006, pp. 244-254.
Wittig, Monique.  “The Straight Mind.” Feminist Issues 1.1 (1980), pp. 103-111. AND “One is Not Born a Woman.” Feminist Issues 1.2 (1981), pp. 47-54.

Further readings:
Anzaldúa, Gloria, and Cherríe Moraga (eds.). This Bridge Called My Back. Writings by Radical Women of Color. Fourth Edition. New York: SUNY Press, 2015 [1981]. Introductory chapter.
Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex (any edition, especially, first three chapters: "Biological Data", "The Psychoanalytical Point of View" and “The Point of View of Historical Materialism")
Butler, Judith.  “Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion.”  Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’.  New York: Routledge, 1993, pp. 121-140.
Halberstam, Jack. “The Transgender Look.” In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives. New York: New York UP, 2005, pp. 76-96.
Halberstam, Jack. “Introduction: Low Theory.” The Queer Art of Failure. Durham and London: Duke UP, 2011, pp. 1-25.
Muñoz, José Esteban. “Queerness as Horizon. Utopian Hermeneutics in the Face of Gay Pragmatism.” Cruising Utopia. The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York and London: NY UP, 2009, pp. 19-32.
Preciado, Paul. “The Pharmacopornographic Era.” Testo Junkie. Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Eera. New York: The Feminist Press, 2013, pp. 23-54.
Prosser, Jay.  “Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex.”  The Transgender Studies Reader.  Eds. Susan Stryker and Stephern Whittle. New York: Routledge, 2006, pp. 257-280.
Warner, Michael. “The Ethics of Sexual Shame.” The Trouble with Normal. Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life. Cambridge, Ma: Harvard UP, 2000, pp. 1-40.

Session 2: ‘Gender in Early Modern Europe: Prescriptions and Descriptions’ (Prof. Helena Sanson). Week 4.
In this session, we will explore early modern conceptualizations of “gender” in the Early modern period, with particular attention being given to the rich production of conduct texts for and about women, as well as the so called Querelle des femmes. The focus will be above all on Italy, but students are encouraged to extend their readings to other cultural and linguistic traditions they are familiar with. 

Core reading. Everyone should read the following:

Kelly, Joan, 1984. ‘Early Feminist Theory and the Querelle des femmes 1400-1789’ (1st publ.l. Signs, 1982), in ed. Catharine R. Stimpson, Women, History and Theory: The Essays of Joan Kelly. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 65-109. (querelle and feminism)
Vives, Juan Luis, 2000 [1538]. The Education of a Christian Woman: A Sixteenth-Century Manual, ed. by Charles Fantozzi. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press (original Latin, De Institutione foeminae Christianae (…) libri tres). 
Castiglione, Baldassare, Il libro del cortegiano (1528) (any Italian edition or English translation), Book III (only)

Student presentation: students are invited to present on a text of their choosing after consulting the bibliography in this text (see which texts exist in modern edition for the sake of convenience): 
Kelso, Ruth, 1956. Doctrine for the Lady of the Renaissance. Urbana: University of Illinois Press (also 1978).

For further reading see:
Murphy, Jessica, 2015, Virtuous Necessity: Conduct Literature and the Making of the Virtuous Woman in Early Modern England. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
St. Clair William and Maassen Irmgard (eds), 2000. Conduct Literature for Women 1500-1640. London: Pickering & Chatto.
Bornstein, Diane, 1978 (ed.). Distaves and Dames: Renaissance Treatises for and about Women. Delmar, New York: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints.
Bornstein, Diane, 1980 (ed.). The Feminist Controversy of the Renaissance. Delmar, New York: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints. 
Hufton, Owen, The Prospect Before Her: A History of Women in Western Europe, Vol. 1, 1500-1800 (London: HarperCollins, 1996), Chapters 1, 2.
King, Margaret, 1991. Women of the Renaissance. Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press.
Laqueur, Thomas, ‘Destiny is Anatomy’, (chap. 2), in his Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1992), pp. 26 62.
Maclean, Ian, 1980. The Renaissance Notion of Woman: A Study in the Fortunes of Scholasticism and Medieval Science in European Intellectual Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sanson, Helena, 2016. ‘Women and Conduct in the Italian Tradition, 1470-1900: An Overview’, in Conduct Literature for and about Women in Italy, 1470-1900: Prescribing and Describing Life, ed. Helena Sanson and F. Lucioli (Paris: Classiques Garnier), pp. 9-38.
Zimmermann, Margarete,‘The Querelle des femmes as a cultural studies paradigm’, in Time, Space, and Women's Lives in Early Modern Europe, eds Anne Jacobson Schutte, Thomas Kuehn, Silvana Seidel Menchi.

Please note for essays, you should only use materials in translation for languages with which you are not familiar. Please discuss with the module coordinator and supervisors. 

Session 3: Gender Theory in History: Sex, Commerce and the ‘Global’ Enlightenment (Dr Jenny Mander). Week 6.
This session explores the philosophical, socio-economic and cultural forces at work in the French Enlightenment and eighteenth-century Europe that created the conditions for radically reframing gender in terms of sexual difference founded in nature.  With particular reference to the commercial revolution of the ‘age of reason’ and the multiple entanglements between sex, pleasure, the imagination and commerce, it will also consider the relationship of theories of sexual difference to emerging discourses on modernity in which ‘women’ are simultaneously used as a measure of historical progress even while they are excluded from the process of enlightenment as historical agents.  With reference to the concept of hospitality (cf Hamington), this will allow discussion regarding the symbolic place given to women across a range of genres in the emerging system of nation states and colonial expansion both as guardian of the home and as cosmopolitan conscience, foregrounding dynamics that would fuel later eighteenth-century negotiations of racial and gender equality.   

Core texts to read ahead of the session:
Hamington, Maurice. "Toward a Theory of Feminist Hospitality." Feminist Formations 22, no. 1 (2010): 21-38. Accessed July 27, 2020.
Laqueur, Thomas W. “The Rise of Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Historical Context and Historiographical Implications.” Signs, vol. 37, no. 4, 2012, pp. 802–813. JSTOR, Accessed 27 July 2020.
Mander J. (2005) No Woman is an Island: The Female Figure in French Enlightenment Anthropology. In: Knott S., Taylor B. (eds) Women, Gender and Enlightenment. Palgrave Macmillan, London
Meeker, Natania,’“All times are present to her”: Femininity, Temporality, and Libertinage in Diderot’s “Sur les femmes”." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 3, no. 2 (2003): 68-100. doi:10.1353/jem.2003.0013.
Sebastiani, Silvia,’ “Race”, Women and Progress in the Scottish Enlightenment.  In In: Knott S., Taylor B. (eds) Women, Gender and Enlightenment. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 75-96

Further reading:
Aravamudan, Srinivas.  Tropicopolitans: Colonialism and Agency, 1688-1804.  Durham, NC and London: Duke UP, 1999.
Casid, Jill H. 2004.  Sowing Empire: Landscape and Colonization.
Casid, Jill H.  ‘Inhuming Empire: Islands and Plantation Nurseries and Graves’ in The Global Eighteenth Century edited Felicity Nussbaum.  Baltimore: John Hopkins UP (2003), 279-95.
Castle, Terry.  1995.  The Female Thermometer: Eighteenth-Century Culture and the Invention of the Uncanny.  Oxford: Oxford University Press
Diderot, ‘Sur les femmes’ (On Women)
Diderot, Supplement au Voyage de Bougainville 
Foucault, Michel.  Histoire de la sexualité.  Vol 1.  La volonté de savoir.  Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1976
Hesse, Carla.  The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern.  Princeton: Princeton UP 2001.
Hull, Isabelle V. 1996.  Sexuality, State and Civil Society in Germany, 1700-1815.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Landes, Joan B.  Visualizing the Nation: Gender, Representation, and Revolution in Eighteenth-Century France.  Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 2001.
Laqueur, Thomas W. 2003.  Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation.  New York: Zone.
Rendall, Jane, The Origins of Modern Feminism: Women in Britain, France and the United States, 1780-1860.  London: MacMillan, 1985.
Schiebinger, Londa.  Nature’s Body: Gender in the Making of Modern Science.  Boston: Beacon Press, 1993
Steinbrügge, Lieselotte.  The Moral Sex: Women’s Nature in the French Enlightenment.  New York: Oxford UP, 1995.  

Session 4: ‘Sex and the Body’ (Dr Charlotte Woodford), Week 8.
How does what we call knowledge of the body become accredited as such? Are not the supposed ‘facts’ of biology also the product of culture? This session enquires into knowledge of the body and its regulation within the structures of power in society, and the implications of this for individual subjectivity. The core readings investigate the historically and socially contingent nature of science-based knowledge, drawing links between contemporary theory and conceptualisations of the body around 1900. 

Student presentations connected to the MT theory essay are very welcome in this session, on any subject linked to the set readings. 

Core readings for discussion:
Judith Butler, Undoing Gender (2004), Ch. 1 and 2
Anne Fausto-Sterling, Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality (2000) 
Thomas Laqueur, ‘Orgasm, Generation, and the Politics of Reproductive Biology’, from The Making of the Modern Body: Sexuality and Society in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Catherine Gallagher and Thomas Laqueur (1987)
Londa Schiebinger, The Mind Has No Sex? Women in the Origins of Modern Science (1989)

Further readings:
Ivan Crozier, ‘Bodies in History - the Task of the Historian’, in A Cultural History of the Human Body in the Modern Age (2010)
Elizabeth Grosz. Volatile Bodies: Toward a Corporeal Feminism (1994)
Thomas Schlich, ‘The Technological Fix and the Modern Body: Surgery as a Paradigmatic Case’, in A Cultural History of the Human Body in the Modern Age (2010)

Literature and autobiography around 1900
N.O. Body, Memoirs of a Man’s Maiden Years, tr. Deborah Simon (Philadelphia 2006), orig. N.O. Body, Aus eines Mannes Mädchenjahren, first publ. 1907 
See Ina Linge ‘Gender and Agency between Sexualwissenschaft and Autobiography: the Case of N.O. Body’s Aus eines Mannes Mädchenjahren’ [Memoirs of a Man’s Maiden Years]. German Life and Letters, 68(3) (2015), 38-405
N. O. Body,
Memoirs of a Man’s Maiden Years, tr. Deborah Simon, Philadelphia 2006
N. O. Body,
Memoirs of a Man’s Maiden Years, tr. Deborah Simon, Philadelphia 2006
N. O. Body,
Memoirs of a Man’s Maiden Years, tr. Deborah Simon, Philadelphia 2006
Lou Andreas-Salomé, Mädchenreigen, in Menschenkinder, first publ. 1898 (MedienEdition Welsch 2016); in translation: Maidens' Roundelay, in The Human Family by Lou Andreas-Salomé
See Marti M. Lybeck, ‘Experiments in Female Masculinity: Sophia Goudstikker’s Masculine Mimicry in Turn-of-the-Century Munich’, in Desiring Emancipation: New Women and Homosexuality in Germany 1890-1933 (2014), pp. 49-82

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