MA/PGDip Gender, Sexuality and Culture

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Gender, Sexuality & the Body

Course unit fact file
Unit code HIST65182
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by History
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This option is divided into thematic sections, most of which will have more than one seminar attached to the topic, with an introductory session on the 'discovery' of a 'women's history' and the subsequent channels for historical inquiry that followed in its wake. The course pays close attention to the concepts and categories that have been developed to understand embodiment, sexuality and interiority.

- The discovery that history is sexed

- Gender as a category of analysis

- Flesh and Body Stories

- Histories of Sexuality

- Approaches to race, class, gender and sexuality

- Sexual identities and interiority

- Sexualties, bodies and power

- Reproductive lives and technologies


This module explores methodological and historical concerns in gender and sexuality via intense and closely focused seminar reading, starting with an overview of major practitioners and paradigms in the field before moving on to a set of key concerns. Each week will include a set of core texts. In addition, students will read an additional article in their own areas of interest

Knowledge and understanding

- Understand the intellectual history of women's and gender history.

- Explain major debates and controversies in the field.

- Demonstrate familiarity with major themes addressed by women's and gender historians in comparative perspective.

Intellectual skills

- Understanding of historiographic debate.

- Understanding of gender theory.

- Select insights and approaches from one period, region or discipline and apply them to another.

- Formulate a research question based on scholarly literature at the forefront of the disciplines studied and adopt an appropriate method for addressing and answering that question.

- To develop analytical skills which can be applied to primary or secondary material.

- To synthesize in a meaningful and incisive manner a wealth of information gathered and analysed through independent research.

- To identify and assess the significance of historical context for contemporary debates and issues.

Practical skills

- Locate, retrieve and assimilate relevant information from primary and secondary sources.

- Compile systematic bibliographies and to present them according to scholarly conventions.

- Present complex ideas in coherent and accessible form in oral, visual and written format.

- Identify, analyse and apply a wide range of data.

- Formulate and design a range of proposals; identify appropriate intellectual, methodological and resource toolkit for successful completion of proposal.

- Draw up a specialist bibliography on a research topic.

- Manage a sustained program of regular weekly work.

- Present ideas fluently in writing and oral presentation to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

- Gain experience in problem solving, leadership and teamwork.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

- Articulate and develop informed and reasoned argument in written and oral form.

- Organise own learning through self-management and work to deadlines.

- Using ICT for research and presentation purposes.

- Demonstrate the ability to work in a group and show leadership.

- Identify, analyse and apply a wide range of data to formulate and solve problems.

- Ability to bring analytical and research skills to bear on the formulation and design of proposals.

Assessment methods

Bibliography and literature review essay 30%
Essay 70%


Recommended reading

- Apter, Emily S. Feminizing the Fetish: Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsession in Turn-of-the-Century France. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.

- Ballantyne, Tony, and Antoinette Burton. Bodies in Contact: Rethinking Colonial Encounters in World History. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

- Banerjee, Swapna M. Men, Women, and Domestics: Articulating Middle-Class Identity in Colonial Bengal. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004.

- Bérubé, Allan, John D'Emilio, and Estelle B. Freedman. Coming out under Fire : The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Ii. 20th anniversary ed. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.

- Cornwall, Andrea, ed. Readings in Gender in Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

- D'Emilio, John. Making Trouble : Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the University. New York: Routledge, 1992.

- Davidoff, Leonore, and Catherine Hall. Family Fortunes: Revised Edition. Revised ed. London: Routledge, 2002.

- Foster, Thomas A. Long before Stonewall : Histories of Same-Sex Sexuality in Early America. New York: New York University Press, 2007.

- Haraway, Donna. Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991.

- Hunt, Nancy Rose, Tessie P. Liu, and Jean H. Quataert, eds. Gendered Colonialisms in African History. Oxford: Blackwell, 1997.

- Kennedy, Elizabeth Lapovsky, and Madeline D. Davis. Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community. New York: Routledge, 1993.

- Lacan, Jacques. Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the Ecole Freudienne. edited by Juliet Mitchell and Jacqueline Rose New York: W.W. Norton, 1982

- Laqueur, Thomas. Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990.

- Mahmood, Saba. Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005.

- Martin, Emily. The Woman in the Body: A Cultural Analysis of Reproduction. Boston: Beacon Press, 1987

- Riley, Denise. "Am I That Name?": Feminism and the Category of "Women" in History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1988.

- Robertson, Claire, and Iris Berger, eds. Women and Class in Africa. New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1986

- cott, Joan Wallach. Gender and the Politics of History. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

- Vicinus, Martha. Lesbian Subjects : A Feminist Studies Reader. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

- Walkowitz, Judith R. City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Steven Pierce Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Contact hours to be confirmed.

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