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Histories of Gender in the Americas: Ladies, Wenches, Hombres and Machos (AM411)

Scarlett O’HaraTutor: Professor Rebecca Earle
Room: H327, third floor of the Humanities Building
Phone: 024 765 23466

Were slave-owning ladies in the American south really like Scarlett O’Hara? Do Mexican men describe themselves as macho? This 30 CATS final-year Advanced Option module examines the social construction of ideas about masculinity and femininity in the Americas during the past two hundred years, looking in particular at the origins of some of the gender stereotypes familiar through literature and cinema. Drawing on a wide range of sources - from poetry written by Chicana feminists and works of Queer Theory to nineteenth-century Spanish American novels - it explores the shaping of gender norms in Anglo and Latin America. The importance of race and class in differentiating the behaviours expected from both men and women is a particular focus. Topics covered include the origins of the white Southern obsession with inter-racial sex and ‘white womanhood’, the accuracy of view that Hispanic society is fiercely concerned with honour, and the place of homosexuality within ‘macho’ Latin cultures. The module contrasts the versions of the past presented in historical writings with those depicted in novels, poetry and film, and seeks to explain when and why particular gender stereotypes emerged.