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Themes & Approaches to the Historical Study of Gender & Sexuality (HI996)


Dr Laura Schwartz

Context of Module
Module Aims
Intended Learning Outcomes
Preliminary Bibliography
Context of Module

This optional module, taught over a 10-week term in the Spring, can be taken by students on the MA in Early Modern History, the MA in Modern History, the MA in Global and Comparative History, or the MA in the History of Medicine course.

Module Aims

This optional module is intended to give a critical overview of one of the fastest growing and most dynamic areas of modern historical enquiry - the history of gender and sexuality. It aims to provide students with an understanding of how feminist and queer history has emerged from earlier approaches to the study of history, what makes it distinctive and what its principal strengths and weaknesses might be. As an option taken by students across different MA streams, this module not only examines the range of historical methods and interpretations that constitute feminist and queer histoircal inquiry (from the early modern period to the present), but also looks at the usefulness of 'gender' and 'sexuality' as categories of analysis that can be investigated alongside other social grids and indexes of identity and in relation to different source-driven approaches to history. The aims of the module include:

  • To widen and deepen students’ understanding of themes in the study of gender and sexuality in history across chronological period and geographical area
  • To help students develop a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of an historian of gender and sexuality
  • To help students hone their ability to formulate and achieve a piece of critical and reflective historiographical writing
Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to

  • Demonstrate an understanding of a longer chronological and broader geographic understanding of gender and sexuality as a thematic field of historical expertise.
  • Demonstrate a conceptual and practical understanding of the skills of an historian of gender and sexuality.
  • Demonstrate the ability to formulate and achieve a piece of critical and reflective historiographical writing.
  • Demonstrate the ability to undertake critical analysis. Demonstrate the ability to formulate and test concepts and hypotheses

This course is taught in weekly 2-hour seminars.

Week 1: Class Laura Schwartz [12noon-2pm, room FAB1.14]

Week 2: Colonialism Rebecca Earle

Week 3: Law Charles Walton

Week 4: Race Lydia Plath [9am-11am, room H0.66] 

Week 5: Science James Poskett

Week 6: Reading Week (no seminar)

Week 7: Violence Anna Hajkova

Week 8: Health Mathew Thomson

Week 9: Religion Rosie Doyle

Week 10: Sex and History Laura Schwartz [12 noon - 2pm, H0.03]

Preliminary Bibliography
  • Judith Butler and Joan Scott, eds., Feminists Theorize the Political (1992)
  • Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonising Theory, Practicing Solidarity (2003)
  • Betsy Hartmann, Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control (1987)
  • Walter Mignolo, The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options (2011)
  • Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (2010)
  • Anna Hájková and Elissa Mailänder, "Holocaust and the History of Gender and Sexuality" (Forum with Patrick Farges, Doris Bergen, and Atina Grossmann), German History, 36, 1, February 2018, pp. 78–100
  • Antonio Barrera-Osorio, Experiencing Nature: The Spanish American Empires and the Early Scientific Revolution, University of Texas Press (2006)
  • Leslie Peirce, Morality Tales: Law and Gender in the Ottoman Court of Aintab (2003)
  • Kecia Ali, Marriage and Slavery in Early Islam (2010)
  • Judith Tucker, Women, Family and Gender in Islamic Law (2008)
  • Alison Bashford, Purity and pollution : gender, embodiment, and Victorian medicine (1998)
  • Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska, Managing the body : beauty, health, and fitness in Britain, 1880-1939 (2010)
  • Marcia C. Inhorn and Soraya Tremayne (eds), Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Sunni and Shia Perspectives (2015)
  • Susan Martha Kahn, Reproducing Jews : a cultural account of assisted conception in Israel (2000)
  • Nancy Rose Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (1999)
  • Nancy Rose Hunt, A Nervous State: Violence, Remedies, and Reverie in Colonial Congo (2016)
  • Joanne Meyerowitz, How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States (2002)
  • Afsaneh Najmabadi, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (2005)
  • Afsaneh Najmabadi, Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (2013)
  • Robert M. Buffington, Eithne Luibhéid, and Donna J. Guy, eds., A Global History of Sexuality: The Modern Era (2014)
  • Merry E. Weisner-Hanks, Gender in History: Global Perspectives, 2nd ed. (2011)
  • Raquel A. G. Reyes and William G. Clarence-Smith, eds., Sexual Diversity in Asia, c. 600-1950 (2012)
  • Heike Bauer, ed., Sexology and Translation: Cultural and Scientific Encounters across the Modern World, 1880-1930 (2015)
  • Stuart Carroll, ed., Cultures of Violence: Interpersonal Violence in Historical Perspective (2007)
  • Pieter Spierenburg, ed., Men and Violence: Gender, Honor and Rituals in Modern Europe and America (1998)
  • Lawrence Stone, Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 (1977)

One 6000 word assessed essay, to be submitted at the end of the spring vacation (see handbook for exact deadline).

Tutors: Laura Schwartz
Term: Spring Term
Day: Wednesday
Time: 11:00-13:00 (except weeks 1, 4 and 10, see below)