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Withdrawn Module: Intimate Matters: Gender, Sexuality and the Body in Global History (HI31Y)

Please note that this module was available
from 2012 to 2016, but has since been
 withdrawn and is no longer available.

Tutor: Dr Howard Chiang

This final-year Advanced Option module is a critical introduction to the history of gender, sexuality, and the body in the modern world. It draws on the skills and materials from the core modules (e.g., Making of the Modern World, Making History, Historiography, etc.), but also expands on them with a decisively global focus. This module pays special attention to the production of knowledge, the operation of power, and how they relate to the constructions of personhood and the body as sites of meaning-making, grounds for political struggle, loci of cultural identity, and guarantors of human difference. This seminar surveys a broad range of secondary literature, thereby exploring not only the historical interactions of gender, sexuality, and the modernizing body, but also their intricate historiography—the history of their histories emerging from diverse national and comparative inquiries. Students will assess the ways in which theoretical paradigms, disciplinary orientations, methodological styles, data contents, and genres of scholarly writing have evolved over time, and compare them against one another, while never losing sight of the global framing that unifies them.

This module is divided into four units: Unit I, “Frames,” introduces the major categories of analysis that will form the basis of discussion throughout the module; Unit II, “Periods,” provides a chronological approach to some of the key turning points in the twentieth century; Unit III, “Encounters,” picks up on a number of challenging themes in the study of global interactions and inter-connections; and Unit IV, “Trans,” concludes with emergent frameworks and future directions in exploring alternative processes of historical change. Each week students learn to unpack theoretical perspectives from methodological approaches and to assess primary research against existing historiography. The readings cover selected regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and the Americas, focusing primarily on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although the module does not assume prior knowledge in global history, students should be prepared to familiarize themselves with general world history beyond the scope of the assigned readings.

**Please note a change of time and location for the seminars during Weeks 7 & 8 in Term 1 and Weeks 3 & 9 in Term 2.


Recommended Books:

There is no required textbook for this module, but the following books are highly recommended for purchase because we will be reading them in full. They are also available in the library.

  • Nancy Rose Hunt, A Colonial Lexicon: Of Birth Ritual, Medicalization, and Mobility in the Congo (Duke University Press, 1999).
  • Joanne Meyerowitz, How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States (Harvard University Press, 2002).
  • Ari Larissa Heinrich, The Afterlife of Images: Translating the Pathological Body between China and the West (Duke University Press, 2008).
  • Lois Banner, Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox (Bloomsbury, 2012).
  • J. Jack Halberstam, Gaga Feminism: Sex, Gender, and the End of Normal (Beacon Press, 2012).
  • Afsaneh Najmabadi, Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran (Duke University Press, 2013).


Module Details:



bodies of work

for the record