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GE338 Gender Trouble in Contemporary German Culture

Module Code: GE338
Module Name: Gender Trouble in Contemporary German Culture
Module Coordinator: Dr Katherine Stone
Date and time TBC
Module Credits: 15

Module Description

Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble (1990) radically changed the way that we think about gender and sexuality. The philosopher argues that gender identity is not an intrinsic essence. Instead the illusion of a gendered identity is created through the way we walk, talk, dress, and act in accordance to gender norms. The “trouble” that Butler evokes in her title refers to several things. In patriarchal culture, she argues, woman (other and unknowable) has always been a source of trouble. At the same time, patriarchy is founded upon a perception of sexual difference that affirms the superiority of the male subject. Binary notions of masculinity and femininity, attached to heteronormative sexuality, bolster existing power structures. To challenge these concepts thus challenges the social order.

This module aims to demonstrate how Butler’s thinking has permeated German culture and politics. It will provide students with an overview of contemporary gender debates in Germany, from ongoing discussion of abortion, family politics, sexual violence, marriage for all, transgender rights, and the legal recognition of non-binary gender to the gender politics of the far-right. At the forefront of our conversations will be a consideration with how gender intersects with other forms of oppression and privilege. Excerpts from contemporary gender and queer theory will support students’ work with primary material, from films and novels to media sources. On top of this, we will consider the different ways in which cultural production troubles gender norms.

Reading List:

Alongside excerpts from theory and debates in mainstream and social media, we will be examining the following primary works:

  • Weeks 2-3: Thomas Meinecke, Tomboy (1998) --- Suhrkamp, ISBN 9783518396186
  • Week 4: Social Media Activism: #regrettingmotherhood and #ausnahmlos
  • Week 5: Kutluğ Ataman, Lola und Bilidikid (1999)
  • Week 7: Angelina Maccarone, Fremde Haut (2005)
  • Week 8: Benjamin Lebert, Crazy (1999) --- Random House, ISBN 9783570305805
  • Weeks 9-10: Julia Franck, Die Mittagsfrau (2007) --- Fischer, ISBN 3596175526

Within the conceptual frame of gender trouble, these works will allow us to consider the pop literature movement, postmodern literature and plagiarism, transculturation, Germanness in the post-unification era, ethical storytelling.

Please note that these texts deal at times with difficult subject matter, including suicide, bereavement, sexual violence, racist abuse, incest, and drug use, as well as some graphic depictions of violence and sex. Students will be warned in advance if these topics will feature in the reading and will have the opportunity to flag any potential concerns before class --- either anonymously or in person. Where classroom discussion focuses in on these issues, the approach aims to be both sensitive and academically rigorous; however, the module convenor is open to discussing and accommodating student concerns.

Assessment Method:

For 2020-2021:

30% multimedia presentation (max. 15-minutes in the form of a video recording / podcast / narrated PowerPoint / video essay)

70% Essay (3000-3500 words in English)

For 2021-2022:

30% multimedia presentation (max. 15-minutes in the form of a video recording / podcast / narrated PowerPoint / video essay)

5% Critical Review of one peer’s work: 500 words

65% Essay: 2500-3000 words in English

Katherine Stone picture

Dr Katherine Stone

Virtual Student hours via MS Teams: Mondays 10-11 and Tuesdays 11-12
Comprehensive module reading list on Talis Aspire
Module Moodle Page