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February newsletter

caroline_2.jpgCongratulations from Caroline Wright, Principal Teaching Fellow

Hello, I’m Caroline Wright and I teach Sociology here at Warwick, focusing on Gender Studies.
Our curriculum enables students to shape their own degree route, both through choices of optional modules and through following an optional specialism; as well as a specialism in Gender Studies, we have five other specialisms, including in Race and Global Politics and Research Methods.

Gender Studies is something our department is well known for and I really value working with students who are so switched on to how gender shapes our world, and how we can transform it, at the same time as recognising that it cross-cuts other really important axes of diversity such as race, age, sexuality, (dis)ability, social class.

Of course as sociologists we’re interested in better understanding the world in order to transform it, tackling social exclusion and injustice, and I’m very proud and inspired by the work my colleagues do and the contribution of students. For example, the Warwick Anti-Sexism Society was first established by Sociology students; recent campaigns on campus for gender-neutral toilets have been led by Sociology students; some of our students last year used their pre-occupations with student debt in these neoliberal times as a catalyst for exciting research for their third-year dissertations.

My first-year optional module looks at changing gender relations in four case studies from around the world, India, South Africa, China and Iran, and we trace themes of family, work, resistance and state politics through each case. I’ve always valued international perspectives on key issues, which challenge Anglo-centric views of the world, and it’s a great privilege to teach a student cohort that is so diverse.

My second year optional module considers how gender both shapes, and is shaped by, contemporary human reproduction in the UK and internationally, including topics such as fatherhood and masculinities; gay and lesbian parenting; trans-parenting; the politics of infant feeding (is ‘breast best’?); trans-racial adoption; IVF and gamete donation; the medicalization of childbirth; surrogate motherhood.

One of the things that makes Warwick distinctive is our commitment to students as producers of knowledge, rather than just recipients, and student research is at the heart of our curriculum from the start. For example, students do a mini research project into why people have children in the second week of my module, and it’s exciting to see what happens when we take something we think of as obvious and common-sense and render it strange, something to be explained and questioned. Students also do a bigger piece of group research later into the teaching, and for one week they take-over the lecture and all the seminars to showcase their work; this is always my favourite part of the module! Then every year some students develop their own independent dissertation research spinning off aspects of the module.

Whatever field of Sociology you’re interested in, here at Warwick we offer a really friendly department where there’s always lots going on, including film night, topical lunches and other events as well as more formal lectures and seminars, and I hope you will join us!