THEORY AND METHOD IN CONTEMPORARY GENDER STUDIES
Nancy Leys Stepan
Fall, 1994
Department of Political Science
CENTRAL EUROPEAN UNIVERSITY





Course Description

The field of gender studies is rich and diverse, full of controversy and active debates over the significant questions and appropriate answers concerning gender differences and inequalities. In recent years, the very categories "woman" and/or "women" as self-evident or unified sources of experience and identity have been questioned, thus raising important issues about interpretation, meaning, and politics.

This course approaches the field of gender studies through a series of selected but interrelated topics. Each week, a problematic theme or set of concerns is introduced; the ways distinctions of gender [the feminine, the masculine] and social and political inequalities are defined, interpreted and discussed are examined; various conceptual frameworks are evaluated; and some of the contributions made by gender studies to current scholarship in the humanities and the social sciences assessed. Wherever possible, specific examples of the new scholarship are incorporated into the syllabus.

Seminar Format, Class Readings, and Requirements

This course is designed as a seminar. Each week a short lecture will introduce the topic and the main questions it raises; the lecture will be followed by discussion. The readings on the syllabus are required, and students are expected to be responsible for them and to participate actively in discussions [each student will receive a packet of the readings in xeroxed form]. Lists of suggested further readings will also be available, and many of them, and other books, are available to you in the CEU Library. The course is designed for anyone curious about contemporary gender studies, and for those who might want to incorporate a gender dimension into their M.A. thesis.

Each student will make at least one short (5 min.) class-room presentation; a 1-page outline of this presentation is due in our office on the Monday before it is due; this will not be graded, but the outline will help you compose your ideas, and you are welcome to discuss it with us in advance. The presentation may become the basis of your 10-12 page term paper; or you may select another topic, in consultation with us. See the Notes on Term Papers for guidelines. A workshop at the end of the course will allow students to exchange and discuss their papers with the seminar members.

Week 1: Why Feminism/Gender Studies? [October 4]

Gender studies west and east; difficulties, resistances.

Bodies of Bread and Butter: Reconfiguring Women's Lives in the Post-Communist Czech Republic, eds. Susanna Trnka and Laura Busheikin [Prague Gender Studies Centre, 1993], articles by Siklova, Smejkalova-Strickland, Busheikin, pp. 5-11,13-18,69-76.
Shana Penn, "The National Secret," Journal of Women's History [Autumn 1993]
Dorothy J. Rosenberg, "Shock Therapy: GDR Women in Transition from a Socialist to a Social Market Economy," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 17, 1 [1991]: 129-151.

Week 2: Concepts, Definitions, Approaches [October 11]

The sex/gender distinction; the new gender studies; social constructionism in gender studies; problem fields and issues; impact in the disciplines.

Joan W. Scott, "Gender: A Useful Category of Analysis," in Gender and the Politics of History [New York, 1988], pp. 28-50.
Jackie Stacey, "Untangling Feminist Theory," in Introducing Women's Studies: Feminist Theory and Practice, eds. D. Richardson and V. Robinson [London, 1991], pp. 49-73.
Joan Kelly, " The Social Relation of the Sexes: Methodological Implications of Women's History," or " The Doubled Vision of Feminist Theory," in Women, History, and Theory [1984], pp. 1-18 or 51-64.

Week 3: The Body in Question [October 18]

The body as a locus of sex/gender differences; the social construction of the gendered body; the politics of the gendered body and the natural.

Thomas Laqueur, "Politics and the Biology of the Two Sexes," in Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud [1990], pp. 194-207.
Denise Riley, "Progresses of the Soul," in "Am I That Name?": Feminism and the Category of "Women" in History [1990], pp. 18-43.
Nancy Leys Stepan, "Race and Sex: The Role of Analogy in Science," in Isis 77 [1986]: 261-279.
Londa Schiebinger, "Why Mammals are called Mammals," in Nature's Body [1994], pp. 65-74.

Week 4: Gendered Work and the Public/Private Distinction [October 25]

Separate spheres as social institution and ideology; the public/private distinction and its critics; changing nature of male and female work; gender and power; work and representation.

Pat Mainardi, "The Politics of Housework," in Femininst Frameworks, eds. Alison Jagger and Paula S. Rothenberg [1984], pp.51-56.
Catherine Hall, "Private Persons versus Public Someones: Class, Gender and Politics in England, 1780-1830," in British Feminist Thought, ed. Terry Lovell, pp. 51-67.
Jane Lewis, "Sexual Divisions: Women's Work in Late Nineteenth-Century England," in Retrieving Women's History, ed. Jay Klenberg, pp. 148-165.
Temma Kaplan, "Female Consciousness and Collective Action: The Case of Barcelona, 1910-1918," Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 7, 3 [1982]: 545-566.

Week 5: Gender and Rights [November 1]

Gender, women and the demand for rights; liberal feminism and its difficulties; the equality and difference debate in the past and in the present.

Rousseau, "Sophie," in Emile [1762], pp. 43-49.
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women [1792] [Pelican edition, 1978], pp. 100-122.
Carole Pateman, The Disorder of Women: Democracy, Feminism and Political Theory [1989], pp. 17-32.
Anne Phillips, "Universal Pretensions in Political Thought," in Destabilizing Theory: Feminist Debates, eds. Michèle Barrett and Anne Phillips [1992], pp. 10-30.

Week 6: Sexualities [November 8]

How to theorize sexuality and sexual difference; the feminist contribution to Foucault and the feminist uses of Foucault; the production of sexual identities; and the regulation and control of sexualities.

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1, pp. 301-329.
Jeffrey Weeks, "Sexuality and the Historian," and "The Construction of Homosexuality," in Sex, Politics and Society: The Regulation of Sexuality since 1800 [1981], pp. 1-18, 96-121.
Nancy Cott, "Passionlessness: An Interpretation of Victorian Sexuality, 1790-1850," Signs 4,2 [1978]: 219-236.
Judith Walkowitz, "Male Vice and Feminist Virtue: Feminism and the Politics of Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Britain," History Workshop Journal 13 [Spring 1982]: 79-91.

Week 7: Thinking About Gender and Nationalism [November 15]

Populations, reproduction and gender in the making of the nation; special attention to fascism as example of the intersection of class, race and gender; contributions of gender studies to the field.

Gisela Bock, "Antinatalism, Maternity and Paternity in National Socialist Racism," in Maternity and Gender Policies, eds. Gisela Bock and Pat Thane, pp. 233-253.
Atina Grossmann, "Feminist Debates about Women and National Socialism," Gender and History 3, n. 3 [Autumn 1991]: .
Nancy Leys Stepan, The Hour of Eugenics [1991], pp.1-20, 102-134.
George L. Mosse, "Maniliness and Homosexuality," in Nationalism and Sexuality: Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe [1985], pp. 23-37.

Week 8: Gender and Subjectivity [November 22]

Evaluation of the significance of debates about psychoanalysis for gender studies. Do we need a theory of subjectivity? How and why has psychic difference been theorized, and with what consequences?

Juliet Mitchell, Psychoanalysis and Feminism [1974], pp. 5-15,16-29.
Jacqueline Rose, "Femininity and its Discontents," in Sexuality in the Field of Vision [1986], pp. 83-103.
Sigmund Freud, "Femininity," in New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis [1933, ed. James Strachey], pp. 112-135.
Ann Snitow, "Feminism and Mothering: An American Reading," Feminist Review 40 [Spring 1992]: 32-51.

Week 9: Gender and Postmodern Subjects [November 29]

What happens to the concept of "woman," "women," and "experience" -- all key terms of women's studies -- in the post-modern moment? If these lose their self-evident or unitary meanings as sources of identity, what questions arise about scholarship, politics, social change?

Joan W. Scott, "The Evidence of Experience," Critical Inquiry 17 [Summer 1991]: 733-797.
Denise Riley, "Does Sex Have a History, " in Am I That Name?: Feminism and the Category of "Women" [1990], pp. 1-17.
Ann Snitow, "A Gender Diary," in Conflicts in Feminism, eds. Marianne Hirsch and Evelyn Fox Keller [1990], pp. 9-43.
Susan Bordo, "Feminism, Postmodernism, and Gender-Scepticism," in Feminism/Postmodernism, ed. Linda J. Nicholson [1990], pp. 133-155.

Week 10: Visual Representations and Gender [December 6]

Why are images so important to gender studies? What new interpretive questions are being raised?

Sander L. Gilman, "Black Bodies, White Bodies: Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth-Century Art, Medicine, and Literature," Critical Inquiry 12 [January 1985]: 204-242.
Rosalind Pollack Petchesky, "Fetal Images; the Power of Visual Culture in the Politics of Reproduction," Feminist Studies 13, 2 [Summer 1987]: 263-292.
John Berger, Ways of Seeing [1972], pp. 45-64.
Nancy Leys Stepan, "Portraits of a Possible Nation: Photographing Medicine in Brazil," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 68 [1994]: 136-149.


CRC-Curriculum Resource Center
CEU Budapest, Hungary
Modified: July, 1996

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