Please refer to the return to campus page for more information on these delivery modes and students who can enrol in each mode based on their location in first half year 2021.
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This subject introduces key issues in the history of sex, gender, power and identity. Students will be encouraged to think critically about ideas about gender across diverse places and times and how they have constrained or enabled change. We will examine the challenges faced by women (and people of other minoritized genders and sexualities) in gaining legal and political recognition. Attention will be given both to structural inequalities and changing assumptions about masculinity and femininity, gender relations, sex roles and sexual practices.
The subject focuses first on women’s struggles for rights – to education, the vote, work, citizenship, rights within marriage, reproductive rights – as well as campaigns for recognition of diverse sexualities and of gendered violence. We will analyse these historical contests about gender, within and across lines of race, class and sexuality, reflecting also on how imperialism, colonialism, capitalism and socialism shaped such contests and how people tackled multiple bases of oppression. We will examine struggles to achieve equal rights, so often a goal of the modern state, but also strategies to uphold them across diverse social and political contexts. We ask however what would constitute progress in these areas, to what extent it has been achieved, and why progress is also sometimes reversed.
Secondly the subject focuses on the challenges that women have faced historically in exercising leadership and political power. We critically analyse the experiences of some of the most iconic and mythologised women leaders, as well as a selection of significant women who inherited or were appointed or elected to national leadership. Most of the world’s nations have never had a woman leader. Does history help us understand why this is so? And what does this mean for how women are considered as leaders and for the history of women and power? We also examine the experiences of women and people of other minoritized genders and sexualities who led campaigns for social, political and economic reform.
Students will read a range of primary sources and learn continually to reflect on the gendered nature of history. The subject will include case studies from Australia, Europe, Asia and the Americas.
Classes will be two one-hour lectures with a 1-hour tutorial a week.
Intended learning outcomes
On completion of this subject, students should be able to:
- describe the different ways women have been involved in shaping major world events;
- be open to new ideas and possibilities and expressing responses to them through constructing an intellectual argument, and demonstrate research skills through competent use of primary materials which are textual and visual alongside scholarly literature and other sources of information;
- reflect critically on various interpretations of leadership and gender in different times and places;
- be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically through written work and class discussions;
- identify how gender and power have been culturally and socially constructed in history and the present;
- analyse the intersection of gender, class, race and ethnicity in power structures, and recognise how these are shaped over time.
Student who successfully complete this subject should be able to:
- apply knowledge gained alongside critical thinking skills to solve problems in contexts such as workplaces and communities;
- be open to new ideas and perspectives;
- take challenges in their thinking, considering multiple possibilities and viewpoints, while always responding in an ethical and responsible manner, and
- develop time management and planning skills.
Last updated: 2 March 2021