Introduction to Gender

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreSUS1FC0414

Semester and Year Offered: 1st semester 2015

Course Coordinator and Team: TBD

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Students registered for BA programme

Course Objectives/Description:

The course attempts to introduce undergraduate students to gender – as an analytical category, as a social identity and as an investment to our gendered selves. As an analytical category, the course would seek to ask as to why while men and women seem to be everywhere, gender requires unveiling? Similarly, why are societies, power, ideas and everyday life organised around the gender a person is assigned? And, finally, why even as we may recognise societal norms to be oppressive, are we so occupied in the production and execution of our own selves as gendered?

The students will gain comprehensive knowledge of gender as a category of analysis. They will learn to use gender analytically in any field of academic enquiry and become capable of posing questions from the vantage point of gender. The course asks as to why while race and caste seem social and thus fixed, desire and sexuality seem transgressive, as concepts & in relation to each other. It interrogate how sexualities come about to be personal, and what are the different claims to recognition that such desires involve.

Course Outcomes:

On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. Identify key thinkers and concepts on gender as a field of enquiry.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of key texts and themes related to gender.
  3. Use written and oral skills to apply to the world around them including popular culture.
  4. Demonstrate an awareness of critical skills required to read a range of texts.
  5. Become capable of understanding and deploying gender to all other analytical categores thus enriching their enquiry.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. Sex, Gender & Sexuality: The course begins with the idea of gender and what it means. The attempt of the module is to open up gender to its entanglements with sexuality and why a study of their relationship enriches our understanding of sex/gender/sexuality.
  2. Gender and Violence: In this module the course looks into: What is the relationship between violence and gender? Is violence something that acts upon women, like power? Or is it constitutive of the very texture of gender? If it is, then are we condemned to live with violence or is it something that we can actively negotiate and mobilise around?
  3. Gender and Identity: This module seeks to open up not only the operations and circulation of gender as an identity but also the risky business of identification. We not only look at how some continue to be excluded out of identities but also the difficult negotiations many do to enter these identities. If we recognize gender to be both social and personal identity then how do we negotiate desires within the constraints of identity?
  4. Questions from the Women’s Movement: Family & Property: Women’s Movement recognizes family as a site of violence and as a site of reproduction for gender ideology. Property has also been an important issue for the Movement. While all these Movements are based upon women, there have been fault lines assuming Women as a homogenous unified category. The course would also look at these issues.

Assessment Details with weights:

  • Assessment 1: 20% based on a written essay on the film ‘The Danish Girl’ or ‘Dance Like a Man’ Hindi Film
  • Assessment 2: 30% based on presentations of each team (5-6 students) on any chosen contemporary event of violence and gender
  • Assessment 3: 20% based on a collage of cuttings or photographs with a theme of gender and identity in its intersection with class, caste etc. The collage will be submitted with a paragraph describing its key points.

Reading List:

  • Films (sections): Bombay Talkies (Dir. Zoya Akhtar), Jab We Met and Highway
  • Temsula Ao's 'The Night,' from “These Hills Called Home”penguin books in collaboration with Zubaan,
  • Kate Chopin, “The Story of an Hour” in The Awakening and Selected Stories of Kate Chopin (New York: American Library, 1976). [,%20The%20Story%20of%20an%20Hour.pdf]
  • Anne Fausto- Sterling, Five Sexes and Five Sexes Revisited
  • Sohaila Abdulali, “I fought for my life… and won”, Manushi, No. 16 (June–July), 1983. []
  • Films (sections): RituparnoGhosh (dir.), Dahan [film], 1997. And Dhobi Ghat
  • Film (sections): Dhobi Ghat
  • Wajeda Tabassum, “Utran [Castoffs]”, in Tharu and Lalita, eds. Women Writing in India: Volume II: The Twentieth Century (New Delhi: OUP, 1993).
  • Agha Shahid Ali, selections of poems from “The Veiled Suite”, 2009
  • S. Joseph, “Identity Card” [poem/trans.], in K. Satyanarayana and Susie Tharu, eds. The Exercise of Freedom: An Introduction to Dalit Writing (New Delhi: Navayana, 2013).
  • The debates on Gender Neutrality in Anti-Sexual Harassment Codes
  • Debates around double mastectomy opted for by actor Angelina Jolie
  • Wajeda Tabassum, “Utran [Castoffs]”, in Tharu and Lalita, eds. Women Writing in India: Volume II: (New Delhi: OUP, 1993); pages 411-416.
  • Agha Shahid Ali, selections of poems from “The Veiled Suite”, 2009
  • Urmila Pawar—The Weave of my Life, Stree, 2008; pages 41-46
  • Anzaldua and Moraga; ‘La Guera’ in This Bridge called My Back, Kitchen Table-Women of Colour Press, 1981, pages 27-34
  • Flavia [Agnes] and Women’s Centre, Bombay, My Story, Our Story: Of Rebuilding Broken Lives (Bombay: Women’s Centre, 1984)


  • Films: Water, Daman, Matrubhoomi, Darmiyaan, Khamosh Pani, Chandni Bar