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2019/20 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

HIST5225M Gender and Power in Early Modern Europe

30 creditsClass Size: 10

Module manager: Dr Alexandra Bamji

Taught: Semester 2 View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module explores gender as a fundamental category of historical analysis, and examines the extent to which people's lives, status and identity were shaped by gender in early modern Europe. It will evaluate how ideas of masculinity and femininity were constructed, negotiated and controlled, and will reflect on how concepts of patriarchy - in which men and maleness were privileged - imbued early modern culture. Gender was inextricably tied to issues of power: the regulation of relations between the two sexes was seen as essential for social harmony. The module will consider the implications of gendered expectations for politics, the life-cycle, economic life, religion, sociability and appearance. Nonetheless, gender stereotypes were frequently resisted or circumvented, and students will also evaluate transgressions of prescribed notions of masculinity and femininity. The variation of ideas and experiences across Europe will be a central theme. In travelling from court to convent and from household to tavern, this module will allow students to engage with a rich body of theoretical work, detailed historiographical studies of individuals and particular areas of Europe, and many fascinating published primary sources by men and women who addressed and debated the significance of gender.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
- display an informed and critical understanding of how gender shaped status, identity and the distribution of power in the early modern period;
- analyse the ways in which early modern writers conceptualised and debated the relationship between men and women;
- critically appraise the historiography of gender, especially that which relates to early modern Europe;
- construct lucid, coherent arguments, derived from a combination of primary and secondary sources.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will have developed the following skills:
- high-level skills in oral and written communication of complex ideas
- independence of mind and self-discipline and self-direction to work effectively under own initiative
- ability to locate, handle and synthesize large amounts of information
- ability to employ analytical, problem-solving abilities
- empathy and active engagement with different cultural contexts.


This module will cover the following topics:
- The history of gender history
- Gender 1500-1750: representations and debates
- Sex, gender and bodies
- Patriarchy and politics
- The household and economic life
- Marriage and the family
- Identity and religion
- Gendered lives: appearance and sociability
- Subversion and transgression: illicit sex, witchcraft and violence
- Gender in early modern Europe: sexuality, stereotypes and society.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours278.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Researching, preparing and writing assignments, undertaking set reading, and reading around the topic.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contributions to class discussions, assessed and/or non-assessed oral and written exercises.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 word assessed essay to be submitted Monday of examination week 250.00
Presentation2 x assessed seminar presentations, accompanied by written text, maximum 1,000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/04/2019


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