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2015/16 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

HIST3385 Gendering the Raj: Women, Imperialism and Nationalism in Colonial and Postcolonial India

40 creditsClass Size: 16

Module manager: Robert Upton

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2015/16

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This course explores the relationship between women, imperialism and nationalism in colonial and postcolonial India. It looks at the role of women and gender issues in the colonial encounter between Britain and India and in the post-colonial Indian state, providing an opportunity to explore wider theoretical issues relating to race, sex, gender, colonialism and culture.By taking a thematic approach to the issues that affect women, its objective is to allow students to develop an appreciation of colonialism as a bi-directional process which impacted on coloniser and colonised, as well as placing women's experiences in the context of wider global social and political developments. It also explores the experiences of Indian women in the post-colonial world, looking both at the legacies of colonialism and the impact of Indian 'feminism', secular and religious nationalism and the South Asian diaspora. By the end of the course students should have both a firm empirical knowledge of gender issues in colonial and postcolonial Indian history and a wider theoretical understanding of issues affecting inter-cultural understanding in the modern world.The course also aims to provide students with a solid grasp of historical methodology as well as encouraging key transferable skills such as group and individual work strategies, written and oral presentational skills, directed research, argument formulation and analytical thought.


On completion of this module, students will be able to:
- develop a complex, rounded, and nuanced understanding of the changing and varied position of women in Indian society, the challenges that face them and the impact of colonialism, nationalism and post-colonial developments on their status and lived experience;
- present an advanced understanding of the experiences of British women in colonial India, their complicity, or otherwise, in the colonial project and the opportunities and limitations that imperialism presented to them;
- demonstrate a sophisticated comprehension of the intellectual influences of postcolonial, subaltern and feminist theory on our reading of women's history;
- show a subtle appreciation of the intricate relationships between race, class, caste, religion and gender;
- understand the significance of gender issues and identities (masculine and feminine) in wider discourses of imperialism and secular and religious nationalism.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students will acquire:
- advanced skills in oral and written communication of complex ideas;
- independence of mind, self-discipline, and self-directed study skills;
- research ability to locate, handle, and synthesize large bodies of information;
- intellectual ability to engage constructively and critically with the ideas of peers, tutors and historians;
- skills in interpretation and analysis of complex primary source material;
- the ability to interpret complex and controversial historical events and ideas;
- the ability to apply advanced theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of primary and secondary source material.

Skills outcomes
1. Organisation: in preparing for seminars and in submitting written work
2. Written communication: through assessment for the module
3. Oral communication: through seminar contributions
4. Research skills: esp. through study of primary texts
5. IT skills: at minimum, electronic text of essay.


The course will cover the following areas:
- The factors that shape women's experience in different societies.
- Feminist, postcolonial and subaltern theoretical perspectives.
- Early colonial relationships, prostitution, sex and empire.
- The role and experience of British women in colonial India and controversies over the impact of 'the memsahib'.
- The nature of women's involvement the British missionary movement in Britain and India.
- The impact of empire on women in Britain.
- Debates about nineteenth century colonial gender reforms - sati, widow remarriage, infanticide, age of consent.
- The actual experience and discursive appropriation of British women during the Indian Uprising of 1857.
- The relationship between kinship, caste, slavery, productive and reproductive labour.
- The role of Indian women in the nationalist movement.
- The child marriage and Mother India controversies.
- The emergence of early Indian feminism.
- The post-colonial Indian women's movement.
- Women and communal violence (Partition and postcolonial riots).
- Post colonial gender controversies - Shah Bano and Roop Kanwar.
- Women and the Hindu right.
- The experiences of Indian women in Britain.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours356.00
Total Contact hours44.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)400.00

Private study

Students must undertake core readings in secondary sources and from set documents for each seminar, and to be fully prepared to engage in advanced discussion of the topic. They will be expected to undertake additional work for presentations in each semester, and to prepare thoroughly for coursework essays and the examination. Private study consists primarily in directed reading as set out in the module handbook.

Students undertake this reading in order to:
1. To prepare for each seminar
2. To research their essays
3. To equip themselves for answering the exam questions.

Private study also includes the planning and writing of the two essay plans, the two essays, and revision for the exam.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through student contribution in class, seminar preparation and formative assessments.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 4,000 word assessed essay to be submitted in January examination week 240.00
Presentation1 x unassessed but compulsory presentation0.00
Presentation1 x presentation5.00
Written Work1 x 1,000 word summary5.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

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

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)3 hr 00 mins50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

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: 23/02/2016


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