Checking date: 05/06/2023

Course: 2023/2024

Gender Perspectives in the Contemporary European and Spanish Literature
Hispanic Studies (Plan: 285 - Estudio: 84)

Coordinating teacher: KROL , NATALIE

Department assigned to the subject:

Type: Compulsory
ECTS Credits: 6.0 ECTS


Requirements (Subjects that are assumed to be known)
Since the course is offered in English, proficiency in English is required. A basic competence in the humanities is recommended. The second unjustified absence results in a deduction of -0.3 marks from the final grade. The third unjustified absence results in a deduction of -0.5 marks from the final grade. The fourth unjustified absence results in failing the subject.
This course starts with the assumption that gender provides a crucial critical perspective to approach contemporary literature, and that, in turn, literature itself represents a vital means of expression and reflection on contemporary society and the problems it faces. Even though the term 'gender', used to mean a socially constructed set of preoccupations and expectations that one performs to be identified as a man or a woman, has a relatively short history, its critical importance is undeniable. Judith Butler argues for a reconsideration of the category of gender to go beyond merely prescriptive notions of masculinity and femininity which produce and solidify the norms of hierarchy and exclusion. Especially in the context of the recent #MeToo movement, or the banning of Gender Studies by right-wing regimes in Central Europe, it appears more pressing than ever to situate gender as a central critical category in literary and cultural studies. Even if only tentatively, the course intends to offer possible answers to the questions: How does the category of gender enrich our reading of literature and other texts of culture?; What does literature contribute to the representation of a world in which the written word has been losing dominance?; Do women write / read differently than men?; How can the status quo of the power relations between men and women be challenged? How much of 'men' and 'women' is nature and how much is nuture? The course will be organised around the readings of narrative and dramatic texts, complemented with poetic texts, essays, audiovisual materials, etc., through which various aspects of gender and literature will be studied in thematic blocks. A brief description of each of these blocks is offered below; however, the examination of the texts will evolve to propose a non-linear development of the critical perspectives, with the meaning deriving from each student's engagement with the texts rather than a prescriptive approach. At the end of the course, the students will be able to define the critical terminology for the course, such as gender and feminism; examine and critically asses literary and philosophical approaches to gender and within gender studies; and apply the given methodological apparatus to the readings of literary texts. The students will also be able to offer an evaluation of the literary and critical texts, using the critical tools offered by gender studies and literary theory. The competences provided by the course include abilities to analyse, compare and contrast given literary texts and other texts of culture, while providing a critical explanation of one's stance, using the vocabulary and terminology offered by gender studies.
Description of contents: programme
The course invites the students to think, after Slavoj Zizek, that 'another world is possible', and it is with this assumption that the course will critically examine the category of gender and its application to literary critique. The examples of literary production will be drawn from European literature (examples from a variety of other authors will also be used for comparative purposes). Because of the short nature of the course, it is not meant to serve as a panorama of literature in Europe, but rather as a representative sample of the literary production that displays an interest and concern with gendered perspective in various parts of the continent. The cultural texts to be analysed include works from Spain, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Romania and Ukraine. In the case of Spanish texts, where a translation into English is not yet available (Blasco, Liddell), students will be provided with translated fragments to allow them access to the meanings the texts might generate. The first thematic block prepares students for the course by exploring different theoretical perspectives on the question of gender. These include social constructionism, evolutionary biology and contemporary philosophy and include thinkers such as Simone de Beauvoir, Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler, Elaine Showalter, Sigmund Freud and David Buss, among others. It also includes an introduction to approaching literature and film critically, bearing in mind that most students taking this course come from other disciplines. The excerpts of literature and the films we will watch throughout the course explore important issues in European history and thought, as well as contemporary issues. We will explore portrayals of men and women, the narration and cinematic production of gender and relationships, as well as the association of certain characteristics and traits with gender. We will also discuss gender and violence and, following Judith Butler, the performative nature of gender. The course will also explore different perspectives on the Spanish Civil War and the Franco dictatorship through a variety of literary texts and cinematic productions. The purpose of the block that focuses on Spanish history and culture is to provide students with a deeper knowledge of the country they chose to spend their semester abroad in. The distinctions between these thematic blocks remain rather fluid and the readings within one category should be treated as enhancing the critical approach to the other categories. Interconnections and dependencies between various theoretical angles will be explored, taking into consideration such perspectives as those offered by Postcolonial Studies, Ecocriticism, Feminisms and Queer Studies. Whenever possible, the discussion of the literary sources and critical materials will be complemented with the use of visual examples (photography and art).
Learning activities and methodology
The first part of the course focuses on critical perspectives on the question of gender, as well as an overview of how to approach literature and film critically. The following weeks of the course will be devoted to a discussion of the primary and secondary sources, listed in the basic bibliography. The classroom discussion will be led by the lecturer; there will also be presentations by the students. The activities in the classroom will involve work in small groups, classroom discussion, as well as individual activities related to the analysis of the literary and critical texts.
Assessment System
Basic Bibliography
  • Blasco, Lola. Siglo mio, bestia mia. Instituto Nacional de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música. 2016
  • Kane, Sarah. 4.48 Psychosis. Bloomsbury. 2008
  • Liddell, Angelica. La casa de la fuerza. La Uña Rota. 2014
  • Müller, Herta. The Appointment. Metropolitan. 2001
  • Tokarczuk, Olga. Drive Your Plow over the Bones of the Dead. Fitzcarraldo. 2018
  • Zabuzhko, Oksana. Fieldwork in Ukrainian Sex. Amazon Crossing. 1996
Additional Bibliography
  • Adams, Carol J.. The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. Continuum. 2010
  • Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Duke UP. 2007
  • Bhabha, Homi. The Location of Culture. Routledge. 1999
  • Braidotti, Rosi. . Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory.. Columbia UP.. 1994.
  • Butler, Judith.. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. Routledge. 1999
  • Derrida, Jacques. . ¿The Animal That Therefore I Am (More to Follow)¿. . Critical Inquiry 28 . 2002
  • Fricker, Miranda, and Jennifer Hornsby. . The Cambridge Companion to Feminism in Philosophy. . Cambridge UP. 2000.
  • Gamble, Sarah.. The Routledge Companion to Feminism and Postfeminism. Routledge. 2001
  • Goodman, Robin Truth.. World, Class, Women: Global Literature, Education, and Feminism. Routledge. 2004
  • Haraway, Donna. The Cyborg Manifesto.¿ In Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. . Free Association Books. 1991
  • Huggan, Graham, and Helen Tiffin.. Postcolonial Ecocriticism: Literature, Animals, Environment.. Routledge. 2010.
  • Isaak, Jo Anna.. Feminism and Contemporary Art: the Revolutionary Power of Women¿s Laughter.. Routledge. 1996.
  • Johnson, Clare. Femininity, Time and Feminist Art.. Palgrave Macmillan. 2013.
  • Kemp, Sara, and Judith Squires, eds.. Feminisms. Oxford UP. 1997.
  • Lehmann, Hans-Thies.. Postdramatic Theater. Routledge. 1999
  • Plumwood, Val.. Feminism and the Mastery of Nature.. Routledge. 2003 [1993].
  • Rooney, Ellen.. The Cambridge Companion to Feminist Literary Theory. Cambridge UP. 2006.
  • Schor, Mira.. Wet: On Painting, Feminism, and Art Culture.. Duke UP. 1997.
  • Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty.. The Postcolonial Critic: Interviews, Strategies, Dialogues.. Routledge. 1999
  • Walters, Margaret.. Feminism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP. 2006.
  • Wolf, Naomi.. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women. Morrow. 1991
  • Woolf, Virginia.. A Room of One¿s Own. Houghton Mifflin. 1989 [1929].
  • ¿i¿ek, Slavoj.. Demanding the Impossible. Polity. 2013.
Detailed subject contents or complementary information about assessment system of B.T.

The course syllabus may change due academic events or other reasons.