Overview | Feminist and Gender Studies

Seminar overview

The Feminist and Gender Studies seminar aims to introduce different ways of approaching feminism and gender studies both as a theory and a practice. We hope to widen the discussion on feminism as an academic and political project by exploring the diversity of the field of feminist thought, as well as provide an insight into our encounter with feminist theory in our own research.

We will begin with two different but interrelated lectures: the first providing a thematic and interdisciplinary introduction to the study of feminist and gender theory, and the second providing a more historical overview of the ways in which feminist and gender theory have been used specifically within literary criticism in the twentieth century.

We will then move on to situate the discussion within several key concepts in feminist and gender studies, during which we will facilitate several presentations by the participants of the seminar. These include the debate on sex and gender, through which we will trace the dual paradigms of essentialism and social constructivism, and examine the ways in which this has influenced current thinking on transfeminism and materiality. We will also explore the dissonant readings of the term ‘difference’ in relation to liberal and radical feminisms, as well as in its critique of the unified and transcendental human subject. Finally, we will look at configurations of sexuality, desire, and affect in the emergence of queer theory in contemporary theories of gender.

We will conclude the seminar with a discussion on some current strands of feminist thought, including the rise, or return of ‘material’ feminisms as a reaction to the deconstructive turn in the late twentieth century. Similarly, the rise of ‘postfeminist’ discourses will be examined in relation to the continued importance of intersectional modes of critique. We will discuss broadly the development of feminist narratives and the importance of reflexivity in relation to feminist theory and praxis, as well as evaluate our own processes of thinking and practice in our research.

Participants will be asked to comment on the possibilities and future trajectories of feminist and gender studies, and the continued relevance of feminist (literary) criticism particularly in relation with their own work.