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123252 AR Literature Course - Literature 1/2 (MA) British/Irish/New English & Cultural Studies (2020W)

The Unmarked Gender? Studying Masculinities

5.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 12 - Anglistik
Continuous assessment of course work

in preparation



max. 23 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Due to the ongoing public health situation, this course will be taught online. All scholarly articles as well as some excerpts from literary texts will be made available on Moodle. The three assignments are to be turned it as .pdf files via email, which means there is no need to you to come into Department while it may not be safe to do so.

Friday 09.10. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 16.10. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 23.10. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 30.10. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 06.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 13.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 20.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 27.11. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 04.12. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 11.12. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 18.12. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 08.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 15.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 22.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital
Friday 29.01. 14:15 - 15:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

For the longest time, 'the masculine' was uncritically equated with 'the human in general', and to understand the effects of this androcentric universalism - among them the paradox of 'the masculine' being everywhere as an implied standard/norm/demand and, at the same time, invisible -, is among the first things we are going to explore in this course. Decades after women's studies embarked on discovering how 'the feminine' was constructed, the 'other side' (of what, all too often, remains a dichotomous understanding of gender) finally came under scrutiny with a vengeance, which turned the formerly 'unmarked gender' into a fruitful object of analysis.
This course is based on a few assumptions currently widely accepted within academic discourse: that gender is socially constructed; that it intersects and interacts with other social categories of difference, such as 'race', class, desire and age; that this allows for historical and cultural differences; and that, therefore, it is - strictly speaking - incorrect to speak of masculinity in the singular; that masculinities, just like other gender identities, are relational; that masculinities, just like other gender identities, don't only need to be thought of in relation to femininities and other gender identities, but that we also need to understand how different types of masculinity relate to each other; that gender, as long as it's thought of as a dichotomous system cannot help being a tool of heteronormativity; and that it is, therefore, part and parcel of critiquing this ideology (which props up patriarchy), to deconstruct and replace a dichotomous understanding of gender with one that thinks of gender as a spectrum on which more than two positions are possible.
Having said that, we are also going to spend a little time looking at a fundamentally different (namely an essentialist) notion of masculinity, in order to understand its ideological underpinnings, before we explore, in the bulk of the course, representations of different masculinities offered to us by contemporary literature and popular culture.

This AR pursues several goals: to teach you to see gender as an intersectional, socially constructed, relational category; to help you understand what the underlying logic of a dichotomously structured system is and what its implications are; to analyse representations of different types of masculinity in literary as well as critical texts, films, TV series and advertisements; to give you access to theory concepts that will enable you to engage productively with cultural objects of analysis of your own choice. The 'spark a discussion'-task (which every student in class undertakes once) is supposed to provide the basis and impulses for the group work (in which every student in class participates on a weekly basis).

Assessment and permitted materials

Regular attendance; regular preparation of assigned reading material; active participation in class discussion; spark a discussion task (plus ppt); active participation work groups; three written assignments (A1: 1000 words; A2: 1000 words; A3: 1500 words).

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

No more than two lessons may be missed without a medical reason certified by a doctor's note. If such a document is produced, a third lesson may be missed but is to be compensated for at the teacher's discretion. If no such document is produced or if more than three lessons are missed, this results in failing the course.

Active participation in class discussion: 10%
Spark a discussion task: 25%
Group work: 15%
Assignment 1 (1,000 words): 15%
Assignment 2 (1,000 words): 15%
Assignment 3 (1,500 words): 20%

Students must attain at least 60% to pass this course.

Marks in %:
1 (very good): 90-100%
2 (good): 81-89%
3 (satisfactory): 71-80%
4 (pass): 60-70%
5 (fail): 0-59%

Examination topics

There will be no written exam.

Reading list

The following novels will be discussed in class and should be purchased:
- Martin Amis, London Fields (1989); ISBN: 978-0099748618
- A.L. Kennedy, Day (2007); ISBN: 978-0099494058

These are the recommended editions, which have been pre-ordered for you at Facultas bookshop on Campus. Any other print edition (no translations, though!) is fine, too.

Of the following series you are expected to watch one season or, should you be unable to get hold of it, at least 2 hours' worth of YouTube clips:
- Antony Jay/Jonathan Lynn, Yes, Minister (1980-1983)
- Antony Jay/Jonathan Lynn, Yes, Prime Minister (1986-1988)

The following films you are expected to have watched recently and know well when we discuss them:
- Martin Campbell, Casino Royale (2006)
- Shola Amoo, The Last Tree (2019)
- Ava DuVernay, The 13th (2016)
- Kimberley Pierce, Boys Don't Cry (1999)
- Richard Curtis, About Time (2013)
- Andrew Haigh, Weekend (2011)

All scholarly articles and excerpts from Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lost World (1912) will be made available as pdf-files on Moodle.

Background reading:
There are a few very useful edited volumes out there, if you are interested. For instance: Harry Brod (ed.), The Making of Masculinities: The New Men's Studies (1987); Michael S. Kimmel (ed), The Politics of Manhood: Postfeminist Men respond to the Mythopoetic Men's Movement (and the Mythopoetic Leaders' Answer) (1995); R.W. Connell, Masculinities. 2nd ed. (2005). If you are looking for monographs that have become influential for masculinity studies, the following are at your disposal at our library: R.W. Connell, Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics (1987); Jack Halberstam, Female Masculinity (1998); John Stoltenberg, Refusing to Be a Man: Essays on Sex and Justice, revised edition (2000); Todd W. Reeser, Masculinities in Theory: An Introduction (2010).

Association in the course directory

Studium: UF 344; MA 844; MA 844(2); MA UF 046/507
Code/Modul: UF 4.2.4-323-325; MA4, MA6, MA7; MA 3.1, 3.2; M04A
Lehrinhalt: 12-3251

Last modified: Mo 05.10.2020 10:09