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Syllabus for pre-PhD Distance learning course on Sociology


Gohar Shahnazaryan, PhD, Associate Professor
Yerevan State University, Distance Learning Laboratory

1. Course module description
Course module “Gender theory and methodology” is an introductory course which is devoted to the understanding of basis of gender theory and sociology of gender. The central themes of the course are gender, gender socialization, gender roles, race and gender. During the course we will analyze the historical development of feminist movement and basis of different feminist theories, such as liberal, socialist, radical, psychoanalytical and postmodern. We will also study how social and cultural factors are influencing the development of gender identity and gender roles. While accepting that there are both biologically and socially engineered causes for differences in the behavior of both genders, the sociological perspective on gender argues that these differences origin from social practice. Particularly, theory of construction of gender asserts that ways of being masculine and feminine are dynamically constructed through experience and socially interactive practices. Because of this, ways of being masculine and feminine can change from place to place, generation to generation and context to context. For example. what is considered an acceptable masculinity in one context, might not be acceptable in another. Special attention will be paid to the analyzes of race and gender. At the end of the course we will discuss the legal status and social role of women in modern, as well as, analyze the historical developments of women's movements in the world.

2. Objectives of the Course module

2.1 To introduce students with the core concepts of gender theory.
2.2 To introduce students with the sociological perspective on gender.
2.3 To introduce students with the methodology of gender studies.
2.4 To explore theories of gender development and socialization.
2.5 To develop deeper understanding of students how feminist movement and different theories of feminism influenced the development of gender theory.
2.6 To introduce how gender is related to race and class.

3. Assessment
Since this is a distance-learning course, assessment will be based only on students’ written work.

Weekly written essays – 60%
Final essay-40%

4. Course module program

Class 1 Gender, Gender roles. Biology vs. Culture
- Gender.
- Gender roles and gender identity.
- Gender stereotypes.
- Theoretical perspectives on gender (biology and gender, developmental aspect of gender, social learning theory, cognitive developmental theory, cultural and anthropological perspective).

1. Butler, J. Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory. 
2. Delphy, Ch. Rethinking Sex and Gender.
3. Lorber, J and Farell, S, The Social Construction of Gender.

Assignment 1: Please, answer the following questions (up to 5 pages):

  • What are the differences between biological and developmental perspectives on gender?
  • What are the core aspects of cultural and anthropological perspective on gender?
  • Which adjectives we usually use to describe men and women, why?

Class 2 Gender Socialization. Agents of Gender Socialization
- The process of gender socialization.
- Agents of gender socialization- family, parents, referent others, peers, clothes, games, mass media, school.
- The role of agents of socialization on the development and reproducing of masculinity and femininity.

1. Wolf, N. The Beauty Myth, 9-58.

Assignment 2: (Up to 5 pages)

  • Describe what kind of stereotypes of femininity and masculinity are dominant on Iranian TV. Bring examples.

Class 3 Gender Theory and Development of Feminist Movement
- Feminist movement.
- First wave feminism.
- 19th century women’s movement.
- Suffrages movement.
- The influence of the first wave feminism on the second wave.

1. Cott, N. The Grounding of Modern Feminism, 11-51.
2. Herrman, A., Stewart, A. Theorizing Feminism, pp. 5-26.
3. Humm, M. Modern Feminism: Political, Literary, Cultural, pp. 1-51.

Assignment 3: (Up to 5 pages)

  • Analyze main stages of feminist movement’s development in the Western countries.

Class 4 Liberal and Marxist-Socialist Feminism
- Liberal feminism.
- Liberal feminism in 18century: The same education for women and men.
- Liberal feminism in 19 century: The same civil rights and economic opportunities for women and men. Liberal feminism in 20 century.
- Marxist and socialist feminism.
- The Marxist concept of human nature and society.

1. Humm, M. Modern Feminism: Political, Literary, Cultural, pp. 181-189.
2. Hartman, H. The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Towards a More Progressive Union.
3. Linda, L. Capitalism, Imperialism and Patriarchy: The Dilemma of Third- World Women Workers in Multinational Factories.

Assignment 4: (Up to 5 pages)

  • Describe and explain main differences between Liberal and Marxist feminism indicating strengths and weaknesses of both feminism movements.

Class 5 Radical and Postmodern Feminism
- Core elements of radical feminism.
- Perspective of radical feminist - Shulamith Firestone.
- Core elements of postmodern feminism. Perspective of Helene Cixous., Julia Krsiteva and Luce Irigaray.

1. Tong, R. Feminist Thought: A Comprehensive Introduction, pp. 95-109, 217-223.
2. Herrman, A., Stewart, A. Theorizing Feminism, pp. 410-458.

Assignment 5: (Up to 5 pages)

  • Describe and analyse main differences between Radical and Postmodern feminism indicating strengths and weaknesses of both feminist movements.

Class 6 Race and Gender: Toward Oriental Feminism
- The role of race in the development of gender identity.
- Women’s movement in non-Western societies.
- Definition of oriental feminism.

1. Herrman, A., Stewart, A. Theorizing Feminism, pp. 136-155, 372-401.
2. Feminist Theory Reader (ed. McCann, C., Kim, S.), pp. 164-197 (part: Race and Nation).
3. Narayan, U. The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspective from a Nonwestern Feminist.
4. Acker, J. Rewriting Class, Race, and Gender: Problems in Feminist Rethinking. in ReVisioning Gender.

Assignment 6: (Up to 5 pages)

  • Compare in detail oriental and Western feminism.

Class 7 Women in Iran
- Women’s role in Iran.
- Legal status.
- Social position.
- Collective actions.
- Women’s movement in Iran.

1. Hoodfar, H. The women’s movement in Iran: women at the crossroads on secularization and islamization.
2. Moghadam, V. Women in the Islamic Republic of Iran: legal status, social positions and collective action.
3. Mohammadi, M. Iranian Women and the Civil Rights Movement in Iran: Feminism Interacted.

Assignment 7: (Up to 5 pages)

  • Conduct an interview with the representative of women’s organization/association whether public or governmental about women’s role and women’s movement in Iran or in your country of origin. Please, present a summary of the interview.

Class 8 Closing exam
Based on your interest, choose any topic discussed within this course module and write an analytic essay (13-15 pages).

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