ASOA15096U Gender and the Body in Theory and Practice
Course package (MSc 2015):
Welfare, inequality and mobility
Knowledge, organisation and politics
Culture, lifestyle and everyday life
The aim of this course ”Gender and the Body in Theory and Practice” is to learn about recent developments in the field of gender studies in relation to the body. The focus will be on interdisciplinary approaches related to theories and practices of the body, including biopolitical and gender studies perspectives on health sciences, body technologies, and gendered innovations.
Recent decades have witnessed an explosive development in both theoretical approaches and practices related to gender and body dynamics. The variety of turns in late modern technologies and feminist knowledge production have blurred traditional boundaries between public and private and between human and non-human: Who owns the body and who disposes over the different parts? And who are responsible for choices and regulations in fields such as trans- and intersex studies, neuroscience or assistive technologies? What are the implications of the current feminist materialist theories of gender, where gender is seen as a complex co-constructed social and material phenomenon which both has concrete, structural and individual, possibilities and constraints, and at the same time seems fluent and multiple? How do the new understandings relocate old and new power structures and hierarchies at local, regional and global levels?
Gendered bodies are today subject of opposing strategies of deregulation and “free choice” on one hand and of radicalized body governance and interventions from the state and commercial interests on the other hand. Bodily discipline and ’purity’ has become a central ideal of the current social investment strategy of the developed welfare states as expressed in fitness and anti-fat and smoking campaigns. Today the body takes center stage and has become an issue for both personal and collective identities and strategies, which in many ways coincides with a search for new gender identities in late modernity.
The course will be structured around lectures and discussions ofinterdisciplinary theories of gender and the body, and around presentations and discussions of particular phenomena, e.g. trans/intersex and ideas about ’gendered brains’. In addition, the course will introduce short exercises in class, inspired by body work, innovation studies, and gendered innovations.
The course consists of 14 sessions á 2 hours.
The course is part of the Gender Certificate initiative at University of Copenhagen. See:
At the end of the course, the students are expected to be able to:
- explain recent theoretical perspectives on bodies and materialities within gender studies
- understand the complexities of social and material co-construction, including notions of how language, power and materialities interact.
- reflect upon how these perspectives and theories relate to real life cases and phenomena.
- select and analyse concrete relevant cases and phenomena using interdisciplinary gender studies theories and perspectives focusing on the body
- present and discuss theories and cases used in the course
- apply the perspectives and approaches learned in the course to relevant cases in a broader context
Literature for the course will consist of key articles and book chapters which will be made available online through Absalon before the course begins.
Both group work, class discussions, and exercises have peer-feedback as essential elements. In addition, the student presentations will be organised so that each presentation receives peer-feedback and each student, in turn, must prepare feedback to another presentation.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Written assignmentIndividual/group.
Free written take-home essays are assignments for which students define and formulate a problem within the parameters of the course and based on an individual exam syllabus.
Active participation (presence, oral presentation during the course)
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
Written take-home essay
A written take-home essay is defined as an assignment that addresses one or more questions. The exam is based on the course syllabus, i.e. the literature set by the teacher.
Criteria for exam assesment
See learning outcome