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Feminism and Gay Rights - Activism in the UK and the US

  • Code Apogée


  • Composante(s)

    UFR Langues et Civilisations

  • Période de l'année

    Semestre 1


History—both the actual physical materials that help historians establish a timeline of events of the past and the imaginings contemporaries have of those events—is a crucial part of feminist and gay rights activism. This course analyzes feminist organizing in the U.K. and gay rights organizing in the U.S. from two perspectives. First, it delves into specific historical moments that have created significant cultural and political reverberations, such the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York and the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp from 1981. Second, it examines how those events and others become parts of the storytelling used by the feminist and gay rights movements as tools to advance their demands in specific national contexts. From this dual articulation, the seminar invites students to examine the relationship between the past and the present as well as the stakes that this reciprocity has for advancing or hindering social progress. Students will engage in independent and original research as they learn to engage in historical archival research and think about these issues from the perspective of apprentice scholars.

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Contrôle des connaissances

Reading Memos (25%): You will write four reading memos during the semester, that you will choose on the first day. Your memo, of no more than 2 pages, will briefly summarize the readings for the session and provide some kind of perspective, critique, or discussion of those readings. You will post your memo to the course website 2 days before class. Your colleagues will read and respond to this memo.

Reading Responses (25%): You will write 3 reading responses during the semester, that you will choose on the first day. Your response, of no more than 3 paragraphs, will respond to one of the reading memos for that day. You will post your response before the beginning of class.

Research Paper (50%): Due electronically in the last week of the semester
Your paper should be between 7 and 8 pages including bibliography. This paper asks you take the substantive information and analytical tools for the course to write an original paper. We encourage to select a topic that is related to your Master’s thesis work if that is appropriate. You have three options for approaching this paper:

  1. Take a specific moment in feminist or LGBTQ activism (this can include the current moment) in the U.K. and analyze how activists, politicians, the media and/or other people draw on the history in some fashion as they engage in this mobilization. Ask yourself: How do these people talk about past events? How do they represent history (through art, poetry, music, protest, etc.)? What is the impact of that mobilization?
  2. Pick an easily accessible archive of feminist or LGBTQ mobilizations (something that is probably available online) and create a specific research question that can be answered with that data and provide a short research summary. Examples of available archives include: https://bcrw.barnard.edu/digital-feminist-archives/ ; https://riseupfeministarchive.ca/ ; https://www.loc.gov/collections/lgbtq-studies-web-archive/ ; https://www.bl.uk/sisterhood ; https://www.lse.ac.uk/library/collection-highlights/The-Womens-Library ; https://feministarchivenorth.org.uk/ ; https://womenshistorynetwork.org/links/ ; https://blackculturalarchives.org/
  3. Choose an episode from a podcast focusing on UK or US/North American history or politics from a gender or sexuality perspective. Listen to the episode. Your task is to develop the content of the episode by doing additional readings and further research. Rather than simply summarize the episode, you should explain the argument of the episode and go into further detail. Examples of podcasts include: https://www.sexinghistory.com/ ; https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b007qlvb ; https://www.bitchmedia.org/feministpodcasts/
    backtalk; https://guiltyfeminist.com/episodes/; http://shewhopersisted.com/blog/;

You may use appropriate outside sources for this paper. Remember that you may look at sexuality, gender, and identity in a broad sense.

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Informations complémentaires

Ouvert aux étudiant·es en mobilité sous réserve du nombre de places disponibles.

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Weekly readings will be posted to the course website.


Additional material available at the university library

  • Bryan, Beverley; Dadzie, Stella; Scafe Suzanne The Heart of the Race. Black Women’s Lives in Britain. London: Verso, [1985] 2018.
  • Buckle, Sebastian. The way out : a History of Homosexuality in Modern Britain. I.B. Tauris : 2015
  • Delap, Lucy. Feminisms : a Global History. Pelican : 2020.
  • Glass, Dan. United Queerdom : from the legends of the Gay Liberation Front to the queers of tomorrow. Zed Books : 2020.
  • Lewis, Brian. Wolfenden's Witnesses : Homosexuality in Postwar Britain. Palgrave Macmillan : 2016.
  • Mirza, Heidi Safia. Black British Feminism: A Reader, Routledge. 1997.
    Roseneil, Sasha. Common Women, Uncommon Practices. Cassell, 2000.
  • Roseneil, Sasha. Disarming Patriarchy: Feminism and Political Action at Greenham, Open University Press, 1995.
  • Vergès, Françoise. Pour un féminisme décolonial. Paris: La Découverte, 2019.
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