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Unit information: Gender and The British Empire (Level I Special Field) in 2015/16

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Unit name Gender and The British Empire (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HIST26029
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lewis
Open unit status Not open



HIST 23008 Special Field Project

School/department Department of History (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

Until the 1970s and 1980s, scholarship on the history of the British empire was largely gender- and sex-blind. The empire was considered a quintessentially male world. Over the last two to three decades this has decisively changed. As historian Angela Woollacott notes, historians now recognise gender as a foundational dynamic that shaped all aspects of the empire. This unit aims to introduce students to this now burgeoning scholarly literature and asks them to consider the roles played by gender in empire. Students will explore a range of key themes via a series of in-depth and source-based case studies. These may include: motherhood and empire; missionaries and gender; adventure stories and imperial masculinities; gender and emigration; the regulation of mixed race sexual relations and 'half-caste' children; the policing of prostitution; homosexuality and empire; feminism and empire; and the role played by gender in anti-colonial and nationalist movements.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the unit students should have:

  • identified, analysed, and deepened their understanding of the significance of key themes in the historical scholarship on gender and empire
  • understood the historiographical debates that surround the topic
  • learned how to work with primary sources
  • developed their skills in contributing to and learning from discussion in a small-group environment

Teaching Information

Weekly 2-hour seminar Access to tutorial consultation with unit tutor in office hours

Assessment Information

2-hour unseen written examination (summative, 100%)

The examination will assess their understanding of the unit’s key themes in the historical scholarship on gender and empire, the related historiography as developed during their reading and participation in / learning from small group seminars, and relevant primary sources. Further assessment of their handling of the relevant primary sources will be provided by the co-requisite Special Field Project (HIST 23008)

Reading and References

Antoinette Burton, Burdens of history: British feminists, Indian women and imperial culture, 1865-1915 (Durham, NC, 1994). Nupur Chaudhuri & Margaret Strobel (eds.), Western women and imperialism (Indianapolis, 1992). Durba Ghosh, Sex and the family in colonial India: the making of empire (Cambridge, 2006). Philippa Levine (ed.) Gender and empire (Oxford, 2004). Angela Woollacott, Gender and empire (Basingstoke, 2006) Anne McClintock, Imperial leather: race, gender and sexuality in the colonial contest (New York, 1995).