Luca Trappolin (Università di Padova)


Course Description
Gender Studies (GS) are an interdisciplinary, critical and cross-cultural field of research that focus on the social power relation between women and men. They concern the ways social differences are structured, and they concentrate their attention on the ways the meanings of being men and women are constructed through every day-life practices, discourses and representations, cultural objects and institutional practices. GS challenges the privileged status enjoyed by some categories (i.e. male or heterosexuals) over others, along with the social and political implications of such hierarchies. Gender is considered here as constitutive element of social power relationship. It is a central term of analysis and it seeks to complicate what is often presented as "natural" or "normal" in societies as well as in traditional academic curricula.
The course mainly focuses on the sociological dimension of gender studies, bringing together notions from feminist studies, women studies, post-colonial studies and cultural studies.
The same notions of gender will be analyzed in their historical meanings, thus exploring their changes through time and space as long as they are intertwined with debates and differences related to race, national identity, globalization, and ideological shifts. This perspective will challenge the assumptions that categories like masculinity, femininity, queer, straight or transgender are stable or static concepts.
The course will start with a general overview of the emergence and the development of gender studies: main objects, topics, concepts and research perspectives. In the first part of the course, students will go through classic texts, and study the ways the resulting gender lens of inquiry have been applied to other questions. We will explore the broadly and critically defined “genealogies” of women’s and gender studies, and investigate the key concepts, theoretical debates, ideologies, and historical significance of the discipline. The second part of the course will focus on social representations of male and female gender roles, through the analysis of research results on: gender advertisements, gender relations within the family, on love, on gender violence against women. The analysis of current events will be integrated through student presentations, aiming to increase awareness of contemporary and historical experiences of women, as well as of the multiple patterns through which sex and gender interact with race, class, nationality and other social identities. Hence, the course will encourage students to question the meanings of “woman” and “man”, as well as of sexual norms and models of masculinities and femininity. Students will be required to propose and discuss examples of “everyday life situations” related to their experience and national contexts, in order to explore the ways in which ideas about gender do shape social roles and identities, as well as power, rights and social norms in such diverse social environments.
Specific topics of the course will be the following:
• The Emergence and Development of the Sociological Interest on Gender;
• Intersectional Approach in Gender Studies: Concepts and Research Findings
• Gender Display on Media
• Gender and Families
• Gender relations and love
• Gender Violence Against Women
Students will be required to participate actively and develop their individual views on the topic of the course by joining the discussion during each lecture: both by preparing the literature assigned for each lesson and presenting specific examples from their countries of origin.

Students are expected to develop a mid-term paper based on gender indicators from their countries.
The final paper will develop the mid-term one or provide an analysis one selected topic.


Learning outcomes of the course
• To learn to read, analyze and discuss theoretical and research texts on the course topics;
• To learn to use gender as a category of analysis;
• To reflect on the manifestation of gender in one’s own lives, leading to a range of personal and intellectual discoveries;
• To be introduced to direct observation as method of enquiry;
• To learn to analyze public debates, cultural products, mass-media communication and policies by applying the knowledge acquired during the lessons;
• To think critically on if and how gender differences translate into gender inequalities.

Evaluation method
Evaluation will be based on:
* 20% participation to class discussions and activities;
* 30% mid-term paper;
* 50% final paper.


Week 1
Topics and approaches in the Sociology of Gender
Class 1: Introduction to the course
Class 2: The sociology of gender 1 (pages 301-331.

Week 2
Topics and approaches in the Sociology of Gender
Class 1: How different are women and men? (Mary Holmes (2007), What is gender? Sociological approaches, chapter 2, pages 18-39)
Class 2: The sociology of gender 2 (Amy S. Wharton (2005), The Sociology of gender: An Introduction to theory and research, chapter Erving Goffman (1977), The Arrangement between the Sexes, 1, pages 1-16)

Week 3
How it all begun: Going back to Gayle Rubin
Class 1: Inventing the scientific concept of gender: G. Rubin (1975), The Traffic in Women
Class 2: Discussion of Rubin 1975, The Traffic in Women

Week 4
Social structures and gender inequalities
Class 1: Gendered Jobs and Gendered Workers (Joan Acker, 1990, Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations, pages 139-158).
Class 2: (C. Hakim, 1998, Developing a Sociology for the Twenty-First Century: Preference Theory, pages 137-143).

Week 5
Emotions at work
Class 1: Amy Wharton, 2009, The Sociology of Emotional Labor, pages 147-165.
Class 2: Arlie Russell Hochschild, 1997, The Time Bind, pages 21-29)

Mid-term break

Week 6
Gender snapshots from different national contexts
Class 1: Presentation and discussion of students’ work
Class 2: Presentation and discussion of students’ work

Week 7
Gender snapshots from different national contexts
Class 1: Presentation and discussion of students’ work
Class 2: Presentation and discussion of students’ work

Week 8
From Gender to Sexuality
Class 1: Gayle Rubin, 1984, Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality
Class 2: Discussion on Gayle Rubin 1984

Week 9
Sex Wars
Class 1: Ann Ferguson, 1984, Sex War: The Debate between Radical and Libertarian Feminists
Class 2: Discussion of Ferguson, 1984.

Week 10
Erotic capital
Class 1: Catherine Hakim, 2016, The Sugar in His Tea: Sexuality, Patriarchy and Sexual Politics
Class 2: Discussion of C. Hakim, 2016

Week 11
Stratification of homosexual identities
Class 1: Stratification of homosexual identities in a globalized world
Class 2: Discussion

Week 12
Homosexual families and parenthood
Class 1: What makes a family, perspectives and debates
Class 2: Discussion

Week 13: Exams

* Wharton, Amy (2005), The Sociology of gender: An Introduction to theory and research, chapter 1, pages 1-16.
* Holmes, Mary (2007), What is Gender? Sociological Approaches, Sage

Other book chapters and articles will be provided in PDF format through the Moodle platform.


Isola di San Servolo
30133 Venice,

phone: +39 041 2719511
fax:+39 041 2719510

VAT: 02928970272