What is the course about?
We will focus on gender identities, with reference primarily to concepts of femininity, but also to masculinity, and how they were constructed as binary opposites in the Victorian era. We will explore some of the most fascinating themes relating to women’s history in the period, including the issue of marriage, family and divorce; concepts of madness and dangerous sexualities; women’s roles in political protests; and, equally importantly, the roles that British women undertook as social reformers in the British Empire.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
Week 1: The politics of ‘Public’ and ‘Private’ Spheres: theory and practice
Week 2: Gender relations: family, marriage status and divorce
Week 3: Mad and Dangerous? Women, medicine & mental health
Week 4: Women social reformers: prostitution and the case of the Contagious Diseases Acts
Week 5: A Civilising Mission? Women, social reform and the British Empire.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Critically explain the concepts of the ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres
• Assess women’s familial roles and the impact of the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act
• Evaluate how women were portrayed in medical discourse and asylum literature with reference to concepts of biology, madness and ‘hysteria’
• Explain the controversy surrounding the Contagious Diseases Act and Josephine Butler’s role as social reformer
• Explain the role of women social reformers in the wider context of the British Empire.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
It would be an advantage to come to class with a basic general knowledge of the Victorian period to help you with the social context, but this is an introductory course and no prior knowledge of the topic is required
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught via weekly sessions. There is an optional weekly quiz you can complete, for which you will receive feedback from the tutor. Written assignments are not mandatory, but if you wish to undertake one, please speak to your tutor.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
No other costs. Please bring a pen and notepad to class if you wish to make notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other courses in British and European history. Please see the City Lit website.