14212 Gender: Culture and Identity 1

Credits: 3 graduate credits in Cultural Studies

Prerequisites: Two of the following courses: Society, Culture and Representation; Theories and Approaches in Cultural Studies; Anthropological and Sociological Approaches to Cultural Studies; Multiculturalism in Israel

The course is based on a reader edited by Yael Munk and Dafna Hirsch.

The term “gender” refers to the socio-cultural construction of the difference between the sexes. Thus, it represents the assumption that people are not born, but become “men” or “women.” However, rather than referring to a set of traits, “gender” is a relational category, which constructs and structures hierarchical social relations – first and foremost between men and women, but also between groups of men or between groups of women. Gender is also used for encoding power relations between other types of social groups (e.g. national or ethnic groups). Although gender categories exist in every human society, they are organized differently across societies and historical periods. Each society constructs the meaning of gender in the context of various fields – political, economic, legal, cultural, etc. – which encompasses more than what we consider “gender” in itself.

The course examines core issues in the study of gender, focusing on those areas of society and culture which are central to understanding the construction of gender roles and gender identities, and the reproduction of gender power relations.

Topics: What is gender?; explanations of gender inequality; gender and sexuality; gender and the body; domestic culture and the division of labor within the family; gender, nationalism and ethnicity; gender and class; gender and language; women reading, women writing; popular culture – melodrama and soap opera.

1Students may write a seminar paper in this course, although it is not required.