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GWS403: Feminist Cultural Theory

Course Convenor: Professor Maureen McNeil

The emergence of cultural studies in the 1970s opened-up new areas of scholarly enquiry and raised new issues about the politics of class, gender, race and sexuality. Although there have many changes since cultural studies original formations, feminist cultural studies today remains concerned with the effects of discursive and institutional practices of domination, subordination, and hegemony both in everyday life and within academic enquiry.

This course will consider some crucial feminist interventions within cultural production and cultural studies. It will examine contemporary debates in feminist theory and specific forms of activism that have identified and targeted hierarchical mechanisms that produce gendered, sexual, ethnic and racial identities and oppression. The course will be taught through the examination of case studies drawn from women's writing, cinema, photography and art. These case studies will enable us to bring feminist cultural theory into dialogue with a range of media and practices, facilitating the exploration of possibilities for resistance and innovation. These case studies will include: specific forms of feminist art practice, recent forms of body politics (particularly those associated with reproduction), and anti-feminist backlash.


Consist of a presentation (including a submitted, written component) and a 4000 word essay.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Alaimo, S. and Hekman, S. (eds) (2008) Material Feminisms, Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.
  • Berlant, Lauren (1997) The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship. Chicago: Duke University Press.
  • Butler, Judith (1993) Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York and London: Routledge.
  • Evans Jessica, and Stuart Hall eds. (1999) Visual Culture: The Reader. London: Sage.
  • McNeil, Maureen (2007) Feminist Cultural Studies of Science and Technology. London: Routledge
  • Puwar, Nirmal (2004) Space Invaders: Race, Gender and Bodies Out of Place. Oxford, New York: Berg.
  • Shiach, Morag (ed.) (1999) Feminism and Cultural Studies. Oxford University Press.
  • Skeggs, Beverley (ed.) (1995), Feminist Cultural Theory: Process and Production, Manchester University Press.
  • Skeggs, Beverly (2003) Class, Self and Culture. London: Routledge.
  • Thornham, Sue (2001) Feminist Theory and Cultural Studies. London: Arnold Press.
  • Weedon, C (1999) Feminism, Theory and the Politics of Difference. Oxford: Basil Blackwell
  • Young, Iris Marion (1990) Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, New York: Princeton University Press.

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