Gender theory, 10 credit points

The course gender theory gives a broad social science introduction to gender theory. It explains different ways of understanding gender and of using gender as an analytical category in research.

The course has a theory of science emphasis, but participants are also given the opportunity to choose gender research literature directly related to their own fields.

The course participants meet seven times. The first meeting consists of an introductory lecture. The following five meetings are literature seminars. The student prepares each seminar through a short written assignment (maximum 500 words) to be handed in at the start of the seminar. The participants further share the responsibility for the literature seminars between them. Each person chooses a part of the literature and leads the seminar on this occasion. The last meeting is devoted to presentations and discussions of course papers.

The course requirements are active participation in the seminars, and approved assignments and course paper, delivered on time. As most of the reading comes early in the course, students are recommended to start their reading at least a month in advance. Examiner is associate professor Helene Ahl at HLK.

Course language

The course will be given in English, unless all participants are Swedish speaking, in which case it will be given in Swedish. Some of the literature is only available in Swedish, but for students that do not read Swedish there are suggested alternative readings in English. Moreover, several of the English texts are available in Swedish translation for those who prefer this.


The course has room for twelve participants. Send applications to no later than October 31. The application should state the applicants´ university, area of study and name of head supervisor. Information about admission will be sent through e-mail no later than November 12.

Schedule, reading assignments and writing assignments

Tuesday January 20, 13-16
Introductory lecture: basic concepts in gender theory
Literature: Chapter 1 in Ahl (2004),  Calás & Smircich (1996), Weedon (1999) and as reference literature  Pilcher & Whelehans (2004).

Tuesday February 3, 13-16
Key classical texts
Literature: Esseveld & Larsson (1996) och Harding (1987). Non-Swedish speaking students choose some of the original works that appear in translated form in Esseveld & Larsson. Writing assignment: Relate the texts to the conceptual apparatus in the introductory lecture and/or in Weedon, for example in the form of a table or a tree. Describe the theory in one of the texts that you find interesting and relate how this is applicable (or not) to your own research.

Tuesday February 24, 13-16
Who can represent whom, what and how?
Literature: Hirdman (1990), Hagemann & Åmark (1999), Hirdmann: om genuskontrakt (will be handed out). Hirdman (1994) is the English alternative for the latter two texts. Nicholson (1995), Young (1995), Haraway (1991: 183-201), and Lykke, (1996).  As the articles build upon each other, please read them in the suggested order. Assignment: Reflect upon who you study or represent in your own work, and what knowledge claims you can make.

Tuesday March 17, 13-16
Masculinity research
Literature: Connell (1995), Hearn (1998), Vincent (2006), Kimmel (2006). Assignment: Reflect upon the theories about men and masculinity and see what parallels might be drawn to theories about women and femininity.

Tuesday April 7, 13-16 
Queer and intersectionality
Literature: Butler (2005) or Butler (2006), Swedish speakers read Borgström, (2005), Lykke, (2005), Krekula, Närvänen, & Näsman, (2005), and chapters 1, 2, 11, 12 and 13 in de los Reyes, Molina, & Mulinari (2002). English speakers read Acker (2006), Jagose (1996) and any chapter of your choice in Morland & Willox. Assignment: Reflect upon and motivate your own gender theoretical position.

Tuesday, April 28, 13-16
Gender research in my own field
Choose a dissertation with a gender perspective that relates to your own in terms of empirical context and/or method. They can be searched at
Assignment: Describe the thesis' research question, theoretical point of departure, method and result. Describe in what way this is relevant for your own work (what did you learn and how can you use it).

Tuesday May 26, 09-17  
Course paper seminar
Presentation and discussion of course papers that relate the content of the course to each participant´s own work, preferably in the form a chapter of the dissertation, a conference paper or an article. The paper should be sent to the discussant, the examiner and to the other participants no later than one week before the seminar.

Course litterature

See syllabus Pdf, 71 kB.