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AH302: GENDER IN ANCIENT SOCIAL LIFE
School of Archaeological Studies, University of Leicester
Lin Foxhall (lf4@le.ac.uk), Autumn term, 1995/6
Final year undergraduate (3rd year for us in England) course

'Male' and 'female' are natural categories. Or are they? This course will focus on the way in which gender is 'naturalised' in ancient societies, that is, the ways in which it is woven into belief systems as a hierarchical principle. Being a man or a woman doesn't always mean the same thing in changing social and cultural contexts, and maleness and femaleness are themselves negotiable. Here we shall explore some of the contexts in ancient societies in which gender gives meaning to social situations in order to understand the specific ways in which gender was an important, possibly the most important, organisational principle. The course is both theoretical and comparative. Archaeological as well as historical sources will be explored. Reading will centre on ancient Greece, but some material from other ancient societies will also be covered. Other comparative material will be introduced as appropriate.

The course will be assessed on the basis of one SEEN-QUESTION written examination (2 questions, 2 hours, 40%), one essay (word-processed and properly referenced, maximum 5000 words, 50%) and one book report (short - around 1000 words maximum, 10%). Essay topics will be negotiated between teacher and student and must have the teacher's approval. Examination answers must not overlap substantially with the essay topic.

Classes will be a mixture of informal lecture, discussion and student presentations.

Preliminary Course Outline

  1. Introduction. Problems imposed by the sources.
  2. Households, kinship and life cycles.
  3. The gendered construction of time.
  4. Gender and the use of space: public and private.
  5. Problematising public and private I: politics and law.
  6. Problematising public and private II: control of resources and the marketplace.
  7. Gender and religious life: festivals, rituals and rites of passage.
  8. Controlling the human body: ideologies of gender and ancient medicine.
  9. Masculinity, femininity and sexuality.
  10. Social theory and antiquity: a summary.
A detailed list of weekly readings will be distributed at the beginning of term, but several essential books and primary sources are listed below. Ancient writers are all available in Loeb editions.

1. Introduction. Problems imposed by the sources.

Back to the Course Outline

2. Households, kinship and life cycles.

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3. The gendered construction of time.

Back to the Course Outline

4. Gender and the use of space: public and private.

Back to the Course Outline

5. Problematising public and private I: politics and law.

Back to the Course Outline

6. Problematising public and private II: control of resources and the marketplace.

Back to the Course Outline

7. Controlling the human body: ideologies of gender and ancient medicine.

Back to the Course Outline

8. Gender and religious life: festivals, rituals and rites of passage.

Back to the Course Outline

9. Masculinity, femininity and sexuality.

Back to the Course Outline

10. Social theory and antiquity: a summary.

Back to the Course Outline

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