Sex, Gender and War : an other History of the 20th Century Europe

Cous séminaire dans la majeure Histoire
Semestre : Spring
Nombre de séances : 12 Nombre d'heures : 24
d'enseignement :
Secrétariat pédagogique :
01 45 49 63 68
Méthode pédagogique :
Cous séminaire dans la majeure Histoire
Méthode de validation :
group work / test / paper
Enseignant :
Elissa Mailänder
Associate Professor, Sciences Po
Résumé du cours :

The twentieth century is often called the “century of sex” and is frequently understood as a time when “gender troubles” emerged. With the question of equality between the sexes and the increasing liberalization of sexual mores and rights, both categories – gender and sexuality – have profoundly shaped the century. However, to tell only a narrative of gradual progress would be to misunderstand how complicated gender and sexual politics of the twentieth century in Europe actually were.

This course is designed to introduce students to the major issues surrounding gender and sexuality over the course of the twentieth century. We will study the key debates that have transformed European society: Female suffrage, birth control, the legalization of divorce, women's rights and gay marriage. However the twentieth century in Europe was also a violent and bloody century, characterized by totalitarian states that intervened into the private lives of individuals. Focusing in particular on Fascism, we will also look at racial discrimination, violence and genocide, which all complicate the question of gender relations.

This class will also explore how gendered perspectives have influenced scholarly debates and the academic profession in the past decades. We will pay special attention to the historical and political contexts in which these new historiographies evolved, from the initial efforts in women's history in the early 1970s to a more universal study of gender and the social construction of masculinities/maleness and femininities/femaleness. Lastly, we will consider recent developments in the field of male studies, the history of sexuality, and queer studies.

Elissa Mailänder is an Associate Professor in the department of history at Sciences Po Paris in France. Her teaching and research focus on everyday- and gender history of Nazism, as well as violence and sexuality. Aside from her book Gewalt im Dienstalltag: Die SS-Aufseherinnen des Konzentrations- und Vernichtungslagers Majdanek 1942–1944 (2009), which is forthcoming in English (Workday Violence: Female Guards at Lublin-Majdanek, 1942–1944), Elissa has published several articles on the history of Nazi perpetrators and the structures, mechanisms and dynamics of violence in German concentration and extermination camps.

Format pédagogique :
The format for this course will be a lecture with class discussion of the readings.
The Teaching Assistant will also hold six sessions throughout the semester for students to discuss their work on the papers as well as the readings. Students are encourage
Conférence de méthode :
Lectures principales demandées :

Course Program

1. Introduction: Gender, Sexuality and Queer approaches : another way of doing History of Europe

2. Gender: A useful category for the analysis of power?

Reading: Joan W. Scott, ‘Gender: A useful category of historical analysis’ in R. Shoemaker and Mary Vincent, Gender and History in Western Europe (1998), pp. 42-64 (first published in the American Historical Review, Vol. 91, no. 5 1986, pp. 1053-1075.

And Michael Foucault, The Subject and Power, in: Hubert L. Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics, Second Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1983 (1982), pp. 208-226.

Student presentation: Angela Davis

3. Cultures of Abortion in Weimar Germany

Reading: Cornelie Usborne, “Abortion as an Everyday Experience in Village Life. A Case Study from Hesse”, in: Cultures of Abortion in Weimar Germany, New York/Oxford: Berghahn 2011 (2007), S. 163-200.

Student presentation: Carrie (Sex & the City) and Jemma (Girls)


4. What Difference does a Husband make? The place of Women in German Pre and Postwar Society

Reading: Elizabeth Heineman, “War Wives, Workers and Race Traitors”, in: E. Heineman, What Difference Does a Husband Make: Women and Marital Status in Nazi and Postwar Germany, Berkeley/Los Angeles: University of California Press 1999, pp. 44-74.

Student presentation: Betty Draper versus Peggy Olsen (Mad Men)


5. Sexuality in Times of Genocide

Reading: Anna Hájková, “Sexual Barter in Times of genocide: negotiating the Sexual Economy of the Theresienstadt Ghetto”, Signs, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Spring 2013), pp. 503-533.

Student presentation: The Night Porter (Liliana Cavani, 1974)


6. Policing Sexuality: The American GI in France during WWII

Reading: Mary Louise Roberts, "The Price of Discretion: Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and the American Military in France, 1944–1946," The American Historical Review, Vol. 115, No. 4 (October 2010), pp. 1002-1030.

Student presentation: Silvio Berlusconi


7. Mid-term TEST


8. The Enemy of the New Man: Homosexuality in Fascist Italy

Reading: R. W. Connell, “Swots and Wimps: The Interplay of Masculinity and Education”, in: Oxford Review of Education, Vol. 15, No. 3 (1989), pp. 291-303.

Student presentation: Thomas (Downton Abbey)


9. Jewish masculinities: Politics, Identities, Performances

Reading: Lisa Fetheringill Zwicker, Performing Masculinity Jewish Students and the Honor Code at German Universities in: Baader/Gillerman/Lerner, Jewish Masculinities 2012, p. 114-137.

Student presentation: Harvey Milk


10. Gender Troubles? The Subversion of Gender and Sexual Identity

Reading: Alon Rachamimov, “The Disruptive Comforts of Drag: (Trans)Gender Performances among Prisoners of War in Russia, 1914-1920”, in: American Historical Review 2006, pp. 362-382.

Student presentation: Boy George versus David Bowie


11. Sex after Fascism: Beate Uhse’s Erotic Empire and the 1968 Sexual Revolution revisited

Reading: Dagmar Herzog, “Sexual Morality in the 1960s West Germany”, German History, 23/3 (2005), 371-384.

Student presentation: Paul Raymond (English Publisher of erotic magazines and club owner)


12. Conclusions: Deconstructing the Hegemonic Masculinity and scrutinizing Female Agencies: Where do we stand and what are we missing?

Student presentation: Sex and the city (1998-2004) versus Girls (2012/2013)


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