HISTORY OF GENDER IN INDIA
2018/2019, Semester 2
Arts & Social Sciences (History)
Modular Credits: 5
This module analyses the role of gender in Indian societies from the early to the modern periods. It covers a wide range of issues, including the social organization and cultural and religious construction of gender and sexuality; the relationship between family structure, sexual attitudes and the economic and political roles of women; the intersection of gender, race and imperialism and the role gender plays in legitimization of social and political order as well as in attempts to effect, and respond to, social change.
By the end of the module, students will:
understand that gender categories are constructed, accepted, negotiated and challenged in specific historical contexts.
be able to read sources critically and carefully in order to locate the ways in which gendered ideas and concepts structure texts, mentalities and actions.
have acquired a significant knowledge about the history of South Asia and the history of gender.
recognise the diversity of ways in which gender has been constructed and used throughout South Asian history.
be able to present their research on a particular aspect of gender history in South Asia in a compelling and coherent written form.
Completed 80MCs, including 28MCs in HY, with a minimum CAP of 3.20 or be on the Honours track.
This course is taught in a seminar format. Attendance is compulsory: I also expect active and informed involvement in class discussion and other class activities. Please provide documentation to support any unavoidable non-attendance.
Since each meeting lasts 3 hours, each meeting will be divided into three parts as follows:
Part 1: Student-led discussion of the secondary source article assigned for that week.
Part 2: Student-led discussion of the primary sources assigned for that week.
Part 3: Professor-led lecture and discussion which will provide important background for the following week’s topic.
The module covers the time period c. 200BCE-1947 CE. It will be divided into three time periods: ancient (c.200BCE -899 CE medieval and early modern (c.900-1799) and modern (c.1800-1947). Inevitably we can't be comprehensive in our coverage with such a large time span, but I will pick specific topics within these broad time periods.
Week 1, January 17: Introductions
Thomas R. Trautmann,
India: Brief History of a Civilisation
, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp.1-15.
Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.”
Gender in Early India
Week 2, January 24: The Ideal Wife: Gender in the Epics and
Linda Hess, “Rejecting Sita: Indian Responses to the Ideal Man's Cruel Treatment of His Ideal Wife,” in Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Vol. 67, No. 1 (Mar., 1999), pp. 1-32.
The Laws of Manu
, tr. W. Doniger, (Penguin: Harmondsworth, 1991), selections.
Watch – Sita Sings the Blues
Week 3, January 31: Love, Sex and Power: The
Kumkum Roy, "Unraveling the Kamasutra." In
A Question of Silence: Sexual Economies in Modern India
. Edited by Janaki Nair and Mary E. John. London, UK: Zed Books, 2001, pp. 52-76. ISBN: 9781856498920.
trans Doniger and Kakar, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), selections.
Week 4, February 7: Beauty and the Body
Daud Ali, Courtly and Political Life in Early India, Cambridge University Press, pp 143-82.
Selections from various primary sources including Sanskrit dramas and inscriptions.
Week 5, February 14: Transsexual and Transgendered Histories
Leonard Zwilling and Michael J Sweet, “‘Like a City Ablaze’: The Third Sex and the Creation of Sexuality in Jain Religious Literature,” in
Journal of the History of Sexuality
, Vol. 6, No.3 (Jan., 1996), pp 359-384.
Vararuci, ‘The Mutual Elopement,’ in
Quartet of Causeries,
trans. Csaba Dezso and Somadeva Vasudeva., pp 165-215.
Gender in Medieval and Early Modern India
Week 6, February 21: Lust, Honour and War
Ramya Sreenivasan, ‘Alauddin Khilji Remembered: Conquest, Gender and Community in Medieval Rajput Narratives,’ Studies in History, 18.2 (2002), pp. 275-96.
Selections from various primary sources including Persian chronicles and vernacular folk tales.
February 28: Recess Week
Week 7, March 7: The Domestic world of the Mughals
Gulbadan Begum, “The Humayun Nama,” in
Three Memoirs of Humayun
ed. Wheeler M. Thackston (Costa Mesa: Mazda Publishers, 2009) selections.
Lisa Balabanlillar, “The Begims of the Mystic Feast: Turco-Mongol Tradition in the Mughal Harem’, pp. 123-147.
Week 8, March 14: Individual Library Research on essay
Week 9, March 21: Warriors, Wrestlers and Gentlemen
Rosalind O’Hanlon, “Military Sports and the History of the Martial Body in India,”
Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient
, 50, 4, pp. 490-523.
Hidayat Husain, “The Mirza Nama (The Book of the Perfect Gentleman) of Mirza Kamran,”
Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal
, 9.1, 1-13.
Gender and Imperialism
Week 10, March 28:
Courtesans and Dancing Girls.
Shweta Sachdeva Jha, ‘Tawa’if as Poet and Patron: Re-thinking Women’s self representation,’ in Anshu Malhotra and Siobhan Lambert-Hurley,
Speaking of the Self: Gender, Performance, and Autobiography in South Asia
, Duke University Press.
Mirza Hadi Ruswa,
Umrao Jaan Ada
Week 11, April 4: “Saving the Native Woman” (Sati debates)
"Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India."
No.7, Autumn, 1987, pp 119-156
Selections from various primary sources including colonial officials and Indian social reformers.
Week 12, April 11: Colonial Masculinities
Philippa Levine, “Venereal Disease, Prostitution and the Politics of Empire: The Case of British India.”
Journal of the History of Sexuality
, Vol. 4, No. 4, (Apr.1994), pp. 579-602.
Selections from the writings of colonial officials and ethnographers.
Week 13, April 18: Social Reform and Women
Dagmar Engels, “The Age of Consent Act of 1891: Colonial Ideology in Bengal,” in
South Asia Research
, Vol. 3, No. 2, 107-131 (1983).
Selections from various primary sources.
Active Participation: 30%
Essay: 40 %
Weekly Journal entry: 30%
By taking an active part in the class discussions, students will deepen their understanding of the ideas and phenomena we study and will gain practice and confidence in presenting their thoughts orally. This means attendance in class and active and informed involvement in class discussion and other class activities.
In each meeting two students will take the lead in discussing the readings: one will focus on the secondary source and the other will focus on the primary source materials.
In your presentation of the secondary source materials you must introduce the scholarly argument presented by the author, present your own reaction to it – including questions you may have about it and prepare some questions to stimulate discussion amongst your classmates.
In your presentation of primary source materials you should contextualise the source (ie describe where/when/by whom it was written), briefly summarise it and make an analysis of it. You should also prepare some questions about the source or the topic for your classmates to consider.
Unexcused absences, using your laptop for something other than class work, and listening passively without adding anything of your own will all adversely affect your participation grade.Here are some general grading guidelines:
• If you show up on time, every time, and offer insightful comments multiple times at every session—in other words, if you are one of the people on whom I can depend at each meeting— then you will receive a participation grade in the
If you show up on time, every time, and speak up once or twice each meeting, you can expect a participation grade in the
If you show up on time, every time, and speak up occasionally, you can expect a
in participation. (Satisfactory)
If you show up on time, every time, but almost never (or never) speak up, you can expect a
in participation. (Passing)
The ability to formulate a question, conduct research and express an argument in a sustained, coherent and articulate written essay are the key skills imparted by the academic study of history. Students will each choose an aspect of Gender in Indian history to investigate. A list of broad topics and some suggestions for readings will be made available. You should make use of library resources and scholarly books, articles and primary sources, and you may also make use of lectures and discussions. It should be accompanied by a bibliography and all sources should be properly cited. Please ensure you follow the Chicago citation style – see the following link for details:
The final essay will be 4,000 words, double-spaced in a standard 12-point font.
Your final paper is due on
Your final paper should be uploaded to the student submission workbin before 5pm on the day that it is due. Remember to include your name and the title of your assignment in the document name.
Your paper will be graded based on your ability to formulate a coherent argument and support it with evidence. So, for example:
An "A" essay
• makes a coherent argument that responds to the question
• supports that argument well with appropriate and compelling evidence
• is organized coherently and written clearly
• has a strong analysis, an awareness of the "so-what" significance.
A "B" essay has an argument and supports it, but is lacking clarity, coherence, or strong analysis. A "C" essay lacks a coherent argument or adequate evidence to support the argument. A "D" essay lacks both, but still presents relevant information in partial answer to the question.
Make sure that you leave enough time after drafting your essay to read it again and reflect on these questions:
• Identify your central argument. Have you proved it with evidence? If you have not, what does your evidence actually prove? Should that be your argument instead?
• Outline what you have already written. Does the organization make sense?
• Find your evidence. Have you interpreted it so your reader can understand why you included it?
• Look back over your paragraphs. Does each one have a strong topic sentence?
• Reflect on the process of writing. When did you begin? Where did you write? What did you find most challenging? What do you like best in the current draft? What will you do differently for the next draft?
Weekly journal entry:
Having to write about what you read stimulates closer reading and sharper analysis and imparts practice in a life-long skill: effective communication through writing. It will also make our discussions more fruitful since everyone will have read and thought carefully about the material under discussion. Each student must write a weekly 1-page (250 words) “journal entry” directed towards their classmates, in which they respond to, engage with, and even struggle with the reading listed for that day on the syllabus.
take the form of a paper. They do not need to display a traditional beginning, middle, and end. They should not necessarily propose a thesis and support it thoroughly and in an orderly manner. Above all, they should not simply summarize the reading, or sound like a book report. Instead, they should represent your
with the material. You should write about what you do not understand, or about what you
understand, or how this particular reading might connect to one you’ve done earlierYou can problematize or extend or complicate or reduce—anything, as long as you direct your intellectual energy towards the reading.
Your entry should be posted by the time class starts. After class, I will read your journal entry, and I will keep track of the fact that you submitted it, but I will not grade it. In fact, I hope that you will come to ignore me as a prospective reader of your journal entries and instead focus on your classmates. Since individual entries will be neither commented on nor graded by your professor, you should feel free to offer trenchant criticism, describe your confusion, or trot out new theories without worrying about what I think or how that will affect your grade.
Your journal grade will be based on your body of journal writing as a whole rather than on individual entries. When I assess your grade I will be looking for three things: 1) the fact that you did all the journal assignments; 2) whether your entries show your engagement with the readings in some way; and 3) whether your ideas got more creative, interesting, and/or sophisticated over the course of the semester. Here’s how that translates into grades:
• If you produce a sufficient quantity of prose on a weekly basis in the manner requested, it will be hard for you to get below a B–.
• If, in addition to producing the work, you are engaged, you struggle, you open up, and you deal with the difficult, it will be hard for you to get below a B.
• If, in addition to the above points, you demonstrate significant improvement from the beginning of the semester to its end, it will be hard for you to get below a B+.
• If, in addition to all the above points, you demonstrate intellectual imagination, it will be hard for you to get below an A–.
• If you want an A, do all the above in the extreme.
Workload Components : A-B-C-D-E
A: no. of lecture hours per week
B: no. of tutorial hours per week
C: no. of lab hours per week
D: no. of hours for projects, assignments, fieldwork etc per week
E: no. of hours for preparatory work by a student per week