Women and Gender in Twentieth-Century Europe module (HY31038)

Learn about the changes in gender roles and the cultural construction of those roles in Western Europe (including Britain)

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In this module, you will learn about the changes in gender roles, and the cultural construction of those roles, over the course of the twentieth century. The main focus will be on Western Europe, particularly (although not exclusively), France, Italy, Germany, and Britain.

Topics you will study include:

  • first-wave feminism at the turn of the century
  • gender and the First World War
  • gender roles in the interwar democracies
  • gender in Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany
  • gender in the Second World War
  • gender and employment
  • the Women’s Liberation Movement of the 1970s
  • changing attitudes to sexuality

Broad issues relevant to each of these themes will be introduced and discussed, but there will also be the chance to look more in-depth at specific aspects of each of them. Examples of this include masculinity and the First World War, homosexuality and fascism, sexual violence in wartime, women’s work in the Dundee jute industry, abortion reform, and so on.

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • learn a great deal about the changing position of women and the role of gender over the course of the twentieth century in Western Europe
  • explore how historians have written about these topics

By the end of this module, you will:

  • understand both, the history of twentieth century Europe, and also of the role of gender in it
  • be able to read effectively and critically, and to synthesize information from a variety of sources
  • be able to think and argue logically and persuasively both in writing and orally
  • have gained the ability to use and critically evaluate primary sources

Assignments / assessment

  • presentation (15%)
  • essay (35%)
  • module journal (50%)

This module does not have a final exam.

Teaching methods / timetable

Teaching will be a mixture of lectures, to help you orientate your way through the material, and seminars, in which the main focus will be on discussions about what you have read. You will get a chance for group work in jointly researched student presentations (for which, nonetheless, your mark will be an individual one). There will also be a trip to the university archives to look in-depth at some primary sources.


This module is available on following courses: