GEND2901 Sex, Bodies and Spaces

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 elective
This unit aims to develop students' critical skills in cultural analysis, particularly around the historical and structural relations of power as they operate through gender and sexuality, race and class, in contemporary life and popular culture. As such, the unit questions the ways bodies and sexualities are positioned in the 'spaces' of contemporary Western culture. It is interested in everyday practices as sites of potential subversion or maintenance of the status quo, and so draws on accessible cultural media like television, cinema and the internet, sites like the home, shops and workplace, as well as popular understandings of technology, advertising and politics as 'texts' that we can read. These spaces are examined as historical and cultural artefacts which have an investment in particular kinds of bodies inhabiting them. It investigates the ways bodies and institutions use space to configure identity in particular ways—some spaces (like shopping centres or car racing) are tightly scripted while others (like online communications or theatre) may offer sites of resistance that recognise cultural and corporeal diversity. Vision and sight are emphasised, so that sites of cultural reproduction can be visibly linked (e.g. the decentralisation of shopping to suburban malls which are reliant on clothing factories in India; the relations between online technologies and women's factory compounds in China). While the unit is grounded in these examples, it provides a range of current theoretical material to prompt thinking and debate around everyday practices through which we perform and negotiate gendered identities in a globalised economy.

The unit addresses a number of questions: How can we unsettle normative gender categories, and why do we want to? How can the practices of everyday life affect how we 'do' gender? What can we do about structural inequalities that affect us as ethical subjects in a globalised economy? This is an elective unit in Arts that is a highly attractive broadening unit to students in all other degrees.
Students are able to (1) identify the continuing relevance of gender as a category of analysis in contemporary Western culture; (2) summarise and critically engage with a range of current theoretical positions interested in the representation and reproduction of gender as a critical social category; (3) apply theoretical concepts to examples of everyday practices and cultural texts; (4) analyse and evaluate the construction of gender, race and class in a range of cultural media; (5) explain and employ pivotal terms and concepts to do with embodiment, subjectivity, agency, normativity and institutional authority in readings of a range of media and events; (6) develop a sustainable research topic, undertake mid-level research and competently apply research in a coherent, engaging and appropriate written form; and (7) articulate critical ideas in both oral and written forms, and also evaluate such work.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) tutorial participation; (2) field report; and (3) research essay. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Alison Bartlett
Unit rules
any Level 1 Arts unit
WOMN2201 Sex Bodies Spaces: Gender in Pop Culture
Contact hours
2–3 hours per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.