HS3SGA-Gender in Africa

Module Provider: History
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Heike Schmidt

Email: h.i.schmidt@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:


Specials aim to provide 'hands-on' experience of the historian's task through close examination and evaluation of primary sources and the light they shed on issues and problems.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module it is expected that the student will be able to:

  • undertake detailed textual analysis and comment on the primary materials

  • achieve a detailed command of varying historical interpretations of the primary materials and subject as a whole

  • organise material and articulate arguments effectively in writing under timed conditions

  • recognise and interpret a wide range of different primary materials

  • locate and assemble information on the subject by independent research

  • deploy primary materials to shed light on the issues and problems being studied

Additional outcomes:

This module also aims to encourage the development of oral communication skills and the student’s effectiveness in group situations. Students will also develop their IT skills by use of relevant web resources.

Outline content:

This module explores gender in the African past. While there is a focus on women’s experiences, it takes the broader approach of gender and gendered history. The first looks at gender as a historical formation, while the latter assumes that gender relations are relevant for a full understanding of all historical problems. The module provides insight into gender history as an approach within the historical discipline and at the same time it examines the gender historiography of Africa south of the Sahara. Some of the questions raised are: How do gender relations relate to wider power relations, for example in African slave owning and trading societies? How did the onset of colonialism transform gender identities? How do religions, such as Islam and spirit cults, intersect with gender? How does the gender division of labour reflect and inform gender identities? What are African masculinities? More broadly, this module asks: Is gender a useful category of historical analysis, as Joan Scott postulated in 1986? If so, is it universal or culturally specific? After some introductory readings, we will trace these questions through historiography and case studies across time and space which provide grounding in the history of Africa. Furthermore, this module raises questions of historical methodology. A widely published genre in African history is that of personal narratives. In the 1980s life-stories appeared to provide an opportunity to recover subaltern voices, especially those of women. Since then, however, this methodology has been severely criticized and transformed.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The teaching for this module involves weekly two-hour discussion seminars.

Students will gain ‘hands-on’ experience of the historian’s task through the detailed evaluations of key texts, and the light they shed on the issues and problems being investigated.

Students will be required to prepare for seminars through reading from both the primary sources and the secondary literature.

Students are expected to carry out self-directed revision in the summer term. Staff will be available for consultation as necessary.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 22 22
Tutorials 2
Guided independent study 176 178
Total hours by term 200.00 200.00
Total hours for module 400.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 40
Written assignment including essay 60

Summative assessment- Examinations:

A two-hour paper involving detailed commentary on extracts from the sources studied.

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Students will write two essays (each constituting 30% of the overall mark for the module) to be submitted electronically, the first by 12 noon on the Monday of Week 5 in the spring term, the second by 12 noon on the Friday of Week 1 in the summer term. Each essay shall not exceed 3,000 words, excluding footnotes and bibliography. Essays which exceed the word limit by more than 5% will incur a penalty of five marks. Candidates will be rewarded for making appropriate use of the prescribed texts.

Formative assessment methods:

Formative work, for instance seminar presentations, book reviews, posters, practice source commentaries, will be required for this Special Subject over the two terms.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Re-assessment will be by the same method as the module’s original requirement, subject to variation by the Examination Board where appropriate.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 1 October 2018


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