Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Quality education Gender equality Decent work and economic growth Reduced inequalities

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

The course introduce students to the main conceptualisations and theoretical approaches to the analysis of gender, its historical evolution and the development of gender-sensitive policies.  

At the end of the course the student will acquire knowledges on the principal approaches that characterise gender studies scholarship and to their impact on policies. Moreover, students will be able to critically reflect on different dynamics and forms of gender inequality.


Course contents

The primary goal of this course is to familiarize students with key issues, questions and debates in classic and contemporary gender studies scholarship, a multidisciplinary field of research that critically analyzes themes of gendered performance and power in a range of social spheres, such as culture, work, family, sexuality, health, and social policies.

The course will first expose students to the diverse body of writing of feminist theory and women’s studies.This part of the course will examine the ways in which feminists have addressed such key issues as women’s equality and political change, femininity, racism and racial equality, marriage and the family, sexuality, the representation of gender, race, and sexuality in the mass media, differences among and between women, and human rights.

In a second part of the course, students will become acquainted with the scholarship on men’s and masculinities studies and, thus, with researches and reflections dealing with the social construction of male identities. The lectures will explore the construction, meaning and gendering of maleness, masculinity, and, the processes of creation and negotiation of different male identities, the intersectional variation in male experiences related to class, age and ethnic background.

Finally, a third part of the course will engage with the contribution of queer theory and LGBTQ studies to our understanding of gendered experiences and of power dynamics existing in processes of institutionalization, recognition and stigmatization of certain expressions of sexuality and gender.

Throughout the course a specific attention will be given at critically assessing the consequences of these intellectual traditions on policies. In particular,we will explore gender studies’ contribution to the critical understanding of social policies, as well as the intertwined paths of development of gender studies and gender-sensitive policies.


Students who attend classes should consider the following texts:

  • Ruspini, E. Le identità di genere, Carocci, Roma, 2009.
  • Butler, J., Questione di genere. Il femminismo e la sovversione dell’identità, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2017.

Further readings (articles, chapters, political documents) will be assigned to students each week. These will be indicated and handled by the professor during the term. Required readings will include classic and contemporary gender studies texts, as well as political documents and personal narratives of gendered lives.

Students who cannot attend classes are required to consider the following bibliography:

  • Ruspini, E. Le identità di genere, Carocci, Roma, 2009.
  • Butler, J., Questione di genere. Il femminismo e la sovversione dell’identità, Laterza, Roma-Bari, 2017.

    And two of the following texts:

  • Bersani, L., Homos, Pratiche, Milano, 1998.
  • Bourdieu, P., Il dominio maschile, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1998.
  • Butler, J. La disfatta del genere, Maltemi, Roma, 2006.
  • Connell, R., Maschilità. Identità e trasformazione del maschio occidentale, Feltrinelli, Milano, 1996.
  • Davis. A., Donne, razza e classe, Edizioni Alegre, Roma, 2018.
  • Fraser, N., Fortune del femminismo. Dal capitalismo regolato dallo stato alla crisi neoliberista, Ombre Corte, Verona, 2014.
  • Illouz, E., Perché l’amore fa soffrire?, Il Mulino, Bologna, 2015.
  • Monceri, F., Oltre l’identità sessuale. Teorie queer e corpi transgender, ETS, Pisa, 2010.
International students (who don't speak/read Italian) are welcome to get in touch to define a specific bibliography.

Teaching methods

The course combines frontal lectures with seminars, group readings/discussions, and movie screening.

Frontal lectures will run for about the first half of the course and will be mainly aimed at introducing students to main concepts and theories of gender studies.

The other teaching activities will make up the second half of the course and seek to expose students to examples from more recent empirical studies, gendered biographies and feminist/queer political experiences, and at encouraging their active involvement and critical thinking.

Through successfully completing this course, students will be better prepared to participate in and contribute effectively to the larger public conversation about the role of gender in society and to apply the critical tools of gender studies in their academic, personal and occupational lives.

Assessment methods

Students attending classes will be examined through:

  • a (optional) midterm written exam on the main concepts and theories in women’s, men’s and queer studies which will be presented during the frontal lectures. Those students who will not take part to the midterm exam (or decide to refuse the grade) will sustain an oral exam on the same topics at the end of the course.
  • a (optional) final paper on a topic agreed with the professor. Students will be invited to: a) agree a theme with the teacher and draw up a first draft of the essay (about 10 pages); b) present their essay to the class; b) submit a final revised essay of about 15 pages to the professor at the end of the course. In alternative to the paper, students can choose to complete the exam through an oral examination based on a monographic book to be agreed with the professor.
Non-attending students will be assessed through an oral exam based on the outlined bibliography.

Teaching tools

Projector, PC, powerpoint slides, articles and documents suggested during the lessons.

Office hours

See the website of Ilaria Pitti