Changing Concepts for Women: From Becoming Male to New Domesticity

The role women played throughout history has at best proven to be contradictory, ambiguous or defined as passive. For a long time, the impact women have made has been overlooked in social and political records or academic research. And yet, the construction of femininity is comparable to any other cultural and sociological concept bound to and dependent on historical periods, spaces and the societies dealt with. Concepts like these not only change with a steadily progressing world and the modification of its traditions and expectations, but also result in the idealization of certain behaviour or appearance.

This class will provide students with an overview of the steadily changing concepts for women in Britain and America, from the medieval times to the 21st century. We will work our way from the religiously connoted idea that women could transcend the frailty of their weaker sex and “become male” to the woman’s liberation movements of the sixties and seventies to the New Domesticity wave – a term for those women in the 21st century who despite their academic education decide to become stay-at-home mums and embrace a new form of homemaking – to the recent #womenagainstfeminism movement.