Gender and Political Theory

Periodo di svolgimento
Ore del corso
Ore dei docenti responsabili
Ore di didattica integrativa

Modalità esame

Prova orale


Anna Loretoni


Compulsory for the 1st year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"


The course aims at developing a critical understanding and an interdisciplinary overview of topical issues concerning the analytical category of gender. The first part of the course will be devoted, through the exploration of the main conceptual aspects connected to gender in contemporary societies, to show some methodological assumptions needed to look at discrimination, oppression, domination, inequality (deconstructive strategy; intersectionality). Starting from the reading of some classical texts which introduced a feminist perspective into the liberal philosophical debate (Olympe de Gouges, Mary Wollstonecraft, Simone de Beauvoir, Carole Pateman), the course will also focus on some contributions from Southern and Black Feminism (G.C. Spivak, Ch.T. Mohanty). In the second part, the category of gender will be adopted as a lens to investigate the Human Rights language and the related concept of capabilities, questioning the mainstream version of liberal individualism and proposing to enrich the debate through the relevance of care, dependency and disability. The case of Gender-based Violence will be discussed during the last part of the course, focusing on its reflection on the public space within peaceful as well as within conflict torn societies. During three of the sessions (2, 5, 6) Dr. Elisa Piras (post-doctoral Fellow in Political Philosophy at Sant’Anna School for Advanced Studies) will contribute to the discussion with inputs from her ongoing research.

Course format:

The course will consist of 6 classes (lecture and seminarial debate). The seventh class will be a session of assessment.

Assessment: In the last class each PhD student will be required to discuss a topic related to the themes addressed during the course and agreed upon with Professor Loretoni. 


Session N. 1, Deconstructive strategy and Intersectionality

(13/05/2022, 14-17)


Required readings

 J. Scott, ‘Gender. A Useful Category for Historical Analysis’, The American Historical Review, XCI, 1986, 5.

A. Loretoni, Ampliare lo sguardo. Genere e teoria politica (Roma: Donzelli Editore, 2014).

K. Crenshaw, ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’, University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989, 1.


Session N. 2, Classical Feminist Perspectives in Political Theory

(20/05/2022, 14-17)


Required readings (excerpts)

Olympe de Gouges, Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne (1791).

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman with Strictures on Moral and Political Subjects (1792).

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (Jonathan Cape, 1956).

Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988).


Session N. 3, Feminisms beyond the West. Universalism versus Relativism

(24/05/2022, 14-17)


Required readings

G.C. Spivak, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, in Colonial Discourse and Postcolonial Theory, edited by P. Williams and L. Chrisman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994).

C.T. Mohanty, ‘Under Western Eyes. Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses’, Feminist Review¸ 30, 1988: 61-88.

A. Loretoni, A. Belli, ‘Gender, Identity and Belonging: New Citizenships beyond Orientalism’, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies, 1 (1), 2017:


Session N. 4, Vulnerability and Capabilities: Questioning Individualism and Autonomy

(25/05/2022, 14-17)


Required readings

J. Butler, Precarious Life. The powers of Mourning and Violence (London: Verso, 2004), excerpts (tbc).

M. Nussbaum, Women and Human Development. The Capabilities Approach (Cambridge – New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 1-110 (Ch. 1 and 2).


Session N. 5, Gender-based Violence in the Virtual Public Sphere

(26/05/2022, 10-13)


Required readings

E.A. Jane, ‘‘Back to the kitchen, cunt’: speaking the unspeakable about online misogyny’, Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies, 28 (4), 2014: 558–570.

D. Ging, ‘Alphas, Betas, and Incels: Theorizing the Masculinities of the Manosphere’, Men and Masculinities, 22 (4), 2019: 638-657.


Session N. 6, Gender-based Violence in post-conflict societies

(31/05/2022, 10-13)


Required readings

C. McKinnon, ‘Crimes of War, Crimes of Peace’, UCLA Women’s Law Journal, 4, (1), 1993: 59-86.

L. Hansen, ‘Gender, Nation, Rape. Bosnia and the Construction of Security’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 3 (1), 2001, 55–75.


Session N. 7, Final Assessment  

Discussion on the topics of the course

(date tbc)

Obiettivi formativi

The course aims at making students familiar with the main feminist theoretical perspectives, by developing a deconstructive and critical approach to the issues related to discriminations, inequalities and gender-based-violence.