UCL Department of Geography
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Professor Ann Varley

Unit Value: 0.5 unit   Year 3   Term 1

Brief Course Description
The course explores the links between private and public, home and work, in the geographies of gender.

Course Aims
The course explores the private/public, home/work, and female/male binaries. It challenges the notion of separate spheres but asks how far these categories might nonetheless continue to affect our lives

Course Content
The course is divided into three sections. The first introduces ideas about public and private and related dualisms in social and geographical thought. It shows how the private is linked with the idea of the home, the bodily and the feminine, in opposition to the public world of work, politics and the intellect. It examines the historical evidence for the separation of home and work and the rise of domesticity, partly by examining depictions of the home and city in art. The second focuses on work carried out within the home, exploring the consequences of the ideas that work is something that happens outside the home for those engaged in such work, be it housework, homeworking, paid reproductive work or care work. The third asks whether and how the public/private dichotomy might be mapped onto the built environment, in the city and in housing design. It examines the relationships between city and suburbs and between gender and gentrification.

While the course supports the idea of challenging binaries (for example, by constructing a ‘third space’ politics of difference), it also demonstrates the continuing relevance of ideas of a public/private division to our lives. The course asks what relevance ideas about separate spheres have to the lives of working-class men and women and examines critiques from black and gay and lesbian theorists.

Method of Teaching
Depending on numbers taking the course this year: a mixture of lectures and classes involving student discussion of selected readings from the literature considered in the course. Everyone is expected to have studied these readings before coming to class.

Form of Assessment
One 3 hour examination (100%)

Pre-requisites and relationship with other courses
Above all, a commitment to reading widely, plus willingness to participate actively in class. Great care is taken to make required readings (2-3 articles per discussion topic) available to students, but you must go beyond the required readings when revising for the examination. Much of the material considered is of an inter-disciplinary nature, so you should be prepared to explore areas that are unfamiliar to you.

Suggested reading:
Although there are no text books for the course, the following are of interest:

Blunt, A. & R. Dowling (2006) Home. Routledge, London.
Duncan, N. (ed.) (1996). Bodyspace: Destabilizing Geographies of Gender and Sexuality. Routledge, London.
Gillis, J.R. (1997) A World of their Own Making: A History of Myth and Ritual in Family Life. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
McDowell, L. M. (1999). Gender, Identity and Place: Understanding Feminist Geographies. Polity Press: Cambridge.
McDowell, L. (2009) Working Bodies: Interactive Service Employment and Workplace Identities, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford.
Rose, G. (1993). Feminism and Geography: The Limits of Geographical Knowledge. Polity Press, Oxford.
Smith, J.M. (2003) Private Matters: In Defense of the Personal Life. Seal Press, Emeryville. 2nd ed.