Accueil > Gender, Sexuality, and Mass Dictatorship: Revisiting Nazi Germany

DHIS 25A04 - Gender, Sexuality, and Mass Dictatorship: Revisiting Nazi Germany

Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Spring 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students to some major issues surrounding the history of gender and sexuality over what is often called “the century of sex”. Gender and sexuality profoundly shaped the twentieth century: from the question of equality between the sexes to the increasing liberalization of sexual mores and rights that included female suffrage, birth control, the legalization of divorce, women's and gay rights. Yet, to relate a narrative of merely gradual progress would misrepresent the complicated nature of gender and sexual politics. Nazi Germany is a good case in point: German women had gained full voting rights in 1919 and the so-called Sex Reform had considerably liberalized the sexual rights of Weimar Republic citizens. This leads us to ask: How can it be that one of the most violent and repressive dictatorships in European history developed in such a progressive country? What role did sexuality and violence play in making of a fascist genocidal society? And how can gender and sexuality help us to understand the politization of private, participatory violence, and resistance? Looking beyond powerful elites, we will explore how between 1933 and 1945 individual citizens in Germany and Austria became accustomed to mass dictatorship, racial discrimination, homophobia, eugenic policies, war, sexual violence, and mass murder. Yet this class also offers useful tools to understand other dictatorial regimes as well as recent social and political events in the 21st century. In addition to the class readings (scholarly articles, mostly case studies), we will study together the 2017 TV-adaptation of Margaret Atwood's 1985 dystopian novel THE HANDMAID'S TALE. This collective project (student presentations followed by discussions) will allow us to further analyze how micro-dynamics of power interrelate with gender and sexuality. More importantly, it will help us to pay special attention to the impact of second-wave feminism on scholarly debates and historiographies in the field of women's and gender studies, as well as the new methodologies and scholarly debates that have emerged in critical military and masculinity studies and in queer historiography.


MAILÄNDER, Elissa I. (Professeur associé à Sciences Po)

Course validation

✓One group presentation: students are required to prepare one 15-minute oral presentation, which consists in a close reading of one episode of THE HANDMAID's TALE. The topics will be assigned in the first class. ✓One test at week ten (Session 10) ✓One paper of 1250 words due at week twelve (Session 12) Class attendance and participation are mandatory. All readings, oral presentations and papers are due in English.


Taking Nazi Germany and WWII as a case study, this course is designed to introduce students to major issues surrounding the history of gender and sexuality, of critical military and masculinities studies, and queer theory. The format for this course will be a lecture followed by a discussion of the assigned readings (10 scholarly articles and empirical case studies in total). Students are required to come to class each week, having read the week's text and being prepared to discuss it. They also are expected to watch one episode of THE HANDMAID's TALE per week. The lectures, course readings, and movies will form the basis for both the test and the final paper.

Required reading

The Handmaid's Tale, Bruce Miller (2017-present)