The Institute of Feminist Thought aims to deliver a series of different courses covering historical and contemporary feminist debates. The first phase involves the creation of a ‘Certificate in Feminist Thought’ consisting of two modules – ‘Introduction to Feminism’ and ‘Re-reading the Second Wave.’ We are currently taking registrations for the ‘Introduction’ course, which will be running in February and Summer 2021.

The ‘Introduction’ course consists of a series of online seminars with 8 to 9 participants. There is some set reading for each seminar, as well as a selection of other optional readings, and some guided reading/reflection questions. Each participant will also get a 30-minute online introductory and closing session one-on-one with Jane, so we can get to know each other, and reflect on the course at the end. Testimonials from students who have already completed the ‘Introduction’ course are available here.


‘Introduction to Feminism’ – 6 Weeks

Week 1: Introduction – History, Rights and Equality

  • Overview of the ‘waves’ theory of feminism, the historical emergence of the second-wave, the main strands of second-wave thought.
  • Liberal feminism and feminism as a ‘civil rights’ project. Issues of the tension between ‘equality’ and ‘difference’ in feminism. Feminism as an ‘equality’ project vs. feminism as a ‘liberation’ project. Class and race-based critiques of liberal feminism.

Week 2: Patriarchal Power – Theory and Origins

  • What is patriarchy?
  • Radical and socialist feminism on the origins of patriarchy.
  • Theories of the origins of patriarchy.

Week 3: Patriarchal Power – Gender and Hierarchy

  • What is gender?
  • Gender as social hierarchy vs. gender as ‘natural’ sex differences.
  • Gender as social ‘roles’. The nature and function of patriarchal femininity.
  • Gender as cultural hierarchies and mechanisms of ‘othering.’
  • Gender as deep social structure and gender as performance.

Week 4: ‘This Woman’s Work’ – Labour, Class and Care

  • Women’s representation in the workplace. ‘The problem with no name.’ How women’s work is impacted by class and racial intersections.
  • Socialist feminism and social reproduction. The role of women’s reproductive, domestic and emotional labour. Material appropriation, patriarchal origins, and capitalism. 
  • Maternal feminism and the ethics of care – the social, political and philosophical importance of revaluing care-work.

Week 5: Sex – Power, Pleasure and Danger

  • ‘Sex positivity’ vs. ‘Sex negativity.’ The feminist ‘sex-wars.’  Prostitution and pornography.
  • Reckoning with sexual harms. Male entitlement, narcissism and rape. Objectification and the male gaze. Sexual trauma and the mechanics of oppression.
  • The importance of female sexual pleasure. Sex, subjectivity and creativity. French feminism and jouissance.

Week 6: Fourth-Wave Futures

  • Class round up, including:
  • Discussion of third-wave, queer and intersectional feminisms. What is valuable in the critique of second-wave feminism? What major aspects of second-wave feminism have been lost, and should be re-centred? How do we weave the waves together into a feminism for the future?

Course fees:

There are two price points for this course: The standard fee is £180. For those on higher incomes who feel they can afford it, the fee is £230 – this will go towards funding concessions spaces and supporting further plans for the institute. If you are on a low-income but would like to participate, please send an email via the registration page as there are concession spaces available.

The fee includes six two-hour online seminars, and one hour one-on-one with Jane. It also includes the six course packs which contain a large amount of reading material for your future reference. There is only one set text to buy for under £10.

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