Hidden Histories: Gender and Testimony

Subject GEND20007 (2013)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2013.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2013.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1-hour lecture and a 1.5-hour tutorial per week.
Total Time Commitment:

Total expected time commitment is 102-hours across the semester, including class time.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Objectives, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry. It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and the Disability Liaison Unit: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Nicholas Chare


Subject Overview:

This subject provides a general introduction to gender issues in relation to ideas about trauma and testimony. It is divided into two parts. The first part introduces students to different forms of gender related testimony through a series of topics including Archives, Art, Autobiography, Documentary, Histories, Legal Evidence, Museums, Monuments, and Photography. It involves considering material related to a number of historical events including the Holocaust and the Second Gulf War. Additionally it addresses themes such as herstory, masculinity, and sexuality. The second part, in the final four weeks, invites students to analyse a series of historical case studies for which a variety of ways of bearing witness exist and reflect on the appropriateness of these different media as forms of attestation to past events and also on the gender issues which are raised by these testimonies. The case studies are the life of Ned Kelly, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the persecution of the gay community in Nazi Germany, and the femicides of Cuidad Juárez. The subject will examine testimony as evidence about past events yet also push beyond such a conception addressing, for example, the phenomenological import some types of testimony can possess and also the possible cathartic potential of bearing witness to traumatic experiences. The subject is strongly informed by ideas from psychoanalysis and through close readings of key texts students will attain a basic grounding in major theories of testimony and trauma including those advanced by Cathy Caruth, Shoshana Felman, Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Dominick LaCapra, Dori Laub, and Hanna Segal. Students will therefore develop a critical vocabulary suitable for assessing diverse practices of gender-related memorialisation.


On completion of the subject students should have:

  • the ability to communicate an understanding of key terms from theories of gender and testimony;
  • the ability to demonstrate various ways in which ideas about gender theory can productively be employed in theorizing witnessing;
  • the skills and confidence to take the initiative in relating theoretical ideas covered in the subject to cultural artefacts;
  • learnt learn how to organize material into coherent and convincing arguments in their written work;
  • fostered close reading skills in relation to both texts and images.

A research essay of 1500 words due in week six (40%) and a weekly journal equivalent to 2500 words due in the examination period (60%). This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% attendance and regular participation in tutorials. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day.

Prescribed Texts:

A Subject Reader will be available.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • learn to be skilled in critical thinking and analysis;
  • cultivate oral and written communication skills;
  • develop an understanding of cultural and social contexts;
  • become skilled at managing time and resources effectively.
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies
Gender Studies Major

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