Gendered Societies: Russian – 
Norwegian Comparative Perspective

Course unit code:

Type of course unit:

Level of course unit: Bachelor

Year of study: second

Semester/trimester when the course unit is delivered: autumn

Number of ECTS credits allocated: 10 ECTS

Responsible institution:

Faculty of Social Sciences, The University of Nordland, Norway in cooperation with The Northern Arctic Federal University, Russia

Name of lecturer: an associate professor from Northern Arctic Federal University

Course-responsible at UiN:

Language of instruction: English

Mode of delivery: face-to-face learning

Aims:

The course is committed to the development of skills in human communication across Russian and Norwegian cultures. This will be achieved by means of giving the knowledge about the socialization patterns for women and men in patriarchal cultures though with different levels of gender asymmetry; about symbolic embeddings of sexism, and gender equality policies in Norway and Russia.

Throughout the course the students are to develop an understanding of women’s and men’s roles in the family and the work place; cultural images of men and women; technologies of gender asymmetry construction in popular music, cinema, folklore and contemporary media; the role of sexuality in human existence. The course is itself a tool for developing critical reflection: it supplies with the theoretical framework for interpreting life situations, discourses that serve as mechanisms for one’s identity creation; it develops gender sensitivity, self-awareness, and tolerance to the Other.

Learning outcomes of the course unit:

After the studies a student must understand:

  • key issues and concepts of Gender Studies
  • the ways that sex and gender manifest themselves in social, cultural, and political contexts
  • some feminist approaches to media studies
  • meaning of feminist-friendly politics and its importance for the human development in the neighboring countries

After the course a student must be able to:

  • identify systems of domination and subordination
  • examine the gendered dimensions of the societies
  • analyze stereotypes and biases about gender, explaining the interconnections among systems of oppression, such as sexism, racism, classism, ethnocentrism, homophobia/heterosexism, and others
  •  “read” and analyze gender, exploring how it impacts our understanding of the world
  • see and explain the challenges for gaining gender equality in Russian and Norwegian societies and to compare the opportunities for its achievement in these two countries
  • use the acquired knowledge in a specific personal situation and reflect on the understanding of the situation

Content:

Within each culture which is constructed on principle of binary oppositions, men’s culture differs from women’s culture. Arctic discoursers have traditionally been shaped by masculine values, although feminine values might be an effective contribution to the development of peace, social and economic justice, and ecological sustainability. Exploring the values underlying the construction of Norwegian and Russian societies is an important step for the international cooperation to be more capable of prioritizing long-term common benefits.

Exploring the underlying values means that students will critically reflect upon issues like:

  • Sex and gender in the context of dichotomy ‘Nature - Culture’;
  • Gender stereotypes in culture and Mass Media;
  • Stereotypes of motherhood and fatherhood;
  • Gender ideology and gender policy;
  • Legislation providing equal rights and opportunities for both sexes;
  • Reshaping human interactions from the model of domination to the model of partnership.

A special focus will be made on the analysis of gendered performance and power in a range of social spheres, such as culture, work, family, sexuality, and law from an international Russian – Norwegian comparative perspective.

The course will be divided into four major topics/parts. Part I focuses more on general issues and theories, and methods, while Parts II, III, IV are more practice-oriented.

  • Part I. Introduction to Gender Studies: key concepts and issues
  • Part II. Issues of Female and Male Representations in Russian and Norwegian Folklore
  • Part III. Gender Asymmetry Construction in the Media
  • Part IV.Gender Equality Policies in the modern Norway and Russia.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods:

Lectures, seminars, group work, presentations and individual work. Classes will integrate lecture and discussion. To make the subject of the classes more applicable to students’ everyday life, YouTube clips will be used during lectures and seminars. “Watch and talk” pedagogy aims to provide for debates and make classes more interactive as well as to develop analytic reflections in a productive environment with fellow students. To question the meaning of gender in societies the students will be involved in an ongoing intellectual conversation throughout the course. This will be achieved through working with a set of empirical material: movies, popular and folk songs, commercials, proverbs and sayings, fairy-tales. Dealing with video material students will be delivered pre-viewing, while-viewing and post-viewing activity tasks. Many issues we will discuss are controversial and different standpoints might be articulated, and it is crucial to respect each other’s opinion and experience across the differences.

Work requirements:

Participation in lectures, seminars and group work, reading the syllabus. Course materials must be read for the assigned day in class. All assignments must be completed. If the task is handed in on time a student will get the feedback. It is obligatory to be present at all classes and take part in the discussions and presentations.

Assessment methods and criteria: Lecture journal, presentation of an individual topic within the subject.

After completing the studies students write a Lecture Journal and submit it in a week. A lecture journal is evaluated by the course coordinator from the NARFU and a teacher from the UiN. On the last day of the course the students are to present an individual topic within a subject they are going to discuss in the Lecture Journal. This task is aimed to question the student’s standpoint on the chosen issue by the fellow students and get some feedback from the teacher.

Requirements for a lecture journal:

A lecture journal is an analytical record of a student’s learning process and is tied to an individual subject in a course or a particular topic within a subject. This part of the lecture journal must consist of 10 pages. The rest 5 pages will be committed to a student’s reflection about the experience and process of learning throughout a course in general. This includes the content of the course and the student’s reflections on the gained knowledge. It is expected that the student will comment on the ideas discussed during the lectures and seminars, supported by the quoted recommended literature. It is advisable for a student to pose some questions to a teacher which were born during or after the classes but not discussed. The student must try to connect the content of the lectures to a wider context and personal experience.

Formal demands: 15 pages of normal standard writing. Some of the references used have to be among the titles in the reading list. References have to be listed according to academic standards.

Grading:

A-F / Fail (A-E means ‘approved’, F means ‘not approved’)

Readings:

A reading list, video, YouTube clips and music will be presented in the curriculum plan