HUMN 3040 From Vindication to Liberation: A Comparative History of Feminism

Credit Points 10

Legacy Code 102520

Coordinator Bridget Brooklyn Opens in new window

Description Beginning with Mary Wollstonecraft's A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, this historical survey analyses the Western feminist ideas and action over the past two centuries, exploring examples from Australia, France, the UK and the US. Important stages in the history of Western feminism will be studied, from the early equality feminism of the eighteenth century, to domestic feminism and the woman suffrage campaigns of the nineteenth. Aspects of the history of more recent feminism will include such developments as the role of maternalism in the creation of the welfare state, and the shift to an emphasis on liberation in the 1960s and 1970s.

School Humanities & Comm Arts

Discipline History

Student Contribution Band HECS Band 4 10cp

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Level Undergraduate Level 3 subject


Successful completion of 60 credit points of study in currently enrolled program.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  1. Describe the principal feminist movements of several western countries over the past two centuries;
  2. Appraise the ideas that characterised different feminist movements of the past;
  3. Identify key individuals who shaped feminist thought and fostered change;
  4. Explain how Australian feminism has fit into the international context, and identify the ways in which it has been both influenced and influential; and
  5. Understand some of the intersections between gender and race, particularly with reference to Australia.

Subject Content

1. What is feminism? Problems defining feminism in the past and the present.
2. Articulating women?fs rights: the French Revolution and equality feminism.
3. Backlash? The rise of evangelism and the cult of domesticity in the nineteenth century.
4. Feminism in the Victorian era: freedom within boundaries.
5. Winning the vote: suffrage campaigns of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
6. Maternalist feminism in the early twentieth century.
7. Interwar feminism in Australia, France and the US; domestic science and the citizen mother.
8. From equality to liberation: the rise of ?esecond wave?f feminism.
9. Race and gender in the second half of the twentieth century.
10.The ?ethird wave?f and why feminism is still important.


The following table summarises the standard assessment tasks for this subject. Please note this is a guide only. Assessment tasks are regularly updated, where there is a difference your Learning Guide takes precedence.

Type Length Percent Threshold Individual/Group Task
Portfolio 2 x 750 words 30 N Individual
Essay 2,000 words 40 N Individual
Final Exam 2 hours 30 N Individual

Prescribed Texts

  • Weekly readings online or in Subject Reader.