Feminist theory: gender, democracy, and ecology

Course content

Why is gender inequality still a political issue in contemporary democracies? How can we think about gender and sexuality in more pluralistic ways? And how are these questions related to theories of ecology and new materialism?


Feminist theory: gender, democracy, and ecology is a political theory course that addresses these complex questions. The course offers an in-depth introduction to contemporary feminist theory taking the works of Judith Butler as point of departure. The overall aim of the course is to read, understand, and discuss feminist theory but also to learn to see contemporary gender-political issues from new angles and multiple perspectives.   


The course explores each of its three pillars of gender, democracy, and ecology in three main steps. (1) We discuss the critiques that feminist theory poses to heteronormative conceptualizations of sex, gender, and sexuality. (2) We explore democratic theories from feminist perspectives, (3) and we finally connect these two pillars to theories of ecology with an emphasis on new materialist theory.


The course itself undertakes a feminist approach as the syllabus is constructed from the idea that we read texts written by feminist and female scholars. The most central thinker of the course is Judith Butler who will be present in all three pillars. Among other important thinkers are Sara Ahmed, Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, Donna Haraway, Bonnie Honig, and bell hooks.


Bachelor student (2017 programme curriculum): 7.5 ECTS

Master student: 7.5 ECTS

Learning outcome


  • Describe the studied feminist theoretical approaches to gender, democracy, and ecology



  • Present and analyze the arguments behind each of the approaches studied
  • Apply the theories to discussions about our political world broadly understood



  • Combine and synthesize the ways in which each approach envisions gender, democracy, and ecology
  • Evaluate the validity of the various theorists’ arguments

This course will have seminar format of:
• Small lectures
• Group work
• Presentations

Ahmed, Sara. Living a Feminist Life. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017)

Barad, Karen. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).

Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

---. Influx and Efflux. Writing Up with Walt Whitman. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020).

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. (New York: Routledge, 1990)

---. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. (London: Routledge, 2011).

---. Notes toward a performative theory of assembly. (London: Harvard University Press, 2015)

---. The Force of Nonviolence. (London, New York :Verso, 2020)

Haraway, Donna J. Simians, cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature. (London: Free Association, 1991)

---. Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016).

Honig, Bonnie, Public Things: Democracy in Disrepair (New York: Fordham University Press, 2017).

hooks, bell. Feminist Theory from margin to center. (Boston: South End Press, 1984)

• Students are expected to have interest in topics related to feminism
• Students are expected to have interest in political theory

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination under invigilation
Oral exam with preparation
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment
  • Grade 12 is given for an outstanding performance: the student lives up to the course's goal description in an independent and convincing manner with no or few and minor shortcomings
  • Grade 7 is given for a good performance: the student is confidently able to live up to the goal description, albeit with several shortcomings
  • Grade 02 is given for an adequate performance: the minimum acceptable performance in which the student is only able to live up to the goal description in an insecure and incomplete manner

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • English
  • 28