Uniwersytet Warszawski - Centralny System Uwierzytelniania
Strona główna

Sexuality, Gender and the Cold War

Informacje ogólne

Kod przedmiotu: 3102-FSGC
Kod Erasmus / ISCED: 14.7 Kod klasyfikacyjny przedmiotu składa się z trzech do pięciu cyfr, przy czym trzy pierwsze oznaczają klasyfikację dziedziny wg. Listy kodów dziedzin obowiązującej w programie Socrates/Erasmus, czwarta (dotąd na ogół 0) – ewentualne uszczegółowienie informacji o dyscyplinie, piąta – stopień zaawansowania przedmiotu ustalony na podstawie roku studiów, dla którego przedmiot jest przeznaczony. / (0314) Socjologia i kulturoznawstwo Kod ISCED - Międzynarodowa Standardowa Klasyfikacja Kształcenia (International Standard Classification of Education) została opracowana przez UNESCO.
Nazwa przedmiotu: Sexuality, Gender and the Cold War
Jednostka: Instytut Etnologii i Antropologii Kulturowej
Grupy: Courses in foreign languages
Moduł L09 (od 2023): Płeć / ciało / relacyjność
Przedmioty etnograficzne do wyboru
Punkty ECTS i inne: 5.00 Podstawowe informacje o zasadach przyporządkowania punktów ECTS:
  • roczny wymiar godzinowy nakładu pracy studenta konieczny do osiągnięcia zakładanych efektów uczenia się dla danego etapu studiów wynosi 1500-1800 h, co odpowiada 60 ECTS;
  • tygodniowy wymiar godzinowy nakładu pracy studenta wynosi 45 h;
  • 1 punkt ECTS odpowiada 25-30 godzinom pracy studenta potrzebnej do osiągnięcia zakładanych efektów uczenia się;
  • tygodniowy nakład pracy studenta konieczny do osiągnięcia zakładanych efektów uczenia się pozwala uzyskać 1,5 ECTS;
  • nakład pracy potrzebny do zaliczenia przedmiotu, któremu przypisano 3 ECTS, stanowi 10% semestralnego obciążenia studenta.
Język prowadzenia: angielski
Rodzaj przedmiotu:


Skrócony opis:

Using the politics of gender and sexuality as a lens, this class guides students through Central Europe in the second part of the 20th century. We will examine developments in building sexual identities, various attempts at social reform, the construction of gender, and the flow of knowledge through the Iron Curtain. We will also discuss the continuities and changes before and after WWII as well as 1989/1991.

Pełny opis:

Using the politics of gender and sexuality as a lens, this class guides students through Central Europe in the second part of the 20th century. We will examine developments in building sexual identities, various attempts at social reform, the construction of gender, and the flow of knowledge through the Iron Curtain. We will also discuss the continuities and changes before and after WWII as well as 1989/1991.

The class will start with a critique of what Dagmar Herzog calls the liberalization paradigm. When talking about the history of sexuality after WWII we tend to describe it in terms of a constant, global progress that began in the West. While under socialism citizens undoubtedly suffered from an oppressive totalitarian system, which presented challenges to a rights-based approach to sexuality, the politics of sexuality and gender were in many ways progressive and contrasted with those of Western countries. Abortion and contraception were legal (except for in Romania), the emancipation of women was institutionalized (in the form of participation in the labor force, access to divorce and state sponsored child care), homosexuality was in many instances decriminalized earlier than in the West (except for in the USSR), and in Poland, for example, gender reassignment surgeries were covered by the state. At the same time, (hetero)sexism was deeply embedded in culture and society. The collapse of socialism brought both the curtailment of gender and sexuality rights (such as new anti-abortion laws, women pushed out of the labor market, reinforcement of the Catholic Church’s power, or the commodification of sex) and new opportunities (the development of feminist and LGBTQ movements).

Throughout this course we will consider how Central European countries offer unique insight into the history of sexuality due to their specific position: while members of Western culture, they also constitute an internal European “otherness”. We will evaluate how this region’s socialist past has led to unique developments in ideas about sexuality and gender. Moreover, the Polish context will be further distinguished by the prominent role of Catholicism in local social life.

During the course we will look for answers to questions such as: What was specific about sexual identities, sexual cultures and sexual politics under socialism and during radical neoliberal restructuring in the 1990s? What can we now learn from what was going on under socialism? Could study of sex under state socialism offer new analytical tools to contribute to the global history of sexuality? For instance: was the sex revolution universal or was it limited to western urban culture? How did the politics of gender and sexuality play out in Central Europe and in what ways can state socialism help us to understand the nature of these processes? What can we now learn from state socialist gender and sexual politics?

Materials for this course base on new research in the history of sexuality, gender and queerness in Central Europe. We will draw on archival sources and oral histories collected by the instructor, as well as on film materials.


1. Introduction and class rules

2. Introduction (part 1)

Against the liberalization paradigm: Mapping sexuality, mapping Central Europe in the 20th


Ghodsee, Kristen R. (2017). Why Women Had Better Sex Under Socialism. New York Times, Aug. 12, 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/12/opinion/why-women-had-better-sex-under-socialism.html

Ghodsee, Kristen, Lišková Kateřina (2016) ‘Bumbling Idiots or Evil Masterminds? Challenging Cold War Stereotypes about Women, Sexuality and State Socialism.’ Filozofija i Društvo, 27(3): 489-503.

3. Introduction (part 2)

Constructing Central and Eastern Europe before the Cold War


Renkin, Hadley (2016) ‘Biopolitical mythologies: Róheim, Freud, (homo)phobia, and the sexual science of Eastern European Otherness.’ Sexualities 19 (1-2): 168-189.

4. Communism and women’s emancipation (part 1)


Grabowska, Magdalena (2016) From Revolutionary Agents to Reactive Actors: The Transformation of Socialist Women’s Organizing in Poland from the 1940s through the 1980s, Aspasia, vol 10, pp. 126-135

5. Communism and women’s emancipation (part 2)



Ghodsee, Kristen. 2019. Second world, second sex: socialist women's activism and global solidarity during the Cold War, Duke University Press, pp. 1-51.

6. Sexual revolution and the role of experts (part 1)

Sexual evolution or revolution?


Lišková Kateřina. (2018) Sexual Liberation, Socialist Style: Communist Czechoslovakia and the Science of Desire, 1945–1989. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018, Introduction, pp. 1-16

McLellan Josie (2011) Love in the Time of Communism. Intimacy and Sexuality in the GDR. Cambridge University Press, 1-21 (chapter: ‘Introduction: the East German sex revolution).

7. Sexual revolution and the role of experts (part 2)

Film: The Art of Love: The Story of Michalina Wislocka (by Maria Sadowska, 2017), 121 min.

Experts on sexuality and women’s emancipation (Plus: discussion about The Art of Loving)


Lišková, Kateřina (2016) ‘Sex under Socialism. From Emancipation of Women to Normalized Families in Czechoslovakia.’ Sexualities 19 (1-2): 211-235.

Kościańska, Agnieszka (2016) ‘Sex on equal terms? Polish sexology on women’s emancipation and “good sex” from the 1970s to present.’ Sexualities 19 (1-2): 236-256.

8. Birth control: Changes in approaches to abortion and contraception. Socialism and after

Mishtal, Joanna. 2015. The Politics of Morality: The Church, the State, and Reproductive Rights in Postsocialist Poland. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, chapter 5, pp. 140-159.

Kościańska, Agnieszka, Agata Ignaciuk, and Agata Chełstowska. 2022. Catholic Intimacies: Negotiating Contraception in Late Communist Poland, Journal of Religious History, 46(3), pp. 483-502, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1467-9809.12861

9. Are homosexuality and transsexuality socialist? (part 1)

Homosexuality under later state socialism


Szulc, Łukasz (2018) Transnational Homosexuals in Communist Poland Cross-Border Flows in Gay and Lesbian Magazines. Palgrave Macmillan, 97-117.

Kurimay Anita, Judth Takács (2017). “Emergence of the Hungarian homosexual movement in late refrigerator socialism. Sexualities 20, no. 5-6: 585–603.

Kurimay, Anita (2020) Queer Budapest, 1873–1961. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

10 Are homosexuality and transsexuality socialist? (part 2)

Transsexuality in Poland

Dębińska, Maria (2020) Diagnosing transsexualism, diagnosing society: the blurred genres of Polish sexology in the 1970s and 1980s. In T. Basiuk and J. Burszta, Queers in State Socialism: Cruising 1970s Poland. Routledge, pp. 59-73.

11. Are homosexuality and transsexuality socialist? (part 3)

Queer life under state socialism in Poland

Source material: letters to sexologists collected by the instructor (translated by Marta Rozmysłowicz)

Source material: Zbigniew Lew-Starowicz, Homosexuality, Itd, 1970 (translated by Marta Rozmysłowicz)

12-14 Students’ presentations

15. Final discussion: How to write the history of sexuality under socialism? What does Central European history tell us now?

Efekty uczenia się:

Students will learn about the history and anthropology of sexuality in Cental Europe. They will also learn about the historical construction of current gender and sexuality discourses and how the Cold War rhetoric organizes today's debates. Furthermore, they also develop a set of skills useful in the development of their own research projects, including:

- participating in group discussions;

- conducting small research projects;

- presentation of their own work in oral form.

Po ukończeniu zajęć studenci potrafią:

- analitycznie myśleć i dokonywać obserwacji i krytyki przemian społeczno-kulturowych

- posługiwać się wybranym językiem obcym na poziomie B2+ Europejskiego Systemu Opisu Kształcenia Językowego

- posługiwać się specjalistyczną terminologią z zakresu etnologii i antropologii kulturowej w języku obcym

Metody i kryteria oceniania:


Class activity based on reading


Collective research project conducted by small groups (2-3 students) on a subject of the students' choice (connected to the topic of the course):

- research proposal due Nov 30 (3-5 pages plus short class presentation);

- final presentations (January, students should prepare and submit presentation [in for instance a power point format]).

Praktyki zawodowe:


Zajęcia w cyklu "Semestr zimowy 2023/24" (zakończony)

Okres: 2023-10-01 - 2024-01-28
Wybrany podział planu:
Przejdź do planu
Typ zajęć:
Seminarium, 30 godzin więcej informacji
Koordynatorzy: Agnieszka Kościańska
Prowadzący grup: Agnieszka Kościańska
Lista studentów: (nie masz dostępu)
Zaliczenie: Zaliczenie na ocenę
Opisy przedmiotów w USOS i USOSweb są chronione prawem autorskim.
Właścicielem praw autorskich jest Uniwersytet Warszawski.
Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28
00-927 Warszawa
tel: +48 22 55 20 000 https://uw.edu.pl/
kontakt deklaracja dostępności USOSweb (2024-03-22)