DCU Home | Our Courses | Loop | Registry | Library | Search DCU


Module Specifications

Archived Version 2021 - 2022

Module Title
Module Code

Online Module Resources

NFQ level 9 Credit Rating 10
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This module examines shifting gender roles in Ireland through the lens of individual women’s lives. Using a variety of primary sources, the module will chart the trajectory of continuity and change in the construction of gender roles in Ireland from the period of first wave feminism, through second wave feminism; the module will conclude with a discussion of gender roles in the transitional society of the 1980s. The module will examine the manner in which women participated during the revolutionary period and how for many of these female activists the advent of independence proved a disillusioning experience. In the independent state established in 1922 not alone did women not achieve equality but legislation enacted indicated that rights already in place were in danger of being retracted. In this context, the question of the exceptionalism of Ireland will be critiqued. The module will engage with the manner in which the ideology of separate spheres determined constructions of gender roles in Ireland after 1922 making it very difficult for women to exist outside the dominant paradigm of domesticity. Moreover, the post-colonial state authored a new narrative of national identity based on Catholic sexual morality. In this context the burden of sexual responsibility was placed on women; the module will examine the treatment of women who were deemed to have transgressed the narrow definition of sexual morality which prevailed for much of the twentieth century. The module will the secularisation of Ireland in the later twentieth century with a focus on the growing demand for gender equality, clerical sex abuse, issues of divorce, access to contraception and the abortion issue. Outside influences on changing women’s lives will be considered. At all times in this module gender analysis will be informed with due attention to class.

Learning Outcomes

1. Engage with the methodologies of gender history and the methodologies of biography and memoir.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of the manner in which gender roles were constructed in twentieth-century Ireland.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the manner in which gender history must be informed by class analysis.
4. Compare the position and treatment of women in Ireland with that of women in other European countries in the period.
5. Reflect on the changing nature of women’s lives in twentieth century Ireland.
6. Engage with the secondary sources in the area of gender and women’s history with particular focus on late nineteenth-century and twentieth-century Ireland.
7. Identify relevant primary sources for the study of the history of women in twentieth-century Ireland.
8. Write a critically informed reading journal comprising both a review of primary and secondary sources.

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Independent Study100Independent study
Assignment Completion126Preparation and writing of assignment
Total Workload: 250

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Indicative Content
First wave feminism The students will examine first wave feminism both its constitutional and militant phases. Nationalist and socialist activism before 1916 The students will discuss the development of various forms of female activism in the period up to 1916 including socialist activism and the tensions between nationalist women and suffrage activists. Women in the revolutionary period 1916-1921 The students will explore the various roles of women between 1916 and 1921. This lecture will engage also with the manner in which male nationalists viewed female activists in the national cause. Civil war politics The students will assess the roles of women during the Civil War and the republican opposition in the 1920 and 1930s. Women and family The students will the manner in which women’s lives in Irish Free State were defined by family and marital status. Restrictive legislative measures and the prevalence of the discourse of separate spheres which accorded women a domestic role within the home will be examined. Women and sexuality The students will consider the new narrative of national identity constructed by the post-colonial state after 1922. Central to this topic will be the manner in which the burden of sexual propriety was placed on women. Women and work The students will assess opportunities for women to engage in paid labour in the period up to the 1960s. Emigration The students will consider the treatment of female emigration in the Irish Free State, assess reasons why women left Ireland and experiences in the adoptive homelands. Second wave feminism The students will engage with manifestations of second wave feminism in Ireland and assess the influence of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement on women’s lives. Sexuality in the 1980s The students will examine the treatment of single mothers in the transitional society of the early 1980s. Late twentieth-century gender roles The students will consider gender roles in the later twentieth century with a focus on changing attitudes to sexuality and demands for abortion and contraception and the responses to such.

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment% Examination Weight%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
Reassessment Requirement
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
Indicative Reading List

    Other Resources

    0, In Class/Online, 0, Comprehensive reading lists will be provided to students in-class and/or online,
    Programme or List of Programmes