Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Courses

WGSS 101 (F, S)Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

This discussion and lecture course introduces students to a range of issues, theories, and controversies within feminism, gender studies, and sexuality studies. It has several aims: to provide critical and analytical tools for thinking about gender; to explore key issues facing women and sexual minorities in the U.S. (and other) societies, and to discuss strategies for confronting them. The course will examine issues such as: body politics, sexuality, reproductive rights, sexual violence, gender and work, motherhood and family, homophobia, transgendered people's experiences in the US and abroad. Above all, the course is intended as an exploration of the tremendous diversity of thought contained under the general rubrics of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies and as a vehicle for developing skills in writing and research, as well as analytical tools for further work in the field. This course meets the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that its main emphases are on challenging the notion of one universalizing category of "woman," and to recognize the diverse ways in which national, sexual, ethnic, racial, classed and other kinds of differences produce multiple and often divergent relations of gendered power. It also whenever possible contextualizes within a global frame the central issues that have made up and continue to define the U.S. feminist tradition, in order to encourage students to recognize the role cultural difference plays in a variety of feminist issues and to decenter the U.S as a reference point for all feminist theory and politics. During days with lectures, two sections may combine for team-teaching. Otherwise, the sections meet separately for discussion. [ more ]

WGSS 129 Blacks, Jews, and Women in the Age of the French Revolution

Not offered this year

The French Revolution was an important turning point in world history. Besides ushering in an age of liberte (liberty) and egalite (equality), it also postulated the existence of a new revolutionary fraternite (brotherhood) between peoples of all backgrounds. Would revolutionary fraternity include women, African slaves, and Jews in the new democratic polity? French men and women debated these questions in ways that have had a direct impact on our contemporary discussions of race, gender, religious freedom and ethnicity. In this course, we will explore these debates, their Enlightenment roots, and the legacy of these debates for France's minorities today. Students will be introduced to various types of historical sources (rare books, art, opera, plays), as well as to the lively historiographical debates between historians of France concerning methodology, politics, and the goal of historical research. [ more ]

WGSS 152 (S)The Fourteenth Amendment and the Meanings of Equality

For more than a century, the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has served as the principal touchstone for legal debates over the meaning of equality and freedom in the United States. This course explores the origins of the 14th Amendment in the years immediately following the Civil War, and examines the evolution of that amendment's meaning in the century that followed. Central themes in this course include the contested interpretations of "due process," "privileges and immunities," "equal protection," and "life, liberty or property"; the rise, fall, and rebirth of substantive due process; and the battles over incorporating the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment. We will pay particular attention to how debates over the 14th Amendment have shaped and been shaped by the changing meanings of racial and gender equality, and how the 14th Amendment has transformed the promise and experience of American citizenship. [ more ]

WGSS 178 T Marriage and the American Nation

Not offered this year

This tutorial explores the transformation of marriage as an institution, idea, and experience from colonial times through the beginning of the twenty-first century. What is marriage? Is it a private agreement or a public contract? A legal bond or a religious sacrament? A right or a privilege? Who can enter it? Who determines when it is over, and on what grounds? Examining the long history of American debates about these questions, we will consider the complex ways that beliefs and policies regarding marriage have affected national understandings of gender roles, of racial difference, of the meaning of citizenship, and of the function and reach of government. We will explore many of the controversies associated with marriage over the last 400 years, including interracial marriage, polygamy, divorce, domestic violence, property rights, custody, cohabitation, working mothers, and same-sex marriage. [ more ]

WGSS 200 Nordic Lights: Literary and Cultural Diversity in Modern Scandinavia

Not offered this year

Mythologized as the land of the aurora borealis and the midnight sun, Scandinavia's five distinct nations--Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland--are often mistakenly associated with blond-haired and blue-eyed uniformity. Modern Scandinavia, however, is a place of great social and cultural diversity. From medieval Viking sagas to contemporary Nordic rap, the Scandinavian literary tradition is rich in tales of global exploration, childhood imagination, sexual revolution, and multicultural confrontation. Through readings of nineteenth-century drama, twentieth-century novels, and twenty-first century cinema, we will investigate a wide range of issues on class, ethnicity, and identity, including the indigenous reindeer-herding Sami people, Danish colonialism and the Greenlandic Inuit, Norwegian collaboration and resistance during World War II, and Nordic emigration (to North America) and immigration (from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East). Discussion will also focus on Scandinavia's leadership in gender equality and sexual liberation, Scandinavian political isolation and integration (into both the UN and the EU), and the global effects of Nordic pop (ABBA to Bjork), glamour (Greta Garbo to Helena Christensen), technology (Volvo to Nokia), and design (IKEA to H&M). Readings to include works by Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen, Astrid Lindgren, Halldor Laxness, Reidar Jonsson, and Peter Hoeg. Films to include works by Ingmar Bergman, Lasse Hallstrom, Bille August, Colin Nutley, Lukas Moodysson, Josef Fares, Tomas Alfredson and Tomas Vinterberg. All readings and discussions in English. [ more ]

WGSS 201 (F)War and Resistance: Two Centuries of War Literature in France, 1804-2004

In 1883, Maupassant called on his fellow war veterans and writers to join him in speaking out against warfare and violence, crying "Let us dishonor war!" From the Gallic Wars against Caesar (during the first century BC) to France's controversial role in the "War on Terror" (at the opening of the twenty-first century), the French literary tradition is rich in texts that bear witness to war and speak out against its monstrous inhumanity. While war literature in France can be traced back to ancient and medieval texts on Vercingetorix, Charlemagne, William the Conqueror, and Joan of Arc, this course will focus specifically on literary representations of war during the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries, from the Napoleonic Wars, to the First and Second World Wars, to the Algerian and Cold Wars, and the "War on Terror." Discussions will examine the impact of war on soldiers and civilians, patriotism and pacifism, history and memory; the implications of war as invasion and conquest, occupation and resistance, victory and defeat; the relationship of war to gender, sexuality, and ethnicity; and the role of war in colonialism and genocide. Readings to include novels, short stories, and poems by Balzac, Stendhal, Hugo, Rimbaud, Daudet, Maupassant, Zola, Cocteau, Wiesel, Duras, Camus, and Fanon. Films to include works by Resnais, Renoir, Carion, Jeunet, Malle, Angelo, Pontecorvo, and Duras. Conducted in French. [ more ]

WGSS 202 (F)Introduction to Sexuality Studies

This course will offer an introduction to the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer studies, in part through examining historical, legal, literary, filmic, cultural studies, sociological, and popular texts, as well as work done under the umbrella of queer theory. Subjects covered may include the following: histories of sexualities in the U.S., feminism and its relation to queer studies; how sexuality is racialized; transgender and intersex theory and activism; globalization and sexuality; and strategies of resistance and visibility such as those evidenced by AIDS activism/theory and debates over gay marriage. An essential part of the course will be exploring how race, class, religion, and nationality contribute to the construction and lived experience of modern gender and sexual identities. Readings may include works by Foucault, Butler, Sedgwick, Warner, Berlant, Stryker, Puar, Ferguson, Mu?oz, Freeman, El-Tayeb, Halberstam, Crimp, Lorde, Najmabadi, and Massad. This class meets the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that it emphasizes empathetic understanding of gender and sexual diversity; studying relations of power and privilege as they apply to sexual, gender, racial, class and national identities and practices; and foregrounds critical theorization of gender and sexuality. [ more ]

WGSS 203 Chicana/o Film and Video

Not offered this year

Hollywood cinema has long been fascinated with the border between the United States and Mexico. This course will examine representations of the U.S.-Mexico border, Mexican Americans, and Chicana/os in both Hollywood film and independent media. We will consider how positions on nationalism, race, gender, identity, migration, and history are represented and negotiated through film. We will begin by analyzing Hollywood "border" and gang films before approaching Chicana/o-produced features, independent narratives, and experimental work. This course will explore issues of film and ideology, genre and representation, nationalist resistance and feminist critiques, queer theory and the performative aspects of identity.Through a focus on Chicana/o representation, the course explores a wide spectrum of film history (from the silent era to the present) and considers numerous genres. By introducing various interdisciplinary approaches and theoretical methods related to race, representation, and the media, the course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiative's themes of critical theorization and power and privilege. [ more ]

WGSS 204 The Experience of Sexuality: Gender & Sexuality in 20th-century American Memoirs

Not offered this year

Focusing on first-person accounts of LGBTQ sexualities, this course examines how changing social and political realities have affected sexual desires and identities, and how individuals represent their experiences of these historical and conceptual shifts. How do these representations of sexuality challenge prevailing ideas about desire and identity? How do they navigate the gender limitations imposed by our language? How do other social identifications, such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender, shape these experiences of sexuality? We will read memoirs, autobiographies, and personal essays that reflect a range of LGBTQ identities and experiences, including works by Martin Duberman, Audre Lorde, Leslie Feinberg, Alison Bechdel, Reinaldo Arenas, Kate Bornstein, Gloria Anzaldua, Samuel Delany, David Wojnarowicz, and Michelle Tea. These narratives will be accompanied by a variety of queer and feminist theories of sexuality, some of which interrogate the historical and conceptual limitations of "experience" and "identity." This course fulfills the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that it investigates institutions of power and privilege as they have impacted LGBTQ communities, emphasizes empathetic understanding of gender and sexual diversity, and focuses on critical theorization of intersecting differences and identities. [ more ]

WGSS 205 (F)Gender and Economics

This course uses economic analysis to explore how gender differences can lead to differences in economic outcomes, in both households and the labor market. Questions to be covered include: How does the family function as an economic unit? How do individuals allocate time between the labor market and the household? How have changes in family structure affected women's employment, and vice-versa? What are possible explanations for gender differences in labor force participation, occupational choice, and earnings? What is the role of government in addressing gender issues in the home and the workplace? How successful are government policies that primarily affect women (e.g., comparable worth policies, AFDC/TANF, subsidization of child care)? The course will focus on the current experience of women in the United States, but will place these gender differences in a historical and cross-cultural context. [ more ]

WGSS 206 (S)Shakespeare, Sex, and Power

Writing at a time of enormous social, religious, and political upheaval, Shakespeare is remarkably astute about the power of sex and the allure of power. To what extent or in what ways do his all-male cast, cross-dressed heroines, and sonnets to a young man and a dark lady embody or contest social norms, gender roles, and the power structure? Looking closely at Shakespeare's language and literary and dramatic forms, this course will examine some of his most erotic and powerful works: Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Much Ado about Nothing, Sonnets, Hamlet, Othello, and Antony and Cleopatra. We will also watch scenes from recent films to explore differences between theater and cinema, early modern and contemporary views of gender and sexuality, popular culture and high art. [ more ]

WGSS 209 (S)Poverty in America

Although some protest that the U.S. is heading toward European-style socialism, social welfare programs in the U.S. differ in important ways from those in other wealthy and democratic nations. This course focuses on the adoption and development of policies to address poverty and inequality in the U.S. The issues we will explore include: What is poverty, and how do Americans perceive its dangers to individuals as well as the political community? What economic, historical, and sociological theories have been advanced to explain poverty? Why has the U.S. adopted some approaches to reduce poverty but not others? What enduring political conflicts have shaped the U.S. welfare state? [ more ]

WGSS 210 Culture and Incarceration

Not offered this year

This seminar examines incarceration, immigration detention centers, and the death penalty from historical and contemporary perspectives. Students will study and examine interdisciplinary texts as well primary sources (legislature and criminal codes and writings by the incarcerated). The emphasis will be on the study of social attitudes concerning ethnic groups, gender/sexuality and class as they pertain to a "penal culture" in the United States. [ more ]

WGSS 211 Gender in the Global Economy

Not offered this year

This course will present a feminist economic analysis of the global economy, and some of the urgent issues facing women in poor countries. The course will start by developing theoretical resources: these will include feminist critiques of economics theory, work on care labor and the shifting boundaries between markets, governments and households, theories of household bargaining, and discussions of intersectionality and difference. Then we will discuss a series of interlinked issues which may include the contradictory effects of structural adjustment and its successors; the informal sector and the 'invisible assembly line'; the economics of sex work and global sex trafficking; microcredit; the economics of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. We will finish by looking at community-based activism, non-governmental organizations, and the possibilities for first-world/third-world alliances. [ more ]

WGSS 212 Ethics and Reproductive Technologies

Not offered this year

In her groundbreaking book, The Tentative Pregnancy, Barbara Katz Rothman writes that "[t]he technological revolution in reproduction is forcing us to confront the very meaning of motherhood, to examine the nature and origins of the mother-child bond, and to replace--or to let us think we can replace--chance with choice." Taking this as our starting point, in this course we will examine a number of conceptual and ethical issues in the use and development of technologies related to human reproduction, drawing out their implications for such core concepts as "motherhood" and "parenthood," family and genetic relatedness, exploitation and commodification, and reproductive rights and society's interests in reproductive activities. Topics will range from consideration of "mundane" technologies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), prenatal genetic screening and testing, and surrogacy, to the more extraordinary, including pre-implantation diagnosis (PID), post-menopausal reproduction, post-mortem gamete procurement, reproductive cloning and embryo splitting, and in utero medical interventions. Background readings include sources rooted in traditional modes of bioethical analysis as well as those incorporating feminist approaches. [ more ]

WGSS 213 T Race, Gender, and the Alien Body: Octavia Butler's Science Fiction

Not offered this year

Science fiction is a genre well known for its ability to envision new realities, and Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) is among the most highly regarded science fiction writers. Butler's uncanny ability to imagine the future anew and to merge those ruminations with her experiences as an African American woman provide powerful commentary on -- and often disrupt -- modern understandings of race, gender, and human embodiment. We will explore questions such as: What role does `gender' play in Butler's fiction? How does Butler's treatment of the `alien' cause us to reconsider what it means to be human? How does Butler incorporate `race' and the concept of `other' into her fiction, and how do these techniques help us situate contemporary discussions of a post-race society? We will examine the relationship between Butler's visions for the future and what her narratives of future worlds invariably suggest about the present. We will read key texts including the best-selling text Kindred (1979), the haunting dystopian novel Parable of the Sower (1994), the popular vampire text Fledgling (2005), and the collection Bloodchild and Other Stories (1996). We will also explore contemporary engagement with Butler's work including the relationship between the main character from her book Dawn (1987), and Henrietta Lacks, the African American woman from whom the immortal cell line (HeLa) used for medical research derives. This tutorial will engage Octavia Butler's work broadly, and with particular attention to how the concepts `race,' `gender', `alien' and `body' are interrogated in her writings. [ more ]

WGSS 214 (F)From Putin to Pussy Riot: Discourses of Post-Soviet Gender

Before 1991, Russians typically appeared in the Western media as macho villains in the nuclear arms race or a James Bond film. Today, however, news from the Former Soviet Union often sounds like a bizarrely gendered media stunt. For example, Russian president Vladimir Putin has been photographed topless while fishing on vacation in Siberia, while the feminist punk-rock collective Pussy Riot protested Putin's regime by performing in day-glo balaclavas in Russia's largest cathedral. This course examines related post-Soviet media spectacles in the attempt to understand the Western press's fascination with Russia, as well as key social trends defining the post-Soviet era. We will focus on the ways in which gender and sexuality have come to mark post-Soviet culture and discourse as different from those in the West. In addition to Vladimir Putin and Pussy Riot, we will consider the so-called crisis of masculinity in post-Soviet Russia, the trafficking of women from the Former Soviet Union, the revival of indigenous practices such as bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan and Buzkashi in Tajikistan, the Ukrainian feminist collective Femen, the Eurovision Song Context, and the 2013 legislation in the Russian Federation banning homosexual propaganda among minors. We will try to understand how concepts, such as feminism, tolerance of sexual minorities, and performed gender, have been deemed dangerous in the post-Soviet East at the very time they have attained normative status in the West. This course is part of the Exploring Diversity Initiative because it engages in cultural comparison, explores how power and privilege are allocated differently in post-Soviet societies than in Western liberal democracies, and engages in the critical theorization of post-Soviet culture and discourse. All readings will be in English. [ more ]

WGSS 219 T (F)Women in National Politics

This tutorial focuses on the writings and memoirs of women who have shaped national political and electoral/campaign culture in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Women studied include: Fannie Lou Hamer, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Lani Guinier, Madeleine Albright, Hillary Clinton, Condoleeza Rice, Sarah Palin, Nancy Pelosi. [ more ]

WGSS 222 Modern Spanish Women: Literature and Life

Not offered this year

From the early twentieth century to the present day, the radical changes in the lives of Spanish women have clearly reflected the tug of war between progress and tradition in recent Spanish history. The dramatic upheavals in Spanish politics have marked and transformed the lives of women to such a great extent that one can often gauge the political and social climate of any given historical moment by considering how the role of women was defined by the law, the Catholic church, education, and other social and political institutions. Using literary and historical texts as well as films and graphic materials, this course will look at the transformations in the public and private lives of Spanish women during the following periods: the turn of the century, the Second Republic, the Spanish Civil War, the Franco years, and the transition to democracy. [ more ]

WGSS 224 Sexuality and Seduction in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century France

Not offered this year

In 1857, both Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal were put on trial for sexual indecency and "crimes against public morality." In 1868, Le Figaro attacked Zola's novel Therese Raquin as "putrid literature" for its depiction of adultery, murder, and scandalous sexuality in nineteenth-century Paris. A century later, Gide, Colette, and Duras continued to shock French readers with their extraordinary novels on male and female homosexuality, inter-generational lovers, and bi-racial relationships. In this course, we will examine a wide range of issues on eroticism and sexuality in nineteenth- and twentieth- century French literature, including marriage and adultery, seduction and desire, love and betrayal, prostitution and fetishism, gay and lesbian identity, cross-dressing and gender representation, exoticism and colonial (s)exploitation. Readings to include novels, shorts stories, and poems by Chateaubriand, Constant, Duras, Balzac, Flaubert, Baudelaire, Zola, Maupassant, Barbey d'Aurevilly, Gide, Proust, Colette, Duras, and Guibert. Conducted in French. [ more ]

WGSS 228 Feminist Bioethics

Not offered this year

In this course we'll explore the ways in which feminist approaches to moral thinking have influenced both the methodology and the content of contemporary bioethics. The first portion of the course will address the emergence of the "Ethics of Care," critically assessing its origins in feminist theory, its development within the context of the caring professions, and its potential as a general approach to bioethical reasoning. The second portion of the course will use feminist philosophy to inform our understanding of the ways in which gender structures the individual's interactions with the health care system. To do this we'll explore topics that might traditionally be considered "women's issues" in health care, such as medicine and body image (e.g., cosmetic surgery, eating disorders), reproductive and genetic technologies, and research on women and their health care needs. In addition we'll also look at feminist analyses of topics that traditionally have not been regarded as "gendered," such as resource allocation and end of life issues. As a course offered under the Exploring Diversity Initiative, this class is designed to improve students' ability to recognize both the existence and the effects of gender disparities within the health care context, and in particular, how power and privilege within and beyond medicine contribute to gender inequalities in health and medical treatment. Moreover, students will theorize about ways of conceptualizing and of reforming health care interactions in order to reduce or eliminate those gender inequalities. [ more ]

WGSS 230 Gender, Sexuality, and Global HIV/AIDS

Not offered this year

The global pandemic of HIV/AIDS is now entering into its fourth decade. Throughout this history sexuality, gender and race and inequality have played a central role in the spread of the virus, and its apparent entrenchment in certain communities. This class will use a gendered, interdisciplinary perspective to investigate the pandemic's social, economic and political causes, impact, and conundrums -- the problems it poses for scholarship, activism, public policy, and public health. Issues discussed will include the role of transaction sex and economic structures in both susceptibility to HIV and vulnerability to its impact; stigma and its challenges for HIV prevention, testing and treatment uptake; the role of positive youth in the next stages of the pandemic; and the evolving expressions of biopower in the global AIDS response. The class will look at examples of successful policies and activism as well as the failures, corruption and complacency that have characterized the global pandemic. There will be a particular geographical focus on experiences in the U.S. and sub-Saharan Africa. The class is an EDI course because of its focus on diversity and difference, as they shape the different ways that the HI virus plays out on the bodies of people in different global locations, and its discussion of the ways that global and local contexts of colonialism. patriarchy, and heteronormativity have inevitably shaped relationships between policy makers, researchers, activists, and those living with HIV and ultimately the content of their policies and interventions. [ more ]

WGSS 234 Masculinities

Not offered this year

What does it mean to be a man? This course approaches masculinity in its various forms as a culturally constructed category and as an achieved aspect of social identity. We will look at characteristics of manhood as they are imagined cross-culturally: man as warrior, lover, husband, father, protector, provider, disciplinarian, abuser; we will look at how manhood is variously achieved and how it can be lost; and we will look at forms of masculinity as they articulate with modes of sexuality and gender. The course will make extensive use of cinema in exploring these themes. [ more ]

WGSS 236 Sex, Gender, and Political Theory

Not offered this year

This course offers a feminist reading of some of the most important concepts and theoretical concerns in the study of politics: freedom, justice, equality, obligation, alienation and objectification. Each of these terms will be evaluated from the perspective of its potential to address social inequities of sex, gender, race and class. Is welfare a problem for freedom theory? In what way might a pregnancy be experienced as a form of alienation, and how does this pose a challenge for theories of justice? Is it possible to treat another person as equal and at the same time an object of one's sexual desire? We will identify the analytical tools and strategies that feminist theorists have employed in order to bring these and other concerns into political theory scholarship, reconstructing traditional ideas of politics and public life in the process. Theorists whose work we will read include Susan Moller Okin, Nancy Hirschmann, Martha Nussbaum, Iris Marion Young, Drucilla Cornell, Gayatri Spivak, Dorothy Roberts, Judith Butler, Linda Zerilli and Catherine Mackinnon. [ more ]

WGSS 238 Science, Gender and Power

Not offered this year

This course considers debates in feminism about the relationship between science, gender and power in politics. On the one hand, shifting ideas about gender have influenced the development of the sciences through history: for example, some feminists argue that science has historically been premised upon a view of women as objects, not subjects, of knowledge. On the other hand, shifting ideas about science have strongly influenced the development of feminist theory and practice: for example, debates about reproductive rights are often couched in terms of a conflict between reliable scientific knowledge of embryos, STDs, etc. and an unscientific, patriarchal worldview. Do science and technology serve to transform or reinforce power imbalances based on gender, race, and sexuality? Should feminist theory embrace objectivity and model itself upon scientific procedures of knowledge production? Or should feminists reject objectivity as a myth told by the powerful about their own knowledge-claims and develop an alternative approach to knowledge? What is "objectivity" anyway, and how has this norm changed through history? What kinds of alternatives to objectivity exist, and should they, too, count as "science"? Rather than treating science as a monolith, we will endeavor to understand the implications of various sciences--as practiced and envisioned in various, historically specific situations--for gender and politics. Readings may include texts by Rene Descartes, Andreas Vesalius, Londa Schiebinger, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Helen Longino, Nancy Harstock, Sandra Harding, bell hooks, Donna Haraway, Mary Hawkesworth, and Octavia Butler. [ more ]

WGSS 240 (S)Performing Masculinity in Global Popular Culture

This course examines popular cultural contexts, asking what it means to be a man in contemporary societies. We focus on the manufacture and marketing of masculinity in advertising, fashion, TV/film, theater, popular music, and the shifting contours of masculinity in everyday life, asking: how does political economy change the ideal shape, appearance, and performance of men? How have products - ranging from beer to deodorant to cigarettes -- had their use value articulated in gendered ways? Why must masculinity be the purview of "males" at all; how can we change discourses to better include performances of female masculinities, butch-identified women, and trans* men? We will pay particular attention to racialized, queer, and subaltern masculinities. Some of our case studies include: the short half-life of the boy band in the US and in Asia (e.g., J/K-Pop), hip hop masculinities at home and abroad, and the curious blend of chastity and homoeroticism that constitutes masculinity in the contemporary vampire genre. Through these and other examples, we learn to recognize masculinity as a performance shaped by the political economy of a given culture. The course includes a field trip to a drag performance in Northampton. [ more ]

WGSS 241 T (S)Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome

In the ancient Mediterranean world, sexuality and gender shaped a broad range of attitudes and actions. These categories created and reinforced difference in virtually every aspect of life, from the household to the political arena. This course examines the diverse discourses and practices around sexuality and gender in the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, while also dismantling false assumptions about the continuity of the "classical" past with our own contemporary norms and values. We will carefully analyze, contextualize, and compare a variety of texts, including selections from tragedy and comedy (Euripides, Terence), epic (Homer, Ovid) and lyric poetry (Sappho, Catullus), novels, epitaphs, and early saints' lives, in order to gain a deeper and more complex understanding of how gender and sexuality were expressed, experienced, and regulated in Greece and Rome. Our emphasis will be on ancient texts, but selections from contemporary criticism and theory will enrich the methodological framework through which we approach those primary sources. The course fulfills the EDI requirement by providing sufficient context for students to make independent investigations of how literary and religious texts and practices engaged with political and social institutions to maintain different life courses and different systems of reckoning for the value of men's lives, women's lives, and the lives of individuals who didn't fit easily into either category. Additionally, the course will promote students' capacity to critically evaluate two past cultures that have long been important sources for intellectual and cultural traditions in the West, and which are still invoked today, sometimes misleadingly, to explain or justify positions and practices of privilege or oppression. [ more ]

WGSS 242 (S)Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Islam

The figure of the Muslim woman is an object of intense scrutiny in Western society. Claims that Muslim women are oppressed and the incompatibility of Islam and feminism abound. This course will consider women and gender roles in the Islamic tradition and how Muslim women have interpreted and negotiated these discourses. We will explore questions of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality across various historical periods as well as through contemporary Muslim feminist scholarship and literature (including film and novels). We will begin with insights into the politics of representing Muslim women, exploring how Muslim women are depicted in popular culture and media and ask the crucial question: do Muslim women need saving? We will then explore: how Muslim women have claimed religious authority through scriptural interpretation; how they have negotiated their position in Islamic law both historically and in contemporary Muslim societies; and the lives of pious women in Sufism--the mystical tradition of Islam. We will conclude with Muslim feminist scholarship and recent works on Islamic masculinities. Throughout the course, emphasis will be placed on the diversity of interpretations in Islam around women, gender, and sexuality and on Muslim women?s own articulations about their religious identity and experiences. Some of the topics covered in this course include: marriage and divorce, slavery, modesty and veiling, and homosexuality. [ more ]

Taught by: Saadia Yacoob

Catalog details

WGSS 244 T (F)Actually Existing Alternative Economies

Capitalism has a way of constricting our imaginations so that we come to believe the only possible form of economic institution is one based on profit seeking, competition and individualism. However movements in countries including Brazil, France, Canada and Spain are demonstrating otherwise. Theorists, practitioners and social activists are adopting labels including 'Solidarity Economy' and 'New Economy' to group together economic activities based on ideals of human provisioning, social justice and environmental sustainability. They point out that many of these activities are already taking place and are often crucial to our lives, but rendered invisible by economic theory. In the words of Brazilian popular educator and economist Marcos Arruda, 'a solidarity economy does not arise from thinkers or ideas; it is the outcome of the concrete historical struggle of the human being to live and to develop him/herself as an individual and a collective.' In this tutorial we will learn and debate about some of the activities being named and built under this label, such as the networks of worker-owned cooperatives in Mondragon, Spain, the growth of local currencies and time exchanges, open source development, fair trade organizations and different ways of organizing care work. We will look at some of the history and debates around worker-owned cooperatives, ranging from Victorian England through African-American experiences throughout the 20th century, to examples in post-Independence Africa. The ILO declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives and argued that they are a particularly appropriate form to African development. Is this plausible, and what role might coops play in AIDS-affected communities? Feminist geographers Julie Graham and Katherine Gibson developed practices of 'mapping' local economies with communities in Australia and Western Massachusetts in ways that bring to light the invisible resources and practices of provisioning and solidarity, and challenge what they describe, drawing on the work of feminist theorist Sharon Marcus, as a 'script' of local helplessness to resist the 'rape' of their economies by the forces of global capitalism. Do these proposed discursive practices actually present realistic possibilities for producing sustained economic change? And finally, why is the solidarity economy now so much more advanced in other countries than the US? The course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiatives requirement because of its central focus on the diversity of economic institutions within and across countries. [ more ]

WGSS 246 T (F)India's Identities: Religion, Caste, and Gender

This course considers India's contradictory legacy as a booming Asian democracy and fragile society built upon deep and enduring divisions. India's rapidly growing populace and landscape is often described in terms of multiple identities or fragmenting oppositions: Hindu/Muslim, rich/poor, high caste/outcaste, male/female, and so forth. This course deconstructs the historic roots and ongoing causal factors that produce structural violence against women and religious minorities in modern India. It highlights the social practices that have produced critical axes of difference around the themes of religion, gender, and sexuality using key moments or regions of India as points of departure. It contrasts the explosive effects of religion, gender, and caste during the tragedy of Partition with the ongoing production of communal and gender-based violence in India today, using Kashmir and New Delhi as microcosms for our study. We will consider the ways that multiple subjectivities and polarized identities intersect with individual agency to produce a social landscape of hierarchy and conflict across India today. We are also interested in the socio-cultural forces that reproduce or shore up these binaries as much as third terms or middle paths that attempt to transcend or diffuse them. For instance, we explore the ways that Buddhism is and is not a middle way between Hindu/Muslim conflict in Indian Kashmir and how the notion of a third sex is and is not a middle term that transcends the gender binary of male/female. Course resources include ethnographic and sociological analyses, oral histories, and popular media that complicate our understanding India's diverse and fragmented society. This course fulfills the Exploring Diversity Initiative by theorizing the ways that difference has been used to effect profound historical, social, and individual changes in the Indian subcontinent. [ more ]

WGSS 248 T (F)Carmen, 1845 to Now

The story of the gypsy femme fatale Carmen has endured for over 150 years. In Western culture she exemplifies the seductive, exotic, independent, and forbidden woman who drives an upstanding man to a life of crime and finally murder. This course explores a broad array of treatments of this archetypal narrative, starting with Prosper Merimee's 1845 novella on which Bizet based his beloved 1875 opera Carmen. We will consider various staged and film versions of the opera itself, including Francesco Rosi's stunning 1984 movie, and discuss various other film transformations of the story, from DeMille's 1915 silent film through Hammerstein's 1954 all-black musical Carmen Jones, to the MTV version A Hip Hopera of 2004. Comic approaches will also be assessed, from Charlie Chaplin's Carmen Burlesque of 1915 through Spike Jones' 1952 Carmen Murdered! and The Naked Carmen of 1970. We will explore remarkable dance interpretations ranging from Carlos Saura's 1983 flamenco version through David Bourne's choreography in his 2001 gay reading called The Car Man. This course satisfies the EDI requirement through a critical examination of the way in which the Carmen story has served as a stage on which multifaceted textual and musical constructions and conflicts of individual and group identities, encompassing gender and sexuality, nationality, ethnicity, and class are played out. [ more ]

WGSS 249 (S)Body Politics in South Asia: Gender, Sex, Religion, and Nation

This course examines the relationship between body, gender, sex, and society in South Asia, using three countries and religions---India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, and Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam---as its foil. The course uses the body as a lens by which to unpack South Asian discourses that link body and sexuality with nation, community, and population. In particular, it explores a South Asian sociology that links individual and social bodies in ways that occasion solidarity as well as social suffering, violence as well as communal cohesion. How do bodies come to signify the purity or prosperity of the nation or community and with what social or discursive effects? We begin by unpacking foundational theories of the body as proposed by Mauss, Foucault, Douglas, and Bourdieu in order to better understand how local discourses of the body help produce gender and other social hierarchies in South Asia. By considering how the human body can serve as a map for society and vice versa, we examine both classical discourses and modern institutional practices of the body including the temple, the monastery, the mosque, and the mendicant, as well as bodily practices such as yoga, celibacy, sex work, and new reproductive technologies. We also analyze how the body has served as a symbol of nation, community, and social health. Throughout, we are interested in the cross-cutting effects of gender and sex in perpetuating structural hierarchies and social suffering around the body in South Asia. [ more ]

WGSS 250 T Gender, Sexuality and the Modern Stage

Not offered this year

This interdisciplinary tutorial explores aspects of gender sexuality, performativity, and representations of the body in modern theatre and art. Close analysis of plays by dramatists -such as Sophie Treadwell, Lillian Hellman, Caryl Churchill, Milcha Sanchez-Scott, Ntozake Shange, Tony Kushner, Tim Miller, Naomi Iizuka, Paula Vogel, Suzan-Lori Parks, Tarell McCraney, and Sarah Kane - will occur alongside consideration of works by both artists and celebrities, such as Cindy Sherman, Karen Finley and Lady Gaga. Our approach to this varied material will be comparative and will be enriched by readings of select work by contemporary theorists, such as Judith Butler, bell hooks, Cherrie Moraga, Eve K. Sedgwick, and Donna Haraway. This course meets the criteria of the Exploring Diversity Initiative as it draws focus towards the diversity of race, class and ethnicity represented by the subjects of our study as well as towards the political power of theatre and performance. [ more ]

WGSS 251 (F)Arab Women Memoirs: Writing Feminist History

This course reviews selected autobiographical writings by Arab women writers from the wave of independence in the 20th century to the contemporary Arab uprisings, passing through all the transformations that globalization and the technosphere have instigated. We will examine the role that first-voice narrative plays in shaping literature, history and thought, while providing a space to reclaim cultural, social and political agency. Focusing on the different articulations of self-representation, our discussion will address how these women reflect on the shifting discourses of identities, gender, nationalism, religion, feminism, sexuality, politics, borders and their histories. Questions we will address include: How did these memoirs contribute to the development of Arab feminist consciousness? In addition to the memoirs, we will look at women's blogs and watch films that focus on first-person narrative to discuss related topics, such as, visual testimonies, virtual political participation and feminist resistance in the technosphere. Required texts may include: Fadwa Tuqan (A Mountainous Journey: An Autobiography), Fatima Mernissi (Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood), Leila Ahmed (A Border Passage: From Cairo to America--a Woman's Journey), Fadia Faqir and Shirley Eber (In the House of Silence: Autobiographical Essays by Arab Women Writers), and Jumanah Haddad (I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of an Angry Arab Woman), as well as critical essays and selections from autobiographical writings that reflect the diversity of Arab women in the Middle East and the diaspora. [ more ]

WGSS 252 Modern Women Writers and the City

Not offered this year

Ambivalence has always been a vital part of literary responses to city life. Whether they praise the city or blame it, women writers react to the urban environment in a significantly different way from men. While male writers have often emphasized alienation and strangeness, women writers have celebrated the mobility and public life of the city as liberating. We will look at issues of women's work, class politics, sexual freedom or restriction, rituals of consumption, the conservation of memory by architecture, and community-building in cities like London, New York, Berlin, Paris. We will examine novels and short stories about the modern city by writers as diverse as Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, Anzia Yezierska, Ann Petry, Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, Margaret Drabble Ntozake Shange, Verena Stefan and Jhumpa Lahiri and Edwidge Danticat. We will consider theoretical approaches to urban spaces by feminists (Beatriz Colomina, Elizabeth Wilson), architectural historians (Christine Boyer) and anthropologists and sociologists (Janet Abu-Lughod, David Sibley, Michael Sorkin). Several contemporary films will be discussed. All readings in English. [ more ]

WGSS 253 (F)Art in the Age of the Revolution, 1760-1860

A social history beginning with art of the pre-Revolutionary period and ending with realism. Major topics include changing definitions of neoclassicism and romanticism, the dramatic impact of the revolutions of 1789, 1830, and 1848, the monarchies and republics framing the Napoleonic Empire, the shift from history painting to scenes of everyday life, and landscape painting as an autonomous art form. We will also consider proscriptions and controversies in art-making and representation during this period.The course stresses French artists such as Greuze, Vigee-Lebrun, David, Ingres, Delacroix, Gericault, Corot, and Courbet, but also includes Goya, Constable, Turner, and Friedrich. [ more ]

WGSS 254 (S)Manet to Matisse

A social history of French painting from 1860 to 1900, beginning with the origins of modernism in the work of Courbet and Manet. Among the topics to be discussed are the rebuilding of Paris under Napoleon III; changing attitudes toward city and country in Impressionist and Symbolist art; the impact of technology, industrialization, and imperialism; the gendering of public spaces, and the prominent place of women in representations of modern life. The course addresses vanguard movements such as Impressionism and Post-Impressionism and the styles of individual artists associated with them, as well as the work of academic painters. [ more ]

WGSS 259 T Adultery in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Not offered this year

In this tutorial, we will read four novels written between 1850 and 1900, all of which focus on the figure of the adulteress: Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1856), Lev Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (1873-77), Leopoldo Alas y Ureña's La Regenta (1884-85), and Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest (1894). For each week of class, students will read one of these primary texts, as well as a selection of secondary literature that will allow us to understand, over the course of the semester, how and why the adulteress played a key role in the cultural imagination of Europe during this time. All works will be read in English translation. [ more ]

WGSS 261 The Saint and the Countess: The Lost Voices of Medieval Women

Not offered this year

Very few female voices from the Middle Ages are audible today; most of the music, poetry, and other writings that survives reveals the creativity and expresses the attitudes of men. This course will explore the experiences and viewpoints of medieval women through the lens of the poetry and songs of two exceptional 12th-century figures: the German abbess Hildegard of Bingen, whose long and immensely productive life was shaped by the requirements of monastic culture; and the French Countess of Dia in Provence, whose elusive life and works exemplify the dynamics of aristocratic court culture. We will ask how these and other musical women active in both the sacred and the secular spheres (such as the nun Birgitta of Sweden, and Queen Blanche of Castile) negotiated their places and made their voices heard within the patriarchal society of their time. We will examine the ways in which these contrasting environments informed the different outlooks, ideas, and aesthetics expressed in the words and music of their songs. Along the way we will critically assess how these lost voices have been recreated to speak to us today through recordings and film. [ more ]

WGSS 262 (S)Language, Gender, and Sexuality

Social scientists have long argued that gendered identities are "voiced" or performed. This insight draws our attention to the tremendous role that language and spoken interaction play in the reproduction and transformation of gendered relations and systems of sexuality. This class analyzes gendered and sexual difference through the lens of language and communicative practice. On one hand, we use the tools of linguistic anthropology to ask about how systems of gender and sexuality are reproduced through everyday interactions. On the other hand, we examine how interactive norms regarding gender and sexuality then shape political, economic, and social processes beyond face-to-face interactions. In doing so, we will read a range of ethnographic material, both from the US and beyond, that examines how gender shapes interactions, whether in the context of a basketball game, a medical training course, a courtroom, a religious revival movement, or an international crisis. We will put this material in critical conversation with theorists of gender and sexuality who have argued for the interactive, discursive nature of these categories, such as Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, asking what linguistic anthropology, in particular, can tell us about the connections between language, gender, and sexuality. [ more ]

Taught by: Julia Kowalski

Catalog details

WGSS 271 T Woman as "Other"

Not offered this year

At mid-century, Simone de Beauvoir, existential philosopher and perhaps the greatest feminist theorist of the twentieth century, described woman as "living in a world where men compel her to assume the status of the Other." At the same time, Beauvoir asserts: "One is not born a woman, one becomes one." How, given their objectification, can women become subjects for themselves? Is authenticity even possible? Must the relation between self and other inevitably be one of objectification and domination? Is reciprocity and mutuality in self-other relations possible? In our efforts to deepen our understanding of these important philosophical questions, questions that have been at the center of social and political thought at least since Hegel introduced the dialectic of master and slave, we will engage in close readings of writings by Beauvoir (including autobiography and biography), as well as philosophers responding to her--Frantz Fanon, Luce Irigary and Judith Butler. This course has been designated EDI because it explores identity formation under conditions of inequality. [ more ]

WGSS 272 (F)Sex and the Reproduction of Society

Why is reproduction such a controversial subject in society today, especially in areas of medicine, culture, and religion? And why is the reproductive body subject to such highly ideological and yet contradictory types of practices and discourses across the globe? This course seeks to examine the myriad ways that societies police the range of practices surrounding reproduction--including fertility, conception, pregnancy, birth, abortion, and motherhood. We will pursue a comparative analysis of reproduction across major societies and cultures, through an in-depth look at specialized topics such as the new reproductive technologies, the medicalization and ritualization of obstetrics in America, the continuing controversies over abortion across the globe, and the ongoing debates about the rise of women and the 'End of Men'. Throughout the course, we remain focused on the cultural, social, and medical construction of birth and reproduction more generally. To this end, we explore the varying ritual and medical practices that surround reproduction in different cultural contexts, from high tech to low tech settings and societies. We will deconstruct the process of human reproduction through readings culled from a variety of cultures and disciplines including anthropology, medicine, religious studies, sociology, and gender and sexuality studies. [ more ]

WGSS 301 (F)Sexual Economies

This course examines various forms of sexual labor in a variety of global contexts with an emphasis on contemporary anthropological and sociological research and its implications for public policy. Our topics include: (a) traditional sex work (e.g., pornography, escorting, street prostitution, brothels, sex tourism), (b) sexualized labor without physical contact (e.g., stripping, burlesque, phone/online sex), and also (c) contemporary debates about sex trafficking and sex worker migration. Because of our ethnographic focus, the readings for this class will frequently foreground the lived experiences of sex workers from a variety of nations, races, classes, and backgrounds in order to explore the broader social implications of our subject matter. A key component of this course is a field trip to New York City to meet with sex workers and sex worker rights advocates. (Note: students should be advised that we will necessarily encounter and discuss adult content and images that some may find offensive.) [ more ]

WGSS 306 (S)Queer of Color Critique: Race, Sex and Urban Life

This seminar is an introduction to queer of color critique, a field of scholarship that seeks to intervene in the predominantly white canon of queer studies. We will examine the history of this line of critique, beginning with Black and Chicana feminisms and extending into present day issues and activism highlighting intersectionality, exploring how and why QOCC became a necessary intervention into the then still emerging field of queer studies. Our texts include scholarly works as well as science fiction novels, plays, films, diaries, and graphic novels. Methodologically, we draw on many fields of study, including anthropology, literary studies, feminist studies, and ethnic studies. We focus primarily but by no means exclusively on US contexts, paying particular attention to the role that urban environments have served for queer communities of color. Topics include: feminisms of color, inter-racial desire and fetishization, orientalism and colonial fantasy, black queer science fiction, transgender subjectivities, and the political economy of sexual desire. A key feature of this course will also be the inclusion of numerous and diverse authors to appear on Skype or in person to answer questions about their work as we read it in class. [ more ]

WGSS 308 (S)Gender and Society in Modern Africa

This course explores the constructions of feminine and masculine categories in modern Africa. We will concentrate on the particular history of women's experiences during the colonial and postcolonial periods. In addition, we will examine how the study of history and gender offers perspectives on contemporary women's issues such as female-circumcision, teen pregnancy, wife-beating, and "AIDS." [ more ]

WGSS 309 Everyday Life in Literature and Film

Not offered this year

To bring the all too familiar everyday to our attention, artists and writers have made it strange. What happens when we view everyday life from elsewhere? While everyday culture has often been experienced as repressive and alienating in modern Western societies, a new importance assigned to everyday life made it liberating in Japan during the twenties and in contemporary China. The contours of the everyday are delightfully vague, and it always exceeds theorizing. For instance, is its privileged place the street or the home? Is it lived largely in institutions that regulate our daily lives, or is it lived between and outside them? Everyday objects and commodities like the potato, the postcard, the car, clothes, housing, etc., will be analyzed. Fiction by Leo Tolstoy, Franz Kafka, Georges Perec, Manil Suri, Ha Jin, and Banana Yoshimoto. Films by Chantal Akerman, Pedro Almodovar, Benoit Jaquot, and Pierre Jeunet. Art projects that transform the everyday will also be discussed, including those of Sophie Calle, Mary Kelley, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, and Christine Hill. Short theoretical excerpts from Freud, Kracauer, Goffman, Lefebvre, de Beauvoir, Friedan, Debord, Foucault, and Bourdieu. All works not originally in English will be read in English translation. [ more ]

WGSS 310 Womanist/Black Feminist Thought

Not offered this year

This course explores the genealogy and development of black feminist and womanist thought. We will investigate the expansion of womanist thought from a theologically dominated discourse to a broader category of critical reflection associated more commonly with black feminism, analyze the relationship between womanism and black feminism, and review the historical interventions of black feminism. As critical reflections upon western norms of patriarchy, heterosexism, and racism, womanism and black feminism begin with the assumption that the experiences of women of color--particularly black women--are significant standpoints in modern western society. Through the examination of interdisciplinary and methodological diversity within these fields, students will be introduced to key figures including Alice Walker, Zora Neale Hurston, and Katie Cannon, and will engage materials that draw from multiple fields, including, but not limited to, literature, history, anthropology, and religious studies. Fulfilling the EDI requirement, this course will explore how womanism/black feminism can be a bridge for empathetic understanding of diverse experiences, and will examine the varied social, political, and historical contexts that led to the formulation of womanism/black feminism as a tool to critique power and privilege. [ more ]

WGSS 312 (F)An American Family and "Reality" Television

An American Family was a popular documentary series that featured the Loud family from Santa Barbara, California, whose everyday lives were broadcast on national television. The series generated an enormous amount of media attention, commentary, and controversy when it premiered on PBS in 1973. Today, it is regarded as the origin of so-called "Reality TV." In addition to challenging standard rules for television programming, the show challenged social conventions and asked viewers to think seriously about family relations, sexuality, domesticity, and the "American dream." Documenting the family's life over the course of eight months, the series chronicled the dissolution of the Louds' marriage and broadcast the "coming out" of eldest son Lance Loud, the first star of reality television. In this class, we will view the An American Family series in its entirety, research the program's historical reception, and analyze its influence on broadcast and film media, particularly on "reality" television. A final 16- to 20-page research paper will be prepared in stages, including a 6- to 8-page midterm essay that will be revised and expanded over the course of the semester. [ more ]

WGSS 313 (F)Gender, Race, and the Power of Personal Aesthetics

This course focuses on the politics of personal aesthetics among U.S. women of color in an era of viral video clips, the 24-hour news cycle, and e-commerce sites dedicated to the dermatological concerns of "minority" females. With a comparative, transnational emphasis on the ways in which gender, sexuality, ethno-racial identity, and class inform personal style, we will examine a variety of materials including commercial websites, histories, personal narratives, ethnographies, sociological case studies, and feminist theory. Departing from the assumption that personal aesthetics are intimately tied to issues of power and privilege, we will engage the following questions: What are the everyday functions of personal aesthetics among women of color? Is it feasible to assert that an easily identifiable "African American," "Latina," "Arab American" or "Asian American" female aesthetic exists? What role do transnational media play in the development and circulation of popular aesthetic forms? How might the belief in personal style as a tactic of resistance challenge traditional understandings of what it means to be a "feminist" in the first place? Readings include works by Susan Bordo, Ginetta Candelario, Patricia Hill Collins, Amira Jarmakani, Nadine Naber, Lisa Nakamura, Frances Negron-Muntaner, Kobena Mercer, and Catherine Ramirez, among others. [ more ]

WGSS 314 (F)Paradoxes of Human Rights: Addressing Violence Against Women

In recent decades, violence against women has become a major target for human rights activism. Most people take the connection between violence against women and human rights activism for granted. Yet gendered and sexual violence have only recently been framed as human rights issues. In this course, we examine this recent transformation, focusing on the paradoxes and possibilities of a human rights framework for addressing issues of gendered violence. We will do so by comparing different humanitarian and human rights-based interventions as they play out in places from Trinidad and Tobago to the American college campus. We'll explore a range of research on the topic in order to complicate and expand our understanding of both gendered and sexual violence as well as the institutional interventions designed to engage it. Along the way, we will examine the history of human rights as a means to imagine social justice. In the first half of the course, we will read critical texts concerning violence, human rights, humanitarianism, and gender. We will then turn to historical and ethnographic studies of human rights, finishing with several case studies of human rights work on gender and violence. [ more ]

Taught by: Julia Kowalski

Catalog details

WGSS 315 (F)Paris on Fire: Incendiary Voices from the City of Light (1830-2005)

During the 1830s, Balzac described Paris as a "surprising assemblage of movements, machines, and ideas, a city of one hundred thousand novels, the head of the world," but also characterized the French capital as a "land of contrasts," a "monstrous wonder," a "moral sewer." Similarly, writers from Hugo to Zola have simultaneously celebrated Parisian elegance and condemned the appalling misery of Paris's urban poor. Since 1889, Paris has been feted as the "City of Light" for its Enlightenment legacy, its Eiffel Tower modernity, and its luminous urban energy, captured in countless paintings, photographs, and film. However, Paris is also the historical site of revolution, resistance, and riots. From revolutionary revolt (1830, 1848, 1871), to wartime resistance (1870, 1914-18, 1940-44), to reformist and race riots (1968 and 2005), Paris has repetitively sparked with incendiary passion and political protest. As fires raged during the riots in 2005, many heard the echo of Hitler's ominous 1944 question, "Is Paris burning?" and asked: why was Paris burning again at the dawn of the twenty-first century? To answer this question, we will examine the social, political, and literary landscape of Paris during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from urbanization and modernization, to occupation and liberation, to immigration and globalization. Readings to include poetry, short stories, and novels by Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Maupassant, Verne, Zola, Apollinaire, Colette, Duras, Perec, Rochefort, and Charef. Films to include works by Clair, Truffaut, Godard, Minnelli, Clement, Lelouch, Luhrmann, Kassovitz, Besson, and Jeunet. Conducted in French. [ more ]

WGSS 317 (F)The New Woman in Weimar Culture

This course explores the figure of the New Woman, a professional, political, independent, and modern woman, that rises in Germany right at the end of World War II and thrives during the Weimar Republic. Acclaimed as the epitome of Weimar Modernity, the New Woman is nevertheless greeted with great ambivalence: whether a liberated and emancipated woman for some, or a dangerous and promiscuous woman loathed by others, she is perceived as threatening to the patriarchal order. A closer look at artworks by Otto Dix, Christian Schad, and Hannah Hoch, films by Fritz Lang and Georg Wilhelm Pabst, poems by Gottfried Benn, Else Lasker-Schuler, and Kurt Tucholsky, novels by Erich Kastner, Vicky Baum, and Irmgrad Keun, as well as plays by Frank Wedekind and Bertolt Brecht, will provide a more precise picture of the New Woman's various incarnations, ranging from actresses (Marlene Dietrich), singers (Margo Lion and Claire Waldorf), and dancers (Anita Berber) to prostitutes, and suggest that the New Woman serves as the vessel of male anxieties and represents the contradictions of modernity. Taught in German. [ more ]

WGSS 319 Gender and the Family in Chinese History

Not offered this year

Although sometimes claimed as part of a set of immutable "Asian values," the Chinese family has not remained fixed or stable over time. In this course, we will use the framework of "family" to gain insight into gender, generational, and sexual roles in different historical periods. Beginning in the late imperial period (16th-18th Centuries), we will examine the religious, marital, sexual, and childrearing practices associated with the "orthodox" Confucian family. We will then explore the wide variety of "heterodox" practices in imperial China, debates over and critiques of the family system in the twentieth century, and configurations of gender and family in contemporary China. As an EDI course, this class makes use of anthropological and gender studies methods to analyze both the specificities of Chinese ideas and practices regarding family, gender and sexuality as well as the considerable variety among these ideas and practices at different points in time. [ more ]

WGSS 320 (S)Dangerous Bodies: Black Womanhood, Sexuality & Popular Culture

Whether presented as maternal saints, divas, video vixens, or bitches, black female celebrities navigate a tumultuous terrain in popular culture. This course considers the ways that black female celebrities such as Oprah, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Janet Jackson, and Michelle Obama negotiate womanhood and sexuality, and the popular landscapes through which we witness that negotiation. It also engages contemporary black feminist scholarship, which most frequently presents the presentation of black female bodies in popular media forms as exploitive. We will review historical stereotypes of black women in popular media forms, discuss the history of the "politics of respectability" within black culture, engage black feminist responses to these types, and examine theoretical approaches to assess social constructions of womanhood and sexuality. We will also consider provocative questions relevant to discussions of contemporary black sexual politics: Should we view these women as feminists? Are they merely representatives of cultural commodification and control of black women's bodies? Do these women best exemplify the reiteration of problematic characterizations? Are they positive models for demonstrating female empowerment, agency, or "fierceness?" This course explores the histories of representation of black female figures in popular culture, and in so doing, troubles contemporary considerations of black womanhood and sexuality. [ more ]

WGSS 321 Recent Continental Feminist Theory

Not offered this year

This course explores developments in recent feminist thought influenced by philosophical currents in France and Germany (poststructuralism and critical theory.) Depending upon the year in which the course is offered, we explore topics such as self and society, sexual difference, embodiment, critiques of reason, the psyche, new materialist theories, queer feminism, and transnational feminism. We will read from works by authors such as the following; Sandra Bartky, Iris Young, Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz, Luce Irigaray, Jessica Benjamin, Gayle Rubin, Rosi Braidotti, Eve Sedgwick, Lynne Huffer, Sara Ahmed, Jasbir Puar, and Wendy Brown. Fiction and film may also be included. [ more ]

WGSS 322 T Critical Theory: The Enlightenment and its Critics

Not offered this year

"Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason-that is the motto of Enlightenment." Thus the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant exhorts his contemporaries to muster the courage to cultivate their capacity for reason. Modern faith in the prospects of universal human dignity, rational autonomy, the rights of man, individual liberty, democracy, open scientific inquiry and social and political progress depend upon it. Yet in 19th and 20th centuries we find the promise of Enlightenment tempered by the rise of nationalism and the persistence of racism, sexism, genocide, terrorism, and religious extremism as well as the emergence of wars of mass destruction, environmental degradation, and the potential for manipulation of populations by consumerist mass media. Can the promise of Enlightenment be redeemed? In this tutorial we begin with short readings by Kant, Hegel and Marx, key sources for critical social theory in the 20th century. Possible other figures read may include: Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Jurgen Habermas, Nancy Fraser, Amy Allen, Noelle McAfee, Judith Butler, Elizabeth Grosz, Michel Foucault, Jean Baudrillard, and Gilles Deleuze, Georgio Agamben, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said and Achille Mbembe, as well as current critiques of neoliberal capitalism. Although we will not directly address diversity issues except insofar as cultural, racial, class, sexual and other differences are bound up within power or domination relations, insofar as the course examines social and political power, oppression and domination, and the possibility or viability of the idea of human emancipation it meets the EDI requirement. This tutorial will be adapted for WGSS students seeking to meet a theory requirement. [ more ]

WGSS 326 T (S)Queer Temporalities

How do we experience and represent time, and what factors might account for both our experiences and our representations? What are some of the ways that people experience and ritually mark the passing of time? What are some of the different ways that people have made sense of time and themselves in time? Especially for individuals and peoples who have been denied certain self-representation and narratives of place, how do competing notions of time, history, space, and location get negotiated? In this course, drawing from within the broad corpus of queer theory (including theorists such as Gloria Anzaldua, Elizabeth Freeman, J. Halberstam, and Jose Esteban Muñoz) we will examine some non-linear, non-normative, and interruptive approaches to making sense of time, space-time, and self within time. On the one hand, we will consider theorists who specifically question and challenge what Jose Esteban Muñoz dubs the "linearity of straight time," and we will turn to a set of issues with regard to family and sexuality, especially critiques of normative lifecycle events and rituals that have reconfigured experiences and representations of time and place. On the other hand, we will also work with queer theory as it explores alternatives to normative conceptualizations of time and place that have already existed in the past. Hence we will look not only to queer theory as it reads more contemporary negotiations of sexuality, identity, time, and space-time; we will also consider how some contemporary theorists have read previous historical examples. [ more ]

WGSS 327 T (F)Foucault

This course begins with a brief introduction to some of Foucault's early writings but focuses on a close reading of a selection of middle and late texts that have become central to debates about the significance of his work such as: Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality (vols. 1-3), and selected interviews and course lectures. We examine debates in the Foucault literature about freedom, power, ethics, and the nature of critical theory. This course has been designated EDI because it engages questions concerning power, social differences and social and political freedom. [ more ]

WGSS 328 (F)Narrating Other Minds: Austen, Eliot, Woolf

At roughly fifty-year intervals, Britain produced three brilliant female novelists-- Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf-- who would each become renowned, in her own way, for her ability to combine minutely detailed social observation with a rich depiction of the inner lives of her characters. This course will examine some of their major fiction-- with an emphasis on Austen and Eliot-- in the context of recent critical debate about the nature and implications of their narrative methods for representing the consciousnesses of characters, and of the authorial narrative voices that mediate among them. Questions to be considered: how is our understanding of novelistic characters and consciousness shaped by our real-life experience in interpreting the thoughts and character of others, and vice versa? Do "omniscient" narrators lay claim to a privileged kind of knowing presumed to be unavailable either to their character or to readers, or are they modelling humanly available interpretive stances toward a world of others? Why does "free indirect discourse"-- which blurs the distinction between the consciousness of narrator and character-- feature so prominently in the work of all three? Possible texts include Austen's Emma and Persuasion, Eliot''s Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, and The Lifted Veil, and Woolf's The Waves. [ more ]

WGSS 329 (F)Premodern Sexualities

Is it possible that a European Middle Ages so beholden to the cultural authority of the Catholic Church could model forms of desire relevant to 21st-century discourse about sexual identity? In this course, we will think about what medieval texts can tell us about desire and how we might understand its modes within a wider perspective of a history of sexuality. In addition to investigating the theme of courtly love in medieval romance, we will explore troubadour poetry, saint's lives, theological treatises, courtesy manuals, and mystical visions. We will frame our investigation around some of the most influential narratives regarding the evolution of sexuality, including those of Michel Foucault, David Halperin and Karma Lochrie, in order to analyze how medieval texts uphold and sometimes challenge received notions about how, when, and whether these categories emerged. In our investigation, we will cover the paradox of virginity, the rise of a knightly class as an experiment in the homosocial, the poetics of desire, the sexuality of grammar, and more. By investigating the varied modes of sexuality depicted in the narratives and practices of the European Middle Ages, Premodern Sexualities will challenge students to think critically about theorizations of gender/sexuality pre- and post-modern. [ more ]

Taught by: Christopher Taylor

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WGSS 330 (F)Race, Gender, and Performance from Literature to Social Media

What different conversations around the topic of "diversity" might be had if we think of race, gender, and sexuality as performative? How might the analytic of performance equip us in this course to identify marginalized modes of being and to enact anti-xenophobic strategies for everyday practice? In this course we will study multiple forms of contemporary performance (including performance art, visual art, sound art, social media, literature, politics, and performance of everyday life) by artists of diverse racial, gender, and sexual identification to think about belonging and alternative forms of world-making. We will explore these questions in a United States context through engagement with cultural texts that destabilize ideological binaries of female/male, black/white, heterosexual/homosexual, subject/object, and human/non-human, including scholarship in critical ethnic studies, queer of color critique, and affect studies. We will begin with linguistic philosopher J.L. Austin's theory of the performative speech act, and proceed with theorists including Judith Butler and Jose Esteban Mu?oz to consider gender and racial performativities. Artists studied will range from the conceptual (including Adrian Piper, Nao Bustamante, and Yoko Ono) to the popular (including Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, R. Kelly). This course will engage foundational texts to performance studies and offer an interdisciplinary approach to scholarship in gender and sexuality studies, critical ethnic studies, and performance studies from the 1970s to the present. This course recognizes a suspicion for diversity discourses that universalize human experience and asks: how do we resist normativizing forces without reinforcing the regulating logics of those forces? This EDI course will critically engage with diversity from the heterogeneous and multiple perspectives of racial, sexual, and gender minorities, asking students not only to examine the diversity of human experience but to explore the political stakes of creative expression through interdisciplinary methods and forms. [ more ]

Taught by: Vivian Huang

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WGSS 331 (F)Queering Europe: Sexualities and Politics since 1850

This course explores the construction, articulation, and politics of queer sexual desire in Europe from the later nineteenth century to the present. By placing queer sexualities in their broader social and political context the course examines the ways in which sexuality has become central to questions of identity, personal and national, in modern European society. Topics include: the role of the new science of sexology in specifying various "sexual perversions"; the rise of sexual undergrounds in the context of European urbanization; the birth of campaigns for "homosexual emancipation"; attempts to regulate and suppress "deviant" sexualities, especially under the fascist regimes in the 1930s; the effects of the postwar consumer revolution on the practices of sexual selfhood; the postwar "sex change" debates; the politics of 1950s homophile organizing and the 1970s Gay Liberation Movement; and the recent politics of gay marriage. The course will focus primarily on Britain, France, and Germany, but also on Italy and Russia. Readings will be drawn from sexological texts, political tracts, memoirs, and the writings of recent historians. Several films will also be discussed. "Queering Europe" meets the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative insofar as it explores how sexual difference has been constituted, contested, and experienced and how what we assume to be the "sexual norm" has a profoundly political history. [ more ]

WGSS 332 Postwar Britain: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Change, 1945-1990

Not offered this year

A major theme in British historiography is the enormous social change that has taken place in Britain since the end of the Second World War. In the 1950s, sociologists argued about the extent to which postwar affluence was leading to the "embourgeoisement" of the working class; in the 1960s, the advent of the so-called "Permissive Society" witnessed the flourishing of a new culture of sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll; in the 1970s, the feminist and gay movements challenged gender roles that earlier had seemed so secure; in the 1980s, Thatcherism sought to halt the nation's apparent terminal decline, repudiating much of the progressive legislation of earlier decades; finally, throughout this period successive ways of immigration challenged the cultural homogeneity of white Britain. This course will explore these themes, addressing the question of what it meant to be "postwar" in Britain, charting the gradual emergence of a new politics of class, gender, race, and sexuality in Britain that the made the nation in 1990, at the end of the postwar period, a radically different place from what it had been in 1945. In attempting to make sense of these complex changes, we will consider a variety of documents and works by recent historians, along with a dozen films, which students will be required to view outside of class. [ more ]

WGSS 333 (S)The Nineteenth-Century British Novel

Imagine this: a form of art and entertainment that purports to be able to represent everything-intimate, even inaccessible human thoughts and feelings, love, class, the city, shopping, sexuality, bureaucracy, social bonds, industrialization, nationalism, even modernity itself. In this course we will try to understand the scope of the nineteenth-century British novel's jaw-dropping representational aspirations: its claim to comprehend in its pages both the dizzying complexity of new social, political, and economic structures, as well as delineate in finest detail the texture of individual minds and lives. We will pay attention to the fictional modes by which apparently intractable social problems are resolved, through a sleight of hand act we seem never to tire of, in the realm of romantic love. And while we might think of the novel as an Empire of the Little, endlessly occupied with giving significance to the smallest acts of ordinary human life, we will think about the broader historical and social conditions the novel both represents in its pages, and is a crucial not-so-silent partner in promoting and contesting. We will also interest ourselves in the kind of under-the-counter work the Victorian novel does on behalf of British empire, as well as empire's own behind-the-scenes work for the novel. Since so many of these stories of everyday life seem as familiar to us as everyday life, we will work hard to maintain what is strange and specific about the nineteenth century even as we recognize within these works the birth of so much that is modern in our own culture. [ more ]

WGSS 338 Latina/o Musical Cultures: Gender, Race, Sexuality and the Dynamics of the Everyday

Not offered this year

In this class we will investigate Latina/o popular musical and dance forms, with particular emphasis on questions of gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity. We will focus on the following questions, among others: How are the various facets of Latina/o identity expressed through the "popular" or the everyday? In what ways do categories of difference such as gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity inform the performance as well as the interpretation of Latina/o musical forms? How are we to understand cultural phenomenon such as the most recent Latin music "boom"? Employing cultural studies concepts and methods, students will conduct an original semester-long research project in stages and complete one ethnographic exercise. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 339 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

Not offered this year

This course will examine social psychological theories and research that are relevant to the understanding of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. We will take a variety of social psychological perspectives, emphasizing sociocultural, cognitive, personality, or motivational explanations. We will examine the impact that stereotypes and prejudice have on people's perceptions of and behaviors toward particular groups or group members and will explore a variety of factors that tend to exacerbate or weaken this impact. We also will consider some of the sources of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination and some of the processes through which they are maintained, strengthened, or revised. In addition, we will examine some of the effects that stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination can have on members of stereotyped groups, as well as some implications of the social psychological research findings for issues such as education and business and government policies. A major component of this course will be the examination of classic and ongoing empirical research. [ more ]

WGSS 341 (F)Cinematic Representations of Work and Migration after the Wall

The increased flow of migrants from East to West and from South to North into the center of Europe and the simultaneous tightening of restrictions against illegal migration have brought to the forefront issues of labour, gender, and precarity, citizenship and cultural belonging. We will analyze feature films and documentaries that trace the changing face of work and migration, with an emphasis on flows from countries the former east bloc and Africa to Europe. We will discuss negative effects of globalized capitalism, such as the monetization of feeling and personal relations (Harvey), the concept of intensification and the disembodied state (Nealon and Foucault), but also ask what new opportunities might arise, and for which groups. We will study the depiction of manual labour, illegal migration, women as caregivers, Internet marriage, sex work, and the migrant as a raced and othered body. Theory by Dina Iordanova and William Brown, Ewa Mazierska, Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Jeffrey Nealon, Lara Agustin, Angela Melitopoulos, Lauren Berlant and Mieke Bal. Films will likely include: Illegal, Working Man's Death, NordSud.com, Lichter (Lights), Code Unknown, The Flower Bridge, Occident, Since Otar Left, Losers and Winners, Whore's Glory, Le Havre and Time Out. [ more ]

WGSS 343 T (S)Representations of Racial-Sexual Violence from Enslavement to Emancipation

This tutorial examines representations of and resistance to racial-sexual violence from enslavement to post-emancipation and contemporary culture in the United States. Texts include: legal articles; historical analyses such as D'Emilio et al., Intimate Matters; Hartman, Scenes of Subjection; Smith, Killers of the Dream; McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street; and films such as Griffith, Birth of a Nation; Micheaux, Within Our Gates; Gerima, Bush Mama. The primary focus is on black life, vulnerability to violence and mobilization for freedom during antebellum, postbellum/Reconstruction years of the 19th century; and 20th century convict prison lease system, Jim Crow segregation, mass incarceration. [ more ]

WGSS 353 (S)Gender & Psychopathology

This course will address a range of topics related to the intersection of gender and psychopathology. We will begin the class by discussing the meaning of "gender" and the various mechanisms by which biological sex, gender identity, gender roles and sexual orientation may relate to our understanding of the development, presentation and treatment of psychological disorders. We will also discuss historical and current controversies regarding the classification of psychological disorders concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. The rest of the course will address gender differences in specific psychological disorders and the biological, psychological and social mechanisms contributing to these differences. All students will design and conduct an empirical research project based on the readings and concepts discussed in class. [ more ]

WGSS 361 T (F)Writing about Bodies

The goal is to think about describing bodies from a variety of disciplinary approaches and genres of writing. Its focus is on living bodies, or bodies that were once alive, with an emphasis on bodies that move i.e., performing bodies--actors, dancers, singers--and what makes them unique. We will also consider objects associated with bodies, and the ways they are animated, including how they are animated when the person who had them dies. The course is meant for juniors, seniors, and graduate students who wish to analyze bodies from different disciplinary formations--art, theatre, literature, anthropology, philosophy--and who have a particular interest in writing. We will read scholarly writing, fiction, New Yorker profiles, as well as memoir/autobiography, and take each as a model through which to write about a person or an object redolent of a person. Possible readings: Roland Barthes on cultural theory and representation; Zine Magubane and Zadie Smith on othered bodies; Tamar Garb on portraiture; Elaine Scary on the body in pain; Joan Acocella, Hilton Als, Judith Thurman and other writers on the arts; Judith Butler and Peggy Phelan on the performative body; Joseph Roach, Diana Taylor, and Michael Taussig on the body, memory, and ritual; Marvin Carlson and Terry Castle on haunting; and Bill Brown on things. These will be supplemented by selected tapes of live performances as well as films. [ more ]

WGSS 362 (S)Difference and Desire

Do we desire that which is different from us, or the same? Why are we taught to celebrate and embrace "difference," but most often in terms closer to sheer tolerance than attraction? Can difference---or sameness---be characterized as a moral good? Politically, is difference a goal or an obstacle? How and where do we encounter the "other" in ways that change who we are? This course will probably not answer these questions tidily but will definitely bring them up over and over again, refining them through close reading of poetry, graphic novels, fiction, philosophy, and film from the latter half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. We will encounter literary works by Roland Barthes, Alison Bechdel, Junot Diaz, Marguerite Duras, Ariana Reines, Adrian Tomine, Monique Truong, as well as films by Rainer Warner Fassbinder, Isaac Julien, and Eric Rohmer. As we court these scintillating primary texts, we will also flirt with secondary authors in psychoanalysis, queer theory, feminism, black studies, and postcolonial studies. As the aim of our course is to explore and interrogate the notion of social difference itself, we will participate in the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative. This EDI course will focus on the power relation between queer sexuality and heteronormativity in twentieth-century culture, as well as on the relationship between queerness as lived experience (cultural practice) and queerness as metaphor (institutional and psychic life). [ more ]

Taught by: Seulghee Lee

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WGSS 373 (S)Antigone

Two and a half millennia of commentary and reinterpretation of Sophocles' Antigone have placed her at the center of debates in philosophy, law, ethics and politics. As a young woman who publicly defies the law in order to bury a brother who died fighting against his own city, Antigone becomes the target and the inaugurator of critical debates about agency and fate, individuality and membership, traditional versus civic religion, speech and silence, gender and the public-private distinction in political thought. Does Sophocles' character open up critical inquiry into some of the most important categories of ethical and political thought, as many commentators have claimed, or does the tragedy of Antigone instead reinforce traditional notions of filial duty, kinship ties, gendered citizenship, the place of women, and the nature of authority? Who was Antigone then, and who could she become today as the production and reception of the play move into more global and experimental territory? [ more ]

WGSS 376 (F)Sex, Gender, and the Law in U.S. History

This course explores how the law in America has defined and regulated gender and sexuality. We will evaluate how the law has dictated different roles for men and women, how sexual acts have been designated as legal or illegal, and the ways that race, class, and nationality have complicated the definition and regulation of gender and sexuality. We will examine how assumptions about gender and sexuality have informed the creation and development of American law, contested interpretations of the Constitution, and the changing meanings of citizenship; We will consider how seemingly gender neutral laws have yielded varied effects for men and women across race and class divides, challenging some differences while naturalizing others. Finally, we will examine the power and shortcomings of appeals to formal legal equality waged by diverse groups and individuals. Throughout the course, we will consider the various methodologies and approaches of the interdisciplinary field of legal history. Topics to be covered will include the Constitution, slavery, marriage, divorce, custody, inheritance, immigration, sexual violence, reproduction, abortion, privacy, suffrage, jury duty, work, and military service. [ more ]

WGSS 379 Black Women in the United States

Not offered this year

As slaves and free women, activists, domestics, artists and writers, African Americans have played exciting and often unexpected roles in U.S. political, social, and cultural history. In this course we will examine black women's lives from the earliest importation of slaves from Africa and the Caribbean through to the expansion of slavery, the Civil War, freedom, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights movements, and up to the present day. Consistent themes we will explore are the significance of gender in African American history and the changing roles and public perceptions of black women both inside and outside the black community. We will read and discuss a combination of primary and secondary sources; we will also consider music, art, and literature, as well as more standard "historical" texts. This course meets the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that it focuses on empathetic understanding, power and privilege, especially in relation to class, gender, and race within a U.S. context. [ more ]

WGSS 380 (F)Amiri Baraka and Audre Lorde

In both literary content and political disposition, Audre Lorde and Amiri Baraka were radically different people. Lorde was a queer feminist icon credited with furthering the concepts of intersectional identity and black feminism, while Baraka was accused throughout his career of obliviously brazen machismo and criticized for his use of homophobic invective. Baraka endorsed the very notions of leadership and community from which Lorde crafted an identity of marginality, and Lorde endorsed a community-bound poetics contrasted to Baraka's avant-gardism. But for all their differences, Lorde and Baraka were arguably the two most significant African American writers of the late twentieth century, and, however surprisingly, they staked similar conceptual territory, addressing such themes as the possibility of spiritual self-discovery, the possibility of liberatory consciousness, the significance of emotions in building community, and the relationship between sexuality and racial identity. We will explore such issues by way of closely attending to their texts, and since another similarity between them was a prolific range of genre, we will have the opportunity to delve into poetry, essays, fiction, drama, and memoir, with a slight but definite preference for their poetry. We will also place these writers in their political and philosophical contexts, sampling secondary sources on the Black Arts movement, queer theory, contemporary American and African American poetry, and transnational black studies. As we will be discussing two writers whose collective contribution to minority discourse is nothing short of monumental, our course will participate in the College's Exploring Diversity Initiative. Specifically, this EDI course will emphasize the ongoing historical negotiation between blackness and white supremacy in the contemporary period, in addition to the relationship between queer sexuality and blackness. [ more ]

Taught by: Seulghee Lee

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WGSS 381 (S)Who's Afraid of Failure?

Success is demanding, as any Williams student knows, and all that discipline-hard work, sacrifice, perseverance-can come to seem an end in itself. But as the great theorist of children's animation and stoner movies Jack Halberstam has noted, sometimes failure turns out to be a better bet than success: it can reveal the blindspots of dominant ideologies, while opening up alternative ways of living in the world. This course will take a long detour through meditations on failure emerging from queer theory, Asian American studies, and black studies, with a particular interest in what failure can reveal about higher education and related disciplinary institutions, such as prisons or the so-called "internment camps" for Japanese Americans during World War II. This course fulfills the Exploring Diversity requirement by considering how the stigmatization of difference and justification of social inequality are inscribed in supposedly neutral rubrics of success and failure. Readings may include Halberstam's Queer Art of Failure, Junot Diaz's Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and works by Fred Moten, Roderick Ferguson, Angela Davis, Hisaye Yamamoto, Toshio Mori, Nella Larsen, Victor Lavalle, and others. Students will also have the opportunity to bring these concepts to bear on other social concerns and/or cultural objects (music, film, etc.) of their choice, as we attempt to figure out just what a course in cultural criticism might be good for in a society infatuated with success. What are you planning to do with that liberal-arts degree, anyway? [ more ]

WGSS 383 Whiteness and Race in the History of the United States

Not offered this year

If race is socially and historically constructed, then the study of race relations in the U.S. extends to the topic of whiteness. And if we are never without the past, then "whiteness" must be a part of current discussions about politics, citizenship, and social issues. Focusing on how historians have written about whiteness in American history, this course uses the prism of race to explore social, political, and economic development in U.S. history. The class follows the development of "whiteness" through a chronology that begins in colonial Virginia, travels through immigration in the nineteenth century, examines racial politics and popular culture in the twentieth century, and ends with a look at the current election season. This course is framed by several questions: What is whiteness, and what has it meant in the history of the United States? Who is (and is not) white? What about other analytical categories, like gender and class (or region or ethnicity or sexuality): how have these experiences shaped and been shaped by the racial category of whiteness? Because historically whiteness has carried overtones of power, privilege, and wealth in the United States, the course necessarily critiques the roots of racial disparities. This class is not for the faint-hearted. Informed participation is necessary to its success. The course fulfills the requirements for the Exploring Diversity Initiative because it examines the differences and similarities between white Americans and other American cultures, and because it explores whiteness as a prism for understanding the operations of power and privilege in American society. [ more ]

WGSS 386 (F)Latinas in the Global Economy: Work, Migration, and Households

An increasingly global economy, from 1945 to the present, has affected Latinas in their home countries and in the United States. The garment industry, one of the first industries to go global, has relied extensively on Latina workers in their home countries and in the United States. Domestic work, a traditional field of women's work, also crosses borders. Challenging the myth that labor migration is a male phenomenon and that women simply follow the men, this course explores how the global economy makes Latinas labor migrants. What impact has the global economy and economic development had on Latinas' work and their households in their home countries? How have economic changes and government policies shaped Latinas' migrations and their incorporation in the changing U.S. economy? How have Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan women confronted the challenges created by a globalizing economy and balanced demands to meet their households' needs? This EDI course explores the impact of U.S. hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender and class on Latinas' labor migrations and economic incorporation in the United States, as well as the myriad ways in which they confront, negotiate, and at times challenge those dominant U.S. hierarchies. [ more ]

WGSS 389 (S)The Fiction of Virginia Woolf

"Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness. Let us not take it for granted that life exists more fully in what is commonly thought big than in what is commonly thought small" ("Modern Fiction"). Virginia Woolf's fiction represents a self-conscious and highly experimental challenge to the conventions of Victorian and Edwardian fiction. This course will explore the evolution of the innovative narrative techniques by which she tried to bridge the gap between the experience of consciousness and its representation in language. Accompanying concerns will be Woolf's challenges to stable gender roles, her conception of the relationship of gender to creativity, and the ways in which her powerful lyric impulses are reflected in her fiction. We will read most of the major novels, including The Voyage Out, Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, Orlando, The Waves, and Between the Acts, together with selected short fiction and critical essays. The course will be taught largely by discussion. [ more ]

WGSS 390 T Donne, Shakespeare, and Wroth

Not offered this year

"Wit! Wonder-exciting vigour, intenseness and peculiarity of thought," Samuel Coleridge wrote, "this is the wit of Donne!" There are no greater, wittier, or more daringly original lyric poems in the English language than Donne's Songs and Sonnets, Shakespeare's Sonnets, or Mary Wroth's Pamphilia to Amphilathus, the first collection of secular poems written and published by an Englishwoman. This tutorial will explore the following questions. What are these writers' stylistic characteristics? How peculiar or unconventional are these poems, and what innovations do they seek? What is the impact of their coterie audience? How do questions of sexuality and gender animate these poems? To what extent are biography and history pertinent or helpful in understanding this poetry? Why have these poems inspired such provocative critical responses from modernists, and more recently, post-modernists and gender studies? [ more ]

WGSS 402 Global Sex: Identities, Migration, Globalization

Not offered this year

This course reveals how different cultures construct sexual identities, and what happens when dominant paradigms (i.e. the Euro-American LGBT model) become enmeshed in globalization, capitalism, and consumerism. Why do we find gay bears and drag queens trafficking in North American iconography flourishing in countries like Brazil and South Africa? Why does Madonna still turn out gay crowds in Indonesia and Russia? As global gay culture spreads, what happens to people with their own local conceptions of gender/sexuality (e.g., "Two Spirit" Native Americans?) How have free trade and the internet transformed queer lives, queer sex, and people's understandings of their sexual selves? We begin with a focus on alternative gender/sexual formations around the world. Next we ask what happens when it`s not only identities that are on the move, but actual bodies. Here, we focus on queer diasporas, refugees, and migrants. Our final unit brings us into the global flows of capitalism itself to interrogate the role of consumerism in sexual culture, tackling thorny issues of gay gentrification, tourism, pinkwashing/homonationalism, global gay cinematic representations, and the neocolonial potential of NGOs. Ultimately, this class reveals that sexuality is infused in global economic and political affairs in ways that are often overlooked. [ more ]

WGSS 404 (S)Senior Seminar: Before We Were Queer: Gay and Lesbian Lives before 1990

Reclaimed by activists in the 1990s as an expression of defiance and pride, the word queer has come to be identified with a wide range of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities, as well as entire fields of intellectual theory, popular culture, and political engagement. The past 25 years of queer studies, media, and activism (1990-2015) have led to unprecedented visibility and great advances for many LGBT people, especially in North America and Western Europe: from breakthroughs in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, to victories for Gays in the Military, Employment Non-Discrimination, and Gay Marriage in 16 US states and another 16 countries around the world. For many, however, this new era of queer life during the past 2 decades has eclipsed the time before, when those who were pejoratively labeled as queer struggled with homophobic discrimination, isolation, and violence, by seeking one another out in major cities, specific neighborhoods, underground bars, and in the narrative spaces of novels and films. As a result, many young people born after 1990 are largely unaware of these struggles that predate their lives, the internet, and social media; and several LGBT leaders worry that this has left many 18-25 year olds with a false sense of security, a decreasing interest in political engagement, alarming new rates of sexually transmitted infections, and a growing disinterest in queer social spaces beyond the virtual. In this course, we will explore the literary, cinematic, and cultural history of gay and lesbian lives before the 1990s, and consider what has been gained and lost. Topics to include the early twentieth-century isolation of the closet, (1890s-1950s), the formation of clandestine gay and lesbian communities during and after World War II (1940s-60s), the Stonewall riots and the first decade of Gay Liberation (1969-1979), and the devastating losses and community responses to AIDS (1979-1995). For its critical engagement with cultural diversity, comparative investigation of gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, and historical analysis of queer identities, this course fulfills the goals of the Exploring Diversity Initiative. [ more ]

WGSS 408 (S)Senior Seminar: Nineteenth-Century Novel: From Desperate Housewives to Extreme Makeovers

In 1834, Balzac wrote that "Paris is a veritable ocean. Sound it: you will never know its depth." The same can be said of the French nineteenth-century novel and its boundless ability to echo the historical past and reverberate in the cultural present. Desperate housewives, sex in the city, queer eyes for straight guys, and extreme makeovers fill the pages of the nineteenth-century novel. From the Romanticism of Stendhal and Hugo, and the Realism of Balzac and Flaubert, to the Naturalism of Maupassant and Zola, the novel became an extraordinary forum for examining illicit sexuality, institutional misogyny, social injustice, criminal passions, revolutionary struggles, and Parisian pleasures in nineteenth-century France. Characters such as the imprisoned housewife Emma Bovary, the reluctant revolutionary Jean Valjean, the social-climbing lover Julien Sorel, the ambitious undergraduate Rastignac, the domestically-abused Gervaise, and the man-eating courtesan Nana became synonymous with France's turbulent social and political landscape from the 1830s to the 1880s. And as recent film adaptations make clear, these characters continue to haunt our twenty-first century present. Reinterpreted by such contemporary actors as Gerard Depardieu, Isabelle Huppert, Uma Thurman, Claire Danes, and Jennifer Aniston, the nineteenth-century novel continues to sound out the scandalous and sensational depths of our own century. Readings to include novels by Balzac, Stendhal, Hugo, Flaubert, Maupassant, and Zola. Films to include adaptations by Clement, Berri, August, Arteta, Lelouch, and Chabrol. Conducted in French. [ more ]

WGSS 409 (F)Transnationalism and Difference: Comparative Perspectives

In the age of satellite television, e-mail, and mobile applications such as WhatsApp and Skype, transnational living has rapidly emerged as the norm as opposed to the exception. However, what does it really mean to "be transnational"? How are the lived experiences of transnational individuals and communities shaped by categories of difference such as gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class? What impacts do the growing number of transnational citizens and residents in the U.S. have on our understanding of "American" identity in the local, national, and global contexts? In this interdisciplinary, comparative course we will analyze recent theories regarding the origins and impacts of transnationalism. Particular attention will be paid throughout the semester to the interplay of gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class in connection with everyday transnational dynamics. The broad range of case studies examined includes China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Middle East. [ more ]

WGSS 412 (S)Feminist and Queer Interventions in Literary Theory

Feminist scholars have worked, with increasing success from the 1960s onward, to shed light on previously unrecognized women writers and situate gender and sexuality at the center of the study of literature. Building on this foundation, we will investigate the profound methodological impact of feminist and queer literary criticism. We will examine the ways in which such scholarship has not only challenged the neglect of gender and sexuality but also generated new theoretical frameworks and approaches to interpretation. Our investigation will be guided by questions such as: What is the relationship between feminist and queer theories and other interpretive approaches such as new criticism, poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, critical race theory, new historicism, and postcolonial theory? In what ways do feminist and queer theories differ and disagree about literary studies? What constitutes a feminist reading practice or queer method of interpretation? Our discussions will explore the historically contingent, varied, and contested nature of feminist and queer criticism, and what becomes possible (or impossible) when thinking and reading within these frameworks. [ more ]

WGSS 426 Pictures That Rocked the Nation: Courbet and Manet in Second Empire France

Not offered this year

How do we recognize or see diversity in the works of canonical artists? If modernist painting has often been understood to put pressure on existing power relations, the stylistic innovation that defines it has just as often been used to veil its controversial subject matter. The aim of this course is two-fold: 1) to call attention to difference through comparative analysis and to consider how and why identifying it is meaningful; 2) to detail the changes in historiography since the 1970s that have enabled discussions of difference (sex, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality) and the challenges they present. The course demonstrates that the Second Empire (1851-1870) in France was an especially fertile period for innovations in style and subject matter that generated both outrage and incomprehension. In the wake of the revolution of 1848, realism and its rallying cry ("il faut etre de son temps") brought home subjects that heretofore had been safely displaced to the classical or exotic worlds as they were imagined by the West. The Second Empire coincided with the birth of mass culture so that artists had access to new types of imagery and increasing contact with racy and controversial subjects. This course will investigate polemical works by Gustave Courbet (i.e. Burial at Ornans, Origin of the World) and Edouard Manet (i.e. Olympia, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian) through the lens of critical writings of the 1850s and 1860s (i.e. Baudelaire, Proudhon, Zola) as well as revisionist writings from the 1970s to the present (Homi Bhahba, T.J. Clark, Richard Dyer, Michael Fried, Tamar Garb, Sander Gilman, Zine Magubane, Linda Nochlin, and Gayatri Spivak). We will consider the relationship of Manet's and Courbet's works to academic ones, including orientalist paintings by Ingres and Gerome, and to vanguard pictures of the next generation (i.e. the homoerotic work of Caillebotte and Bazille, the "sex workers" of Degas's toilette scenes). Finally, we will examine the legacy of Courbet and Manet during the period when difference began to be represented in the work of artists such as Judy Chicago, Yasumasa Morimura, Cindy Sherman, Samuel Fosso, and Carrie Mae Weems. [ more ]

WGSS 449 Poses & gestures in 17th-century European art

Not offered this year

Art of the 1600s represents a highpoint in artists' ability and interest in conveying "the passions of the soul" through the actions of the body. The range of feelings represented had never been broader than at this time. In the seminar we will distinguish unusual from conventional poses (e.g, melancholy, wonder, musing),track how long the conventional poses had been in use, and differentiate poses and gestures that had unisex use from those that remained gender-specific or preferred. We will also examine which poses, if any, individual artists (e.g., Caravaggio, Artimesia Gentileschi, Rubens, Rembrandt, Leyster, Bernini, and Poussin) favored. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

WGSS 451 Ideal Bodies: The Modern Nude and Its Dilemmas

Not offered this year

Since the nineteenth century, the female nude has been so dominant that the very term "nude" has come to stand for the female body. This course looks at both male and female nudes from the time of the French revolution to the present in order to order how and why this gendering occurred. We will explore the ways in which certain types of bodies have been defined in opposition to the white western ideal, and thereby exoticized and marginalized. Our prime focus is the work of David, Ingres, Courbet, Gericault, Manet and Renoir but more popular nineteenth-century images as well as selected works by artists working in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries will be discussed. [ more ]

WGSS 452 Women in America, 1620-1865

Not offered this year

This course will explore the diversity of American women's experiences from the colonial era through the Civil War. We will pay particular attention to the roles women filled--as slaves, nuns, housewives, mothers, and workers, as well as depictions of women as witches, paragons of virtue, and urban consumers. In our reading of historiography and primary texts we will analyze the ways in which literacy and artistic culture as well as geopolitical events shaped women's lives. As we study works of history, we will also read modern works of feminist and race theory to further our understanding of connections between ideology and practice, between narrative and argument. [ more ]

WGSS 491 (F)Honors Project: Women's & Gender Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies honors project. [ more ]

WGSS 492 (S)Honors Project: Women's & Gender Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies honors project. [ more ]

WGSS 493 (F)Senior Thesis: Women's & Gender Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies senior thesis. [ more ]

WGSS 494 (S)Senior Thesis: Women's & Gender Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies senior thesis. [ more ]

WGSS 497 (F)Independent Study: Women's & Gender Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies independent study. [ more ]

WGSS 498 (S)Independent Study: Women's & Gender Studies

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies independent study. [ more ]