WGSS 101(F, S) SEM Introduction to Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies

This course is designed to initiate you into the pleasures, pains and perplexities of critical thinking about gender and the situations of women across the globe. We will survey a wide variety of writers and issues--historical and contemporary, theoretical and practical. Above all, the course is intended as an exploration of the tremendous diversity of thought contained under the general rubrics of feminist and gender studies and a vehicle for developing skills in writing and research as well as analytical tools for further work in the field. The goal is not to bring about a specific point of view, but rather to learn to analyze issues critically using the methods and frameworks that feminist theory and queer theory have developed as academic disciplines. [ more ]

WGSS 103 TUT Breeding Controversy: Technologies and Ideologies of Population Control

Last offered Fall 2021

What is "good breeding?" For whom is birth control "liberating?" This course traces the surprising ways that concepts of population growth and decline from the natural sciences come to inform social discourses on "overpopulation" in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Science and politics mix to decide: who should be able to reproduce--and, consequently, who might not be born--so that some may live more prosperously? By studying the history of eugenics movements, contraceptive technologies in the context of development, and the racialized cultures of reproductive medicine, we will analyze how scientific ways of thinking about human lives reflect and reproduce social inequities. We will use the tools of feminist technoscience studies to understand how science, culture, power, and politics intersect to create new technologies of "selection" that are far from natural. New literatures in critical race STS, black feminist thought, and critical theory will inform our discussions. [ more ]

WGSS 105(F) SEM American Girlhoods

The image of the girl has captivated North American writers, commentators, artists, and creators of popular culture for at least the last two centuries. What metaphors, styles of writing, ideas of "manners and morals" does literature about girls explore? What larger cultural and aesthetic concerns are girls made to represent? And how is girlhood articulated alongside and/or intertwined with other identities and identifications, such as race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality? These are some of the issues we will explore in this course. [ more ]

WGSS 110 TUT The Veil: History and Interpretations

Last offered Spring 2020

This tutorial will consider the history and the changing meanings of the veil (hijab) and its many manifestations (e.g. burqa, chador, niqab), starting with the earliest religious traditions and the status of women in Islamic law. We will then proceed to examine imperialist and orientalist representations of gender in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic feminism and finally consider the emergence and return of the veil in recent years in the Middle East, North America, Asia and Europe. [ more ]

WGSS 111 SEM Television, Social Media, and Black Women 'Unscripted'

Last offered Fall 2023

Nene Leaks, Issa Rae, Zendaya, Oprah Winfrey, Lavern Cox and Joy Reid have become common household names. Whether from the television shows they star in, the TV shows they have created, or the social media presence they have developed--these women continue to influence and shape popular culture. In this course we will situate Black women as creators and contributors to popular culture as a whole, but specifically through television (scripted and "unscripted") and social media. We will begin by covering the history of Black women in television. This historical approach will then lead us to examine selected TV episodes, and investigate social media pages of Black actresses, television producers, and the fans of these shows. The aim of this course is to analyze the ways in which Black women continually shift the popular culture paradigm and how they serve as key players determining what is indeed popular. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 112 LEC Sex, Gender, Religion

Last offered Fall 2023

The relationship between sex, gender, and religion is one that is hotly debated in our current political context. Many contemporary issues such as abortion, sexual identity, transgender rights are all informed by religious traditions. While religion is most often critiqued for its misogyny and homophobia, it also opens up unexpected possibilities for gender and sexual diversity. This course will consider both these paradoxes and contradictions in religious traditions and their engagement with gender and sexuality. The course will consider how religious traditions have shaped our current discourses on sexual and gender diversity, how religious tradition understand and interact with modern constructions of sexual and gender identity, and how religious queer communities imagine queer possibilities in conversation with their religious traditions. In exploring these topics, the course will cover global religious traditions both historically and in the contemporary. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 113(F) SEM The Feminist Poetry Movement

Feminist poetry and feminist politics were so integrated in the 1960s and 1970s in America that critical essays on poets, such as Adrienne Rich and Audre Lorde, appeared in the same handbook that listed such resources for women as rape crisis centers and health clinics. This course will map the crucial alliance between feminist politics (and its major cultural and political gains) and the feminist poetry movement that became a major "tool" for building, organizing, and theorizing second-wave feminism. In order to track this political and poetic revolution, we will take an interdisciplinary approach that brings together historical, critical, and literary documents (including archival ones) and visual products (through the Object Lab of the Williams College Art Museum) that recreate the rich context of the period and help us consider the important social nature of aesthetic production. At the center of the course will be writings of major poets of the period, as well as anthologies and feminist periodicals that published their work and created a significant forum and shared space for women to articulate the politics and poetics of change. These periodicals and anthologies will also help us track the diversity of the feminist poetry movement and its intersection with issues of race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. Ultimately, we will want to consider how poetry serves as an important tool for thinking through questions of power and injustice and what role it plays in creating necessary imaginative space in the world for expression, critique, and change. [ more ]

WGSS 115 TUT Latina Feminist Spiritualities

Last offered Fall 2023

Self-proclaimed feminist activists, who hail from a variety of ethnic Latina/o/x/e (Latine) backgrounds, have often appealed to "ancestral" and "spiritual traditions" as integral to their activism and commitments. Some Latine feminists turned to "spiritual" traditions including brujería/witchcraft; curanderismo and Indigenous healing traditions; Santería/Lukumí and other AfroDiasporic traditions; astrology; home altars; various "mystical" traditions such as Kabbalah and Sufism, as well as Christian mystics like Teresa of Avila or Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. Others have turned to the appropriation of "Eastern" traditions such as yoga, Tibetan Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism. This course engages students in an intensive introduction to some of the varieties of Latine feminist thought and contexts, including how activists, writers, and artists think about women, gender, sexuality, race, class, colonialism, the earth, healing, and a better world. How do these feminists of different Latine backgrounds and contexts imagine a better world? How and why do they appeal to spiritual traditions as a source of wisdom, healing, and lived practice for a better world? In this course, we seek to understand both particular Latine feminist spiritual practices on their own terms, as well as why such writers and activists appeal to "the spiritual" in Latine contexts. We will also consider how they frame notions of "the spiritual" in relationship to notions of "the religious" and "the secular." [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 127 TUT Spring Grass: A Peek into Inequality in China

Last offered Fall 2023

Spring Grass (Chuncao) is a Chinese novel written by award-winning author Qiu Shanshan (1958-). Using the literary techniques of social realism, the novel chronicles the life of a young rural woman from 1961 to 2001. Spring Grass, the protagonist of the novel, was born in a rural village to a mother who preferred sons over daughters. At a young age, Spring Grass was deprived of the opportunity to attend school. Against all odds, she managed to marry for love, venture into the city, and become an enterprising migrant worker. This novel not only reflects the struggles of women in contemporary China but also captures the economic transformation of modern China since 1978 when the Reform and Open-Door Policy (gaige kaifang) was initiated. The novel was adapted into a television drama series and became an instant hit in 2008. This course takes an interdisciplinary, cultural studies and humanistic approach to studying a literary text, using literature as a means to help students better understand social and cultural issues. Through close readings of the novel, the eponymous TV drama series, documentaries, and films depicting rural life and women's roles in China, as well as in-depth discussions of both primary and secondary sources that deal with the cultural, historical, and socioeconomic background of the unfolding story of Spring Grass, this course aims to provide a window for students to examine the issues of inequality in the Chinese village and society at large. Why would mothers be harsh to their own daughters and bar girls' right to education? Why would young people leave their village and migrate to the city? Why would migrant workers leave their children behind in the village? Why would economic developments in China exacerbate the problem of gender inequality in society? Why would the ideology and cultural logic behind Mao Zedong's proclamation "women can hold up half of the sky" add more burden to women rather than truly liberate them? Why would city people discriminate against country folks? After taking this course, students will gain a deeper understanding of the issues related to gender inequality (nannü bu pingdeng) and the urban/rural-gap (chengxiang chabie) in China. Throughout the course, they are also encouraged to critically think about how to achieve equity in different societies. This tutorial is conducted in either Chinese or English. Students wishing to take the course in English should register under ASST or WGSS and language learners wishing to take the course in Chinese should register under CHIN. [ more ]

WGSS 138 TUT Spectacular Sex

Last offered Fall 2020

From Beyoncé's Coachella performance to Donald Trump's social media antics, spectacles captivate us. Spectacles may be live shows, media events, or even everyday performances ranging from interactive advertisements to viral video sensations. But what are the uses of spectacle? Why are some compelling while others fall flat? How do spectacles control society or maintain social norms? And, importantly for our purposes, how does spectacle shape gender in society? Or from another angle, how does sexuality infuse spectacle? This tutorial introduces students to theories of spectacle ranging from the ancient Greeks to Marxist-inspired thinkers in the 20th century. In particular, we will examine how feminist thinkers have contributed to this literature and how theories of spectacle relate to questions of gender and sexuality. Our weekly readings focus on pairings of theoretical readings with writing on popular cultural examples and case studies. Some possible topics include sporting events, charity ad campaigns, music videos, political events, and social media. [ more ]

WGSS 139 SEM Living a Feminist Life

Last offered Spring 2020

The course invites students to consider the range of ways in which "knowledge" about women's, femme's and non-binary lives has been constructed in text, and how this knowledge determines and impacts the we have and make. The first half of the course is organized around a deep reading of Sara Ahmed's recent theoretical book, Living a Feminist Life, while the second half of the course will examine a spectrum of women's life writing-poetry, music, journalism, theory, and memoir-to discover how text continues to shape feminist lives, and how femmes' lived experience in turn shapes feminist discourse. Course materials for the second half of the semester will be generated in part through discussion and students' suggestions. Key texts will include Jamaica Kincaid's A Small Place, Audre Lorde's Sister Outsider, Djamila Boupacha's memoir, Ana Lily Amirpour's film A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Sara Ahmed's Living a Feminist Life, Valerie Solanas's SCUM Manifesto, and bell hooks's Teaching to Transgress. In their writing for this course, students will consider how their own intimate relationships-with parents, partners, children, neighbors, or friends-can become sites of feminist activism, and sources of strength and knowledge to be carried into the broader world of public engagement and intervention. In the final weeks of the course, we will collectively interrogate the (false) boundary between writing and living as modes of feminist praxis. [ more ]

WGSS 150(F) LEC Data for Justice

This course is a unique and inclusive introduction to data science where quantitative thinking, programming, and social justice intertwine. We will build our data science skills using R, a popular open-source data science tool. We will focus on essential stages of data analysis, including data acquisition, cleaning, wrangling, visualization, and exploration. But rather than divorcing these techniques from the social issues they can help illuminate, we ground them in a social justice context. Overall, we will apply data science skills to topics drawn from criminal justice, environmental justice, diversity and inclusion in arts and media, education equity, and much more, with the goal of growing our collective capacity to use data science as a tool for social good. During a time when humans are increasingly subjugated to data-driven algorithmic decisions, when there are social media accounts dedicated to highlighting misuses of data, and when artificial intelligence makes faking data a nearly trivial task, using data to ethically and carefully promote justice is more important than ever. [ more ]

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

For more than 150 years, 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 "birthright citizenship," "due process," "privileges and immunities," "equal protection," and "life, liberty or property"; the rise, fall, and rebirth of substantive due process; battles over incorporating the Bill of Rights into the 14th Amendment; and the changing promise and experience of citizenship. We will pay particular attention to how arguments about the 14th Amendment have shaped and been shaped by the changing meanings of racial and gender equality. [ more ]

WGSS 177 SEM Gender and Sexuality in Music

Last offered Spring 2024

This course explores key themes in the expression of gender and sexuality through music. It draws from primarily 21st century examples, across cultures and genres, ranging from pop boy bands to Indian bhangra dance to the musical avant-garde. Themes will include: communicating gendered ideals, dance and embodiment, transgressive performances, biography and subjectivity, intersectionality, music and sexual violence, and marketing. We will explore the ways that ideas and identities related to sex and gender are formulated and mobilized in music's performance and consumption. Inevitably, issues of sound and stagecraft intersect with factors such as race, age, and class, further informing these experiences. Students will consider their own processes of identifying and interpreting expressions of gender and sexuality in sound and movement, and contemplate the role of culture and society in informing those interpretations. [ more ]

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

Last offered Spring 2021

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 Sámi 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 Björk), glamour (Greta Garbo to Alicia Vikander), technology (Volvo to Nokia), design (IKEA to H&M), and activism (Alfred Nobel to Greta Thunberg). Readings to include works by Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, Hans Christian Andersen, Karen Blixen, Astrid Lindgren, Halldór Laxness, Reidar Jönsson, and Peter Høeg. Films to include works by Ingmar Bergman, Lasse Hallström, Bille August, Colin Nutley, Lukas Moodysson, Josef Fares, Tomas Alfredson, and Tomas Vinterberg. All readings and discussions in English. [ more ]

WGSS 201 SEM War and Resistance: Two Centuries of War Literature in France (1800-2015)

Last offered Fall 2021

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 recent terrorist attacks in France (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 Vercingétorix, 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, S) SEM Foundations in Sexuality Studies

This course will offer an introduction to the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of sexuality 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. It explores the role of race, class, religion, science, region, and nation in the construction of modern gender and sexual identities and in the lived experiences of dissident genders and sexualities. We will examine a range of issues, including histories and strategies of resistance; transgender and intersex theory and activism; critiques of the white racial hegemony of lesbian and gay studies; the consequences of gay marriage; the politics of AIDS and its theoretical implications; globalization and sexuality; the rise of queer visibility and its relation to commodity culture; and recent conceptualizations of homonormativity. The goal of the course is not to achieve any kind of political or intellectual consensus, but to have rigorous debate over some of the key issues in queer studies. [ more ]

WGSS 205 LEC Gender and Economics

Last offered Spring 2021

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., AFDC/TANF, parental leave, 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) TUT Narrating Color: Black Women Sing and Write About Complexion

Colorism, skin color discrimination where light skin is privileged over dark skin, is not a new phenomenon, but globally entrenched in our society and one of the many vestiges of white supremacy. For Black Americans of all backgrounds, colorism is a familiar and a living legacy concretized by the institution of slavery in the Americas. Although some believe that we are "post-color," similarly to those that naively believe we are "post-race," one can look to the recent example of misogynoir (misogyny directed at Black women) and skin color politics that Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, has faced at the hands of the British Monarchy, that her light-skinned color, biraciality, and class privileges couldn't protect her from. Alternatively, we can look at the numerous examples of colorism and anti-Black racism that tennis icon Serena Williams is subjected to because of her dark-brown skin complexion and body shape. One cannot fully understand the issue of colorism without understanding that it is an outgrowth or an extension of anti-Black racism firmly rooted in white supremacy, and so insidious that it impacts all aspects of Black life. Examining colorism through literary texts and music, provides a depth of understanding that both compliments and expands these empirical studies. Literature and music provide the narratives and rhythm that paint a vivid picture of the many ways that colorism impacts the lives of Black people. Through the methods of literary and rhetorical criticism we will examine the works of five Black women authors and music artists that take up issues around colorism and passing. We will explore, Toni Morrison's, The Origins of Others (2017), Brit Bennett's, The Vanishing Half (2020), Tressie McMillian Cottom's, Thick (2019), Marita Golden's, Don't Play in the Sun (2004), Yaba Blay's, One Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race (2021), Nina Simone's, "Four Women" (1966) and "Young, Gifted and Black" (1958), Sara Martin's, "Mean Tight Mama" (1927), India.Arie's, "Brown Skin" (2001), Azealia Banks' "Liquorice" (2012), and Beyoncé's "Creole" (2012), "Formation" (2016) and "Brown Skin Girl" (2020). By examining colorism in both literature and music, it will give first year students a foundational and nuanced understanding of skin tone bias and equip them with the tools to critically engage literary and music texts. [ more ]

WGSS 207 TUT She Speaks in Color: Examining the 'Color Complex' in Toni Morrison's Writings

Last offered Fall 2023

The practice of colorism, or skin color discrimination, is very familiar to people of color globally. Often described as intra-racial racism, colorism within the Black American context is part of the colonial legacy of institutionalized slavery where the vestiges of white supremacy have created color castes among Blacks that still, to this day, have serious consequences for those on the darkest end of the color spectrum. The impact of this practice is far-reaching, influencing everything from romantic partnering, economic and educational attainment, and perceptions of beauty, attractiveness, and criminality. Although the vast majority of colorism scholarship is empirically based, there is much that we can glean from a literary investigation of this practice by analyzing the works of renowned writer, theorist, and folklorist Toni Morrison. Her work is particularly useful in examining issues of skin color, as this topic has been persistent yet underexplored in Morrison's writings. Employing the methods of literary and rhetorical criticism, this tutorial will investigate five Morrison novels, The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Love (2003) and God Help the Child (2015), and some of her non-fiction writings. In our discussions of each text, we will examine the problem of the "color complex" at the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, class and sexual violence, and how the characters manage these overlapping issues. We will bring the novels into conversation with social science articles on the practices of colorism in daily life. Because the tutorial blends different kinds of investigations into colorism, it will equip first year students with tools to critically engage and interrogate fictional literature; help them identify the real and nuanced ways that color discrimination affects Black communities; and consider how Morrison, one of our foremost writers, bridges literary creativity with ethnographic observation. [ more ]

Taught by: Meredith Coleman-Tobias

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WGSS 208(S) SEM Designer Genes

In this course, we explore cultural texts that attempt to come to terms with--or exploit--the revolution in contemporary genetics with a particular focus on gender, race, class, and sexuality. The mapping of the human genome in 2001 opened incredible opportunities for medicine, law, and society, but it also, as Alice Wexler has written, "opened a vast arena for contests of power over what it means to be human, who has the power to define what is normal, [and] who has access to what resources and when." Wexler was writing before the final sequencing of the human genome. Now we have CRISPR technology, ushering in a new, more pressing set of ethical concerns. We are currently in the midst of a "global race to genetically modify humans," as the anthropologist Eben Kirksey has documented in his new book The Mutant Project. How will we come to define the human? Who gets to decide? Our writers and filmmakers make clear that genetic medicine cannot be thought apart from a profit-driven American health care system or family and gender dynamics. Joanna Rudnick's documentary In the Family, for instance, explores the personal and political issues associated with hereditary breast cancer and the patenting of genes. Octavia Butler's Afro-futurist novel Dawn explores black female sexuality, reproduction, and the survival of the species in her character's encounter with a genetically enhanced alien species. The film Gattaca shows us a fully realized dystopian society where genetically modified humans are the norm--a society that now "has discrimination down to a science." The transgender artist Tamara Pertamina, on the other hand, "hopes to decolonize the science of genetic engineering," as Kirksey has written, with her performance artist projects. Our texts come from a number of different genres, including the memoir, science fiction, film, documentary, art, and non-fiction writing at the intersections of science, medicine, philosophy, anthropology, and law. [ more ]

WGSS 209 SEM Poverty in America

Last offered Fall 2022

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 SEM Culture and Incarceration

Last offered Fall 2011

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(F) SEM Gender in the Global Economy

This course will present a feminist economic analysis of the global economy, and some of the urgent issues facing women in the Global South. The course will start by developing theoretical resources: these will include feminist critiques of economic theory, work on care labor and the shifting boundaries between markets, governments, households and the environment, 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 global value chains; the economics of sex work and global sex trafficking; climate change; and migration. We will finish by looking at community-based activism, non-governmental organizations, and the possibilities for North/South alliances. [ more ]

WGSS 212(F) LEC Ethics and Reproductive Technologies

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 contraception, abortion, in vitro fertilization (IVF), prenatal genetic screening and testing, and surrogacy, to the more extraordinary, possibly including pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), post-menopausal reproduction, uterine transplants, and "artificial wombs." Background readings include sources rooted in traditional modes of bioethical analysis as well as those incorporating feminist approaches. [ more ]

WGSS 213 TUT Race, Gender, and the Alien Body: Octavia Butler's Science Fiction

Last offered Spring 2022

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 SEM Why do Pussies Riot and What is "Homosexual" Propaganda? Gender and Sexuality in Putin's Russia

Last offered Fall 2019

Since Vladimir Putin's rise to power, the media has highlighted events in Russia that at first glance resemble oddly sexualized jokes. At the same time that the Kremlin has reinstated authoritarian policy reminiscent of the Soviet Union, the Western press has chronicled Putin's topless vacations in Siberia, protests by the feminist collectives Pussy Riot and Femen, a 2011 ban on women's lacy underwear, federal legislation from 2013 prohibiting "homosexual" propaganda, and a 2017 court decision that outlawed a meme of Putin as a "gay clown." This course examines the Putin regime's ongoing attempts to police gender expression and private sexual behavior, as well as how Russian citizens' performance of gender and sexuality has changed in the past twenty years. We will consider gender and sexuality as distinctive features of Putinism, which have contributed to a biopolitical turn in official policy and inspired resistance and protest among Russian feminists and queers.All readings will be in English, and all films with have English subtitles. [ more ]

WGSS 216(S) SEM Women Behaving Badly: Deviant Women in Early Modern French Literature

Female deviance often implies resisting a dominant and oppressive patriarchal status quo embedded within cultural and historical backgrounds. This course explores female characters in early modern French literature who refuse to conform to established gender roles. Defying social constructs of femininity, through either judicious negotiations or more aggressive and violent behavior, is an important trope in the writings of both male and female authors of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. What constitutes deviant behavior, however, depends on social definitions of gender roles, which evolve over time. In this course, we will first examine women's place within the historical and socio-cultural context of the Ancien Régime, which will lead to an examination of female behavior censured during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. We will then reflect on how we, as modern readers, perceive such deviancy at it relates to the past. Finally, we will discuss the relevance of studying deviant women in light of current events, such as the #MeToo movement, which has led to a new level of consciousness and empathy for the plight of marginalized groups. Potential readings to include Corneille's Médée, Madame de la Fayette's Princesse de Clèves, Laclos's Liaisons dangereuses, and Isabelle de Charrière's Lettre à Mistriss Henley. [ more ]

WGSS 219 TUT Women and Girls in (Inter)National Politics

Last offered Fall 2021

This tutorial focuses on the writings and autobiographies of women who have shaped national politics through social justice movements in the 20th-21st centuries. Women and girls studied include: Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, Safiya Bukhari, Erica Garner, Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Marielle Franco, Winnie Mandela. [ more ]

WGSS 222 SEM Women on the Verge

Last offered Spring 2023

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, newspapers and other media, 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, the transition to democracy, and the present day. [ more ]

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

Last offered Spring 2019

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 Thérèse Raquin as "putrid literature" for its depiction of adultery, murder, and scandalous sexuality in nineteenth-century Paris. A century later, Gide, Proust, Colette, and Duras continued to shock French readers with their extraordinary novels on male and female homosexuality, intergenerational lovers, and biracial relationships. In this course, we will examine a broad range of issues on sexuality and seduction in nineteenth- and twentieth-century French literature, including eroticism and desire, love and betrayal, marriage and adultery, prostitution and fetishism, gay and lesbian identities, 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. [ more ]

WGSS 225 TUT Buddhism, Social Change, & Reproductive Justice in the Anthropocene

Last offered Fall 2023

This course considers how three women profoundly shaped the Buddha's life and legacy in terms of social change & reproductive justice. Our central characters are Maya--the Buddha's mother, who died shortly after delivering him; Pajapati--the Buddha's stepmother & aunt who raised him; and Yasodhara--his wife, whom he abandoned when he left home to seek enlightenment. We explore the classical Buddhist discourses and modern biographies to explore how these three women impacted what the Buddha taught and practiced in terms of social and gender justice. These women helped shape the Buddha's radical decision to found the first renunciate order for women in Asian history and helped shape Buddhist attitudes towards female empowerment, bodily autonomy, and reproductive justice for that past 2500 years. Our historical genealogy will explore how Buddhism continues to disrupte modern hierarchies of sex, gender, caste, & class while claiming reproductive and social justice. Along the way we consider: How did these three women reject existing social hierarchies in the Buddha's day and with what impacts for modern Buddhist practices and institutions? How do the social transformations of the Buddha's day still impact modern struggles for gender justice & reproductive justice in the Anthropocene? [ more ]

WGSS 226(S) SEM Gender and the Dancing Body

This course posits that the dancing body is a particularly rich site for examining the history of gender in America and beyond. The aim of the course is to explore ideas related to gender as prescribed by dominant cultural, social, and religious institutions, and how dance has been used to challenge those normative ideologies. We will examine a wide range of dance genres, from stage performances to popular forms to dance on television, with particular attention to the intersections of race and class with gender. This is primarily a discussion-based seminar course and may also include film screenings, movement workshops, discussions with guest artists and scholars. No previous dance experience required. [ more ]

WGSS 227(S) SEM Boys Love

Originating in Japanese manga of the 1970s, the genre of yaoi, boy love, or BL has expanded into other media and around the globe during the last half century. Created mostly by women for women, BL transposes classic tropes of popular romance into a male homosocial environment, depicting the inevitable love of young, attractive, and typically androgynous men. The growing popularity of BL begs several questions: Why do women create and consume romances that tend to exclude female characters? Why do they enjoy a fictional universe that deliberately downplays homophobia yet ostensibly preserves heteronormativity by showing powerful, protective tops who repeatedly fall for vulnerable, passive bottoms? And how has BL changed global perceptions of and expectations for masculinity? This course explores these and other questions by examining key examples of BL from Japanese manga to Thai television, as well as shipping culture, BL's robust fandom, and adjacent genres such as slash fiction and girl love. [ more ]

WGSS 228 LEC Feminist Bioethics

Last offered Fall 2023

In this course we will 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 interactions with and within the health care system. To do this we will explore topics that might traditionally be considered "women's issues" in healthcare, 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. [ more ]

WGSS 230 SEM Gender, Sexuality, and Global HIV/AIDS

Last offered Fall 2017

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. [ more ]

WGSS 231 TUT Art, Life, and Death: Locating Women in Italian Renaissance Art

Last offered Spring 2020

Renaissance art is the stuff of blockbuster museum exhibitions, mass tourist pilgrimage, and record auction prices. From our modern vantage point, the cultural accomplishment of the 15th and 16th centuries in Italy clearly has the ability to astound. Calling to mind the inimitable imagination of Botticelli, the scientific genius of Leonardo, or the superhuman creativity of Michelangelo brings into focus an inspiring narrative of individual accomplishment, innovation, and progress (ideals we easily understand and may well share). This is an important story we still tell of human achievement. This tutorial explores a critical question: where are the women in this narrative? Women were not typically artists, so how might we bring their roles, force, and power into focus? To do this, we will turn away from the grand historical narrative we so easily recognize and enter a more foreign world: a realm of everyday experience in which art-never created for its own sake-was powerful, and mattered to people. Art shaped realities and mediated the fundamental questions and of life and death, from power, sexuality, love, desire, and self-definition, to mortality and communion with divinity When we approach Renaissance art on its own terms, our picture expands to include women, their lives, and what they themselves wanted to see. In addition to secondary scholarship, we will pay close attention to primary sources (including images themselves), giving students ample change to forge original arguments: one of the central goals of the tutorial. [ more ]

WGSS 234 SEM Masculinities

Last offered Spring 2012

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 235 SEM Innovation, Gender, and Sustainable Development

Last offered Fall 2018

Technological innovation is vital for communities, businesses and nations seeking to adapt to a globalized, competitive world. But any innovation also has impacts on all three dimensions of sustainability: the ecological, the economic, and the social. For example, such impacts may either exacerbate or mitigate gender inequalities. This course uses a gender studies lens to study innovation in the development of sustainable practices in the present and for the future. We will look at the impact of gender stereotypes on innovation, including the co-construction of gender and technology. Since the course is taught by a visiting scholar from Sweden, a particular focus will be the EU's policy of "Gender Mainstreaming" which requires all proposed policies to be assessed for their impact on gender inequality. The course looks at technical development as necessary and valuable, while investigating power relations and taken-for-granted views embedded in the particular forms it takes. The course will rely largely on analysis of case studies, and students will be encouraged to apply the analytic tools of the course to develop US-based case studies of their own. [ more ]

WGSS 236 SEM Feminist Legal Theory

Last offered Spring 2024

What can a critical analysis of gender and sexuality bring to the study of law, constitutions, legal interpretation, and the task of judging? Well-known contributions by feminist theorists include the conceptualization and critique of anti-discrimination frameworks, the legal analysis of intersecting systems of social subordination (particularly gender, race, class, sexuality, disability), and the theorization of "new" categories of rights (e.g. sexuate rights). Accompanying these interventions in the legal field is a deep and sustained inquiry into the subject of law: Who can appear before the law as the proper bearer of civil and human rights? What kinds of violations and deprivations can be recognized as harms in need of redress? Who gets to make these judgments, and according to what rules? While our examples will be drawn mainly from family law, the regulation of sex/reproduction, and workplace discrimination, the main task of this course will be to deepen our understanding of how the subject of law is constituted. Illustrative cases to aid our inquiry will be drawn primarily from the USA and Canada, with additional examples from India, South Africa, and possibly European law. Theorists we read will represent many kinds of feminist work that intersect with the legal field, including academic studies in political theory, philosophy, and cultural theory, along with contributions from community organizers engaged in anti-violence work and social justice advocacy. [ more ]

WGSS 238 SEM Science, Gender and Power

Last offered Spring 2013

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 239 SEM History of Sexuality

Last offered Fall 2022

Is sexuality an immutable aspect of who we are or is it socially constructed? How have people understood sex and sexuality throughout history? Why does religion have any say in the sexual lives of individuals and society? What are sexual transgressions and why are they punished? Is sex a commodity that can be exchanged for money? Is sex political? This course will explore these questions through a historical approach, focusing in particular on the shifting understanding of sex and sexuality across historical time and different geographical regions. In investigating the category of sexuality, this course will push us to consider three key questions: 1) Is sexuality a useful category for historical analysis, 2) how have our assumptions regarding sexuality and sexual ethics taken shape and changed over time and 3) how do social, cultural, political, and economic conditions affect changing meanings of sexuality. Historical studies will be read in conjunction with different theoretical frameworks about sexuality. Reading historical accounts of sexuality alongside theoretical pieces will allow us to consider how historians construct an argument and the influence of theoretical frameworks in shaping scholarship. Some of the theorists we will read in the course include: Michel Foucault, David Halperin, Afsaneh Najmabadi, Valerie Traub, and Carla Freccero. [ more ]

WGSS 241 TUT Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome

Last offered Spring 2024

From the household to the marketplace, from sacred spaces to the political arena, sexuality and gender shaped a broad range of attitudes and actions in the ancient Mediterranean world. This course investigates a variety of discourses and practices around sexuality and gender in ancient Greece and Rome with the aim of promoting students' capacity to evaluate claims and dismantle false assumptions about the continuity of the "classical" past with contemporary norms and values. We will carefully analyze, contextualize, and compare a variety of texts, including selections from tragic and comic drama, epic and lyric poetry, handbooks, epitaphs, novels and biography in order to better understand 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 frameworks through which we approach the primary sources. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

WGSS 242 SEM Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Islam

Last offered Spring 2023

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 ]

WGSS 243(F) SEM Islamic Law: Past and Present

From fear of the Shari'a to its implementation in so called "Islamic countries," Islamic law is perhaps best associated with draconian punishments and the oppression of women. Islamic law is ever present in our public discourse today and yet little is known about it. This course is designed to give students a foundation in the substantive teachings of Islamic law. Islamic law stretches back over 1400 years and is grounded in the Quran, the life example of the Prophet Muhammad, and juridical discourse. Teetering between legal and ethical discourse, the Shari'a moves between what we normally consider law as well as ethics and etiquette. The course will explore four key aspects of the law: its historical development, its ethical and legal content, the law in practice, and the transformation of Islamic law through colonialism and into the contemporary. Specific areas we will cover include: ritual piety, family and personal status law, criminal law, and dietary rules. [ more ]

WGSS 244 TUT Actually Existing Alternative Economies

Last offered Fall 2023

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--and now parts of the U.S.--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 are 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.' 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? In this tutorial we will learn and debate about some of the activities being named and built under the label of solidarity economy, such as the networks of worker-owned cooperatives in Mondragon, Spain, the growth of local currencies and time exchanges, 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 and examples in post-Independence Africa, to the recent establishment of Cooperation Jackson in Jackson, Mississippi. The ILO has argued that co-ops are a particularly appropriate form to African development. Is this plausible, and what role might they play in AIDS-affected communities? Why has the recent U.S. growth of the solidarity economy been so concentrated in communities of color, and how is it gendered? We will visit some examples in New York or Boston. [ more ]

WGSS 246 TUT India's Identities: Nation,Community, & Individual

Last offered Spring 2020

This tutorial considers India's multiple and intersecting identities, in relation to climate emergencies, resource scarcities, and ongoing struggles for power and status across very different parts of India. We examine the intersectional identities that produce solidarity and opposition within landscapes always already structured by power and inequity. How do communal and individual identities such as gender, class, caste, sexuality or religion shape social conflict and ongoing struggles for power in India today? We examine key moments in Indian history that that continue to produce social conflict and fluidity such as Partition, the riots in Gujarat, Hyderabad, and Delhi that have shaped the modern landscape of communal identity, as well as the contested border such as Ladakh as well as Jammu & Kashmir. Our readings will include ethnographic, sociological, historical fiction, and oral history. Students choose their own topics to delve into for final weeks of the semester. [ more ]

WGSS 249 SEM Body Politics in South Asia: Gender, Sex, Religion, and Nation

Last offered Spring 2015

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 TUT Feminist Theatres: A Global Perspective

Last offered Fall 2023

What makes a work of theatre "feminist"? How do plays and performances across global networks engage with different models of feminism: liberal, radical, materialist, and intersectional? Why has feminism mattered to theatre-makers of the past? Should it still matter now? If so, what forms might future feminist theatres take? In this tutorial course, students will work in pairs to examine the social and political relation of feminism to the art and practice of theatre. Taking a global and comparative perspective on the subject, we will focus on the intersectionalities of gender, race, class, ethnicity, nationality, and sexual identity in the production of feminist-driven theatrical practices. Artists, companies, and movements to be considered may include: Spiderwoman Theatre, Adrienne Kennedy, Caryl Churchill, Sphinx Theatre Company, Ntozake Shange, Griselda Gambaro, Manjula Padmanabhan, Cherríe Moraga, Lisa Kron, Arethusa Speaks, Maya Krishna Rao, Tracie Chima Utoh-Ezeajugh, Alexis Scheer, Tori Sampson, Clare Barron, and others. Close analysis of source material will be informed by critical and autobiographical writings by: Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Eve K. Sedgwick, Gayatri Spivak, Jill Dolan, José E. Muñoz, and Donna Haraway. This course will follow a standard tutorial format, with students taking turns presenting or responding to their peer every other week; for their presentations, students will write a 5-page paper or, in up to two cases if they choose, offer their argumentation through more performance-driven methods (such as an oral argument, spoken-word monologue, or activist prompt). [ more ]

WGSS 251 SEM Arab Women Memoirs: Writing Feminist History

Last offered Fall 2021

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), Radwa Ashour (The Journey), Fadia Faqir and Shirley Eber (In the House of Silence: Autobiographical Essays by Arab Women Writers), and Assia Djebar (Fantasia), 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 255 "Illness" in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature and Culture

Last offered NA

From early modern anxieties about China's status as the "sick man of Asia" to contemporary concerns regarding the prospect of transnational pandemics, "illnesses" and their related stories have played a critical role in making and contesting individual psychologies and Chinese modernity in the 20th and 21st centuries. Actual illnesses, from tuberculosis to AIDS to the Novel Coronavirus, constitute not only social realities that trouble political and popular minds in their own right; but further provide powerful metaphors for exploring issues of human rights, national identity, and transnational circulation. This course examines how Chinese literature in the 20th and 21st centuries writes and visualizes "illness"--a universal human experience that is nevertheless heavily bounded by culture and history. Specifically, we examine the cultural and social meaning of "illness"; the relationship between illness on the one hand, and the politics of body, gender, and class on the other; we ask how infectious disease, and mental illness are defined, represented, and understood in both male and female writers' analytical essays and fictional writings in the 20th century; we examine how metaphorical "illness" such as infectious cannibalism and fin-de-siècle "viruses," are imagined and interpreted by key culture figures ranging from the founding father of modern literature (Lu Xun), to the winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature (Mo Yan). Throughout the course, we will focus on the interplay between literature canons (fictions, essays, and dramas) and popular media and genres: blockbuster cinemas and art house films, popular novels, photographs and posters, etc. [ more ]

WGSS 256 SEM Buddhism, Sex, & Gender: #MeToo Then and Now

Last offered Fall 2018

This course considers the feminist voices that have been part and parcel of Buddhist practices, texts, and institutions for most of its 2500-year history. We will conduct a historical genealogy of Buddhist voices that illustrate the fluid and disruptive role of sex, gender, caste, and class in relation to individual behavior and social relations. How did the Buddha's inner revolution produce a set of practices that both reject and reinforce existing binaries and social hierarchies of sex and gender, and with what effects? We will trace a feminist voice that decries harassment, assault, and systemic sexism within Buddhist communities from the first female disciples (Theri) of the Buddha to the current #MeToo era of embattled toxic masculinity. Along the way, we explore a literary canon that contains misogyny and 'she devils' alongside a rich tapestry of female divinities, transgender fluidity, and female liberation. We pursue and intersectional analysis of Buddhist traditions and texts by considering the multiple forms of social hierarchy--gender, sexuality, race, and class--that Buddhism has attempted to transcend. We begin by considering three women in the Buddha's life-his mother (Maya), his stepmother/aunt (Gotami), and his wife (Yashodhara)--as well as the tales of the first enlightened Buddhist women whose topics include prostitution, patriarchy, sexism, and pathetic husbands, as well as their own decaying bodies and beauty. Our next theme is the myriad ways that gender is both produced and deconstructed in Buddhist discourses on enlightenment and the human body. Our final theme considers a range of monastic memoirs, including a Buddhist black nun who left Harvard to take ordination in Thailand, and a Dutchman who studied Zen Japan. We close by examining the current debates in the U.S. and Asia that seek to combat systemic racism, sexism, and casteism in Buddhist traditions. [ more ]

WGSS 258 SEM Black Women in African American Literature and Culture

Last offered Fall 2017

This course surveys constructions of black womanhood from the nineteenth century to the present through readings of texts by and about black women. In this course, students will trace how black womanhood became central to uplift ideology and the making and sustaining of black communities in the post-Reconstruction, Harlem Renaissance, and Black Power eras. We will read works across a broad historical spectrum to identify the ways different writers wrestle with race and gender using literary tropes, such as the "tragic mulatto," in different social contexts. We will also engage a range of forms, including an essay (Patricia Hill Collins's "Mammies, Matriarchs, and Other Controlling Images"), a choreopoem (Ntozake Shange's For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide when the Rainbow is Enuf), and socio-political propaganda (the "Black is Beautiful" movement). This course will end with a consideration of the way writer and producer Issa Rae engages with contemporary ideologies of black womanhood in the HBO series Insecure. [ more ]

WGSS 259 TUT Adultery in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Last offered Spring 2017

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 260 SEM Power, Feminist-Style

Last offered Fall 2021

This course examines one of the most important concepts in the analysis of sex and gender and efforts to envision sexual and gender justice¿the concept of power¿from multiple feminist perspectives. At the core of feminism lies the critique of inequitable power relations. Some feminists claim that power itself is the root of all evil and that a feminist world is one without power. Others portray the feminist agenda as one of taking power, or of reconstructing society by exercising a specifically feminist mode of power. In this course, we will look at feminist critiques of power, how feminists have employed notions of power developed outside of the arena of feminist thought, and efforts to develop specifically feminist ideas of power. Along the way, we will ask: Are some concepts of power more useful to feminism? Can certain forms of power be considered more feminist than others? How can feminist power be realized? Thinkers we will engage include Judith Butler, Audre Lorde, Catherine MacKinnon, Hannah Arendt, and Patricia Hill Collins. [ more ]

WGSS 263 SEM Transnational Activism: Practice, Problems, Ethics

Last offered Spring 2020

The world's got problems. These problems don't respect national boundaries. This class looks at how activists have engaged across borders and with transnational institutions in order to address transnational problems like class inequality, sexism, homophobia, climate change, and more. It asks: what are the different forms that transnational activism takes and how have transnational activists have advanced their goals? Why and how have transnational activists' efforts have failed? What are the practical and ethical difficulties associated with transnational activism? What does ethical transnational activism look like, and can it also be effective? While focusing especially on the role of transnational activism in combating sex and gender-based inequities, we will also engage with activism that targets the other axes of oppression with which sex and gender-based oppressions are inextricably entwined. [ more ]

WGSS 267 SEM Performance Studies: An Introduction

Last offered Spring 2020

Since the 1980s, performance studies has emerged as an interdisciplinary field of inquiry, with origin tales in theater and anthropology, in communications and philosophy. What might theorizing "performance" as mode, analytic, and object of study have to offer scholarship in the interdisciplinary humanities? In this seminar, we will read texts formative of performance studies, paired with multimedia performance examples, where performance speaks to staged theatrics as well as the presentation of everyday life. We will ask, how are race, gender, sexuality, and nation produced as the effects of legal, political, historical, social, and cultural scripts? And--an important partner question--how do discourses and practices of race, gender, sexuality, and nation in fact produce legal, political, historical, social, and cultural effects? This seminar is an introduction to performance studies, an interdisciplinary field in conversation with theater studies, gender studies, anthropology, philosophy, literary theory, visual studies, dance studies, ethnic studies, queer theory, and postcolonial studies. Students will study and experiment with performance while reading theoretical texts to grapple with concepts including ritual, restored behavior, performativity, mimicry, liveness, the body, objecthood, archive, movement, matter, and affect. [ more ]

WGSS 272 SEM Sex and the Reproduction of Society

Last offered Fall 2014

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 275 LEC Women's Contemporary Cultural Production in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2019

In Latin America, women have been largely displaced as historical subjects and reduced, in many ways, to symbolic figures or icons whose trajectories have been depicted as essential to the construction of diverse social projects within the context of patriarchal nation-states. Each country has formed a specific idea of what a woman is, and can be, through its cultural production, and this constant erasure/objectification has led to a complex problematic when it comes to addressing women as cultural producers. Keeping this in mind, in this course we will explore the concept of "Woman" as a representation and women as cultural producers in contemporary Latin America. We will address intersections of race/ethnic positioning, sexual identity, and social class to explore their role in the reception and understanding of the work of these female artists. Through the analysis of varied cultural production, the syllabus will present an interdisciplinary approach to the contributions of female artists to the cultural representation of race/ethnicity, masculinity, femininity, violence, sexuality, gender identity, nationalism, citizenship, and social movements. We will explore the work of artists such as Sara Castrejón, Nahui Ollin, Citlali Fabián, Amparo Dávila, Alejandra Pizarnik, Rosario Castellanos, Reina Roffé, Ana Tijoux, Lucrecia Martel, Chavela Vargas, Graciela Iturbide, Celia Cruz, Lucía Puenzo, Cecilia Barriga, Cristina Rivera Garza, María Novaro, Cristina Peri Rossi, Maruch Sántiz Gómez, Leonora Carrington, and Maris Bustamante, among others. In addition, we will read theoretical texts on diverse subjects corresponding to each specific cultural product. [ more ]

WGSS 279 SEM Erotic, Grotesque, Sublime: Ghosts and Monsters in East Asian Religion and Popular Culture

Last offered Fall 2016

"Ghosts and monsters" (Chinese yaoguai, Japanese yokai, Korean yogoe) have long figured prominently in East Asian cultural history. In medieval East Asian chronicles, wrathful demons attacked the imperial palace, ghosts haunted abandoned temples, and shape-shifting foxes infiltrated the bedrooms of royal concubines. These creatures persisted into the modern era when nineteenth century tabloids reported the existence of demon-foxes, giant serpents, and vengeful spirits. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, monsters began crossing over into the realm of fiction, and Japanese, Chinese, and Korean popular novels and films continue to crawl with images of traditional dark beasts. The opening contention of this course is that ghosts and monsters signify deviancies from "the normal" as it is constructed in a given culture and time period--they often come to represent transgressions of nature, gender, sexuality, race, morality, or to subvert distinctions such as those between human and animal, man and woman, animate and inanimate, present and past, or living and dead. This course will analyze East Asian ghosts and monsters in their historical cultural context, thinking about how they come to embody particular cultural fears and desires. We will use a range of East Asian materials in translation--including folktales, medieval bestiaries, short stories, and films, alongside a heavy dose of theory including works by feminist scholars Julia Kristeva, Ilka Quindeau, Susan Sontag and various others who attempt to understand the monstrous and the uncanny. Students will undertake an extended research project on a ghost or monster of their choice and locate it in its broader cultural context. Doing so should put us in a position to explore central themes, such as the connection between the grotesque and the erotic, the cultural performance of gender, the social construction of illness, the trauma of memory, the commodification of the supernatural, and the boundaries of the human. [ more ]

WGSS 283 SEM Black Queer Looks: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary African-American Film

Last offered Fall 2022

In this course we will foreground questions around visibility and memory. We will explore representations of Black queer bodies in experimental, documentary and narrative film. This course will engage foundational texts from Black Queer Studies. We will pair texts with film in order to examine the various relationships between art and scholarship. You will also be asked to think about yourself as a filmmaker. We will screen films such as Looking for Langston (Isaac Julien, 1989), The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996), U People (Olive Demetrius and Hanifah Walidah, 2009), Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs, 1989) and Litany for Survival (Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle Parkerson, 1995). Throughout the course we will evaluate the different ways filmmakers represent Black queerness on screen. The goal is to think about the possibilities and limitations of representation and visibility. Each of you will be asked to facilitate a class discussion. You also will be required to do weekly critical response papers. In lieu of a final paper you will create a detailed proposal for a short film that "represents" some segment of Black queer living. [ more ]

Taught by: Marshall Green

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WGSS 284(F) TUT From the Battlefield to the Hermit's Cell: Art and Experience in Norman Europe

This tutorial provides students with the chance to investigate in-depth three of the most astonishing works of art created during the entire Middle Ages: the Bayeux Tapestry (c.1077-1082), the Cappella Palatina (c.1130s-1166), and the Psalter of Christina of Markyate (1120s-1160s). Created within a hundred years of each other all within territories controlled by the Normans--a warrior dynasty that settled in northern France in the 10th century and then expanded north into England and south into Italy in the 11th and 12th centuries--each of these works is unprecedentedly ambitious in scale, dazzling in its material properties, and survives in its original wholeness, a rarity in the medieval world. Despite these similarities, however, each work is very different from the other two and so sheds light on very different aspects of Norman experience, across Europe. The Bayeux Tapestry, likely made by female embroiderers for a baronial hall, is a giant textile (over 70 meters long) that in gruesome and fascinating detail tells the story of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066. The Cappella Palatina in Palermo, in turn, commissioned by King Roger II, is a royal chapel covered in sumptuous mosaics that reveals through its decoration and ritual the dynamic interaction of Islamic, Byzantine, and Latin Christian traditions in the multicultural Norman kingdom of Sicily in the 12th century. And the Psalter of Christina of Markyate, a large prayerbook made for the use of a female recluse in southern England, contains 40 full-page paintings and 215 decorated initials, a vast and inventive program of imagery that through its creative profundity helped reshape private devotional art and culture for centuries to come. Through their variety, then, these three objects--an embroidery, a building, and a book--give students insight into the rich array of concerns and aspirations, from the political to the spiritual and from the public to the private, that gave substance and meaning to 11th- and 12th-century European life, for women as well as men. What is more, these three remarkable works of art have been the focus of much interesting scholarship in recent years, so an exploration of some of that literature provides a compelling introduction to the discipline of art history itself, past and present. [ more ]

WGSS 301(S) SEM Sexual Economies

This course examines various forms of sexual labor around the world in order to better understand how gendered and sexual performances are used in a variety of cultures and contexts for material benefit. Our topics include "traditional" forms of sex work such as street prostitution, pornography, and escorting as well as other forms of sexualized performances for benefit such as stripping or camming. We also discuss current issues and debates about discourses of "sex trafficking." Course readings come from a range of fields, but focus most heavily on anthropology, sociology, American studies, and gender studies. The readings for this class will frequently foreground the lived experiences of sex workers from a variety of nations, races, classes, religions, and backgrounds in order to explore the broader social implications of our subject matter. The format is largely discussion-based, with short lectures supplementing the reading with summaries of current scholarly and activist debates. We have a variety of guest speakers to share their diverse lived experiences related to this topic. [ more ]

WGSS 302(S) SEM Social Construction

"Social construction" can often seem like the great collegial insight. By now, you've all heard that categories such as race, gender, and sexuality are in some sense not part of nature, but instead are created and maintained socially or culturally. The idea of social construction has been vital to critical race theory and queer theory, and, in this course, we will push ourselves into philosophy of science to see whether or not these same insights apply to everything. If we know that "Whiteness," "heterosexuality," and "masculinity," for instance, are all socially constructed, we will ask if the same is true of "electrons," "money," "the solar system," and "climate change." Can it be that all of our reality is socially constructed? Or does social construction have limits? If so, what are they? We will also ask more fundamental questions, such as: What does it mean to say something is socially constructed? How does social construction relate to claims that an aspect of the world is "real" or "not real?" Is social construction a theory about language, power, culture, societies, human perceptions, or the limits of science? What kind of political, ethical, ontological, or epistemological work do theories of social construction do? We will begin with different accounts of the social construction of race, gender, and sexuality. In the second part of the course, we will dig deeper into philosophical debates about social construction as such. Then we will explore constructionism about natural science. In the last part of the course, we will change gears and explore look at cutting-edge work in the theory of social science aimed at explaining the construction and ontology of social worlds. The class will culminate in a project in which students will put their social construction theories into practice. [ more ]

WGSS 304 TUT Rebels and Conformists: Postwar Germany from The 'Economic Miracle' to the Fall of the Wall

Last offered Spring 2021

In postwar West Germany, a thorough examination of the Nazi past took a backseat to economic recovery and repairing the country's international standing, whereas to some extent the reverse was true for the East. An authoritarian democracy, an emphasis on consumerism and the qualitatively different experiences of younger generations led them to question whether the Federal Republic was a restoration or a new beginning? In the East, the cold war led to an increasingly Stalinist interpretation of communist principles, while communist ideals were upheld as an antidote to Nazism and the new materialism. This tutorial will cover a wide range of social protest as reflected in literature and film of the two Germanies: critical responses to the Holocaust in the two countries, the 1968 student revolution, anti-capitalist terrorism by the Baader-Meinhof gang, the feminist and gay rights movements, reformers and repression under Ulbricht and Honecker in the GDR, minority rights and environmental activists. Authors will include: Peter Weiss, Die Ermittlung, Heinrich Böll, Und sagte kein einziges Wort, Gisela Elsner, Riesenzwerge, Emine Sevgi Özdamar, Das Leben ist eine Karawanserei, Volker Braun, Unvollendete Geschichte, Alice Schwarzer, Der kleine Unterschied und seine großen Folgen, Christian Kracht, Faserland, Thomas Brussig, Wasserfarben. Films may include: Gerhard Klein, "Berlin-Ecke Schönhauser," Ulrich Plenzdorf, "Die Legende von Paul und Paula," Rainer Werner Faßbinder, "Angst essen Seele auf," Reinhard Hauff, "Messer im Kopf," Uli Edel, "Der Baader- Meinhof Komplex," Margarethe v. Trotta, "Das zweite Erwachen der Christa Klages," Heiner Carow, "Coming Out," Hans Weingartner, "Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei." [ more ]

WGSS 305 SEM The Gay Menagerie: Gay Male Subcultures

Last offered Fall 2022

Bears. Cubs. Otters. Pups. Twinks. Radical Fairies. Leathermen. Mollies. Drag queens. Dandies. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. Gay men, including gay trans men, have organized themselves into various subcultures within their community for centuries. This seminar is devoted to exploring these subcultures in (a mostly US-context) in greater detail using ethnographic texts, anthropological studies, historical accounts (including oral histories), and media. Topics include cruising and flagging, the anthropological significance of gay bars, histories of bath house culture, rural vs urban queer experiences, the ball scene, drag, diva worship, the reclamation of "fabulousness and faggotry," the leadership roles of trans women and effeminate gay men in activist movements, gay gentrification, the growth of gay consumerism/ gay tourism/homonationalism, hierarchies of masculinity in the gay community (i.e., masc for masc culture), HIV/AIDS and the politics of PrEP, chemsex, the role of racialized dating "preferences," genealogies of BDSM and leather culture, sexual health and discourses of "risk," the politics of barebacking and other sexual practices, queering consent, and the effects of hookup apps on gay culture. In addition to lectures, and discussions, there will also be some low-key performance-studies based exercises in queer praxis (e.g., drag workshops, mock debates, animal improvisation, role playing, etc.) [ more ]

WGSS 307 SEM Feminist Approaches to Religion

Last offered Fall 2023

What does feminist theory have to offer the study and practice of religion? How have participants in various religious traditions helped to produce and enact different kinds of feminist approaches to critique and transform religions? Feminisms and religions have a long though often troubled history of interconnection. In this course, we shall explore a range of feminist analyses that have either emerged out of particular religious contexts or have been applied to the study of religious traditions and practices. The course prioritizes attention to the intersections and interactions of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and nationality (among other factors) with religion. [ more ]

WGSS 308(S) SEM Parenting for a Feminist-Queer-Trans World

Perhaps you want to understand your own experience being parented; perhaps you are a parent, or hope to become one, and you want to reflect on your intentions; perhaps you want to understand what various scholars, activists, and activist-scholars have said about how parenting matters. This class will provide you with the time, information, and other resources necessary to explore the following question: what difference does it make when we put "feminist," "queer" and/or "trans" in front of parenting? More specifically, how do these modifiers change the forms and practice of parenting, ideally and in fact? What are the associated philosophies and structures that justify and enable these forms and practices? In this course, we will conceptualize parenting in a capacious way, as a kind of ongoing relationship that can obtain not only between an adult and a child they are "raising," but also between adults who are not conventionally considered "related." The purpose of this class is threefold: 1) to enable you to develop your own parenting philosophy, 2) to use "parenting" as a window to explore differences in feminist, queer, and trans thought, and 3) to use "parenting" as a springboard for imagining better institutional arrangements and articulating societal ideals. To realize these goals, we will mine our experiences, talk to lots of parents, and engage both scholarly and popular resources on parenting. [ more ]

WGSS 309 SEM Feminist Disability Studies: Bodyminds in Place and Space

Last offered Spring 2021

In this course we will engage anti-racist feminist theory, disability (or 'crip') theory, and human geography to think critically about disability. We will draw on critical geographies of disability to understand the built environment and institutional design; geographic scales of the body and the bodymind; spaces of the home and institutions; and im/mobility and spatial access. We will also consider how disability is shaped by (and shapes) practices of care and mutual aid; experiences of embodiment and impairment; and structures of vulnerability and agency. The course will trace, historically, how ableism has been produced through slavery, colonization, surveillance, and incarceration as well as through movements like eugenics and white liberal feminism. The course will also analyze disability's construction through medicalized notions of wellness, illness, pathology, and cure. Throughout the course, we will consider disability as intersecting with gender, race and ethnicity, queerness, trans*ness, fatness, class, nationality, and citizenship. Most centrally, we will ask: What is the spatiality of dis/ability, and how can space be occupied and reappropriated for radically inclusive uses? How can we understand both normality and deviance as socially constructed concepts that nonetheless have real, and uneven, implications for people's lives? [ more ]

WGSS 310 LEC Womanist/Black Feminist Thought

Last offered Fall 2018

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. [ more ]

WGSS 311(F) SEM Trans Film and Media

This course provides an introduction to contemporary trans culture and politics via the lens of film and other (mostly visual) media. We'll focus mainly on media production in the U.S. since the early 1990s, as this moment is usually understood as inaugurating contemporary "transgender" politics; additionally, the 90s saw a profusion of diversity in popular representation generally. This class has two main priorities: first, to use visual media as a lens for surveying major developments in trans studies, politics, and representation over the last few decades; second, to develop a critical repertoire for thinking about our current conjuncture of "trans visibility" in particular. By tracking a longer history of both popular and alternative trans media production, this course will question the vanguardism and celebratory progress narratives associated with "trans tipping point" visibility conditions. Drawing from perspectives in WGSS, American studies, and ethnic studies, we will especially situate trans representation in relation to the institutionalization of minority difference under neoliberal capitalism. In line with scholarship, we'll approach trans representation as interlocking with structures like race, heteropatriarchy, dis/ability, immigration, and nationality and empire. [ more ]

WGSS 312 SEM An American Family and "Reality" Television

Last offered Spring 2023

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 14- to 18-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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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

This media/cultural studies course focuses on the politics of personal style amongst women of color in the US and around the globe in the digital era. We undertake a comparative, transnational exploration of the ways in which categories of difference such as gender, disability, sexuality, class, and ethno-racial identity inform normative beauty standards and ideas about the body. The class pays particular attention to the ways in which neoliberal capitalism shapes contemporary understandings of gendered bodies and the self. We examine an array of materials from across the disciplines including commercial websites, music videos, photography, histories, film, television, personal narratives, ethnographies, and sociological case studies. Departing from the assumption that personal aesthetics are intimately tied to issues of power and privilege, we engage the following questions, among others: What are some of the everyday functions of personal style among women of color in the US and globally? How do Latina/x, Black, Arab American, and Asian American personal aesthetics reflect the specific circumstances of their creation, and the unique histories of these racialized communities? What role do transnational media and popular culture play in the development and circulation of gendered, raced, and sexualized aesthetic forms? How might the belief in personal style as an activist strategy complicate traditional understandings of feminist political activity? And what do the combined insights of ethnic studies, feminist studies, cultural studies, media studies, queer studies and disability studies contribute to our comprehension of gendered Asian American, Arab American, Black, and Latina/x bodies? [ more ]

WGSS 314 SEM The Social Ecology of Racial and Gender Inequity

Last offered Fall 2019

Why the political furor over monuments? What would a feminist city look like? Does racial justice require integration? This course trains your focus on space and place, asking you to take a socioecological perspective on race, gender, and other axes of privilege and marginalization. In it, we examine how ideas about race, gender and more shape space as well as how the design of space reinforces social constructs and power relations. After examining specific regions (the city, the suburb, the country) and their relation to one another, we examine specific sites (public transport, public toilets, libraries, houses). The course enables students to better understand the tenacity of inequity by drawing attention to its spatial dimension while at the same time introducing students to -- and providing students tools to engage in -- spatial interventions designed to disrupt vicious social-spatial cycles. [ more ]

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

During the 1830s, Honoré de 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 Victor Hugo to Émile Zola have simultaneously celebrated Parisian elegance and condemned the appalling misery of Paris's urban poor. Since 1889, Paris has been fêted as the "City of Light" for its Enlightenment legacy, Eiffel Tower modernity, and luminous energy, captured in countless paintings, photographs, and film. However, Paris is also the 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 repeatedly sparked with incendiary passion and political protest. As fires raged during the 2005 riots, many heard the echo of Hitler's 1944 question, "Is Paris burning?" and asked: why was Paris burning again at the dawn of the twenty-first century? Following the 2015 terrorist attacks, many wondered yet again what the future would hold for the City of Light. To answer these questions, we will examine the social, political, and literary landscape of Paris during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first 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, Clément, Lelouch, Luhrmann, Kassovitz, Besson, and Jeunet. Conducted in French. [ more ]

WGSS 317 SEM The New Woman in Weimar Culture

Last offered Fall 2021

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 I 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 Höch, films by Fritz Lang and Georg Wilhelm Pabst, poems by Gottfried Benn, Else Lasker-Schüler, and Kurt Tucholsky, novels by Erich Kästner, Vicky Baum, and Irmgard 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 SEM Gender and the Family in Chinese History

Last offered Fall 2023

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, generation, and sexuality in different historical periods. Beginning in the late imperial period (16th-18th Centuries), we will examine the religious, marital, sexual, and child-rearing practices associated with traditional ideals of family. We will also examine the wide variety of "heterodox" practices that existed alongside these ideals, debates over and critiques of gender, family, and sexuality in the twentieth century and in China today. [ more ]

WGSS 320 SEM Dangerous Bodies: Black Womanhood, Sexuality & Popular Culture

Last offered Spring 2023

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, Beyoncé, 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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 321(S) SEM Contemporary Immigration Landscapes

What is the relationship between racial formations, transnational migrations, and power in the United States? How do geometries of power shape our relationship to place? How do people navigate and resist the exercise of unequal power relations? This course examines geographies of transnational migration, bringing together insights from critical race theory, queer theory, and postcolonial theories to enrich our understanding of human geography. Theories on belonging, identity, and power will serve as a bridge between the state's role in structuring the lives of transnational migrants and the politics of conceiving futures as alternatives to current political geographic imaginations in the U.S. immigration landscape. Through an interdisciplinary exploration of 'migration,' we will examine the depth and range of migrants' experiences (such as through Javier Zamora's Solito: A Memoir) and how these communities' lives are structured through various axes of difference, such as race, gender, sexuality, class, and documentation status. We will give attention to the variegated landscape of immigration enforcement and its relationship to issues of labor, political economy, and incarceration, among others. Through materials that embrace both social science and humanities approaches, this course will help students develop a critical understanding of how space matters when considering transnational processes of migration as well as migrant communities' political practices throughout the US. This course asks students to compare and contrast the intellectual genealogies covered and apply these theories of identity and power to case studies that focus on political interventions for social justice (such as UndocuQueers in the immigrant justice movement). [ more ]

WGSS 322 TUT Introduction to Critical Theory: The Enlightenment and Its Critics

Last offered Spring 2023

We often associate 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 with the Enlightenment . How can we reconcile this faith with the persistence of domination today? Critical theory aims not merely to understand the "struggles and wishes of the age" as Marx one described it, but with emancipation from domination. Understood in this way, critical theory is identified closely with the intellectual tradition of the Frankfurt School. In this tutorial, will read works in critical theory from the 18th century to the present, some from the Frankfurt tradition, and some not. We will focus on particular topics, examples of which are the following: normative critique, capitalism, authoritarianism, mass culture, enlightenment and reason, progress, violence, the domination of nature, white supremacy, patriarchy and colonialism. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 324 SEM Indigenous Women's History

Last offered Spring 2019

What would it mean to locate indigenous women and their stories at the heart of American history? This advanced junior seminar course answers this question by centering the lives of indigenous women from the pre-colonial period through the present. We will discuss both the historical importance of these women's lives, as well as the methodological and ethical concerns that arise through the historiographic recovery of their stories. We analyze both canonical figures--such as La Malinche, Pocahontas, and Sakakawea--as well as lesser known historical actors, political leaders, writers, and artists. [ more ]

WGSS 326 TUT Queer Temporalities

Last offered Spring 2017

Birth, childhood, adolescence, college, adulthood, career, marriage, family, mid-life, old age, death, afterlife. How are all these facets of being human imagined as stages in time, as axes on certain progressive lines that delineate human social relations? 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 mark the passing of time? What are some of the different ways that people have made sense of time and themselves in time? How have our conceptions of time and our demarcations of lifecycles shifted historically? How do people whose experiences do not align with dominant cultural social stages negotiate ideas of lifecycle and timing? Especially for individuals and peoples who have been denied 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 Anzaldúa, Elizabeth Freeman, J. Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz) we will examine some non-linear, non-normative, and interruptive approaches to making sense of time, space-time, and self within time. [ more ]

WGSS 327 TUT Foucault on Power and Knowlege

Last offered Fall 2014

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 and value of his work such as: Discipline and Punish, The History of Sexuality (vols. 1-3), and selected interviews and course lectures. We will focus particularly on how subjects are positioned in relation to his writings on power and knowledge with particular attention to the later so-called ethical writings in the years before his untimely death in 1984. [ more ]

WGSS 328 SEM Austen and Eliot

Last offered Spring 2023

Austen and Eliot profoundly influenced the course of the novel by making internal consciousness crucial to narrative form. In this course we will explore Austen's innovative aesthetic strategies and the ways in which Eliot assimilated and transformed them. By placing each writer's work in its political and philosophical context-in Austen's case, reactions to the aftermath of the French Revolution, in Eliot's, to the failed mid-century European revolutions and the pressures of British imperialism-we will consider how each writer conceives social and historical exigencies to shape comedies and dramas of consciousness. Readings will include Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Persuasion; Eliot's The Mill on the Floss, The Lifted Veil; and Daniel Deronda; selected letters and prose; and critical essays. [ more ]

WGSS 329(F) SEM Writing Gender in Sci-Fi and Speculative Fictions

This creative writing course will pair selected readings in feminist STS and queer theory with science fiction, speculative fiction, and horror stories that together put questions to gender. How and when is sci-fi a home for radical re-imaginings of gender? When and why does "genre fiction" house (and facilitate) radical gender politics--or their opposite? Readings may include works by Octavia Butler, Ursula Le Guin, Brian Evanson, and Samuel Delany. Students will both analyze these fictions and take them as inspirations for their own stories and worlds. [ more ]

WGSS 330 SEM "A language to hear myself": Advanced Studies in Feminist Poetry and Poetics

Last offered Spring 2023

The title of this course comes from Adrienne Rich's 1969 poem "Tear Gas," grounding our study in 1960s, 70s, and 80s feminist activist poetry but also in our current moment to answer a fundamental question: what can poetry do for us? In this period, feminist activist poets were at the center of a revolutionary social justice movement that changed the world. Feminist presses published much of the new poetry. This course focuses on the theory and practice of feminist poetry and print culture during this period, and how feminist experiments in language changed how we understand American poetry. We focus on the theoretical writings and poetry chapbooks of a diverse group of poets who powered the movement, including Audre Lorde, Mitsuye Yamada, Nelly Wong, Robin Morgan, June Jordan, Joy Harjo, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sonia Sanchez, Adrienne Rich, Judy Grahn, and Pat Parker. We also read the work of some later feminist theorists, such as Sara Ahmed. We spend time in the archives, analyzing documents from the period, including feminist magazines and original publications of poetry chapbooks often published by the period's many feminist presses and consider how such attention allows us to construct alternative narratives for feminism and American poetry. Writing at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and of multiple social justice movements (Civil Rights, anti-Vietnam War, LGBTQ activism, and Black Power), these poets gave us a new language to "hear," not only ourselves, but the experience and pain of others, and, in so doing, they moved personal experience into public discourse around issues of inequality and human flourishing in a democratic society. [ more ]

WGSS 332(S) SEM Gender, Sexuality & Disability

From classical mythology to reality TV, bodies and minds that depart from the ordinary have long been sources of popular fascination. In recent history, people marked as "disabled" have been subject to medical scrutiny, labeled deficient or defective, and often barred from full participation in society. And yet, what counts as "disability"--and who counts as disabled--varies greatly depending on cultural and historical context. Arguably, disability has more to do with social conditions than with any innate characteristics of disabled people themselves. This class introduces disability studies, situating disability within its historical, political, and cultural contexts. As a GWSS course, we'll center queer and feminist perspectives; this class also emphasizes recent work. Echoing arguments in gender and sexuality studies, scholars have insisted that disability is not a natural or biological fact, but a socially constructed category. As such, scholars and activists have challenged medical models that conceptualize disability as an individual defect in need of elimination. They have also questioned the idea that disability is simply a minority identity -- to the contrary, disability is a condition that most humans will experience at some point in our lives. This class frames "disability" broadly--encompassing not just conditions of physical impairment, but a wide range of bodily, sensory, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral differences and capacities. This class also centers how disability is produced intersectionally through regimes like race, capitalism, and empire. Topics include: theories of embodiment, eugenics, institutionalization and incarceration, neurodivergence, mad studies, the politics of health, storytelling and narrative, disability justice activism, neoliberalism, biopolitics, and crip theory. Along with scholarly writings, we'll consider activist texts, popular press, fiction, memoir, and a variety of other media. [ more ]

WGSS 334(F) SEM Islam and Feminism

This course examines the relationship between feminism and Islam, exploring Islamic feminism, decolonial feminism, and the critiques of imperialist feminism, homonationalism, and femonationalism. The first part of the course will begin with a critical examination of orientalist and colonial representations of Muslim women as oppressed and in need of liberation. We will then explore Muslim responses to such critiques that were entwined with nationalist and independence movements. This historical backdrop is critical to understanding why the question of women and their rights and roles become crucial to Muslim self-understanding and Islamic reform. The second part of the course will explore the breadth of Islamic feminist literature, covering: 1) feminist readings of scripture; 2) feminist critiques of Islamic law; and 3) feminist theology. The final part of the course will focus on Muslim feminist and decolonial feminist critiques of feminism and its link to imperialism and the weaponization of gender and sexuality in global discourse. [ more ]

WGSS 335 TUT Michelangelo: Self and Sexuality

Last offered Spring 2021

Who are artists? We each have different answers to this question, but our responses would probably share some common assumptions about human individuality and the centrality of the self to artistic creation. In this tutorial, we will take a critical lens to these ideas by studying the life, work, and passions of the Italian artist, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564). Michelangelo is a towering archetype of the autonomous artistic self: the distinctive personality who telegraphs individual beliefs, feelings, and desires through the creative act. His lifelong engagement with the physicality, beauty, and sensuality of the (male) human body has encouraged the connection between the man and his work on the most intimate levels of pleasure and desire. Ironically, Michelangelo would not have understood our modern conceptions of artistic selfhood or sexuality, but his own Renaissance moment was obsessed with questions surrounding the nature of human identity and subjectivity. His artistic practice--from painting to poetry--wrestles with them in countless, fascinating ways. Students' writing and critical conversation will venture into the spaces between man and myth, selfhood and self-fashioning, artist and patron, past and present. [ more ]

WGSS 336 TUT Foucault Now

Last offered Spring 2023

If we think of Michel Foucault as engaged in writing histories, or genealogies, of his own present designed to undercut the sense of the obviousness of certain practices and ways of thinking, categorizing, and knowing, we can easily imagine that he might now be questioning different aspects of our contemporary "present" than the ones standardly associated with his name, namely, panopticons and surveillance, discipline, criminalization, the biopolitics of health, the normal and the abnormal, etc. In this course we address the question: How is the present we find ourselves living today different from the one that the author Foucault wrote about in the 1960s, 70s and early 80s before his untimely death in 1984? What differentiates today from yesterday? And what present practices and ways of thinking and knowing might be questioned using Foucault's tools, genealogy in particular, for resisting unnecessary constraints on freedom and the perpetuation of unnecessary suffering? What is his legacy today? In this tutorial you will read from a selection of Foucault's texts (books, lectures, interviews) in order to acquire a firm grasp of his method of "critique" and his way of looking at the interconnections between forms of power and the knowledge associated with particular disciplines. We will also read more recent work by Foucault inspired scholars on topics such as the biopolitics of gender, the genealogy of terrorism, the informational person (how we become our data), and neoliberal subjects. [ more ]

WGSS 337 SEM Race, Sex & Gender in Brazil

Last offered Fall 2021

The course introduces students to anthropological literature of Brazil as well as Brazilian novels and films. Its focus is on understanding the history and contemporary culture of Brazil through attention to racial justice, including the country's unique history and legacies of slavery in comparative context. It also examines questions of gender, including the history of feminism in Brazil and current debates related women's equality such as Brazil's abortion laws, domestic violence, sexual tourism, and job opportunities for women. Lastly, we also examine LGBT history in Brazil and dive into writing about queer culture there. NOTE: Students must also commit to registering for a winter study travel course with a trip to Rio de Janeiro, during which time students will visit important historical sites, museums, and relevant cultural attractions. They will also meet collectively with faculty members from several universities and NGOs to learn about the research and projects our Brazilian hosts are engaged in. Students also have their own individual exploratory research projects there related to social justice, which are integral to the seminar. Students should also be aware of the physical demands of the trip, which include extensive walking, some hiking, and exposure to summer heat and the elements in the Atlantic Rainforest. Thanks to the Global Initiatives Venture Fund, the cost of the trip is covered for all students enrolled. [ more ]

WGSS 338 SEM Latina/o/x Musical Cultures: Sounding Out Gender, Race, and Sexuality

Last offered Spring 2013

In this class we will investigate a wide variety of Latina/o/x popular musical forms, with particular attention to issues of gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity. Employing interdisciplinary materials and approaches, this course focuses on the sonic and visual analysis of contemporary Latina/o/x popular music and the identities of its producers, performers, and audiences. We will focus on the following questions, among others: How are hybrid Latina/o/x identities expressed through popular music and dance? In what ways do gender, sexuality, and ethno-racial identity inform the performance and interpretation of particular Latina/o musical forms? What unique role does sound play in our understanding of popular music and identity? [ more ]

WGSS 339(F) SEM The Social Psychology of Prejudice

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 sources of prejudice and processes through which it is 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, sports, and business and government policies. A major component of this course will be the examination of classic and ongoing empirical research. [ more ]

WGSS 340 SEM Elizabeth Bishop in the Americas

Last offered Spring 2020

Elizabeth Bishop has emerged as one of the most important poets of the 20th century. She is admired not only for her dazzling mastery of the craft but also her adventurous life as a world traveler. Her more than two decades living in Brazil and translating the culture and literature of that country for a North American audience, for instance, make her life and work a rich focal point for cross-cultural study. At the center of the course will be Bishop's stunning meditations on childhood, memory, travel, lesbian sexuality, gender identity, ecology, and race and class in the U.S. and Brazil. We will look at how Bishop intertwines personal and global historical encounters in order to raise serious ethical questions about our shared history of conquest and sense of place in the Americas from the 16th century to the Cold War period of the twentieth. What is ultimately at stake in our claiming of a "home"? We also read a number of the writers in North and South America who were closely connected to Bishop, from Robert Lowell and Ernest Hemingway in North America, to Pablo Neruda and Clarice Lispector in South America. Ultimately, we study how craft, poetic process, and an ethical eye on the world can open up the study of poetry and poetics in the 21st century. [ more ]

WGSS 341 SEM Cinematic Representations of Work and Migration after the Wall

Last offered Fall 2017

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 Águstin, Angela Melitopoulos, Lauren Berlant and Mieke Bal. Films will likely include: Illegal, Working Man's Death,, Lichter (Lights), Code Unknown, The Flower Bridge, Occident, Since Otar Left, Losers and Winners, Whore's Glory, Le Havre and Time Out. [ more ]

WGSS 342 SEM Sexuality in US Modernisms

Last offered Spring 2024

This course investigates how sexual identities, desires, and acts are represented and reproduced in U.S. literary and popular culture. Focusing on 1880-1940 (when, in the U.S. the terms "homosexual" and "heterosexual" came to connote discrete sexual identities), we will explore what it means to read and theorize "queerly." Among the questions we will ask are: What counts as "sex" or "sexual identity" in a text? Are there definably queer and/or transgender writing styles or cultural practices? What does sexuality have to do with gender? How are sexual subjectivities intertwined with race, ethnicity, class, and other identities and identifications? Why has "queerness" proven to be such a powerful and sometimes powerfully contested concept? We will also explore what impact particular literary developments--the move from realism to modernism-- and historical events such as the rise of sexology, first-wave feminism and the Harlem Renaissance--have had on queer cultural production. The class will also introduce students to some of the most influential examples of queer literary and cultural theory. Readings may include works by authors such as James, Cather, Far, Hughes, Nugent, Stein, Fitzgerald, and Larsen, as well as queer literary theory and critique by scholars such as Butler, Coviello, Ferguson, Foucault, Freeman, Freud, Hartman, Lorde, Love, Muñoz, Rich, Rodriguez, Ross, and Sedgwick. [ more ]

WGSS 343 TUT Representations of Racial-Sexual Violence from Enslavement to Emancipation

Last offered Spring 2023

This tutorial examines representations of and resistance to racial-sexual violence in American society, from colonial America to contemporary US culture. Interdisciplinary texts cover history, politics, literature, film, feminist studies, American studies, lgbtq and ethnic/black studies. Books include Southern Horrors; Intimate Matters; Scenes of Subjection; Trauma and Recovery; The Delectable Negro; At the Dark End of the Street; films include Birth of a Nation; Bush Mama; To Kill a Mockingbird. The primary focus is on racial and sexual vulnerability to violence and mobilization for freedom from the 18th-21st centuries. [ more ]

WGSS 344 SEM Underground Berlin: Art, Performance, and Film, 1980s to Present

Last offered Spring 2022

Subsequent to the National Socialist suppression of sexual expression, the intersections of politics and art in the post-World War II era reflected an organic embeddedness within the context of the city of Berlin. This course reflects upon this history to understand Berlin's present, its contradictory mix of new and old, "deep history" and nostalgia. Often described as an island moored within the communist territory of East Germany during the years of the Berlin Wall, West-Berlin became the city towards which many queer artists, musicians, and activists gravitated in order to avoid the involuntary conscription in the Bundeswehr, as an unexpected outcome of the government's plan to boost population in the former capital. We will focus on the excavation and recognition of inter/cultural positions that challenge German nationalism, at the same time that the country reestablished itself as a world power. Over the semester, we will rethink Berlin with respect to the once nascent geopolitics of the European Union, and the city's social fluctuations and periods of migration as registered through audiovisual and performative forms in advance of and in the decades following the fall of the wall in 1989. Focusing on art, performance, and film, we will examine the architectural, discursive, and cultural spaces in which these forms of creative and political expression take shape--from art museums and theater houses to occupied buildings, from independent publishing imprints and collaborative nonprofit organizations to night clubs. This course will examine the changing city with respect to activism, collectivity, alienation, solidarity, and belonging. [ more ]

WGSS 345(F) SEM The Pedagogy of Liberation

Education is inherently political, and politics necessarily involves pedagogy. Who should teach, what is taught, how it is taught, and why it is taught are questions hotly debated at all levels and in all sites of education because the answers have implications for societal reproduction or transformation. Politicians, activists, even family members at the dinner table all seek to educate in ways that incline us toward particular political positions. At the heart of this class stands the question: if different pedagogies point us in different political directions, then what kind of pedagogy or pedagogies serve the end of liberation from oppression and why? Are there certain pedagogical "goods" that reliably serve the goal of liberation across sites? Or do different sites require different approaches? To begin to answer these questions, we will engage a variety of thinker-teachers and groups known for their commitment to a "pedagogy of liberation." While feminist thinkers will be foregrounded, we may also look to thinker-teachers who and groups that do not claim this label. In addition to engaging texts which reflect on different aspects of radical pedagogy (content, form, method, etc.) and radical pedagogy in different settings (the college classroom, the social movement headquarters, the home), we will witness radical pedagogy in practice. Moreover, we will enact various radical pedagogical strategies in our own classroom and beyond. [ more ]

WGSS 346 SEM Queer in the City

Last offered Spring 2020

In this course we will examine the various ways scholars and filmmakers have used ethnography as a critical tool for understanding the intersections of race, place, space, gender and sexuality. We will foreground studies that examine unfamiliar sites of Black struggle, resistance, and survival. We will examine Black gender variant and sexual minorities and how they produce, reproduce and struggle for spaces and places of desire, community, pleasure, love, and loss. We will explore these stories through primarily ethnographic modalities. We will discuss the political and ethical ramifications of these ethnographic narratives paying particular attention to the usefulness and limitations of both 'Thin' and 'Thick' descriptions. We will use ethnography to center debates regarding the politics of representation of racialized queer space, place, and people through both filmic and written accounts. All students will be asked to discover and develop their ethnographic voices through various critical, creative, experimental and performative assignments. [ more ]

WGSS 347 SEM Performing Masculinity in Global Popular Culture

Last offered Fall 2023

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, hip hop masculinities, 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. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 348 SEM Women, Men and Other Animals

Last offered Spring 2019

In this seminar, we will together learn to be "animal critics." We will explore ways in which human groups and interests, particularly in the United States, have both attached and divorced themselves from other animals, considering such axes as gender, race, ability, and sexuality as key definitional foils for human engagements with animality. What are the "uses" of "animals" for "us," and precisely who is this "us"? How and when are some willing to see themselves as animal--indeed, under what political conditions do they embrace it? What is the history of unique, often asymmetric, interdependencies between human animals and nonhuman animals? How do actual lives of humans and non-human animals merge and clash with the rhetorics and visualities of human animality? We will examine both "everyday" animality and the forms of animality that stand out only today in retrospect, in their exceptionality, or upon reflecting on structures of privilege. We will build a critical animal studies vocabulary from a range of readings in science, philosophy, art, feminism, indigenous studies, critical race, geography, fiction, film, rhetoric, history, activist movements, disability studies, postcolonial studies, and examine both visual and narrative cultural production. [ more ]

WGSS 349 Race, Gender, and Labor

Last offered NA

This course draws on approaches from sociology, labor studies, and Black studies to examine the historical and contemporary intersections of race, gender, and labor. In particular, we will explore the racial, classed, and gendered dimensions of the labor movement, historic economic shifts that impacted and reorganized U.S. labor regimes, Black labor in slavery's afterlife as it relates to prisons, and global analyses of racialized gendered labor regimes for migrant and immigrant labor within the Global South and the U.S. We will begin the course by grounding ourselves in the Black feminist framework of intersectionality, which will guide our analyses of the intersections of race, class, and gender in labor formations. We will then focus on the monumental shift in labor relations that enslaved Black people's toppling of the plantation system in the US South brought forth, as well as the technologies of re-enslavement instituted as a reaction to Black people's emancipation. After that, we will move through different themes and time periods, considering how race, gender, and class intersect in regimes of labor exploitation and the successes and setbacks of labor movements. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 350 SEM Queer Tongues & Lavender Linguistics

Last offered Fall 2021

This course in linguistics provides an introduction to linguistic anthropology, sociolinguistics, and folklore studies using topics and approaches related to gender and sexuality. It is a methods course based in empirical research principles, but a basic familiarity with the broad strokes of queer/feminist theory may be helpful. One goal of the class will be learning to read and write in IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) and how to construct and use IPA "change charts." We then build on this as we turn to sociolinguistics as students will learn how to do Discourse Analysis and Conversation Analysis, using WGSS-oriented topics (e.g., upspeak, vocal fry, so-called "gay voice," the gendered nature of turn-taking and interrupting.) We then turn to an extended unit on queer folklore and folklife, learning how anthropologists and folklorists use motif type indexes (e.g., Propp Functions, Thompson Type Index, etc) to study oral narratives and how feminist/queer theorists can use these to analyze gender in folk/fairytales and other stories. We also read several linguistic anthropologists' ethnographies of queer communities' language practices in global context. The semester concludes with a unit on LGBT slang, argots, and profanity. [ more ]

WGSS 351(F) SEM Trans/national Femininities

This course studies femininity in a trans/national context. Here, trans suggests that we will not be looking at femininity as necessarily or inherently attached to the biological category "female." Instead, we will think about femininity as a gender performed by and written on many kinds of bodies, with specific attention to trans feminine experiences. The term "transnational" suggests that we will attempt to talk about femininity not only in the context of the US and the "western" world but across different nations and within a broader socio-cultural framework. We will consider a broad range of disciplinary accounts of femininity in the US and beyond. We will discuss how class, bodily comportment, ability, and other facets affect feminine performance and feminine/feminist/queer politics. Our course materials include scholarship, film, art, and literature. Finally, this course centers the voices of trans and cis women, femmes, and queer BIPOC (black, indigenous, and/or people of color). [ more ]

WGSS 359(S) SEM Queer of Color Critique and Literatures

Queer of color critique (QoCC) takes an intersectional approach to the study of sexuality and is particularly interested in how sexuality is constituted with and through other social formations like race, class, ability, gender, and nation. It draws on many different theoretical frameworks (women of color feminisms, materialist and post structuralist critiques, and queer critiques) and draws from many different disciplines (sociology, literary studies, psychology, etc). In this course we will study the key histories, terms, and debates in QoCC. Rather than imagine QoCC as a response to queer critique alone, we will study it as a co-occurring field with a long history. Reflecting QoCC's interest in national and diasporic formations, we will situate our exploration of queerness in a transnational and global perspective. Our course materials include scholarly works as well as arts and literatures which develop and employ QoCC. QoCC is not only a theoretical framework, or a way of interpreting the world. Through our discussions and assignments, we will use QoCC to imagine new worlds. [ more ]

WGSS 361 SEM Marking Presence: Reading (Dis)ability in/to Latinx Media

Last offered Spring 2024

This course explores the intersection of (dis)ability and Latinx identity in the contemporary US context. Employing Angharad Valdivia's (2020) notion of "marking presence" to describe the intentional ways in which Latinx subjects gain and hold on to mainstream media space, the class places the fields of Disability Studies, Latinx Studies, Gender Studies and Media Studies into conversation. We address the following questions and others: What does media reveal to us about the place of (dis)ability and Latinidad in contemporary US life, particularly as these categories intersect with questions of gender, sexuality, national identity and citizenship? How might we read Latinidad and (dis)ability into media texts in which they are not otherwise centered? What are the advantages of deploying mainstream media presence as a claim to power for disabled Latinx individuals, particularly those who are multiply marginalized? What are the limitations of such an approach? We will focus on these questions, as well as deploy various media examples (podcasts, social media, film, television and music) alongside scholarly texts to explore topics impacting the Latinx communities such as the relationship between the relationship between immigration and (dis)ability, intergenerational trauma and migration, the gendered archetype of the Latina "Loca," (dis)ability in academia, the politics of self-care amongst Latinxs in the neoliberal context, and the very legal, cultural, and social category of "(dis)abled" itself within dominant society as well as in Latinx communities. [ more ]

WGSS 362 SEM "'Rebel Ecologies': Black and Indigenous Struggles for Land and Life"

Last offered Spring 2023

This course will ask, what other socioecological models exist? We will weave together a study of differing, yet often converging or synergistic traditions of Black/Womanist eco-feminism that often confronts the social constructions of race, gender, class and sexuality, dominant religion as a means of social control, imperialism, capitalism, and colonialism; Ecosocialism which often frames ecology in terms of a mode of production beyond or outside of capitalism; and Indigenous perspectives on resistance to capitalist extraction, imperialism, and colonialism. Given ongoing struggles against the extraction of land and labor, the urgent calls raised in the present-day "climate strike," the COVID-19 Pandemic, Black-led pandemic rebellions, along with long(er) histories of land-based peoples around the planet opposing racial capitalism, settler colonialism, and imperialism, this class will explore not only what those in opposition to both extractivism and expropriation resist, but also what we want. We will critique binaries, settler notions of time and explore theories of change. Additionally, this class will look to an array of literature, film, sound, and other forms of cultural production in order to not just "locate," but describe and reveal rebel ecological visions emerging "from below." Ultimately this class will consider how the above ecological praxis can work simultaneously and within a sense of plurality, examining what we can learn from the work of activists, intellectuals, and defenders on the frontline. This course is an extension of Dr. Guess' concept of a "rebel ecology." [ more ]

Taught by: Allison Guess

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WGSS 363(S) SEM Data for Justice Research Practicum

Civil rights activist, educator, and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells said that "the way to right wrongs is to shine the light of truth upon them." In this inclusive, collaborative, research-based course, students will bring statistical, computational, and/or mathematical approaches to bear on issues of social justice. Guided closely by the instructor, students will work in groups to carry out original research in an area such as criminal justice, education equity, environmental justice, health care equity, economic justice, or inclusion in arts/media. Prior research experience is not required; one goal of this course is to build skills for advanced research. [ more ]

WGSS 368 SEM Arab Women Writers: Remapping Urban Narratives

Last offered Fall 2017

In "The Lover of Blue Writing above the Sea," (1995) a poem written to console a lover after the death of his beloved, Syrian poet, Ghada al-Samman, pens: "If you are sad and burn the edge of my book/I shall come to you/like the genie in my grandmother's Damascene stories..." As these lines imply, the fantastic grandmother's Damascene stories have the power to equally amend broken hearts and restore memories of loss. In this course, we will adopt "the grandmother's Damascene stories" as a conceptual metaphor that guides our line inquiry into the intersection of Arab women's narrative and the city. We will read novels and short stories by Arab women writers about cities and capitals in the Arab world and the diaspora. The goal of this course is not only to familiarize students with prominent Arab women novelists, such as Hoda Barakat, Radwa Ashur, Liana Badr, Raja'a Alem, Alia Mamdouh, and Ahlam Mosteghanemi, among others, but also to introduce them to the literary and visual cartography of Beirut, Granada (via Cairo), Ramallah, Mecca, Baghdad, and Constantine, respectively. We will also read short stories about other cities in the world, such as New York, Paris, London, Buenos Aires and Tokyo among other world metropolis. Questions we will address include: How does the city appear as a protagonist? How do Arab women novelists represent nationhood, modernity, memory, love, war, sexuality and religion, among other themes, in their construction of urban narratives? How do these narratives map an Arab feminist metropolis? How do Arab women writers represent cities beyond the Arab world? To answer these questions, we will also look at Arab women's blogs and watch films that focus on the city as a site for spatial articulation of national histories, popular revolutions, and feminist public spheres. [ more ]

WGSS 371 SEM Campus and Community Health in Disruptive Times

Last offered Spring 2024

We study and seek "campuses where students feel enabled to develop their life projects, building a sense of self-efficacy and respecting others, in community spaces that work to diminish rather than augment power asymmetries." --Sexual Citizens (Hirsch and Khan, 2020). Students will design and pursue innovative ethnographic projects that explore campus or community health. We will learn ethnographic techniques such as observant participation, interviewing, focus groups, qualitative surveys, as well as design thinking and data visualization skills. We use and critique the methods of medical anthropology and medical sociology in order to hone our skills in participatory research. Every week, we collaborate with and share our research with our participants and peers both inside and outside class through a variety of innovative exercises. We attend to the parallel roles of narrative and listening in both medicine and ethnography, as we contrast the discourse of providers & patients along with researchers & participants. We aim to understand the strengths and limits of ethnographic inquiry while privileging marginalized voices and attending to power and identity within our participatory research framework. We recognize that our campus health projects are always already shaped by power and privilege, as we examine the ways that daily life, individual practices, and collective institutions shape health on and off campus. Our ethnographic case studies explore how systemic inequalities of wealth, race, gender, sex, ethnicity, and citizenship shape landscapes of pediatric care, mental health, maternity care, and campus sexual assault in the US and elsewhere. We consider how lived practices shape health access & outcomes as well as well-being in our communities and on our campus. [ more ]

WGSS 375(S) SEM Asian American Sexualities

Perceived as objects of sexual use and perversity, how might Asian/Asian American subjects contend with these projections and enact their own genders and sexualities? Anchored in this question, this theory-intensive seminar will provide a study of seminal and recent scholarship at the intersections of Asian American Studies, feminist criticism, and queer theory that focus on or are read in tandem with a collection of cultural expressions, including film, sculpture, poetry, drag performance, music, manifestos, and visual and performance art. To first root us, the seminar will introduce key uses and theorizations of sex/gender, sexuality, and queerness. Then, across the semester, we will focus on deployments of them through a range of topics, including sexual subjugation and activism of "comfort women," orientalism/ornamentalism, the queering of Sikh, South Asian, and Muslim Americans post-9/11, western demands to "come out," representations in pornography, lesbian invisibility, devaluation of trans* lives, etc., exploring questions of racialized, gendered, and sexual subordination alongside power, pleasure, play, and critique. To this end, we will approach gender and sexuality not as identity categories that one is or has but socially and biologically construed categories, loci for intervention and play, anti-normative positions, lived experiences, and ever-evolving processes of doing, becoming, and unbecoming. [ more ]

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

This course explores that ways in which the law has defined and regulated gender and sexuality in the United States, and the ways that individuals have experienced and responded to those definitions and regulations. 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. This course examines how assumptions about gender and sexuality have informed the creation and development of American law and the changing meanings of citizenship; considers how laws regulating sex and gender have yielded varied effects for men and women across race and class divides, challenging some differences while naturalizing others; and assesses 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 377 SEM Legacies of the Gothic Novel: Feminism and Horror in the Transatlantic World

Last offered Fall 2019

Much maligned as a popular or "low" genre at its inception in the late eighteenth century, the gothic form has persisted in its popularity as well as crossed into "higher" forms of modernism, postmodernism, and postcolonialism. In this course, we will read key texts in the gothic mode-Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights among others-and follow the ways in which they are revisited and rewritten by contemporary American and Caribbean writers, filmmakers, and artists. Particularly, we will examine how these texts subvert the realist leanings of Anglo-American narrative fiction and its assumptions of enlightenment rationalism by way of two main processes: narrative hypertrophy and feminist revisions of horror. The class will take up select contemporary criticism on the gothic and horror in literature, film, and art. This course will be of interest to students curious about feminism, postcolonialism, cultural criticism, horror, and comparative literature. [ more ]

WGSS 379 LEC Black Women in the United States

Last offered Spring 2021

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. [ more ]

WGSS 386 SEM Latinas in the Global Economy: Work, Migration, and Households

Last offered Spring 2019

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? [ more ]

WGSS 389 SEM Fiction of Virginia Woolf

Last offered Fall 2022

"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, in an effort to re-center the novel on lived experience. This course will explore the evolution of the innovative fictional forms by which she tried to bridge the gap between the experience of consciousness and its representation in language. We will also consider the links between Woolf's concern with in the fluidity of consciousness and her interest in gender fluidity and androgyny. We will read most of the major novels, probably 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. [ more ]

WGSS 391(F) SEM Contemporary North American Queer Literatures and Theories

Moving through the mid-twentieth century and into the twenty-first, this course will consider how North American writers have represented queer life in all its complexities. From the problem of the happy ending to the intersectional politics of representation, the narrative complexities of coming out to the rejection of identity, the course will consider the relationship between literary form and queer content. In so doing, it will also touch upon some of the key debates in queer literary theory and consider the impact of events such as civil rights movements, gay and lesbian and trans uprisings, the AIDS crisis, debates over respectability politics, and current efforts to police what students read in schools on literary and cultural production. Readings may include work by such authors as Baldwin, Highsmith, Rich, Lorde, Delany, Kushner, Feinberg, Bechdel, Thom, and Machado and theorists such as Ferguson, Sedgwick, Fawaz, Love, Butler, and Hartman. [ more ]

WGSS 398(F) SEM Feminist and Queer Horror Films

This course focuses on pairing theoretical readings with a variety of horror films with feminist or queer themes. Many tropes are associated with this genre - "the final girl" in slasher movies, "the transvestite murderer," femme lesbian vampires, supernatural BDSM figures, vampires as allegories for HIV/AIDS, werewolves as metaphors for FTM gender transitions or puberty, lonely mothers in creaky houses as unreliable narrators, Satanic spawn, and creepy long-haired girls. Some films reinforce gender stereotypes while others snap on more explicitly feminist and queer lenses. This course functions as a survey of many different genres, introducing students to classic 1970s films and working up to the present day and we will learn how these tropes developed and then were subverted by more modern day films such as those by A24 Studies and the new renaissance of Black horror, etc. Most films will focus on the US, with some notable exceptions in Japan, Spain, and elsewhere globally. There will be graphic content. You must be 18 or over to take this class. [ more ]

WGSS 401 SEM Senior Seminar: Rethinking the Public: the Arts Take on Neoliberalism

Last offered Fall 2019

Western neoliberalism is a predatory excrescence of late capitalism that overvalues competition, transferring the laws of the market to human relationships. It deliberately creates instability not only in the economic sphere but, more generally, in the social collective by encouraging dangerous risk-taking, fomenting crises and cementing systemic inequity, while suggesting to those under its sway that they are corporate 'entrepreneurs of self.' This model of self-management also extends into the sphere of intimate relationships. Of course, because predatory neoliberalism heavily favors a white investor model and is premised on white norms, the racialized body is considered a priori subaltern and subservient. Humanistic and artistic approaches (while not per se immune or outside of neoliberal constraints) effectively polemicize against neoliberalism, and suggest practices that resist its technocratic mindset. Looking at literature, cinema, and critical theory from a range of regions and disciplines, we will focus on Europe and the United States. Moreover, we will ask how forms of neoliberalism affect different regions of the world: Southeast Asia, Russia? Where and how can solidarity be reimagined beyond identity politics? Where is the boundary between animal and human in the neoliberal collective? [ more ]

WGSS 402(F) SEM Marxist Feminisms: Race, Performance, Labor

This seminar provides an overview of queer, black and women of color feminist, decolonial, and critical ethnic studies critiques of orthodox Marxism. Beginning with core texts from the tradition, including Capital Volume I, we will examine a range of social positions and modes of extraction that complicate Marx's emphasis on the white male industrial factory worker. Every week, we will focus on texts that foreground conditions of reproduction, racial slavery, care and domestic work, indentured servitude, immigrant labor, land expropriation, and sex work among others. Throughout the seminar and specifically at the close of it, we will turn to critical perspectives and aesthetic practices that not only respond to these conditions but also incite new social relations and ways of being in the world. As such, this seminar will equip students with critical understandings of how racial capitalism has fundamentally relied on the mass elimination, capture, recruitment, and displacement of different racialized, gendered, and abled bodies in and beyond the U.S. as well as how the capitalist system of value and life under these conditions can and must be undone and reimagined. [ more ]

WGSS 408(S) SEM Senior Seminar: Nineteenth-Century French Novel: Desperate Housewives and Extreme Makeovers

In 1834, Honoré de 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 past and illuminate the present. From the Romanticism of Stendhal and Hugo, and the Realism of Balzac and Flaubert, to the Naturalism of Zola and Maupassant, the novel became a forum for examining illicit sexuality, institutional misogyny, social injustice, criminal passions, revolutionary struggles, and Parisian pleasures in nineteenth-century France. Characters such as the miserable housewife Emma Bovary, the reluctant revolutionary Jean Valjean, the social climber Julien Sorel, the ambitious undergraduate Eugène de Rastignac, and the domestically abused Gervaise Macquart became synonymous with France's turbulent social and political landscape from the 1830s to the 1880s. As recent film adaptations make clear, these desperate housewives and extreme makeovers continue to haunt our twenty-first century present. Reinterpreted by such actors as Gérard 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, Zola. Films to include adaptations by Clément, Berri, August, Arteta, Lelouch, Chabrol. Conducted in French. [ more ]

WGSS 409 SEM Transnationalism and Difference: Comparative Perspectives

Last offered Fall 2021

In the age of digital communications 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 seminar we will analyze recent theories regarding the origins and impacts of transnationalism. Particular attention will be paid throughout the semester to the intersections of gender, ethno-racial identity, sexuality, and class in connection with everyday transnational dynamics. The broad range of case studies examined includes Central American, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Indonesia, Jamaica, Mexico, the Middle East, and Peru. [ more ]

WGSS 411(S) SEM Psychoanalysis and Its Discontents: The Psyche and the Social

For many decades, psychoanalysis has been profoundly influential to radical thinkers seeking to overthrow regimes of racism, colonialism, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, and ableism. At the same time, psychoanalysis has also been crucial to enforcing those very regimes. Whether mobilized towards liberatory or oppressive ends, it is difficult to overstate psychoanalysis's influence on intellection, politics, and everyday social existence over the last century--even though we don't always realize it's there. If you bristle at the mention of Freud but think microaggressions are real, content warnings are a good idea, or that sharing about your feelings supports your wellbeing and relationships, your beliefs and values are probably indebted to psychoanalysis. This class surveys psychoanalytic perspectives on "the social," that is, race, gender, sexuality, capitalism, dis/ability, imperialism, and so on. It also provides an introduction to basic foundations of psychoanalytic thought--especially Freud, object relations theory, and a bit of Lacan--with an emphasis on how the psychoanalytic canon underpins contemporary queer, feminist, and postcolonial theory; ethnic studies; disability studies; and religious studies. Building from foundations, we'll also examine radical psychoanalysis alongside radical critiques of psychoanalysis. Additional topics and bodies of thought include trauma, Afropessimism, sexual difference feminism, antipsychiatry, and schizoanalysis. This class satisfies the WGSS Junior/Senior Seminar major requirement. [ more ]

WGSS 412 SEM Graphic Sex: Queer Ethnographic Writing

Last offered Spring 2018

This seminar examines recent and canonical work in queer anthropology, exploring how different cultures construct sexual and gender identities and subjectivities, and what happens when dominant paradigms such as the Euro-American LGBT model become enmeshed in globalization, late capitalism, and consumerism. We begin with a series of case studies highlighting alternative gender and sexual formations in various cultures around the world, emphasizing how these seemingly "authentic" local categories are themselves the products of historical shifts, colonial relations, and political economy. We also examine how these categories overlap, conflict with, subvert, or syncretize with the increasingly global category of "gay." In addition to reading queer ethnographies, we will also learn the methods required for doing ethnography ourselves, including interviewing techniques, participant observation, writing thick description, data analysis, and editing. [ more ]

WGSS 413 SEM Feminist Technoscience

Last offered Fall 2023

Are Feminism and Science compatible commitments? What do these nouns mean when paired with one another, when capitalized (or not), when pluralized (or not), and when deployed by a range of authors in different disciplines? Scholars of feminist science and technology studies (FSTS) have addressed these questions in their studies of scientific objectivity, technological vulnerability, environmentalism, and the makings (or doings) of race as well as gender. We will explore these questions and topics with a view to identifying the range of ethical, political, and epistemological practices within feminist and critical technoscience. We will read theoretical texts in FSTS, such as Donna Haraway's "Situated Knowledges" and Safiya Umoja Noble's "A future for intersectional black feminist technology studies." We will also read case studies, such as Pat Treusch's "The Art of Failure in Robotics" and Emily Martin's "The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles." While our preliminary readings will be set in advance, students will help shape the syllabus as we advance toward a better understanding of feminist technoscience's potentials and limitations at a time when technical change often outpaces careful consideration of its consequences. [ more ]

WGSS 414 SEM Race and Performance

Last offered Spring 2024

How does one "do" race? This seminar offers a survey of foundational and emergent scholarship at the nexus of performance studies, critical ethnic studies, and gender and sexuality studies alongside contemporary visual and performance art works. It will explore how the framework of performance destabilizes notions of race, gender, and sexuality as identities that are inherent to us and approaches them as ones we enact, do, and undo. We will begin the course by tracing key concepts in performance studies (i.e., performance, performative, performativity) before examining a range of performances that respond to and negotiate life under the ongoing conditions of racial capitalism, empire, anti-blackness, and settler colonialism. To this end, we will focus on how qualities attributed to racialized and gendered bodies, such as silence, diseased, patience, depression, passivity, and aloofness, are retooled as feminist and queer of color actions or positions. [ more ]

WGSS 415 SEM Breaking the Silence: Women Voices, Empowerment and Equality in the Francophone World

Last offered Spring 2024

How have Francophone women challenged the historical and current effects of colonialism and gendered racism in France and the Francophone world? How have Francophone women writers challenged the status quo of patriarchy and advocated for change? Beginning with political activist Olympe de Gouges, who published Le droit de la femme et de la citoyenne (1791) challenging gender inequality in France, we will then examine Claire de Duras' portrayal of the intersection between race and gender, Simone de Beauvoir's challenge to traditional femininity and gender roles, and Ananda Devi's intimate portrayal of violence against women in post-colonial societies. Throughout the course, we will use a feminist and intersectional lens to analyze how Francophone women writers have broken the silence then and now. [ more ]

WGSS 416 SEM Senior Seminar: The Art of Minor Resistance: Advanced Readings in Race, Gender, Performance

Last offered Spring 2020

This seminar will study stagings and aesthetic theories of dissent in feminist, queer, anti-colonial, and anti-racist performance. An attunement to performance and to the minor is also a turn toward minoritarian knowledges and lifeworlds. Of interest will be modes of sensing and relating that are not often legible as political--including aesthetics of opacity, quiet, disaffection, aloofness, and inscrutability--but could be understood as critiques of political recognition. Performance is a capacious rubric in this class that will include performance art, social media, photography, music videos, poetry, street protest, and everyday life. Students will learn to describe, interpret, and theorize performance through discussion, writing, and creative form. [ more ]

WGSS 428(S) SEM Relationality and Its Antagonisms

Relationality has been the defining approach, feature, and framework of ethnic studies since its inception in the late 1960s. Since then, notable scholars have applied multiple keywords, including difference, comparison, entanglements, cacophonies, and intimacies, to emphasize how processes of racialization and racial formation are not isolated and separate but inextricably linked and shaped by one another. Only from these distinct, uneven, yet shared positions of oppression, as scholars argue, solidarity across race, gender, class, sexuality, and location may emerge. At its crux, this seminar will underscore major tensions and antagonisms against frameworks of relationality. Tracing primary sources, cultural expressions, and literature within the traditions of ethnic studies and transnational/women of color feminisms, it will trace the shifts in approaches to relationality, especially as it relates to practices of reciprocity and community-building across difference. At the same time, it will turn to works that name relationality as what Frank B. Wilderson calls a "ruse," or trick, that subsumes the specific, exceptional position of blackness. Our units will include discussions of Afro-Pessimism, indigeneity, racialized settler colonialism as well as queer theory debates on queer presentism (i.e., a queer "no future") versus queer futurity. Studying the tensions that emerge from multiple, distinct, and contradictory planes of power, oppression, and temporalities, how do we assess, work through, and reconcile, if at all, relations deemed as "irreconcilable" across vectors of difference? [ more ]

WGSS 453 SEM Women, Gender, and Social Movements in U.S. History

Last offered Spring 2019

This seminar is devoted to researching and writing a substantial research paper on some aspect of U.S. women's or gender history, with a particular focus on social movements. Social movements organized around gender issues and identities have been significant sources of social and political change in U.S. History. Drawing on online archival collections of personal letters and diaries, published writings, organizational records, and oral histories, students will research an individual, social group, organization, event, or movement that invites them to explore that particular subject in depth, while also considering some of the following issues and questions: the different strategies, tactics, and ideologies used for organizing and movement building across the political spectrum; the ways that gender has united and divided grassroots movements; how and when it has been useful for women to act through women's groups versus other types of organizations; the ways that ethnicity, race, religion, and class have been resources for organizing and coalition building; how social movements have shaped and been shaped by larger political and economic developments; the ways that various gendered identities have served as both agents and objects of political and social change; and the relative importance of formally organized politics versus less formal strategies to effect political change. [ more ]

WGSS 468 SEM Practicum in Curating: Visual Art for a Garden

Last offered Spring 2019

This course aims to develop the wide range of skills needed to realize an art exhibition in a botanical garden (specifically Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota where the instructor is Curator at Large. The course responds to her charge to exhibit artists with 100% name recognition for the first five years of Selby's new "Living Museum" initiative which puts works of art in dialogue with botanicals. In the wake of shows devoted to Marc Chagall (2017), Andy Warhol (2018) and Paul Gauguin (forthcoming, 2019), each student will research and choose a non-male and/or non-white artist of some renown and construct an exhibition of works that might be possible to borrow. Course work includes 1) research on the artist and the concept, the focal works of art, auxiliary objects that do not require climate control (e.g. photographs and other works on paper), social history and other methodological frameworks 2) writing requests e.g., loans, rights; and 3) preparations for several of the following: press release, wall texts, wall labels, audio guide, and programming for the exhibition. The final project includes a 10-page synthetic research paper, written for a general audience, about the artist and their use of flowers as well as the projected installation of the climate-controlled gallery. Students may have the opportunity to participate in a WSP in situ in which they will experience all sectors of the museum, glass house, and gardens. [ more ]

WGSS 470 SEM Latinx Migrations: Stories and Histories

Last offered Spring 2024

Latinx migration histories are often told with sweeping data and within broad historical contexts. While these are important, the voices of the people leaving their home countries and coming to the United States can be lost or buried. During the 1970s, the emerging subfield of social history asserted the need to craft histories that took into consideration the everyday lives of everyday people. Oral history emerged a key tool in capturing the personal stories too often missed in historical archives. At the same time, Puerto Rican Studies, Chicano Studies, and later, Latinx Studies emerged to tell the histories of groups too often omitted from or misrepresented in the scholarship. These fields relied on traditions of testimonios or storytelling. This course focuses on Latinx oral histories, autobiographies, memoirs, testimonios, and other first-person narratives to explore how people are impacted by and experience those broad historical contexts, as well as how the decisions they make and the actions they take shape those broad historical contexts. As Latinx Studies is a field that has been at the forefront of exploring intersectionality, we also analyze how attention to first person narratives and lived experiences reveal the complexities of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class, as well as other visible and invisible markers of difference. Examining first person narratives in the context of specific Latinx groups in particular historical, geographical, and social contexts, we interrogate the methodological and interpretive challenges of working with oral histories and other first-person primary sources. Course topics include the gendered dimensions of migration, geopolitics and stories of exile, and the connections between lived experiences and political activism, particularly the feminist activism of the late 1960s and 1970s-- all while students develop and share their own research topics. [ more ]

WGSS 475(S) SEM Dreaming Latina/x Feminist Disability Studies

In this course we will defy the traditional notion that disabled and queer people of color have no right to future dreams, as we collectively imagine how the emergent field of Latina/x feminist disability studies might take shape. What are the sites of focus, methods, and political commitments of Latina/x feminist disability studies? Where is the power in meaningfully uniting an analysis of disability to one of sexuality and gendered Latinidad? How does a Latina/x-centric approach productively inform our understanding of disability? What is the political potential of Latina/x feminist disability studies -- not exclusively as a set of theories, but also as a mindset and an everyday call to action? If we were to collectively compose a manifesto for Latina/x feminist disability studies, what might it contain? How might we actively cultivate a community of care in the classroom as well as other spaces at Williams? Just what might Latina/x feminist disability justice dreams look like? How might Latina/x feminist disability justice dreams feel? Feminist, queer, and disabled crip-of-color scholars have recently called for a more meaningful engagement with race in feminist disability studies. Simultaneously, we have also witnessed a small but steady growth in the amount of Latinx studies scholarship that thoughtfully integrates questions of disability. This interdisciplinary course responds to these important shifts in its focus on a series of topics bridging Latinx studies, gender studies, queer studies, crip studies, and critical disability studies. These include but are not limited to the body, the environment, temporality, labor, citizenship, dependency, and visibility/invisibility. Through these topics, we will explore the ways in which the different approaches to these specific issues across Latinx, critical disability, crip, queer and gender studies are in fruitful conversation with one another -- and sometimes even at odds -- as we actively interrogate the intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and disability within the everyday. [ more ]

WGSS 491 HON Honors Project: Women's & Gender Studies

Last offered Fall 2019

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

WGSS 492 HON Honors Project: Women's & Gender Studies

Last offered Spring 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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