Courses

WGSS 101(F, S)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 105American Girlhoods

Last offered Spring 2020

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 TThe 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 113The Feminist Poetry Movement

Last offered Fall 2019

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 119 TAsian American Femininities

Last offered Spring 2019

This tutorial will introduce students to the intersections of feminist studies and Asian American studies by reading Asian and Asian American literature (read in English) that centers female-identified characters. This course will consider the historical and persistent structures of patriarchy, heterosexism, nationalism, imperialism, war, and globalization through the framework of gender and sexuality studies. Students will read short excerpts of feminist theoretical works, selected with the idea of making scholarly texts more approachable to first- and second-year students. No previous experience with feminist theory or Asian American studies is presumed or required. [ more ]

WGSS 127 T(S)Spring Grass: A Peek into Inequality in China

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, films, and short stories 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 132Black Writing To/From/About Prison

Last offered Fall 2019

This introductory course considers the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans as it is represented on the page. Keywords for meditation and analysis include blackness, gender, prison, justice, freedom, and abolition. Each reading and class discussion will aid students in developing rigorous and nuanced understandings of these terms. The primary project in this course is the development of open letter writing skills. This epistolary form allows both for the intimate engagement of individual, familiar contact and the deft inclusion of targeted eavesdroppers in order to raise the consciousness of listeners and affirm the value of personal relationships. Course texts will include letters to and from prison; documentaries; selections from anthologies like If They Come in the Morning and Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex; autobiographies like that by Malcolm X, Walidah Imarisha, and Assata Shakur; poetry by Ericka Huggins, Huey Newton, and Terrance Hayes; and critical interventions by scholars like Nikki Jones, Victor Rios, Michelle Alexander, and Angela Davis. We will also look at contemporary groups organizing around abolition and prisoner support including Critical Resistance, Photos From Solitary, and TGIJP (Transgender Gender Variant Intersex Justice Project). [ more ]

WGSS 138 T(F)Spectacular Sex

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 139Living 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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

WGSS 152The Fourteenth Amendment and the Meanings of Equality

Last offered Spring 2020

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(S)Gender and Sexuality in Music

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 in which 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(S)Nordic Lights: Literary and Cultural Diversity in Modern Scandinavia

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 201War and Resistance: Two Centuries of War Literature in France (1804-2016)

Last offered Fall 2017

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 the 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)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 203(S)Chicana/o/x Film and Video

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

WGSS 205(S)Gender and Economics

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

WGSS 207 T(F)She Speaks in Color: Examining the 'Color Complex' in Toni Morrison's Writings

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 ]

WGSS 209(S)Poverty in America

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

WGSS 210Culture 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)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 poor countries. 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 and households, 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; and migration. We will finish by looking at community-based activism, non-governmental organizations, and the possibilities for North/South alliances. [ more ]

WGSS 212Ethics and Reproductive Technologies

Last offered Spring 2019

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

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

Last offered Spring 2019

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 214Why 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 215Ways of Knowing: Music, Movement, Memory

Last offered Fall 2017

This interdisciplinary seminar proceeds from the premise that the body knows. Ongoing colonial modernity is rooted in a racialized hierarchy: the "civilized" life of the mind vs. the "primitive" instincts of the flesh. According to this binary, the body is marked as irrational, sinful, outside of the archive. The body cannot know because the happenings of the body are ephemeral: unlike documents, they don't last. In this course, we will subject this logic to close scrutiny. As performance scholar Diana Taylor asks, "Whose memories, traditions, and claims to history disappear if performance practices lack the staying power to transmit vital knowledge?" In this course, we look to music, movement, and other repertoires as ways of knowing, remembering, and world-making. How does embodied knowledge travel across time and space? How have performance practices served as modes of what Ashinaabe cultural theorist Gerald Vizenor calls "survivance" (survival + resistance) for indigenous, nomadic, queer, and colored communities. Case studies include: the Middle Passage and the syncretic birth of the Blues in the Americas; nomadism, the nation-state, and the migration of Romani music; and the evolution of queer ball culture. Students will engage with a variety of texts (verbal, sonic, visual, kinesthetic) and respond to them critically not only through writing and discussion, but also through their own performance practices. [ more ]

WGSS 217(S)Extreme Persuasions: The Far Right in the United States and Russia

The purpose of this course is to explore the unexpected recent confluence of the American and Russian far-right movements, among advocates for authoritarianism in both countries who have traditionally understood the 'other' superpower to be an implacable enemy. How have nationalist movements in the United States come to see the Russian Federation as a vanguard for 'whiteness' and traditional masculinity in European identity, overturning the perception of Russia as a racial Other that was prevalent among American conservatives during the Cold War? What are the affinities between the imperial and openly patriarchal aspirations of Putinism and the goals of American religious Reconstructionism, with its interpretation of the Confederacy as a God-given model for racial separatism and gender complementarianism? We will discuss repressive historical legacies and homophobia in both countries, devoting particular attention to debates about protest art and the removal of monuments, and to movements that situate themselves in opposition to neoliberal forms of ethno-nationalism. [ more ]

Taught by: Alexandar Mihailovic

Catalog details

WGSS 218Gender and Sexuality in the Neo-slave Narrative

Last offered Spring 2020

Hortense Spillers has noted that ex-slave Harriet Jacobs, "between the lines of her narrative, demarcates a sexuality that is neuterbound" and we live with the aftermath of her observation. "Ungendering," one of the transformations undergone by bodies subjected to the Middle Passage, is one of the keywords that forms the foundation for a conversation about slavery, blackness, gender, sexuality, and archive. Throughout this course we will wrestle with the questions: How does the designation "slave" rupture, reify, or expand our understandings of sexuality and gender? What conditions have necessitated the neo-slave narrative form? Texts include: slave narratives and neo-slave narratives in the forms of novels, visual art, and film. Course texts include: Octavia E. Butler's Kindred, Jewelle Gomez's Gilda Stories, Glenn Ligon's "Runaways", and Jordan Peele's Get Out. Critical theories of blackness, gender, and sexuality are also central texts in this course including that by Darieck Scott, Saidiya Hartman, Hortense Spillers, Matt Richardson, and others. Given that neo-slave narratives intervene in the sexual and gendered silences of slave narratives and the power relations that produced them, students who are hesitant to study sexual violence might consider taking another course. [ more ]

WGSS 219 T(F)Women and Girls in (Inter)National Politics

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 222Women on the Verge

Last offered Spring 2018

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

WGSS 224Sexuality 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 225Gender and Sexuality in Asian American Theater

Last offered Fall 2017

This class begins with the premise that intersectional and interdisciplinary studies of gender and sexuality need to be, and in significant ways already are, in conversation with Asian American studies and theater. How might contemporary Western discourses of masculinity and heterosexuality, for example, depend upon theatrical constructions of Eastern sexual alterity? How have Asian American artists managed and critiqued historically gendered and sexualized stereotypes (e.g., hypersexual Dragon Lady, virginal Lotus Blossom, asexual Charlie Chan) through theatrical intervention? This seminar will closely read dramatic literature written by Asian American artists, as well as engage scholarship in Asian American gender and sexuality studies and performance studies. We will read the work of playwrights including Ayad Akhtar, Ping Chong, Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, Velina Hasu Houston, David Henry Hwang, Young Jean Lee, Diana Son, Lauren Yee, and Chay Yew. [ more ]

WGSS 226(S)Gender and the Dancing Body

This course posits that the dancing body is a particularly rich site for examining the history of gender and sexuality in America and beyond. The aim of the course is to explore ideas related to gender and sexuality as prescribed by dominant cultural, social, and religious institutions, and how dance has been used to challenge those normative values. 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 but will also include attendance at live performances, film screenings, and discussions with guest artists. No previous dance experience required. [ more ]

WGSS 228Feminist Bioethics

Last offered Fall 2019

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 the individual's interactions with 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 230Gender, 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 TArt, 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 232Approaches to Media Studies: Analyzing Mediated Difference

Last offered Spring 2017

Media's influence in 21st century life is pervasive, and encompasses visual, sonic, and discursive formats.This course introduces students to a variety of qualitative approaches to the study of contemporary media. Simultaneously, we will explore questions of ethno-racial identity, gender, and sexuality. Structured around a series of hand-on exercises designed to provide experience in the areas of textual analysis, in-depth interviews, virtual ethnography and participant observation, this class will provide students with interdisciplinary training that enhances their understanding of everyday media and its interaction with multiple categories of identity. This course is a comparative Ethnic Media Studies class that encourages students to employ media as a lens for theorizing the intersections between ethno-racial identity, gender, and sexuality. We review materials focusing on a wide range of minoritarian communities. [ more ]

WGSS 233Chemical Intimacies

Last offered Fall 2018

This is a research seminar that understands human-chemical entanglement in relationship to environment, sexuality, geography, ecology, and capacity. It doubles as a research class in which students choose a project of chemical intimacy to investigate as their own through the course of the semester. In the first half, we will together read and discuss forms of human-chemical entanglement, whether a matter of industrial pollution, pharmaceutical use, habitual intoxication, gendered self-care or enhancement, or built environment; the goal is to achieve a broad sensibility for the concept as well as a familiarity with thinking biochemically and biopolitically about living bodies, while consistently registering questions of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, and more. In the second half, each participant will choose and research a historically and geopolitically specific scenario of chemical entanglement, while 1) considering the political, legal, cultural, and labor contexts of the case; 2) exploring relationships between "actual" and "represented" (protest slogans or visual productions in the case of environmental justice activism, for example); 3) examining other research questions germane to their site of interest and their chosen discipline of study. We will take one field trip to a local site. [ more ]

WGSS 234Masculinities

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 235Innovation, 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 237Queer Drama

Last offered Spring 2019

This seminar course is a deep dive into the richly dissonant dialogue between queer lives and live performance. How have queer artists shaped and reshaped the field of theatre and performance over time? How has drama, in turn, shaped the landscape of queer life? What inventions and innovations might we attribute to the evolution of "queer"? We will look to the work of artists such as Tennessee Williams, Tarell McCraney, Taylor Mac, Reza Abdoh, Sharon Bridgforth, Virginia Grise, and many others as we seek to map the messy topography of queer performance. [ more ]

WGSS 238Science, 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 239History of Sexuality

Last offered Spring 2018

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 240(S)Performing Masculinity in Global Popular Culture

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

WGSS 241 TSex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome

Last offered Spring 2019

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 ]

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

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

WGSS 243Islamic Law: Past and Present

Last offered Fall 2018

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 T(F)Actually Existing Alternative Economies

Capitalism has a way of constricting our imaginations so that we come to believe the only possible form of economic institution is one based on profit seeking, competition and individualism. However movements in countries including Brazil, France, Canada and Spain--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 245(Re)presenting Sex: Shakespeare on Page and Stage

Last offered Spring 2009

This experimental course approaches the question of how sex and sexual identity are portrayed in Shakespeare from two different directions-close reading focused on the page and acting centered on the stage. These two critical modes-reading the text versus performing the script-are often treated in compartmentalized fashion as separate, even incompatible activities. Our goal is to take up the challenge of bringing the two perspectives together within the framework of a single, integrated course. The teaching method is to bridge the gap between the two modes not by magically dissolving, but by actively engaging, the tensions between them. For example, no performance can include all the possible interpretations; performance decisions raise questions about what alternatives have been left out. Similarly, when all interpretive possibilities are held in imaginative suspension, the specifics of bodily movement and face-to-face interaction whose meanings emerge when enacted are lost. We propose to put the two orientations in a productive and innovative dialogue that enables students to experience the tension from both sides, to articulate the opportunities and limits of each side, and to combine their respective strengths. The mix of assignments (papers and scene work) will vary depending on whether students designate themselves as primarily scholars or actors, but some overlap will be built in to ensure that scholars gain understanding of acting and actors gain access to scholarship. All students will be expected to demonstrate versatility in traversing the full spectrum from interpretation through reading to interpretation through performance.The specific topic that will bring these theoretical issues into focus is the matter of sex and sexual identity, as illuminated through the analysis of language, psychology, and theatrical embodiment. Six plays will be studied in depth: The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Othello, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Winter's Tale. [ more ]

WGSS 246 TIndia's Identities: Nation,Community, & Individual

Last offered Spring 2020

This tutorial considers India's legacy as a booming Asian democracy that is built upon deep and enduring divisions. Why is India's growing population so often described in terms of multiple identities or fragmenting oppositions---including religion, gender, caste, and class? What are the historic roots and recollections of key moments of structural violence in modern Indian history that produce ongoing social conflict as well as social fluidity? We pay particular attention to key historic moments such as Partition, and key communal riots in Gujarat, Hyderabad, and Delhi as well as regions of India such as Jammu & Kashmir in order to understand the struggle for individual subjectivity and identity within a landscape of stark social hierarchies. We will cover climate emergencies, resource scarcities, and ongoing struggles for power and status across very different parts of India. Our readings include ethnographic, sociological, historical analyses as well as fiction, oral history, and popular media sources that attempt to portray India¿s diverse and fragmented society. [ more ]

WGSS 248 T(S)Carmen, 1845 to Now

The story of the gypsy femme fatale Carmen has endured for over 150 years. In Western culture and beyond, she has come to exemplify the seductive, exotic, independent, and dangerous woman who drives an upstanding man to a life of crime and finally murder. This course explores a broad array of treatments of this archetypal narrative, starting with Prosper Mérimée's 1845 novella on which Bizet based his beloved 1875 opera Carmen. We will consider various staged and film versions of the opera itself, including Francesco Rosi's stunning 1984 movie, and discuss various other film transformations of the story, from DeMille's 1915 silent film through Hammerstein's 1954 all-black musical Carmen Jones, to the MTV version A Hip Hopera of 2004. Comic approaches will also be assessed, from Charlie Chaplin's Carmen Burlesque of 1915 through Spike Jones' 1952 Carmen Murdered! and The Naked Carmen of 1970. We will explore remarkable dance interpretations ranging from Carlos Saura's 1983 flamenco version through David Bourne's choreography in his 2001 gay reading called The Car Man. Our journey concludes with a comparison of two post-colonial sub-Saharan African films--the Senegalese director Ramaka's Karmen Geï (2001) and U-Carmen eKhayelitsha (2005) by the South African director Dornford-May--that push critical reaction to Bizet's story and music beyond Western cultural boundaries. [ more ]

WGSS 249Body 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 T(S)Feminist Theatres: A Global Perspective

What makes a work of theatre feminist? How do plays, social practices, and performances engage with different models of feminism: liberal, radical, materialist, intersectional, reluctant? Why has feminism mattered to theatre makers of the past? Should it still matter to us now? If so, what forms might future feminist theatres and performance practices take? In this tutorial, students will work in pairs to examine the political relation of models of feminism to plays and performances by theatre artists, companies, and collaboratives from across the globe, from the late-twentieth century to today. Interrogating feminism's own legacies of exclusionary and biased tactics, we will focus on the racialized and class-based aspects of feminist performance practices and the history of radical and intersectional feminism in theatre. Artists, companies, and movements to be considered may include: Spiderwoman Theatre, The WOW Café, Hélène Cixous, Adrienne Kennedy, Caryl Churchill, Sphinx Theatre Company, Wendy Wasserstein, Ntozake Shange, Griselda Gambaro, Manjula Padmanabhan, Cherríe Moraga, Karen Finley, Suzan-Lori Parks, Young Jean Lee, Lisa Kron, Tori Sampson, Arethusa Speaks, Women's Project and Productions, Sarah DeLappe, and others. Close reading and analysis of source material will occur alongside engagement with critical essays and writings by: Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Eve K. Sedgwick, Gayatri Spivak, Jill Dolan, Sue-Ellen Case, José E. Muñoz, and Donna Haraway. This course will follow a standard tutorial format, with students alternating the presentation and reading of a series of 5-page papers. [ more ]

WGSS 255(F)"Illness" in Modern and Contemporary Chinese Literature and Culture

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 256Buddhism, 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 258Black 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 TAdultery 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 260Power, Feminist-Style

Last offered Fall 2019

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 262(F)Indigenous Feminisms

Indigenous women, Two Spirit and trans people have always stood on the frontlines of decolonization struggles in the Americas, from treaty negotiations to self defense against settler invasion, to the Standing Rock Sioux struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, to creating independent databases and mutual support networks amongst the loved ones of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Trans and Two Spirit people. This course maps out some of the intellectual and political interventions of Indigenous feminists in analyzing and struggling against genocide, heteropatriarchy, conquest and racial capitalism in settler states like the US and Canada. This course will focus on how Indigenous women, Two Spirit and trans people have analyzed and struggled against the imposition of colonial constructs of gender and sexuality that mark Indigenous lives and lands as sites of extraction. It will examine how carceral regimes of control produced by the intertwined histories of conquest and Transatlantic slavery have been imposed upon Indigenous lives through the child protection system and the prison industrial complex. Students will be invited to consider how Indigenous feminist practices 'make a future' (Brant 1981) against and beyond the settler state. This course aims to familiarize students with historical and contemporary Indigenous feminist works, as well as provide an overview of Indigenous feminist political formations, poetry, fiction, and making practices. Pedagogically, this course will also facilitate the development and sharpening of skills in social analysis, writing and argumentation. [ more ]

WGSS 263Transnational 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 264Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities in the Early Christian World

Last offered Fall 2018

What does it mean to be a woman or a man? To have body? A gender? A sexuality? In this course we will explore the ways in which bodies, genders,and sexualities were experienced and described in Mediterranean antiquity. Ancient experiences of and ideas about bodies, genders, and sexualitieswere often very different than those of the contemporary world. Nevertheless, because Greek and Roman antiquity and Christian beginnings oftenfunction as the imagined origins of "Western" (or European and American) "civilization," these ancient ideas about bodies, genders, and sexuality,maintain an out-sized presence in current debates about the "normal" body, gender practices, and the contour of sexuality. With a focus on earlyChristianity, the course seeks, on the one hand, to introduce students to the early history of Christianity through an inspection of its pluriformdiscourses on the meaning and regulation of bodies, genders, and sexuality, even as it keeps an eye toward the modern legacy of these ideas. On theother hand, the course gives students the opportunity to be introduced to key questions and theories in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studiesthrough the study of early Christianity and its environs [ more ]

WGSS 267Performance 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 272Sex 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 274 T'As If Her Mouth Were a Weapon': Jamaica Kincaid

Last offered Fall 2019

This course explores the work of the internationally renowned author Jamaica Kincaid. We will wrestle with her commentary on concepts and conditions such as death; the afterlife of slavery and colonialism; family relations; love, romance, their absence and their entanglement with hatred; and illness. We will pay particular attention to character and author navigation of negative affects and the blurred boundaries between fiction and autobiography. Course texts include Annie John (1985), Lucy (1990), The Autobiography of My Mother (1996), My Brother (1997), Mr. Potter (2002), and See Now Then (2013). They will be examined through the lenses of race, gender, sexuality, class and citizenship and aided by supplemental readings. This course will explore the power that structures and determines or constrains labor and citizenship status; abortion, reproduction and mothering; memory, literacy and archival production; and more. [ more ]

WGSS 275Women'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 279Erotic, 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 283Black Queer Looks: Race, Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary African-American Film

Last offered Fall 2019

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 ]

WGSS 284 T(S)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 300Advanced Ballet--Technique, Repertoire, & Revolution: Women at the Barre, on Stage, at the Helm

Last offered Fall 2019

To loosely paraphrase the feminist Emma Goldman, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." Designed for intermediate/advanced ballet dancers, in this course students will explore different topics in past and current ballet history through the lens of famous ballets, dancers, choreographers, etc. In Fall 2019, we will focus on some of the notable female figures in the world of ballet: while ballet is often perceived as a primarily "female" art form-and indeed, there are many more females vying for positions in ballet companies than males-historically, women have held far fewer leadership positions than men, and have had fewer choreographic opportunities. In addition to technique classes, variations and/or ensemble sections from selected ballets will be taught and coached to students. This is primarily a studio course, although readings relevant to our coursework will be assigned. These assignments will offer historical context, as well as provide rigorous looks at some of the ways in which ballet hasn't always lived up to its potential as a dance form for all people regardless of class, race, and gender. We'll consider basic information-the plotlines of the ballets-as well as more subtle ideas-famous dancers' takes on these roles, the socio-political aspects of the works themselves and the times they were created in. Viewings will also be assigned to allow students to fully explore and grasp the ballets and to provide additional contextualization. Students will submit (informal) written responses to the assignments. The class may go on one or two field trips to attend performances and will write response papers when applicable. This course MAY BE REPEATED for general academic credit (but not for additional WGGS major credit). ANY student with adequate prior training is welcome to this class! Material will be introduced at an intermediate/advanced level, and individuals will be assessed on their own personal progress. [ more ]

WGSS 301Sexual Economies

Last offered Fall 2018

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 will have either guest speakers or a field trip to hear from people working in various commercial sex sectors. [ more ]

WGSS 302Social Construction

Last offered Fall 2018

"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 303(F)Humans and Bodies: Theories of Embodiment

What is the body? Does the body precede culture, or is the body a product of society? How does the self relate to the body? How are sexual, racial, and gendered identities formed in and through the body? And how does the self sense its "own" body, or how does the body sense and make the self? In this course, we'll query and theorize embodiment through examining classical approaches (e.g., Freud, Lacan, Merleau-Ponty) as well as more recent queer (e.g., Butler), trans (e.g., Salamon), and posthuman (Haraway) theories of embodiment. [ more ]

WGSS 304 T(S)Rebels and Conformists: Postwar Germany from The 'Economic Miracle' to the Fall of the Wall

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 305The Gay Menagerie: Gay Male Subcultures

Last offered NA

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

WGSS 307Feminist Approaches to Religion

Last offered Spring 2011

What does feminist theory have to offer the study of religion? How have participants in various religious traditions helped to produce and enact feminisms? Feminisms and religion have a long though often troubled history of interconnection. In this course, we shall explore a range of feminist theoretical analyses that have either emerged out of particular religious contexts or have been applied to the study of religious traditions and practices. We shall consider how conflicts within feminism--especially those pertaining to issues of sexuality, race, class, nationality, ethnicity, and religious affiliation--make a difference for the ways that religion is interpreted and practiced. [ more ]

WGSS 308Thinking Diaspora: The Black Atlantic and Beyond

Last offered Fall 2018

Water imagery has been central to black diasporic culture since its beginnings in the Middle Passage---suggesting imprisonment, isolation, escape, ancestral communion, and death, for example. This course wrestles with the significance of water in diasporic literature--how it endures, how it has diminished, how it slips away from us. Black diaspora theory was revolutionized by Paul Gilroy's The Black Atlantic, which urged us to consider more deeply the role of the ship, the routes, and the roots entailed in the formation of diasporic consciousness. This course aims to expand students' theoretical skills as we discuss cornerstone and cutting edge texts of diaspora theory, with an emphasis on theories that work with the relationship to water, such as those by Jacqueline Nassy Brown, Omise'eke Tinsley. and Vanessa Agard-Jones. Primary texts will include The Big Sea by Langston Hughes, Sugar and Slate by Charlotte Williams, Barry Jenkins' Moonlight, and more. [ more ]

WGSS 309(S)Feminist Disability Studies: Bodyminds in Place and Space

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 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 310Womanist/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 311Theorizing Shakespeare

Last offered Spring 2018

For complex reasons, Shakespeare has always revealed as much about those who speculate on him as the speculators have revealed about him. In this course, we will engage a few plays in considerable depth: The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet and Antony and Cleopatra. But we will also use these works as a means to engage some of the most compelling trends in recent critical thought, including cultural theory and post-Marxist analysis, political theology, deconstruction and rhetorical theory, psychoanalytic thought and theories of gender and sexuality. In some instances, we will look at applied criticism, in others we will simply place a theoretical work alongside a play and see what they have to say to each other, for instance, what would a Shakespearean reading of Jacques Lacan look like? [ more ]

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

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

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

This course focuses on the politics of personal style among women of color in an era of viral video clips, the 24-hour news cycle, and e-commerce sites dedicated to the dermatological concerns of "minority" females. With a comparative, transnational emphasis on the ways in which gender, sexuality, ethno-racial identity, and class inform standards of beauty, we will examine a variety of materials including commercial websites, histories, personal narratives, ethnographies, sociological case studies, and feminist theory. Departing from the assumption that personal aesthetics are intimately tied to issues of power and privilege, we will engage the following questions: What are the everyday functions of personal style among women of color? Is it feasible to assert that an easily identifiable "African American," "Latina," "Arab American" or "Asian American" female aesthetic exists? What role do transnational media play in the development and circulation of popular aesthetic forms? How might the belief in personal style as activist strategy challenge traditional understandings of feminist political activity? [ more ]

WGSS 314The 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 315Paris on Fire: Incendiary Voices from the City of Light (1830-2015)

Last offered Spring 2018

During the 1830s, Balzac described Paris as a "surprising assemblage of movements, machines, and ideas, a city of one hundred thousand novels, the head of the world," but also characterized the French capital as a "land of contrasts," a "monstrous wonder," a "moral sewer." Similarly, writers from Hugo to Zola have simultaneously celebrated Parisian elegance and condemned the appalling misery of Paris's urban poor. Since 1889, Paris has been fêted as the "City of Light" for its Enlightenment legacy, its Eiffel Tower modernity, and its luminous urban energy, captured in countless paintings, photographs, and film. However, Paris is also the historical site of revolution, resistance, and riots. From revolutionary revolt (1830, 1848, 1871), to wartime resistance (1870, 1914-18, 1940-44), to reformist and race riots (1968 and 2005), Paris has repetitively sparked with incendiary passion and political protest. As fires raged during the riots in 2005, many heard the echo of Hitler's ominous 1944 question, "Is Paris burning?" and asked: why was Paris burning again at the dawn of the twenty-first century? And following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, many wonder what lies ahead for the City of Light. To answer these questions, we will examine the social, political, and literary landscape of Paris during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from urbanization and modernization, to occupation and liberation, to immigration and globalization. Readings to include poetry, short stories, and novels by Hugo, Balzac, Baudelaire, Maupassant, Verne, Zola, Apollinaire, Colette, Duras, Perec, Rochefort, and Charef. Films to include works by Clair, Truffaut, Godard, Minnelli, Clément, Lelouch, Luhrmann, Kassovitz, Besson, and Jeunet.Conducted in French. [ more ]

WGSS 316Feeling Queer and Asian

Last offered Fall 2019

This advanced undergraduate seminar focuses on concepts, queries, and methodologies at the intersections of Asian Americanist critique, queer theory, and affect theory. How might we come to understand Asian gender, sexuality, and racialization less through a language of being or meaning, as through feeling? How do Asian/American discourses rely upon languages of gender and sexuality, and how might queerness depend upon Asianness? How might these theories identify, complicate, and call forth more expansive or alternative practices of belonging? The class will read theories including national abjection, racial melancholia, disaffection, queer diaspora, and homonationalism, as well as engage Asian American literatures. [ more ]

WGSS 317The New Woman in Weimar Culture

Last offered Fall 2019

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 318Black Masculinities

Last offered Spring 2020

In this seminar, we will study the evolution of Black masculinities through cultural, social, and political movements from 20th century to the present. This course engages Black feminist thought, Black masculinities studies, queer theory and performance studies. We will examine the relationship and constitutive nature of masculinity and femininity. By examining representations and presentations of Black masculinities, we will pursue questions such as: How is blackness always already gendered? How is gender always already racialized? What are the effects of these gendering and racializing practices on Black bodies, spaces, and places? How has dominant society attempted to define Black masculinity? In what ways have Black people undermined these narratives and redefined themselves? How do racial stereotypes about Black men¿s sexuality inform representations of Black masculinities? What is the future of Black Gender? We will trouble the relationship between manhood and masculinity by examining the ways in which masculinity can move across various kinds of bodies. In addition to reading critical and creative texts, we will view films and engage other kinds of media. Students will be responsible for 2 short papers and a final project. [ more ]

WGSS 319(F)Gender and the Family in Chinese History

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 320Dangerous Bodies: Black Womanhood, Sexuality & Popular Culture

Last offered Spring 2015

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 ]

WGSS 321(F)Feminist and Queer Performance at the Limit of Action

What counts as feminist and queer activism? This course challenges what we dominantly understand as activism---key to the emergence of ethnic studies and feminist and queer theory. Moving away from political actions centered in these fields, such as strikes, protests, and boycotts, this course will turn to visual and performance art works by artists of color, who consider other forms of action that are not overtly visible, resistant, oppositional, agentive, militant, loud, liberatory, and documentable. Each week, we will examine a performance at the limit of action, including silence, sexual abjection, concealment, melancholia, and waiting, alongside issues related to race, gender, sexuality, labor, and migration among others. How might we approach and reconcile with performances that once again reify notions of racialized and gendered bodies as apolitical, passive, submissive, and compliant? Drawing on scholarship within black and women of color feminist criticism, queer of color critique, critical ethnic studies, and performance studies, this course will attune students to the role of aesthetics to interrogate and expand what we typically conceive of as activism, resistance, power, and survival from racialized, feminized, and queer positions. [ more ]

WGSS 322 TIntroduction to Critical Theory

Last offered Fall 2019

"Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason-that is the motto of Enlightenment." Thus the 18th century German philosopher Immanuel Kant exhorts his contemporaries to muster the courage to cultivate their capacity for reason. Modern faith in the prospects of universal human dignity, rational autonomy, the rights of man, individual liberty, democracy, open scientific inquiry and social and political progress depend upon it. Yet from its inception and continuing into the 19th and 20th centuries we find the promise of Enlightenment challenged by colonialist expansion, the rise of nationalism and the persistence of racism, sexism, genocide, terrorism, and religious extremism as well as the emergence of wars of mass destruction, environmental degradation, and the potential for manipulation of populations by consumerist mass media. Can the promise of Enlightenment be redeemed? Should it be? Among the possible topics addressed will be: criticizing capitalism, alienation and objectification, progress and freedom, the entanglements of power and reason, radical liberalism, the future of democracy as well as post-structuralist, post-colonial, feminist and anti-racist critiques of the Frankfurt School. Readings may include historical as well as contemporary figures such as: Kant, Freud, Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas, McCarthy, Honneth, Fraser, Amy Allen, Foucault, Ranciere, Achilles Mbembe, Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Spivak, and Charles Mills, among others. [ more ]

WGSS 323(F)Marxist Feminisms: Race, Performance, and Labor

Who is considered the dominant subject of labor? This course offers an overview of queer, women of color feminist, decolonial, and black and critical ethnic studies critiques of orthodox Marxism. Starting with core texts from the Marxist tradition, we will explore a range of social positions and forms of labor that complicate Marx's emphasis on the white male industrial worker. Each unit, we will study key scholarship that centers reproduction, slavery, care and domestic work, indentured servitude, sex work, and low wage flexible labor, to name a few, alongside queer and feminist modes of performance that respond to and/or provide strategies to live and survive under racial capitalism. We will discuss seminal works by theorists, including Karl Marx, Luce Irigaray, Cedric Robinson, Jennifer Morgan, Hortense Spillers, Lisa Lowe, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Dorothy Roberts, Angela Davis, José Esteban Muñoz, and Leo Bersani, in tandem with performances, such as paintings, performance art, poetry, protests, photography, prints, music, and sculptures. This course will equip students with a critical understanding of the ways racial capitalism has centrally relied upon the mass capture and recruitment of racialized and gendered labor in and beyond the U.S. and how, through performance, life under these conditions have been reimagined. [ more ]

WGSS 324Indigenous 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 325Television, Social Media, and Black Women 'Unscripted'

Last offered Fall 2017

Nene Leaks, Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, Kerry Washington and now Lavern Cox and Melissa Harris-Perry 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 ]

WGSS 326 TQueer 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 T(S)Foucault on Power and Knowlege

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 328Austen and Eliot

Last offered Fall 2019

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(S)Austen, Eliot, Woolf

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

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

The title of this course comes from Adrienne Rich's 1969 poem "Tear Gas," grounding our study in 1960s and 1970s feminist activist poetry but also in our current moment to answer a fundamental question: what can poetry do for us? In the 1960s and 1970s, 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 Judith Butler, as we analyze the kinds of performances that brought together feminist poetry and political activism. We spend some time in the archives, analyzing documents from the period, including 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 331(F)Queer Europe: Sexualities and Politics since 1850

This course explores the construction, articulation, and politics of queer sexual desire in Europe from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. By placing queer sexualities in their broader social and political context, the course examines the ways in which sexuality has become central to questions of identity, both personal and national, in modern European society. Topics include: ways of thinking about the queer past; women's "friendships" in Victorian Britain; the role of the new science of sexology in specifying various "sexual perversions"; the rise of sexual undergrounds in the context of European urbanization; the birth of campaigns for "homosexual emancipation"; attempts to regulate and suppress "deviant" sexualities, especially under the fascist and Nazi regimes in the 1930s; the effects of the postwar consumer revolution on the practices of sexual selfhood; the postwar "sex change" debates; the politics of 1950s homophile organizing and the 1970s Gay Liberation Movement; and recent debates about migrant queer identities in an increasingly multicultural Europe. The course will focus primarily on experiences in Britain, France, and Germany, but with some detours to Italy and Russia. Readings will be drawn from sexological texts, political tracts, memoirs, and the writings of recent historians and theorists. Several films will be screened and will also be central to our discussions of the changing meanings of sexual selfhood in modern European societies. [ more ]

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

Last offered Spring 2016

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

WGSS 333(F)The Nineteenth-Century British Novel

In nineteenth-century Britain, the novel took on the world. Shaking off its early disrepute, and taking advantage of growing literacy and innovations in production and distribution, it achieved in this period an unrivalled synthesis of mass appeal and aesthetic and social ambition. Its representational aspirations were breathtaking: attempting to comprehend in its pages the dizzying complexity of new social, political, and economic structures, as well as to delineate in finest detail the texture of individual lives and minds. In an age obsessed with the social, it engaged directly with the most compelling issues of the day, including industrialization and the gap between rich and poor, the role of women, nationalism and imperialism, and more broadly, the very nature of historical change itself. But it did so, for the most part, by telling fine-grained stories of ordinary men and women, people trying to make a living, worrying about their families and their neighbors, facing illness and death, and falling in--and sometimes out of--love. Since so many of these stories remain highly accessible works of popular culture, we will work hard to focus on what is strange and specific about the fiction of the nineteenth century, while also recognizing the roots of much that is modern in our own culture. We will also take seriously their social ambitions, looking especially at the ways they formulate, promote, and contest their readers' understanding of themselves as subjects and agents of an ongoing social history. Likely authors include Jane Austen, Walter Scott, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot. [ more ]

WGSS 334Islam and Feminism

Last offered Fall 2017

This course examines the relationship between feminism and Islam, focusing particularly on Islamic feminist scholarship. We will take a genealogical approach to our study of Islamic feminism tracing the different discourses that have informed and shaped the field. 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 so 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 focus on major intellectuals and thinkers who have influenced Islamic feminism. Finally, the last part of our course will explore the breadth of Islamic feminist literature, covering the following themes: 1) feminist readings of scripture; 2) feminist critiques of Islamic law; and 3) feminist theology. [ more ]

WGSS 335 T(S)Michelangelo: Self and Sexuality

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 337Race, Sex & Gender in Brazil

Last offered Spring 2019

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: The seminar will include a mandatory spring break 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. These form the basis of their final research paper. 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 338Latina/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 339Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination

Last offered Spring 2020

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

WGSS 340Elizabeth 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 341Cinematic 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, NordSud.com, Lichter (Lights), Code Unknown, The Flower Bridge, Occident, Since Otar Left, Losers and Winners, Whore's Glory, Le Havre and Time Out. [ more ]

WGSS 342American Genders, American Sexualites

Last offered Spring 2017

This course investigates how sexual identities, desires, and acts are represented and reproduced in American literary and popular culture. Focusing on two culturally rich periods--roughly 1880-1940 (when the terms "homosexual" and "heterosexual" came to connote discrete sexual identities), and the contemporary context of the "postmodern" 21-century--we will explore what it means to read and theorize "queerly." Among the questions we will ask: What counts as "sex" or "sexual identity" in a text? Are there definably lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer 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 historical events, such as the rise of sexology, the Harlem Renaissance, and the emergence of a transgender movement have had on queer cultural production. Readings may include works by the following authors: Butler, Cather, Diaz, Ferguson, Fitzgerald, Foucault, Freud, Hammonds, Hughes, James, Larsen, Lorde, Muñoz, Rich, Rodriguez, Sedgwick, and Stein, and as well as screenings of contemporary videos and films. [ more ]

WGSS 343 TRepresentations of Racial-Sexual Violence from Enslavement to Emancipation

Last offered Spring 2020

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 346Queer 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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 348Women, 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 350(S)Queer Tongues & Lavender Linguistics

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 352Mystic Spirituality in Black Women's Social Justice Activism: Brazil-USA

Last offered Spring 2018

This course examines the meanings and manifestations of mystic spirituality in the lives and work of selected Black women artists/activists in the USA and Brazil. The writings of Lucille Clifton (poet), Rosemarie Freeney Harding (activist and counselor) and Makota Valdina Pinto (activist and Candomblé ritual elder) are key texts for our exploration of the uses of mystic sensibilities and Afro-Atlantic ritual traditions--such as dreams and visions, prayer, divination, sacred dance, healing rites and other forms of unmediated intimate encounter with the sacred--as resources for creativity, community organizing, self-care and as aspects of political and social critique in African American and Afro-Brazilian contexts. The methodology of the course blends historical, literary and womanist approaches in an investigation of the conjunctions of spiritual practice and activism in the experience of women in the Afro-Atlantic diaspora. [ more ]

WGSS 353The Brontës

Last offered Spring 2020

Around 1845, three sisters in a remote town in Yorkshire effectively converted their father's humble parsonage into a family writers' colony. In 1846, each published her first novel--two of which would go on to become major classics. Within 8 years, all three sisters were dead, but by then they had produced seven of the most formally innovative, socially challenging, original and powerful works in English fiction. We will read them all, from Charlotte¿s best-selling love story, Jane Eyre, to the underrated Anne's brilliant and disturbing anatomy of an abusive marriage, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, to Emily's singular masterpiece Wuthering Heights, as well as their poetry and selections from the voluminous fantasy fiction they created together as children. We will also read Elizabeth Gaskell's acclaimed 1857 Life of Charlotte Bronte, the first full-length biography of a woman novelist by a woman novelist, which began the process of making the Brontës the cult figures they remain today. Reading these works together in the bicentennial year of Anne's birth, we will consider how their shared efforts helped all three sisters to push through boundaries few other women writers had dared to challenge. In a similar spirit of collaboration, we will mix critical and creative writing in our responses to these works. [ more ]

WGSS 368Arab 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 370Women Activists and Social Movements

Last offered Spring 2011

This seminar examines the role of women in "liberation movements," it focuses on their contributions to civil and human rights, democratic culture, and theories of political and social change. Students will examine multi-disciplinary texts, such as academic historical narratives, memoirs, political analyses, in critical and comparative readings of mid-late 20th century struggles. Women studied include: Mamie Till Mobley, Anne Moody, Ella Baker, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Bettina Aptheker, Assata Shakur, Yuri Kochiyama, Denise Oliver, Domitilia Chungara. [ more ]

WGSS 371(F)Medicine and Campus Health in Disruptive Times

This class uses the methods and theories of critical medical anthropology and medical sociology to help students design and pursue innovative ethnographic projects that explore campus health or community health. Students will use an array of ethnographic techniques such as observant participation, interviewing, focus groups, and qualitative surveys to explore our campus community comprised of students, faculty, and/or staff, that build on weekly discussions, feedback, and design exercises. We situate our campus health projects within the wider context of how power and intersectionality inflect and structure health and well-being locally and globally. Our case studies explore how structural racism shapes medical education, pediatric care, and maternity care in the US, how the spread of US psychiatry inflects the landscape of global mental health, and how queer activism responded to the HIV/AIDS crisis. We consider how disruptive moments like COVID-19 or HIV/AIDS can serve as focal moments in social history that reveal underlying inequalities of health outcomes and access. We attend to the parallel roles of narrative in medicine and ethnography, as we contrast the discourse of providers & patients as well as researchers & interlocutors. Throughout our goal is to better understand the strengths and limits of ethnographic inquiry while exploring the challenges of collaborative and participatory research within communities always already structured by power, privilege, and engaged practices. [ more ]

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

Last offered Spring 2020

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

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 377Legacies 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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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WGSS 378Uncontrollable: Deconstructing Stereotypes of Black Womanhood in the Americas

Last offered Spring 2020

In Black Feminist Thought Patricia Hill Collins powerfully illustrates how "portraying African-American women as stereotypical mammies, matriarchs, welfare recipients, and hot mommas has been essential to the political economy of domination fostering Black women's oppression." This course explores how similar social constructions of race and womanhood have evolved in Latin American countries affected by slavery and colonialism. We begin by revisiting Collins' seminal text, as well as the work of other feminist scholars, as a starting point from which to deconstruct controlling images of Black women in Latin American nations. We will then explore clips from films, television series, advertisements, and comic strips to analyze different iterations of stereotypes and their impact on Afro-Latin American women's life chances. The second component of this course will engage with Black women's resistance throughout Latin America. We will engage songs, poetry, and empirical data on Black women's resistance to examine they how have and continue to challenge stereotypes, educate the public, and construct their own narratives of black womanhood. [ more ]

WGSS 379(S)Black Women in the United States

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 380Freedom Dreams, Afro-Futures & Visionary Fictions

Last offered Fall 2018

In this course we will examine the various ways Black scholars, artists, & writers use science fiction and visionary fiction to imagine freedom and new world orders. We will focus on the role of history, particularly slavery, in the Black radical imagination. "Freedom" is the keyword throughout the course. We will grapple with the various and sometimes conflicting meanings and uses of freedom as it relates to blackness, gender, sexuality, class and ability. We will explore multiple forms of scholarship and cultural productions, including film, music, novels, short-stories, art, poetry, and other academic texts. All students will be asked to discover and develop their writerly voices through various critical, creative, experimental and performative assignments. [ more ]

WGSS 386Latinas 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 389Fiction of Virginia Woolf

Last offered Fall 2018

"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 401Senior 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 403(S)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 404Before We Were Queer: Gay and Lesbian Lives before 1990

Last offered Spring 2015

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

WGSS 408Senior Seminar: Nineteenth-Century French Novel: Desperate Housewives and Extreme Makeovers

Last offered Fall 2019

In 1834, Balzac wrote that "Paris is a veritable ocean. Sound it: you will never know its depth." The same can be said of the French nineteenth-century novel and its boundless ability to echo the 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 imprisoned housewife Emma Bovary, the reluctant revolutionary Jean Valjean, the social-climbing lover Julien Sorel, the ambitious undergraduate Rastignac, and the domestically-abused Gervaise became synonymous with France's turbulent social and political landscape from the 1830s to the 1880s. And 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(S)Transnationalism and Difference: Comparative Perspectives

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

WGSS 411Advanced Readings and Research

Last offered Spring 2019

This capstone readings and research seminar for WGSS majors will culminate in a substantial independent research project. In the first half of the semester, we will examine the disciplinary and interdisciplinary development of the field(s) of WGSS; read classic texts and examples of more recent scholarship representing a range of WGSS theories and methods; and explore a variety of methods and strategies for crafting research within the field of WGSS. In the second half of the semester, students will design and conduct their own WGSS-related research projects. [ more ]

WGSS 412Graphic 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(S)Feminist Technoscience

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? What features do they share as ethical, political, and epistemological practices? What have scientific feminism and feminist science looked like in print and in practice since the middle of the 20th century, and how have they shaped our present, 21st-century technoscientific culture? To address these questions, we will read a set of essays and academic articles that are connected by a trail of citations. These will include works of theory -- like Donna Haraway's "Situated Knowledges" and "A Cyborg Manifesto" -- research write-ups like Pat Treusch's "The Art of Failure in Robotics," and ethnographic work like Sophia Roosth's "Evolutionary Yarns in Seahorse Valley." We will also examine the editorial introduction to "Science Out of Feminist Theory," a 2017 special issue of Catalyst, and we will circle outward and backward to make sense of the terms and arguments we encounter there. While some of the readings will be set in advance, students will help shape the syllabus as we travel 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 416Senior 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 453Women, 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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

WGSS 468Practicum 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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

WGSS 491Honors Project: Women's & Gender Studies

Last offered Fall 2019

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

WGSS 492Honors Project: Women's & Gender Studies

Last offered Spring 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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