Submitted by Amy A. Ford (inactive) on Tuesday, 9/6/2011, at 1:26 PM

Feminist Theory

WAGS 200

Fall 2011

Chapin 103


Krupa Shandilya

30E Johnson Chapel


Office hours: Mon. &Wed.:10am-11am


Course Description:


In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the “queer” as subject, and the construction of masculinity among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation. Texts include feminist philosopher Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, anthropologist Kamala Visweswaran’s Fictions of Feminist Ethnography and feminist economist Bina Agarwal’s The Structure of Patriarchy.


Course Materials:


Books for purchase are marked P on the syllabus and can be found at Amherst Books, 8 Main Street, 413.256.1547. All Other Required Readings for this course can be found on E-Reserve (E). 


Required Texts:

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace, Penguin Books: 2000

Shani Motoo, Cereus Blooms at Night, Grove Press: 2009

Anais Nin, Little Birds, Mariner Books: 2004

Patricia Powell, A Small Gathering of Bones, Beacon Press: 2003 (Available only through the WAGS department, 14 Grosvenor House. $14)

Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto, Tribeca Books: 2011

Carole McCann, Seung-Kyung Kim (ed.), Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, Routledge: 2009


Films are marked (F). We will be discussing the following films over the course of the semester:


Madhur Bhandarkar, Fashion (2008)

Jane Campion, The Piano (1993)

Madhur Bhandarkar, Chandni Bar (2001)

Claire Denis, White Material (2010)



Course Requirements


1. I expect you to attend class regularly and inform me by email if you miss a class.


2.  Read the readings before class, not during or after class or right before the papers are due.


3.  There will be three papers.  The approximate weighting is as follows:

            Paper 1:                       (4-5 pages) 20% of base grade

            Paper 2:                       (4-5pages) 25% of base grade

            Paper 3:                       (6-7 pages) 30% of base grade

            Speaker Report :         (4-5 pages) 10%

Class Attendance:       15%



Due dates for Papers:              Paper 1: Friday Oct. 13th

                                                Paper 2: Friday Nov. 11th

                                                Speaker Report: Friday Dec. 2nd

                                                Paper 3: Friday Dec. 16th       




Wed. Sept. 7th








Mon. Sept. 12th: Feminisms

Uma Narayan, “The Project of Feminist Epistemology: Perspective from a Nonwestern Feminist” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, “Feminist Encounters: Locating the Politics of Experience” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives (P)


Wed. Sept 14th:  Why Theory?

bell hooks, “Theory as Liberatory Practice” Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 4:1, 1991-1992.

Maria C. Lugones and Elizabeth V. Spelman, “Have We Got a Theory for You!” Women's Studies International Forum, 1983






Mon. Sept. 19th: The Category of Woman

Sandra Harding, “The Instability of the Analytical Categories of Feminist Theory” Signs

Vol. 11, No. 4 (Summer, 1986), pp. 645-664

Donna Haraway “Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives

Shani Motoo, Cereus Blooms at Night (P) Chapters 1-6


Wed. Sept 21st: Being a Woman/Becoming a Woman

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, Chapter 1, Vintage: 1989.

Shani Motoo, Cereus Blooms at Night Chapters 7-11




Mon. Sept.26th: Between Woman and Man

Shani Motoo, Cereus Blooms at Night Chapters 12-19

Judith Butler, “Sex and Gender in Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex”

Yale French Studies No. 72, Simone de Beauvoir: Witness to a Century (1986), pp. 35-49

Christine Delphy, “Rethinking Sex and Gender” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives




Wed. Sept. 28th: Sexuality

Sigmund Freud, “Female Sexuality” Sexuality and the Psychology of Love, Touchstone:  1997, 184-201.

Franz Fanon, Black Skin White Masks, Grove Pres: 2008, Chapter 2 and Chapter 3




Mon. Oct. 3rd: Writing Desire: L’ecriture Feminine

Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa” Signs, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Summer, 1976), pp. 875-893

Luce Irigary, “When Our Lips Speak Together” Signs, Vol. 6, No. 1, Women: Sex and Sexuality, Part 2 (Autumn, 1980), pp. 69-79

Anais Nin, Little Birds (P) (selections)


Wed. Oct. 5th: The Gaze and Desire

Laura Mulvey “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” Feminist film Theory (ed.) Susan Thornham, pp. 58-69.

Vanita Reddy, “The Nationalization of the Global Indian Woman: Geographies of Beauty in Femina” South Asian Popular Culture Volume 4, Issue 1 April 2006, pp. 61-85.

Madhur Bhandarkar, Fashion (film)



Mon Oct. 10th: FALL BREAK


Wed. Oct. 12th: Desire and Power

Ranjana Khanna, “The Ethical Ambiguities of Transnational Feminisms” Dark Continents: Psychoanalysis and Colonialism, Duke University Press Books: 2003, 207-230

Jane Campion, The Piano (1993) (film)


Friday Oct. 13th: Paper 1 Due






Mon. Oct. 17th:  Biopower

Michel Foucault, “The Body of the Condemned” Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Vintage: 1995, pp. 3-31

Michel Foucault, “We ‘Other Victorians’” History of Sexuality: Vol. 1, Vintage: 1990, pp. 1-14


Wed. Oct. 19th: Bodies and Power

Judith Butler, “Bodies and Power Revisited” Feminism and the final Foucault (ed.) Dianna Taylor, Karen Vintges, University of Illinois Press: 2004, pp. 183-196

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace (P) Chapters 1-6




Mon. Oct. 24th: Politics of the Body I

Susan Bordo, “Feminism Foucault and the Politics of the Body” Feminist theory and the body: A Reader, (ed.) Janet Price and Margrit Shildrick, Routledge: 1999, pp. 246-257

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace, Chapters 7-20


Wed. Oct. 26th : Politics of the Body II

J.M. Coetzee, Disgrace, Chapters 21-23

Lucy Valerie Graham, “Reading the Unspeakable: Rape in J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace

Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Jun., 2003), pp. 433-444

Elleke Boehmer, “Not Saying Sorry, Not Speaking Pain: Gender Implications in DisgraceInterventions: international journal of postcolonial studies, Volume 4, Number 3, 1 November 2002 , pp. 342-351






Mon. Oct. 31st: Marx and Feminism

Friedrich Engels, “Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State,” The Essential Feminist Reader (ed.) Estelle Freedman, Modern Library: 2007, 104-11.

Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto (P)

Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives


Wed. Nov. 2nd: The Gendered Division of Labour

Bina Agarwal, “Bargaining and Gender Relations: Within and Beyond the Household” Feminist Economics, 1997, vol. 3, issue 1, pp. 1-51

Heidi I. Hartmann, “The Family as the Locus of Gender, Class, and Political Struggle: The Example of Housework” Signs, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Spring, 1981), pp. 366-394




Mon. Nov. 7th: The Political Economy of Gender

Iris Young, “Socialist Feminism and The Limits Of Dual System Theory” Socialist Review 10.2-3 (1980), 169-188.

Gayle Rubin, “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex” in Rayna Reiter, ed., Toward an Anthropology of Women, 157-210.

Madhur Bhandarkar, Chandni Bar (2001) (film)


Wed. Nov. 9th: Theorizing Women’s Labour

Gayatri Spivak, “Introduction”, Breast Stories Seagull Books: 1997

Mahasveta Devi, “The Breast Giver” Breast Stories, Seagull Books: 1997


Friday Nov. 11th: Paper 2 due






Mon. Nov. 14th: Race as a Critical Category for Feminist Thought

Uttal, Lynet. "Inclusion Without Influence: The Continuing Tokenism of Women of

Color," in Gloria Anzaldúa, ed., Making Face, Making Soul/ Haciendo Caras:

Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, pp. 42-45.

Grillo, Trina and Stephanie Wildman. "Sexism, Racism, and the Analogy Problem in

Feminist Thought," in Jeanne Adleman and Gloria M. Enguidanos, (eds.) Racism in the Lives of Women

The Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives

Claire Denis, White Material (2010) (F)


Wed. Nov. 16th: The Politics of Race

Gwendolyn Mikell, “African Feminism: Toward a new Politics of Representation” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives

Mitsuye Yamada, “Invisibility is an Unnatural Disaster: Reflections of an Asian American Woman” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives

Patricia Hill Collins, “The Politics of Black Feminist Thought” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives




WEEK 13:


Mon. Nov. 28th: Race, Nationalism and Gender

Anne McClintock, “Massa and Maids: Power and Desire in the Imperial Metropolis” Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, pp. 75-131

Anne McClintock, “‘No Longer in a future Heaven’: Gender Race and Nationalism” Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (ed.) Anne Mcclintock, Aamir Mufti and Ella Shohat, Univ. of Minnesota Press: 1997, pp. 89-112


Wed. Nov. 30th: Woman and Nation

Lata Mani, “Multiple Mediations: Feminist Scholarship in the Age of Multinational Reception” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives

Saba Mahmood, “Feminism, Democracy, and Empire: Islam and the War of Terror,” in Women Studies on the Edge, ed., Joan W. Scott, Duke University Press, 2008


Friday Dec 2nd: Speaker Report Due




WEEK 14:


Mon. Dec. 5th: Queer Theory

Eve Sedgwick, “Epistemology of the Closet” Epistemology of the Closet, 67-90

Judith Halberstam, “Introduction: What’s Queer About Queer Studies Now?” Special Issue of Social Text, co-edited with David Eng and Jose Munoz (Vol. 84–85 Fall/Winter 2005), pp. 1-17

Gayatri Gopinath, “Funny Boys and Girls: Notes on a Queer South Asian Planet” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives


Wed. Dec. 7th: Desiring Women

Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality & Lesbian Existence” Journal of Women's History, Volume 15, Number 3, Autumn 2003, pp. 11-48

Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn (selections)                       

Audre Lorde, “An Interview: Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich,” Sister Outsider




Mon. Dec. 12th: Desiring Men

Marlon Ross, “Beyond the Closet as Raceless Paradigm,” Black queer studies: a critical anthology (ed.) E. Patrick Johnson, Mae Henderson, Duke University Press: 2005, 161-189

Anthony Lemelle, Jr., "Black Masculinity as Sexual Politics" Black Masculinity and Sexual Politics, Routledge: 2009, 1-35

Patricia Powell, A Small Gathering of Bones (P) Chapters 1-4


Wed. Dec. 14th: Masculinity

Judith Halberstam, “Shame and White Gay Masculinity” Social Text 2005 23(3-4 84-85):219-233

Patricia Powell, A Small Gathering of Bones Chapters 5-7


Friday Dec. 16th: Paper 3 Due