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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies



02 Global Politics of Gender

(Offered as POSC 39 [GP/IR] and WAGS 02.)  This course is designed to provide students with a solid understanding of the mechanisms by which international norms of gender equality and women’s rights develop and are implemented, with a special emphasis on discourses and practices of international human rights. The course analyzes international treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and addresses issues regarding domestic violence, political participation, reproductive rights, economic opportunities, and modern slavery, among other gendered problems. Bridging gender and global politics, we explore the ways international norms are transported from the United Nations to the daily reality of women throughout the world, and how states, civil society and institutions collaborate (or not) to promote women’s rights where they are most needed.

Fall semester.  Loewenstein Fellow Picq.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010

04 The Political Economy of Gender in Latin America

(Offered as POSC 44 and WAGS 04)[GP]Latin America has the greatest extremes of wealth of any region in the world, and gender is one of the most important factors leading to this inequality. The study of gender therefore offers a valuable window into the socio-economic structures and political systems of the region. Bringing together the disciplines of comparative politics, political economy, and gender, this course proposes to analyze the gender implications of economic and political reforms at large in Latin America, from the military dictatorships of the 1970s through the democratization of the 1980s, the neoliberal reforms of the 1990s, and the New Left. We will also explore the history and geography of women's rights in terms of political participation, agrarian reform, informal economics, reproductive rights, welfare policies, migration, and human trafficking. Beyond women's rights, the class analyzes social movements and the politics of contestation in Latin America, movements’ interactions with state actors and the impact of changing markets on women's empowerment.

Spring semester.  Loewenstein Fellow Picq.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

06 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 84, EUST 55, and WAGS 06.) This course will examine the ways in which prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery, and how these images influenced ideas concerning women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment. It will adopt a comparative perspective, both by identifying regional differences among European nations and tracing changes over time. In addition to considering patronage of art by women and works by women artists, we will look at the depiction of women heroes such as Judith; the portrayal of women rulers, including Elizabeth I and Marie de' Medici; and the imagery of rape. Topics emerging from these categories of art include biological theories about women; humanist defenses of women; the relationship between the exercise of political power and sexuality; differing attitudes toward women in Catholic and Protestant art; and feminine ideals of beauty

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2010-2011. Professor Courtright.

2020-21: Offered in Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017

08 Gender, Economic Development and Globalization

This course uses gender to examine the processes, politics and policies of economic development. We will begin with an introduction to alternative approaches to economics and to economic development, focusing on the neoclassical and feminist approaches, and on the theoretical frameworks that have shaped the gender perspective in economic development. We will also examine the impacts of economic development policy on men and women and on gender relations in Africa, Asia and Latin America, in the context of a globalizing world economy. Special topics will include women’s unpaid labor, women in the informal sector; the household as a unit of analysis; the gendered impacts of structural adjustment, neoliberal economic policies and economic crisis; the feminization of migration flows and the global labor force, and the implications of these trends for economic development.


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011

09 Early Spanish American Women Writers

(Offered as SPAN 85 and WAGS 09.) (RC) In this course we will study the writings of women of Spanish America from 1556 to the end of the 19th century, focusing on writers who came from Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Peru and Colombia.  Their writings cover the colonial period as well as that of post-independence, and trace the ever-strengthening role of the female voice in Spanish American literature.  There are the voices of an early settler in Argentina and Paraguay, three nuns (Catalina de Erauso, transvestite and soldier; the incomparable Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz; and the visionary Madre Castillo) followed by an important group of 19th century women who were finally able to make a living by their pen. The most famous of these is Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, who wrote the first antislavery novel of the Americas, eleven years ahead of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Most of them knew and supported each other by ties of friendship and a strong professional network.  In all of these voices one will hear articulated the desire for the right to express themselves as women and to be heard in a field that was decidedly masculine and often hostile to their efforts.  Conducted in Spanish.


Requisite:  Spanish 7, 11 or 12 or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Scott.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2016

10 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 85, EUST 70, and WAGS 10.) This course will explore the construction of the monstrous, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate the varied forms of monstrous creatures, their putative powers, and the explanations given for their existence-as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they share. Among the artists to be considered are Bosch, Valdés Leal, Velázquez, Goya, Munch, Ensor, Redon, Nolde, Picasso, Dalí, Kiki Smith, and Cindy Sherman. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Staller.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

11 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to the issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender and gender roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics change from year-to-year and have included women and social change; male and female sexualities including homosexualities; the uses and limits of biology in explaining human gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the relationship among gender, race and class as intertwining oppressions; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Fall semester. Professors Hunt and Shandilya.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

12 New Women in America

(Offered as ENGL 01-01 and WAGS 12.)  This course will examine the emergence of the “New Woman” as a category of social theory, political action, and literary representation at the turning of the twentieth century.  Early readings will trace the origins of the New Woman as a response to nineteenth-century notions of “True Womanhood.”  Discussions will situate literary representations of women in larger cultural events taking place during the Progressive Era–debates over suffrage as well as their relationship to issues of citizenship, immigration, Jim Crow segregation, urbanization, and nativism.  The course will focus on texts written by a diverse group of women that present multiple and, at times, conflicting images of the New Woman.  Close attention will be paid to the manner in which these women writers constructed their fictions, particularly to issues of language, style, and form.  Readings will include texts by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Pauline Hopkins, Anzia Yezierska, and Sui Sin Far.

Preference given to first-year students and sophomores.  Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Lecturer Bergoffen.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2016

13 Fashion Matters: Clothes, Bodies and Consumption in East Asia

(Offered as ASLC 29 and WAGS 13.) This course will focus on both the historical and cultural development of fashion, clothing and consumption in East Asia, with a special focus on China and Japan. Using a variety of sources, from fiction to art, from legal codes to advertisements, we will study both actual garments created and worn in society throughout history, as well as the ways in which they inform the social characterization of class, ethnicity, nationality, and gender attributed to fashion. Among the topics we will analyze in this sense will be hairstyle, foot-binding and, in a deeper sense, bodily practices that inform most fashion-related discourses in East Asia. We will also think through the issue of fashion consumption as an often-contested site of modernity, especially in relationship to the issue of globalization and world-market. Thus we will also include a discussion of international fashion designers, along with analysis of phenomena such as sweatshops.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Zamperini.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2011

14 Medea: Metamorphoses of a Myth

(Offered as EUST 26 and WAGS 14.) Beginning with Euripides’ tragedy, Medea has continued to occupy the European mind mainly in dramatic treatments by male authors (Seneca, Corneille, Grillparzer, Anouilh, and Heiner Müller). As multiple “outsider”-- woman, foreigner, sorceress, demi-goddess, abandoned wife--Medea embodies “otherness” in manifold ways: she is the representative of the conflict between barbarism and civilization, between the supernatural and the natural, the magical and the commonsensical, madness and reason. Recently, women authors like Christa Wolf have entered the debate, aiming to reclaim Medea as one of the repressed voices of femininity. Our approach will be interdisciplinary in nature: in addition to reading dramatic texts and background material, we will explore the transformations of the Medea myth in the European tradition in the fine arts (Vanloo, Delacroix, Anselm Feuerbach), in dance (Martha Graham, the Bolshoi Ballet), sample the operas of Cherubini and Charpentier, and view the films by Pasolini, Ula Stöckl, and Lars von Trier, as well as priceless B-movie masterpiece, Don Chaffey’s Jason and the Argonauts.  Readings will be in English. Students who know any of the foreign languages represented are encouraged to read the material in the original.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Rogowski.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009

23 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 23 and WAGS 23.)  We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did oral and mythological traditions develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts?  Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides.  The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.Three class hours per week. 

Spring semester. Professor Griffiths.



2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020

24 Gender Labor

In this course we will explore the intimate relations of gender and labor: both the necessary labor of genders’ production as well as the gendered organization of labor itself. In general the course will use gender to focus on contemporary concerns in the American workplace--class, ethnicity, sexuality, and race--but will also make critical comparisons with developments in other nations. The biological labor of reproduction and its intersection with the labor of production will necessarily be a constant concern in our discussions. We shall have to become familiar with certain terms: glass ceiling, glass escalator, mommy-track, affirmative action, child care, sexual harassment, welfare to workfare. We certainly might want to ask what constitutes work? But we also might need to wonder if work is done for love, is it still work?

Spring semester. Professors Barale and Olver.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

26 Women and the Law in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Historically the law has functioned as much to differentiate women from men as to assert their similarities. This course will explore the variety of types of laws (natural law, religious law, statute law, customary law, and the like) that have been used to regulate women’s lives and try to assess the philosophies that lie behind them. Family law, especially where it pertains to marriage, divorce, married women’s property, domestic assault, custody, and so forth, will receive special attention through a comparison of Western European and American legal traditions with Muslim shari’a law, both in the past and the present. The course will look closely at the law and law enforcement as they pertain to female sexuality, and assess issues to do with women criminals as well as women as victims of specific types of criminal acts such as rape. It will examine what happens to women when (a) legal structures break down, as in war, and (b) when “the law” becomes a tool of racial, ethnic, religious, sexual or gender repression. Finally, it will address the extent to which “changing the law” succeeds as a strategy for empowering women by looking at several key legal campaigns involving women in both Western and non-Western settings.

Sources will include religious writing (such as the Book of Leviticus from the Bible and the second and fourth surahs of the Qur’an), transcripts of court cases from a variety of times and places, historical writings on adultery and prostitution, biographical accounts of female criminals, and contemporary discussions in various media pertaining to the human rights of women and sexual minorities. Two class meetings per week.

 Omitted 2010-11. Professor Hunt.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2010

30 A History of Love: Chinese Romance in Time

(Offered as ALSC 36 [C] and WAGS 30.) The course will deal with the world of romance in traditional Chinese culture. Following the thematic arrangement found in the seventeenth-century text Qingshi, A History of Love, an encyclopedic work about the various forms love can take, we will read and analyze stories, novels, poetry and plays (in their English translation) from different historical periods. Our aim shall be to try and draw together all of the discourses circulating about the experience of passion, love and lust from the Tang dynasty up until the early twentieth century. If time allows, we will engage in comparisons with other East Asian traditions as well as with the Western traditions of romance, with the goal to generate meaningful cross-cultural exchanges.

Omitted 2010-11. Professor Zamperini.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008

31 Queer Canons

We consider how evolving sexual identities (homosexual/LGBT/queer) have used foundational texts (or “classics”) to create a shared history without getting trapped in it.  We look at these emerging identities in the context of more visible racial and ethnic communities, and read theory by Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, Eve Sedgwick, and others.  Some questions: How are queer kids parented by texts and, since great books tend to be tragic books, do we get more pride than pain from the experience? What do we gain and lose by recruiting earlier authors into identities that they would not have recognized or admitted? Are such canons a relic of the closet or do they still matter amid mainstreaming and the Internet? Authors and directors include: Sappho, Sophocles, Plato, Petronius, William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Radclyffe Hall, Virginia Woolf, Willa Cather, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Yukio Mishima, Manuel Puig, and Marlon Riggs.  

Omitted 2010-11. Professor Griffiths.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010

32 Human Rights Activism

(Offered as WAGS 32 and POSC 24 [CP, GP].) This course is intended to give students a sense of the challenges and satisfactions involved in the practice of human rights work as well as a critical sense of how the discourses calling it forth developed and continue to evolve. We intend to provide specific historical and cultural context to selected areas in which human rights abuses of women and men have occurred, and to explore how differing traditions facilitate and inhibit activism within these areas. The semester will begin by exploring the historical growth of human rights discourse in Europe and the United States, culminating in the emergence of the post-World War II Universal Declaration. We will then turn to the proliferation of these discourses since the 1970s, including the growing importance of non-governmental organizations, many of them internationally based, the use of human rights discourse by a wide range of groups, and expanding meanings of human rights including new conceptions of women’s human rights. The third part of the course will explore criticisms of human rights discourses, particularly the charge that for all their claims to universalism, these discourses reflect the values of European Enlightenment traditions which are inimical to conceptions of rights and justice that are grounded in culture and religion. Throughout the course, rights’ workers will discuss their own experiences, abroad and in the U.S., and reflect on the relationship between their work and formal human rights discourse.

Omitted 2010-11. Professors Basu and Saxton.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010

35 Other Shakespeares: Gender, Race and Sexuality

Why do we still read Shakespeare? What relevance does Shakespeare have for us today? In this course we will think through explorations of gender, race, caste and sexuality in modern-day adaptations of Shakespearean texts and continued need to engage with Shakespeare in the present-day. We will draw on a wide variety of both filmic and literary texts from across the world. Texts will range from Merchant Ivory’s Shakespeare Wallah to South African activist-novelist Nadine Gordimer’s My Son’s Story and South Asian feminist poet Suniti Namjoshi’s Snapshots of Caliban. Students are required to be familiar with Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and Macbeth.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Shandilya.


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011

38 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 38 and WAGS 38.) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, The Trojan Women; Rita Dove, The Darker Face of the Earth; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Oedipus Rex and Medea; and Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex.

Omitted 2010-11.




2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

39 Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 39 and WAGS 39.) A study of the portrayal of women in Jewish tradition. Readings will include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic legal (halakic) and non-legal (aggadic) material; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; and works of fiction and non-fiction concerning the woman in modern Judaism. Employing an inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural approach, we will examine not only the actual roles played by women in particular historical periods and cultural contexts, but also the roles they assume in traditional literary patterns and religious symbol systems.

Fall semester. Professor Niditch.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020

40 Flowers in the Mirror:  Writing Women in Chinese Literature

(Offered as ASLC 40 [C] and WAGS 40.) The focus of this course will be texts written by women throughout the course of Chinese history. We will deal with a wide range of sources, from poetry to drama, from novels and short stories to nüshu (the secret script invented by peasant women in a remote area of Hunan province), from autobiographies to cinematic discourse. We will address the issue of women as others represent them and women as they portray themselves in terms of gender, sexuality, social class, power, family, and material culture. We will try to detect the presence and absence of female voices in the literature of different historical periods and to understand how those literary works relate to male-authored literary works. In addition to primary sources, we will integrate theoretical work in the field of pre-modern, modern and contemporary Chinese literature and culture.

Omitted 2010-11.  Professor Zamperini.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2012

61 Women and Politics in Africa

(Offered as POSC 29 [GS, CP], BLST 25 [A], and WAGS 61.) This course will explore the genesis and effects of political activism by women in Africa, which some believe represents a new African feminism, and its implications for state/civil society relations in contemporary Africa. Topics will include the historical effects of colonialism on the economic, social, and political roles of African women, the nature of urban/rural distinctions, and the diverse responses by women to the economic and political crises of post-colonial African policies. This course will also explore case studies of specific African countries, with readings of novels and women’s life histories as well as analyses by social scientists.

Omitted 2010-11.  Five College Professor Newbury.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2010

62 Women in the Middle East

(Offered as HIST 62 [ME], ASLC 63 [WA], and WAGS 62.) The course examines the major developments, themes and issues in woman’s history in the Middle East. The first segment of the course concerns the early Islamic period and discusses the impact of the Quran on the status of women, the development of Islamic religious traditions and Islamic law. Questions concerning the historiography of this “formative” period of Islamic history, as well as hermeneutics of the Quran will be the focus of this segment. The second segment of the course concerns the 19th- and 20th-century Middle East. We will investigate the emergence and development of the “woman question,” the role of gender in the construction of Middle Eastern nationalisms, women’s political participation, and the debates concerning the connections between women, gender, and religious and cultural traditions. The third segment of the course concerns the contemporary Middle East, and investigates new developments and emerging trends of women’s political, social and religious activism in different countries. The course will provide a familiarity with the major primary texts concerning women and the study of women in the Middle East, as well as with the debates concerning the interpretation of texts, law, religion, and history in the shaping of women’s status and concerns in the Middle East today. This class is conducted as a seminar. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2010-11. Professor Ringer.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2014

64 Women's History, America: 1865 to Present

(Offered as HIST 46 [US] and WAGS 64.) This course begins with an examination of the experience of women from different racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds during Reconstruction. It will look at changes in family life as a result of increasing industrialization and the westward movement of settler families, and will also look at the settlers’ impact on Native American women and families. Topics will include the work and familial experiences of immigrant women (including Irish, Polish, and Italian), women’s reform movements (particularly suffrage, temperance, and anti-lynching), the expansion of educational opportunities, and the origins and programs of the Progressives. The course will examine the agitation for suffrage and the subsequent splits among feminists, women’s experiences in the labor force, and participation in the world wars. Finally, we will look at the origins of the Second Wave and its struggles to transcend its white middle-class origins. Two class meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Saxton.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011

66 Mother India: Reading Gender and Nation in South Asia 

(Offered as WAGS 66, ASLC 51, and FAMS 30-01.)  Do you often wonder why some countries are referred to as the “motherland” and others as the “fatherland”? What and who decides how we refer to a country? In this course, we will examine seismic changes over time in gendered imaginings of the Indian subcontinent. As women stepped out of the domestic sphere to participate in the nationalist struggle of the late 19th century, the idea of the nation swayed dramatically between the nation as wife and the nation as mother in the Indian popular imagination. Readings will include novels such as Rabindranath Tagore’s Home and the World and Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things. We will also study a range of cinematic texts from the classic Mother India to the recent feminist film Silent Waters.

Limited to 20 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Shandilya.


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010

68 Globalization, Social Movements and Human Rights

(Offered as POSC 86 [CP, IR] and WAGS 68.) This seminar will explore the changing trajectories of social movements amidst economic, political and cultural globalization. Social movements have organized in opposition to the environmental destruction, increased class inequalities and diminished accountability of nation states that have often accompanied the global spread of capitalism. Globalization from above has given rise to globalization from below as activists have organized transnationally, employing new technologies of communication and appealing to universal human rights. However, in organizing transnationally and appealing to universal principles, activists may find their energies displaced from local to transnational arenas, from substantive to procedural inequalities, and from grass roots activism to routinized activity within the judicial process. We will consider the extent to which globalization heightens divisions between universalistic and particularistic movements or contributes to the creation of a global civil society which can protect and extend human rights. We will examine women’s movements, environmental movements, and democracy movements in several regions of the world. This course fulfills the requirement of an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: One of Political Science 13, 20, 31, 46, 48, 70, or 74. Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Basu.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010

69 South Asian Feminist Cinema

(Offered as WAGS 69, ASLC 52 [SA], and FAMS 58.)  How do we define the word “feminism”? Can the term be used to define cinematic texts outside the Euro-American world? In this course we will study a range of issues that have been integral to feminist theory--the body, domesticity, same sex desire, gendered constructions of the nation, feminist utopias and dystopias--through a range of South Asian cinematic texts. Through our viewings and readings we will consider whether the term “feminist” can be applied to these texts, and we will experiment with new theoretical lenses for exploring these films. Films will range from Satyajit Ray’s classic masterpiece Charulata to Gurinder Chadha’s trendy diasporic film, Bend It Like Beckham. Attendance for screenings on Monday is compulsory.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Shandilya.


2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2019

77, 78D, 78 Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

79 Feminism, Theater, and Performance

(Offered as ENGL 79 and WAGS 79.)  Why feminism? Isn’t feminism outmoded and passé? What is feminism today, and how is it relevant for theater and performance work? This class will explore the relationship between feminist history, theory, and practice. It will serve as an introduction to the work of twentieth-century women playwrights, performance artists, and critical thinkers. We will first confront feminism as a tool for reading and interpreting issues of gender and sexuality in plays and performances. We will also consider how, and to what extent, feminism influences practices of writing, performing, and spectatorship. We will then mobilize a global and inclusive definition of feminism in order to explore how the social and political aims of early feminisms influenced thinking about racial, national, post-colonial, queer, and ethnic representation in performance. Central debates will include the distinctions and shifts between theater and performance; textuality and embodiment; essentialism and social construction; and identity and representation. Course materials will include plays, performances, and visual art as well as feminist theoretical texts. We will aim to understand the diverse political and personal ambitions, risks, and power of women’s theoretical, theatrical, and performance work.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Cayer.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2011

85 States of Poverty

(Offered as POSC 85 [AP, GP] and WAGS 85.) In this course the students will examine the role of the modern welfare state in people’s everyday lives. We will study the historical growth and retrenchment of the modern welfare state in the United States and other Western democracies. The course will critically examine the ideologies of “dependency” and the role of the state as an agent of social control. In particular, we will study the ways in which state action has implications for gender identities. In this course we will analyze the construction of social problems linked to states of poverty, including hunger, homelessness, health care, disability, discrimination, and violence. We will ask how these conditions disproportionately affect the lives of women and children. We will take a broad view of the interventions of the welfare state by considering not only the impact of public assistance and social service programs, but the role of the police, family courts, therapeutic professionals, and schools in creating and responding to the conditions of impoverishment. The work of the seminar will culminate in the production of a research paper and students will be given the option of incorporating field work into the independent project. This course fulfills the requirement for an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: Some previous exposure to background material. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011


(Offered as English 95-04 and Women’s and Gender Studies 95-01.)  This course examines some of the many ways American authors have written about memory–memories of the past as well as of other places, about memories that refuse to be surfaced and memories that are at times not even of their protagonists’ own lives.  How, for instance, do writers portray the ways painful pasts have influenced their characters’ senses of self-identity?  What does it mean to suffer for a past whose details one does not even know?  Is a truth freeing, or does overcoming the hidden and silent increase memory’s burdens?  What are some of the possibilities and limitations of portraying traumatic experiences in the novel form?  And can “trauma” even mean the same thing across ethnic experiences?  With such questions in mind we will look specifically at novels concerned with two of the foundational experiences of American civilization, slavery and migration, and at the pervasive problems of longing, disjuncture, and displacement endemic to such experiences.  Authors we may read in this cross-cultural literature course include Maxine Hong Kingston, Edwidge Danticat, Gayl Jones, and Cynthia Ozick.

Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Parham.

2020-21: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2010

97, 98 Special Topics

Independent Reading Courses.

Fall semester.

2020-21: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2021
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020