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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Year:

2012-13

100 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. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
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

105 Women, Gender and Popular Culture

We will examine some of the most challenging issues about women and gender in our contemporary postmodern world, through the lens of popular culture.  We will investigate representations of women in popular and material culture in the U.S. through music, television, blogs, fiction, and advertisements.  As we interrogate some of the major theories in cultural criticism, we will use our own expertise as consumers of popular culture as an entryway for exploring the diverse roles mass-mediated popular culture plays in our lives.  Several questions shape the syllabus and provide a framework for approaching the course materials: How do familiar aspects of popular culture reveal broader cultural concerns about women and gender?  In what ways does popular culture blur the boundaries between the highbrow and the lowbrow?  What kinds of fears or anxieties about women and gender does popular culture elicit and how do we negotiate those anxieties?  Expectations include diligent reading, active participation, one presentation, two exams, and two writing projects.

Limited to 25 students.  Fall semester.  Visiting Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

113 Art From the Realm of Dreams

(Offered as ARHA 146, EUST 146, and WAGS 113.)  We begin with a long-standing Spanish obsession with dreams, analyzing images and texts by Calderón, Quevedo and Goya. We next will consider a range of dream workers from a range of cultures, centuries, and disciplines--among them Apollinaire, Freud, Breton, Dalí, Carrington, and Kahlo--as well as others working around the globe in our own time.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and WAGS 123.)  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.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

200 Feminist Theory

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.

Spring semester. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

201 Feminism, Gender and Science

This course introduces the burgeoning field of feminist science and technology studies.  How should we theorize the relationship between race, gender, sexuality and the sciences?  How has science grown to be the center of our cultural visions and imaginations and what does that mean for our futures?  Drawing on the literature of the history, sociology and philosophy of science the course first examines some of the foundational theories pertaining to feminism, gender and science. Then, using examples from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it looks at the way science and technology are embedded within a social and historical context.  Finally, the course examines a series of modern debates and case studies relating to claims about biological differences of gender, race and sexuality, genetic technologies, reproductive biology and technologies, eugenics, environmental feminism, alternate energy, climate change, and women’s health.  Students will have flexibility in picking case studies that interest them.  This is a discussion course and students are expected to participate. One class meeting per week.

Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Subramaniam.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

202 Black Women's Narratives and Counternarratives: Love and the Family

(Offered as WAGS 202  and BLST 242 [US].) Why does love and courtship continue to be a central concern in black women's literature and contemporary black popular culture?  Do these thematic issues signal apolitical yearnings or an allegory for political subjectivity?  We will draw on a literature, music, magazines, and film to examine what gender, race, class, and sexuality reveal about the politics of love and courtship.  Surveying the growing discourse in media outlets such as CNN and The Washington Post regarding the "crisis" of the single black woman, students will analyze the contentious public debates regarding courtship and marriage and connect them to black women's literature and black feminist literary theory.  Authors and texts covered will range from Nella Larsen and Toni Morrison to Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige. Writing Attentive. Limited to 20 students.  Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor.

Limited to 20 students.  Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Henderson.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2016

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D] and WAGS 203.) This course focuses on twentieth- and twenty-first century texts by black women writers based in Africa and the Americas. We will consider the stylistic choices that these women writers make in response to the broad range of challenges confronting them within the modern and postcolonial contexts in which they write.  The reading list varies from year to year.  This year we will read works by Edwidge Danicat, Marie Elena John, Buchi Emecheta, Chimamanda Adichie and Suzan-Lori Parks.

Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

204 Queering the History of the Body in Empire, c. 1750-1950

Whether by categorising and experimenting on bodies, criminalising and incarcerating them or exoticising and desiring them, European imperial power operated through the body.  This course looks at how Western European empires constructed and governed colonised bodies both "at home" and in the colonies.  The course charts the ways in which ideas of masculinity, femininity and able-bodiedness changed as a result of colonial encounter.  It looks at a number of case studies, including the history of an enslaved South African woman, Sarah Baartman, who in life and death was displayed in Britain and France as the "Hottentot Venus." The course explores and discusses controversial questions in historical perspective, for example the practice of female circumcision (also referred to as female genital mutilation) during the Mau Mau rebellion in the 1950s.  Using queer, post-colonial and feminist theory, this class explores how changing constructions of race, class, disability and gender were used as a tool of imperial governance.  Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Gust.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as WAGS 207 and POSC 207 [SC - starting with the Class of 2015].) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of “home”? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world? Texts will include Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, Ram Gopal Varma’s epic film Sarkar and Partha Chatterjee’s The Nation and Its Fragments.

Spring semester.. Professors Basu and Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

228 Feminist Performance

(Offered as THDA 228 and WAGS 228.)  The Women’s Liberation Movement dramatically affected the American social and intellectual climate of the 1970s. In art, as in education, medicine, and politics, women sought equality and economic parity as they actively fought against the mainstream values that had been used to exclude them.  Performance art proved to be an ideal match for the feminist agenda--it was personal, immediate, and highly effective in communicating an alternate view of power in the world. Artists explored autobiography, the female body, myth, and politics, and played a crucial role in developing and expanding the very nature of performance, consciously uniting the agendas of social politics with art. This class will take us from Yoko Ono’s performances of "Cut Piece" and the Judson Dance Theater's proto-feminist experiments of the 1960s to the radical guerilla-style performances of the 1970s and beyond, where the body was the contested site for debates about the nature of gender, ethnicity and sexuality. We will be looking at works that were not polite demands for legislative change, but raw and sloppy theatrical displays and ecstatic bonding experiences that managed to be at once satirical and celebratory, alienating and illuminating.

Fall semester.  Five College Dance Professor Valis-Hill.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

237 Gender and Work

(Offered as SOCI 237 and WAGS 237.)  How has the rise of working women complicated modern workplaces and the idea of work? One challenge is how to value women’s work fairly. One index of this challenge is that in workplaces across the world, women earn significantly less than men and are underrepresented in high status positions. What explains such gender gaps in the workplace? Taking an empirical, social-science perspective, this course will discuss three main aspects of gender and work. First, we will cover major theories of gender inequality, such as psychological stereotyping, social exclusion, structural barriers, and gendered socialization. Second, in learning about the sociological mechanisms of inequality in the workplace, we will expand our discussion to women’s work in the family and examine how the conflicts individuals face when trying to have both career and family influence women’s lives. Finally, we will discuss the mixed results of public policies proposed to reduce gender inequality and work-family incompatibilities and the possible reasons for those mixed results.

Limited to 20 students.  Spring semester.  Visiting Professor Mun.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

240 Flowers in the Mirror: Writing Women in Chinese Literature

(Offered as ASLC 240 [C] and WAGS 240.)  The focus of this course will be the study of sources authored by women throughout the course of Chinese history. We will deal with a wide range of material, 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 literary 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. Focusing on issues such as foot-binding, sexuality, violence, and love, in the works of writers such as Li Qingzhao and Zhang Ailing, 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.

Fall semester.  Professor Zamperini.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2012

241 Fact or Fiction: Representations of Latina and Latin-American Women in Film and Literature

(Offered as SPAN 240 and WAGS 241) From La Malinche (sixteenth century) to J Lo, Latin American and Latina women have been sexualized, demonized, objectified, and even erased by narrative and visual representations. Feminist texts have interrogated and complicated sexist and stereotypical master narratives; yet, a tension remains that repeatedly places women of color on a complex stage.  In this class we will analyze the discrepancies and convergences between fictional representations of Latin American and Latina lives and their personal stories of survival, assimilation, success, and economically driven daily negotiations to make ends meet in an increasingly globalized economy. We will examine myths of femininity and beauty, learn about the conditions of sex work in the Caribbean, and explore U.S. policies such as the Good Neighbor Policy to think critically about representations of women in Latin America and the U.S.  Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 199, 211 or 212 or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester. Professor Suarez.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2014

252 Women's History, America: 1607-1865

(Offered as HIST 252 [USP] and WAGS 252.) This course looks at the experiences of Native American, European and African women from the colonial period through the Civil War. The course will explore economic change over time and its impact on women, family structure, and work. It will also consider varieties of Christianity, the First and Second Awakenings and their consequences for various groups of women. Through secondary and primary sources and discussions students will look at changing educational and cultural opportunities for some women, the forces creating antebellum reform movements, especially abolition and feminism, and women’s participation in the Civil War. Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester.  Professor Saxton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

300 Ideas and Methods in the Study of Gender

This seminar will explore the influence of gender studies and of feminism on our research questions, methods and the way we situate ourselves in relationship to our scholarship. For example, how can we employ ethnography, textual analysis, empirical data and archival sources in studying the complex ties between the local and the global, and the national and the transnational? Which ideas and methods are best suited to analyzing the varied forms of women’s resistance across ideological, class, racial and national differences? Our major goal will be to foster students' critical skills as inter-disciplinary, cross cultural writers and researchers. This course counts as a proseminar designed for juniors and seniors in WAGS.

Requisite: WAGS 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Hunt.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and WAGS 310.) 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 Valdés Leal, Velázquez, Goya, Munch, Ensor, Redon, Nolde, Picasso, Dalí, Kiki Smith, and Cindy Sherman. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

312 Queer Geographies

This course will critically examine multiple works by three writers: Sarah Orne Jewett, Willa Cather, and Carson McCullers.  As American regional writers--Jewett, Maine; Cather, the West;  McCullers, the South--all three concern themselves with insiders and outsiders, with foreigners, neighbors, strangers, and natives. When these deeply national, and often highly racial or ethnic, distinctions begin to also make sense as sexual and gender categories, the textual layering of the narratives becomes perplexing. This course will require three short papers and one lengthy one.  

Requisite: One WAGS and/or English course. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Barale.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

326 Enlightening Passion: Sexuality and Gender in Tibetan Buddhism

(Offered as ASLC 326, RELI 326 and WAGS 326.)  In this course we will study the lives of prominent female teachers in Tibetan Buddhism from its inception up to the present day. Our focus will be on reconstructing the narratives of the trajectories to realization that women like Yedshe Tsogyal, Mandarava, Yid Thogma, Machig Labdron, Sera Khandro, and Ayu Khandro, among others, undertook, often at high personal and societal cost. By utilizing biographical and--as much as possible--autobiographical records (in English translation), we will analyze the religious and social aspects of these women’s choice to privilege the Vajarayana path to enlightenment, often (but not always), at the expense of more conventional and accepted lifestyles. In order to do so, we will explore in depth the meanings attached to femininity, masculinity, sexuality, and gender dynamics within Tibetan monastic and lay life.

The course will combine methodology from Buddhist studies, Tibetan studies, women and gender studies, critical theory, and literary criticism in an effort to unravel and explore the complex negotiations that Buddhist female teachers engaged in during their spiritual pursuit, in the context of traditional as well as contemporary Tibetan culture.

Recommended requisite:  Previous knowledge of Tibetan culture and Buddhism.  Spring semester.  Professor Zamperini.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013

330 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and WAGS 330)  From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

352 Proseminar: Images of Sickness and Healing

(Offered as ARHA 352, EUST 352 and WAGS 352.)  In this research seminar, we will explore how sickness and healing were understood, taking examples over centuries.  We will analyze attitudes toward bodies, sexuality, and deviance--toward physical and spiritual suffering--as we analyze dreams of cures and transcendence.  We will interrogate works by artists such as Grünewald, Goya, Géricault, Munch, Ensor, Van Gogh, Schiele, Cornell and Picasso, as well as images by artists in our own time: Kiki Smith, the AIDS quilt, Nicolas Nixon, Hannah Wilke, and others. Texts by Edgar Allen Poe, Sander Gilman, Roy Porter, Susan Sontag, Thomas Laquer and Caroline Walker Bynum will inspire us as well. Significant research projects with presentations in class. Two class meetings per week. 

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

354 Antebellum Culture: North and South

(Offered as HIST  454 [US] and WAGS 354.)  This research seminar will be focused on the development of family life and law, religion, and literature in the pre-Civil War North and South.  Students will read material on childrearing practices and the production of gender; conventions of romantic love; the customs and legalities of marriage, parenthood, and divorce; social and geographic mobility; the emergence of the novel, magazines and newspapers; and the role and shape of violence in the North and South. We will discuss contrasts in these developments, many resulting from the strengthening southern commitment to race-based slavery. We will look at these trends through the growth of a national,  white Protestant middle class and at the ways in which members of other groups adopted, rejected, or created alternatives to them. Readings will include secondary and primary sources including memoirs, novels, short stories, essays and diary entries. Students will write one twenty-page essay based on original research.

Not open to first-year students.  Limited to 15 students. Fall semester.  Professor Saxton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

367 After Midnight’s Children: Gender, Genre and the Contemporary South Asian Novel

The publication of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children in 1981 produced a radical change in the way that gender and genre were tackled in the South Asian novel. Writers in the post-Rushdie era experimented with genres such as magical realism, the postcolonial science fiction thriller and the postmodern spy novel to re-imagine the nation’s construction of gendered subjects. This course looks at the intersection of gender and genre in the work of Rushdie himself, namely his Midnight’s Children and The Moor’s Last Sigh among others, as well as Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines and Calcutta Chromosome, and Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games, Red Earth and Pouring Rain. Through a close reading of the fiction of these writers, literary theory on genre and gender, as well as feminist theory we will examine a range of topics such as the mapping of woman onto nation, the transgendered cyborg body as citizen of the nation and the production of masculinity through state-sponsored violence among others. 

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

467 Social Movements, Civil Society and Democracy in India

(Offered as POSC 467 [CP] [SC starting with the class of 2015] and WAGS 467) The goal of this seminar is illuminate the complex character of social movements and civil society organizations and their vital influence on Indian democracy. Social movements have strengthened democratic processes by forming or allying with political parties and thereby contributed to the growth of a multi-party system. They have increased the political power of previously marginalized and underprivileged groups and pressured the state to address social inequalities. However conservative religious movements and civil society organizations have threatened minority rights and undermined secular, democratic principles. During the semester, we will interact through internet technology with students, scholars and community organizers in India. This seminar counts as an advanced seminar in Political Science.

Requisite: Prior course work in Political Science. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2012-13. Professor Basu.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017

469 South Asian Feminist Cinema

(Offered as WAGS 469, ASLC  452 [SA], and FAMS 322.)  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.  Omitted 2012-13.  Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2019

483 Feminism and Film: A Study of Practice and Theory

(Offered as ENGL 483, FAMS 426, and WAGS 483.)  This seminar will be devoted to the study of feminism and film, considering the ways feminism has shaped both film theory and film practice.  Though focusing in large part on post-1968 writings, which largely ushered in semiotic, psychoanalytic, and feminist theory to film studies, we will also consider early writings by women from the 1910s-1950s in a range of venues–from fan magazines to film journals–that developed points of view regarding women’s practices as both artists and audience members.  We will also consider a range of films, from Hollywood melodrama (also known as “the women’s picture”) of the 1940s to contemporary action films, and from avant-garde feminist works to current independent and international films directed by women.  Informed by feminist film theorist Claire Johnston, we will explore how and when “women’s cinema”–whether theory or practice–constitutes or shapes “counter-cinema.”  One three-hour class meeting per week.

Requisite:  As an advanced seminar in film theory, some previous work with film and media studies is required.  Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Fall semester.  Professor Hastie.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Courses.

Fall and spring semester.

2022-23: Not offered
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, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

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

Fall semester.

2022-23: Not offered
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, Fall 2021