This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.
Fall semester. Professor Henderson.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as SWAG 105 and FAMS 377) In this course, students will interrogate the precarious relationship between political and popular culture. As we study how politics has successfully deployed popular culture as an ideological tool, we will also consider how politics has overburdened popular culture as a vehicle of change. These broad issues will serve as our framework for analyzing black femininity, womanhood, and the efficacy of the word “feminism” in the post-Civil Rights era. We will think critically about the construction of gender, race, sexuality, and class identity as well as the historical and sociopolitical context for cultural icons and phenomena. Students will read cultural theory, essays, fiction as well as listen to, and watch various forms of media. Expectations include three writing/visual projects as well as a group presentation.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Henderson.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ANTH 211 and SWAG 108) This course introduces students to theories and methodologies in the interdisciplinary field of feminist science studies. Specific areas of investigation include scientific cultures, animal models, and science in the media and popular culture. Students will continuously engage larger questions such as: What kinds of knowledge count as "science?" What is objectivity? How have cultural assumptions shaped scientific knowledge production in this and other historical periods? What is the relationship between "the body" and scientific data? And, finally, is feminist science possible?
Fall semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 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.
Omitted 2019-20.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) 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 a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.
Limited to 30 students. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145) This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.
Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Staller.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Visiting Assistant Professor Brown.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.
Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2019-20. Visiting Professor Picq.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 162 [US] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 35 students. Spring semester. Professor Manion.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 163 and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.
Spring semester. Professor Manion.2022-23: Not offered
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.
Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Lecturer Bailey.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) 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?
Fall semester. Professor Shandilya.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 208, BLST 345 [US], ENGL 276, and FAMS 379) Through a close reading of texts by African American authors, we will critically examine the characterization of female protagonists, with a specific focus on how writers negotiate literary forms alongside race, gender, sexuality, and class in their work. Coupled with our explication of poems, short stories, novels, and literary criticism, we will explore the stakes of adaptation in visual culture. Students will analyze the film and television adaptations of The Color Purple (1985), The Women of Brewster Place (1989), and Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005). Authors will include Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Gloria Naylor. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.
Limited to 18 students. Priority given to those students who attend the first day of the class. Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Spring semester. Professor Henderson.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 221 and ANTH 328) This course uses interdisciplinary feminist approaches in the social sciences and humanities to explore the politics of law, science, and technology, especially in relation to questions of power and identity. How do law and technology influence our understandings of sex, gender, race, and sexuality? How are gendered identities constituted locally and transnationally through engagements with science, technology, and law? To explore these questions, we examine a variety of topics including legal and scientific understandings of sex and sexuality; gendered and racialized aspects of biomedical research; the role of law and technoscience in reproductive justice movements; and, the gendered character of patent law, pharmaceutical development and marketing.
Fall semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 223 [C/P/TC/TE] and SWAG 223) This course invites students to assume a comparative perspective when analyzing different patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. We will discuss women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality. Our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, and Mamluk Egypt, with brief forays into Spain, Iran, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. Rather than determining whether women had more or less agency, freedom, property rights, etc. in either “western” Europe or the Islamic “east,” we will stress the need to integrate the respective bodies of historical scholarship, separate the issue of religious denomination from family history, and foreground the question of commensurability. We will examine marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem, the Byzantine imperial palace, and European courts; the fate of female refugees and converts; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran; widowed mothers and their access to custody in Islamic, Jewish, and Christian communities; child abandonment in early modern Italy and Portugal.
Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Sperling.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 224 [EU], EUST 224, and SWAG 224) In the 1920s and 30s, authoritarian and fascist states across Europe declared that sexuality was not private. Sexual choices in the bedroom, they claimed, shaped national identities and the direction of social and cultural development. Through a variety of programs, propaganda and legal codes, states such as Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sought to regulate sexual behavior and promote specific gender roles and identities. The intervention of the state in the intimate lives of citizens in the twentieth century, however, was rooted in the transformations of state, culture and economy that took place long before the speeches of great dictators. This course explores the cultural debates surrounding sexual practices, medical theories of gender and sexuality, and the relationship between sexuality and state that shaped European societies in the twentieth century. In case studies from across the continent, the course explores a range of topics, including but not limited to the history of sex reform, prostitution, homosexuality, venereal disease, contraception, abortion, the “New Woman” and sexual emancipation movements, sexual revolutions and reactionary movements and reproductive politics, among others. Students will explore how seemingly self-evident and unchanging categories—feminine and masculine, straight and gay, “normal” and “deviant”—have taken shape and changed over time, and how historical processes (modernization, imperialism, urbanization) and actors (social movements, sex reformers, nationalist groups and states) sought to define and regulate these boundaries in the so-called “century of sex.” Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 226 [EUP/TC], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.
Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Boucher.2022-23: Not offered
This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.
Spring Semester. Artist-in-Residence Brown.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.
Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2019-2020. Professor Coráñez Bolton.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition. Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. This discussion course requires participants to prepare a series of closely argued essays related to assigned readings and films.
Spring semester. Professor Niditch.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.
Fall semester. Professor Vigil.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of the contemporary prison industrial complex. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 30 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Manion.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.
Requisite: SPAN 202 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2019-2020. Professor Coráñez Bolton.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 260 and PHIL 260) The course will introduce concepts that feminists and queer theorists have developed in continental philosophy, phenomenology and existentialism. It will further explore feminist philosophies of sexual difference developed primarily in the French feminist tradition. We will address the role of the lived body in feminist and intersectional theories of gender, sexuality, and identity; the relation between self and other; the situatedness of subjectivity; and the meaning of sexual difference. We will study texts by Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Luce Irigaray, Adriana Cavarero, Frantz Fanon, Judith Butler, and Sara Ahmed, among others. In addition to original philosophical texts, we will use a variety of interdisciplinary materials, such as film, literature, art, personal narratives, medical texts and empirical studies to approach the themes at hand.
Fall semester. STINT Fellow Käll.2022-23: Not offered
Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.
Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Artist Carneiro.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.
Spring semester. Professor Shandilya.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism. Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Polk.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as AMST-296, BLST-296 [D] and SWAG-296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-disaporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.
Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Instructor Jolly.2022-23: Not offered
This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.
Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Polk.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Schmalzbauer.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 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. Not open to first-year students. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Staller.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as SWAG 329, BLST 377 [US], and ENGL 368) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering African American women alongside assertive male protagonists and savants. This course provides an alternative narrative to this representation by exploring the ways in which African American female characters, writers, and artists have challenged ideals of stoicism and submission. Using an interdisciplinary focus, we will critically examine transgression across time and space in diverse twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary, sonic, and visual texts. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.
Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Professor Henderson.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 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. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Polk.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.
Spring semester. Professor Shandilya.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.
Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Gewertz.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 336 and ANTH 336) This course introduces students to ethnographic research methods by exploring how interdisciplinary feminist scholars have engaged and challenged traditional anthropology. We will consider the dynamics of fieldwork, the ethics of research, and the production of anthropological knowledge through an engagement with the history of feminism in the discipline as well as with contemporary feminist debates. Students will design their own projects and conduct mini-ethnographies throughout the semester. Course topics include the cultures of biomedicine; the anthropology of reproduction; race, gender, and embodiment; and multispecies ethnography.
Recommended Requisite: 100-level SWAGS or ANTH course. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 337 [US] and SWAG 337) Angela Davis’ work spans some of the most provocative and important cultural and political moments in recent U.S. history. Beginning with the Black Power and Black Panther movements of the late-1960s and 70s, through innovations in the Black feminist movement in the 1980s onward, and recently with questions of racialized mass incarceration and links between Palestinian and African-American freedom struggle, Davis has forged a militant vision of racial, sexual, and transnational liberation. Her writerly and analytic voice blends philosophy and political theory with the urgent demands of activism and direct action. In this course, we will read across her life’s work, beginning with early essays and her autobiography, up through recent reflections on mass incarceration, Palestine, and #BlackLivesMatter. As well, we will examine Davis' influences and how she transforms and extends their thought, ranging from Karl Marx and Herbert Marcuse to Frederick Douglass, Assata Shakur, and Huey Newton, among others. What emerges from these readings is a rigorous and radical vision of liberation drawn from a powerful mixture of critical theory, vernacular culture, and political activism.
Fall semester. Professor Drabinski2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.
Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Katsaros.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.
Requisite: SPAN 211, SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Spring Semester. Professor Coráñez Bolton.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Hicks.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Polk.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.
Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Shandilya.2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
(Offered as POSC 375 and SWAG 376) Questions of race, gender, and sexuality have provoked profound shifts in the analytical methods of critical theory. Notwithstanding its subtle views of history, critical theory conceived of the political arena in overly abstract, generalizing terms. Exploring twenty-first-century approaches in social and political thought, this course expands the repertoire of critical strategies through which we can frame our current political landscape. Starting with discussions of intersectionality by Audre Lorde and María Lugones, we will go on to investigate new trajectories: Adriana Cavarero’s rethinking of human plurality (Arendt) in terms of the embodied singularity of voices; Amy Allen’s decolonizing reading of history and normativity in Foucault and Adorno; Sara Ahmed’s exploration of the institutional politics of use; Bonnie Honig’s view of the democratizing powers of public things; Anne Cheng’s revisioning of contemporary orientalism and its figurations of subject and object; Cynthia and Julie Willett’s account of comedy’s communal, gender, and race politics; Sianne Ngai’s deciphering of gender/sexual reversals occasioned through technological devices under late capitalism; and the forever self-updating “when and where” of Blackness that Michelle Wright contrasts to a focus on the “what.” We will explore coloniality, time, and freedom in Lucrecia Martel’s film Zama (Argentina, 2017) and watch a recorded talk by Angela Davis on critical theory, power, freedom, softness, and imagination. We will also attend lectures by Anne Fausto-Sterling and Joy James. Students will complete a research project. In the last segment of the course, we will collaboratively choose several texts geared toward these projects.
Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Not open to first year students. Limited to 18 students.
Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Professor Roelofs.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. A student may take this course more than once, providing only that the topic is not the same. The current iteration of this seminar will explore the consequences of neoliberalism, cultural conservatism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments for women of different social and economic strata as well as women’s divergent political responses. Why have some women become prominent right wing leaders and activists while others have allied with leftist, anti-racist, and other progressive forces to fight for the rights of women and other marginalized groups? How have transnational forces influenced both forms of women’s activism? To what extent are there cross-national similarities in the impact of the far right surge on women, gender and sexuality? The seminar will draw on examples from many different regions of the world, with particular attention to India and the U.S. There will be a final research paper for this course.
Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.
This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Picq.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.
Spring Semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Sperling.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as HIST 436 and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.
Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.
Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2019-20. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as ARHA 452, EUST 452, and SWAG 452) Shortly after the Franco-Prussian War—when there were more bloody corpses in the streets of Paris than at the height of the French Revolution—Monet and some others invented Impressionism. Rather than grab horror by the throat, as Goya and Picasso did in Spain, they created an earthly paradise. To this end, some ecstatically immersed themselves in nature; others tapped the gas-lit pleasures of the demi-monde.
We will revel in the different visions of Monet, Degas, Renoir, as well as of Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse—the Symbolist and Fauvist artists who followed. We will feast on the artists’ images, originals whenever possible (including Monet’s Matinée sur la Seine at the Mead). We will study their words—Van Gogh’s letters, Gauguin’s Noa Noa, Matisse’s “Notes of a Painter”—and analyze the ways in which they transformed their experiences into art. We will consider the centrality of beauty and joy in the creation of art and life. There will be at least one required field trip, on a Friday. This is a research seminar: each student will choose an artist, whose paradise they will study in depth, and share as a class presentation and substantial paper.
Requisite: One course in modern art, or consent of the instructor. Knowledge of French helpful but not required. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2019-20. Professor Staller.2022-23: Not offered
(Offered as SWAG 469, ASLC 452, 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 2019-20. Professor Shandilya.2022-23: Not offered
Independent reading course.
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.
Fall semester. The Department.2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022