Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies
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Amherst College Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies for 2015-16

Sexuality Wmn's & Gndr Studies

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. Professors Saxton and Henderson.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

105 Women, Gender and Popular Culture

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 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Henderson.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2016

106 Realism

(Offered as ENGL 112 and SWAG 106.)  This course will examine the phenomenon of “realism” in a variety of artistic media. We will study realism in the visual arts, film, television, and literature with a view towards determining the nature of our interest in the representation of “real life” and the ways in which works of art are or are not an accurate reflection of that life.  Among the works we may consider are classic English novels (Defoe, Austen, Dickens), European and North and South American short fiction (Gogol, Zola, Chekhov, Henry James, Kafka, Borges, Alice Munro), essays and memoirs (Orwell, Frederick Exley, Mary Karr) and films, both documentary and fiction (Double Indemnity, The Battle of Algiers, Saving Private Ryan). Two themes will attract special attention:  the representation of women’s lives and the representation of war. We will address such questions as the following:  Is a photograph always more realistic than a painting? In what way can a story about a man who turns into a bug be considered realistic?  How real is virtual reality?  The course will conclude with an examination of the phenomenon of reality television.

This is an intensive writing course.  Frequent short papers will be assigned.  Each section limited to 12 students.  Preference given to first-year students and to students who have taken a previous intensive writing course and who wish to continue to work to improve their analytic writing.  Fall semester:  Senior Lecturer Lieber.  Spring semester:  Professor Barale and Senior Lecturer Lieber.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2016

111 Having Arguments

(Offered as ENGL 111 and SWAG 111.)  Using a variety of texts–novels, essays, short stories–this course will work to develop the reading and writing of difficult prose, paying particular attention to the kinds of evidence and authority, logic and structure that produce strong  arguments.  The authors we study may include Peter Singer, Aravind Adiga, Willa Cather, Toni Morrison, George Orwell, Charles Johnson, James Baldwin, Alice Munro, William Carlos Williams.  This is an intensive writing course.  Frequent short papers will be assigned.

Preference given to first-year Amherst College students.  Each section limited to 12 students. Fall semester: Professor Barale and Senior Lecturer Lieber. Spring semester: Senior Lecturer Lieber.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2016

113 Art From the Realm of Dreams

(Offered as ARHA 146, EUST 146, and SWAG 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. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Staller.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

114 Intersections among American Women

This course explores the relationships among diverse American women between 1880 and 1930.  Intersections will serve as a conceptual framework for considering the ways women forged coalitions and marked distinctions along ethnic, racial, sexual, and class lines.  The nation changed significantly during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and women responded to these changes variously.  A vocal group campaigned for suffrage, even as some women fought against it.  Reformers opened settlement houses and championed social work, while working-class women critiqued reformist ideologies.  Some women sought personal independence through contraception, while others found it in same-sex communities. The course will engage with a range of materials, including fiction, memoir, historical documents, and photography; readings will include selections of literary criticism, ethnic and racial studies, and social history.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Lecturer Bergoffen.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

115 Equality and Violence

(Offered as SWAG 115 and ARHA 115.) This Inside/Out course will meet every week at the Hampshire County Jail, and students will study how inequality of various kinds is linked to violence and sexual assault and also examine social art practice and its relation to issues of power.  Readings and discussions will focus on gender, racial, and class inequalities in society and examples of contemporary art work which address them. Inside and outside students will pursue and refine themes through interviews with one another and in art projects and individual essays.  They will produce a final project in a public forum to be decided on by the students for an audience of incarcerated and Amherst students. Students will create an accompanying  publication of text and images that enlarges on their debates and discussions. The course will be conducted on the Inside/Out model, and authorities from the Jail will collaborate with participants in determining the nature of permitted research, the format, and the timing of the final project.

Not open to first-year students.  Limited to 12 students.  Interview with the instructor prior to admission is required.  Fall semester.  Professor Saxton and Visiting Artist-In-Residence Ewald.

 

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

121 LGBT Perspectives in Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 121 and SWAG 121.)  LGBT Perspectives in Popular Music is an introduction to the ways that LGBT people and members of other sexual minorities have participated in popular music as composers, performers, and crucial audiences. In this historical survey of the recorded repertory of (mostly) American popular song, students will acquaint themselves with music in a wide range of vernacular styles and explore the social, political, and aesthetic contexts within which they have appeared. Representative figures in this respect include blues singers like Bessie Smith or Billie Holiday; composers of standards and musicals, such as Cole Porter or Stephen Sondheim; and Post-Stonewall musicians from Alix Dobkin to Rufus Wainwright. The course is designed to be welcoming to non-majors, and knowledge of musical notation and technical vocabulary is not required to enroll.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2015-16.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013

123 Greek Civilization

(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 2015-16.

 

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013

138 Greek Drama

(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 and Medea; and Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex.

Spring semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016

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.

Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professors Sadjadi and Shandilya.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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

(Offered as SWAG 202  and BLST 242 [US].)  Why do love and courtship continue to be central concerns in black women's literature and contemporary black popular fiction?  Are these thematic issues representative of apolitical yearnings or an allegory for political subjectivity?  Drawing on a wide range of texts, we will examine the chasm between the "popular" and the literary, as we uncover how representations of love and courtship vary in both genres.  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 black women and love and connect them to black women's literature and black feminist literary theory.  Authors covered will range from Nella Larsen to Terry McMillan and topics will include gender, race, class, and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students.  Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Henderson.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as Black Studies 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 15 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Visiting Lecturer Bailey.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206.) 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 2015-16. Professor Courtright.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012

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

(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? 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 Shandilya and Basu.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2016

208 Black Feminist Literary Traditions

(Offered as SWAG 208, BLST 345 [US], ENGL 276, and FAMS 379.) Reading the work of black feminist literary theorists and black women writers, we will examine the construction of black female identity in American literature, with a specific focus on how black women writers negotiate race, gender, sexuality, and class in their work. In addition to reading novels, literary criticism, book reviews, and watching documentaries, we will examine the stakes of adaptation and mediation for black female-authored texts. Students will watch and analyze the film and television adaptations of The Color Purple (1985), The Women of Brewster Place (1989), and Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005) as well as examine how Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970) was mediated and interpreted by Oprah Winfrey’s book club and daytime talk show. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Gloria Naylor.  Writing Attentive. Expectations include three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.

Limited to 20 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.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2016

210 Anthropology of Sexuality

(Offered as SWAG 210 and ANTH 210.) This course draws on anthropological literature to study the socio-cultural making of human sexuality and its variations. We will critically examine theories of sexuality as a domain of human experience and locate sexual acts, desires and relations in particular historical and cultural contexts. The course offers analytical tools to understand and evaluate different methods and approaches to the study of human sexuality.  We will examine the relation of sex to kinship/family, to reproduction and to romance. As we read about the bodily experience of sexual pleasure, we will explore how sexual taboos, norms and morality develop in various cultures and why sex acquires explosive political dimensions during certain historical periods. The course will explore the gendered and racial dimensions of human sexual experience in the context of class, nation and empire. How do class divisions produce different sexual cultures? What economies of sex are involved in sex work, marriage and immigration? What has been the role of sexuality in projects of nation building and in colonial encounters? When, where and how did sexuality become a matter of identity?  In addition to a focus on contemporary ethnographic studies of sexuality in various parts of the world, we will read theoretical and historical texts that have been influential in shaping the anthropological approaches to sexuality. We will also briefly address scientific theories of sexuality.  Two meetings per week.

Fall semester. Professor Sadjadi.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2015

232 Strange Girls: Spanish Women's Voices

(Offered as SPAN 232 and SWAG 232)  Although at times derided as abnormal "chicas raras," Spanish women have carved out a particular niche in the history of Spanish literature.  These novelists, poets, essayists and short story authors have distinguished themselves by tackling issues of sexuality, subjectivity, isolation, sexism and feminism head-on.  But how do we define an escritura femenina in Spain and what, if anything, differentiates it as a gendered space from canonical "masculine" writing?  This course examines the social, historical and cultural transformations women have undergone in Spain from the end of the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century.  We will explore a variety of texts and literary genres by authors such as Rosalia de Castro, Carmen Laforet, Carmen Martín Gaite, Ana Rosetti and Dulce Chacón. In addition, students will create their own canon by becoming the editors of an Anthology of Spanish Women's Writing. This course is conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 199, 211 or 212 or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Brenneis.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2013

237 Gender and Work

(Offered as SOCI 237 and SWAG 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.  Fall semester.  Professor Mun.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

239 Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239.) 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.  This discussion course requires participants to prepare a series of closely argued essays related to assigned readings and films.

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

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

(Offered as SPAN 240 and SWAG 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. Lately, feminist texts have interrogated and challenged sexist and stereotypical master narratives; yet, a tension remains that repeatedly places women of color on a complex stage. Throughout this course, we will think critically about representations of women in Latin America and the U.S. Through select examples of major screen stars from Hollywood and Latin America, we will engage a politically informed historical analysis of the way Latino/a images have been constructed. Our study will begin with black and white films from the 1930s, depicting the role of the United States government and the needs of Latin American politics in the construction of Latina identity. We will then examine the intersections between literature, film, and history, studying, for example, the role of the Good Neighbor Policy in effecting the construction of Latin American images via a Hollywood lens. This is a bilingual class. Much of Latino/a literature is available in English only. However, our discussions and written assignments will be in Spanish. We will produce advanced-level writing assignments.

Requisite: SPAN 199, 211 or 212, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Suárez.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2014

245 Latina Stories: Making Waves in the USA

(Offered as SPAN 345 and SWAG 245)  When political movements advocating for civil and human rights took full force in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, women from different Latin American and Caribbean origins discovered they could enter the national imagination through their writing and thereby defy historical erasure. In the last 50 years, the political literary production of Latina women has been vertiginous, important, and consistently understudied within the academy. Within a socio-historical context, we will study the making of Latina identities, the myths of unity in this label, and the distinctive nature of Latina stories from different countries and from different economic backgrounds. What is the role of Latina voices in the arduous and slow processes of nation building, democracy, and diversity formation? How have Latina lives and stories re-shaped concepts of community, introduced activism for LGBT rights, changed the parameters by which motherhood, race, and ethnicity are understood?  How have Latinas tackled issues of domestic violence and rape? How has their work transformed national and transnational meta-narratives of citizenship? We will read manifestos, poetry, and fiction to understand this complex and critical condition. Conducted in English.

Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Suárez.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015

271 Reading Popular Culture:  Girl Power

(Offered as ENGL 271, BLST 332 [US], FAMS 374, and SWAG 271.)  Girl Power is the pop-culture term for what some commentators have also dubbed “postfeminism.”  The 1990s saw a dramatic transformation in cultural representations of women’s relationships to their own sense of power.  But did this still rising phenomenon of “women who kick ass” come at a cost?  Might such representations signify genuine reassessments of some of the intersections between gender, power, and the individual?  Or are they, at best, superficial appropriations of what had otherwise been historically construed as male power?  With such questions in mind, this class will teach students to use theoretical and primary texts to research, assess, and critique contemporary popular culture.  Each student will also be trained to produce a critical multimedia project.  One class meeting per week, which includes a 135-minute seminar and a 60-minute workshop and lab.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor.  Limited to 30 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Parham.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 202, 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 My Son’s Story, Indian novelist Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, and Caribbean author Shani Motoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night

Fall semester. Professor Shandilya.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

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 SWAGS.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Basu.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(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. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Staller.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013

317 Women in Early Modern Spain

This course will examine the diverse and often contradictory representations of women in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Spain as seen through the eyes of both male and female writers. This approach will allow us to inquire into how women represented themselves versus how they were understood by men. In our analysis of this topic, we will also take into consideration some scientific, legal, and moral discourses that attempted to define the nature and value of women in early modern Spain. Works by authors such as Cervantes, María de Zayas, Calderón de la Barca, and Catalina de Erauso, among others, will offer us fascinating examples and different approaches to the subject. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 199, 211 or 212, or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Infante.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015

328 Science and Sexuality

This seminar explores the role of science in the understanding and making of human sexuality.  The notion of “sexuality”--its emergence and its recent history--has an intimate relation to biology, medicine and psychology.  In this course we explore the historical emergence of the scientific model of sexuality and the challenges to this model posed from other worldviews and social forces, mainly religion, social sciences, and political movements. We examine how sex has intersected with race and nationality in the medical model (for instance, in the notion of degeneration), and we look closely at the conceptualization of feminine and masculine sexual difference.  We briefly address studies of animal models for human sexuality, and we examine in more depth case histories of “perversion,” venereal disease, orgasm and sex hormones. We also compare contemporary biological explanations of sexuality with the nineteenth-century ones, for instance, the notion of the “gay gene” as compared to the hereditary model of “sexual inversion.” Course readings include historical and contemporary sexological and biological texts (Darwin, Freud, Kinsey, etc.), their critiques, and contemporary literature in science studies, including feminist and queer studies of science. This seminar requires active participation, reading an array of diverse and interdisciplinary texts and preparing research-based papers and presentations.

Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Sadjadi.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2016

329 Bad Black Women

(Offered as SWAG 329 and BLST 377 [US].) History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering black women alongside aggressive and outspoken black male leaders and activists.  This course provides an alternative narrative to this misrepresentation, as we will explore how “bad” is defined by one’s race, gender, class, and sexuality as well as how black women have transgressed the boundaries of what is means to be “good” in US society. We will use an interdisciplinary perspective to examine why black women have used covert and explicit maneuvers to challenge the stereotypical “respectable” or “good” black woman and the various risks and rewards they incur for their “deviance.” In addition to analyzing black women’s literature, we will study black women’s political activism, sex work, and rising incarceration as well as black women’s nonconformity in art, poetry, music, dance, and film. Students should be aware that part of this course is “immersive” and consequently, students will participate in a master class that will explore how dance operates as a way to defy race, class, and gender norms.

Open to first-year students with consent of the instructor. Priority given to students who attend the first day of class. Writing Attentive. Limited to 20 students.  Expectations include a master dance class, three writing projects, a group presentation, and various in-class assignments.  Fall semester. Professor Henderson.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015

330 Black Sexualities

(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.  Fall semester.  Professor Polk.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(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.  Spring semester.  Professor Gewertz. 

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016

339 Early Women Writers

(Offered as ENGL 339 and SWAG 339.)  [before 1800]   “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction,” Virginia Woolf famously said in 1929. What did the landscape of women’s writing look like before women were allowed such liberties, and what effects did their social conditions have on their writing? This course focuses on the work of early female writers, from the medieval to the Romantic period–many of whom are still overlooked today.

We will survey a range of writing by women from 1350 to 1850, putting English and American poets into conversation with political agitators, religious mystics and martyrs, the authors of woman-centered periodicals, and novelists. Our readings will include well-known works by Aphra Behn and Jane Austen along with lesser-known and even anonymous women-authored poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Secondary readings by feminist critics and historians such as Virginia Woolf, Judith Butler, and Toril Moi will frame our discussions. We will ask, how did women writers participate in or drive the invention of new literary forms, such as the periodical and the novel? Does women’s writing have specific formal or stylistic characteristics, and are these affected by women’s social standing and access to education?  What does an English literary history that fully includes women’s writing look like, and how does it differ from standard literary histories?

Limited to 25 students.  Spring semester.  Professors Nelson and Worsley.

 

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(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, 311 or equivalent. Fall semester. Professor Katsaros.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(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.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Polk.

2014-15: Offered in Spring 2015

362 Women in the Middle East

(Offered as HIST 397 [ME], ASLC 363 [WA], and SWAG 362.) 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 2015-16. Professor Ringer.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2011

374 To Sculpt a Modern Woman's Life

(Offered as ARHA 374, EUST 384, and SWAG 374.) We will revel in dramatically different works by women artists, from Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lynda Benglis and Louise Bourgeois, to Eva Hesse, Jeanne-Claude, Jenny Holzer, Rona Pondick, Doris Salcedo, Kiki Smith and Rachel Whiteread on down, as we explore how they created themselves through their work. As a foil, we will analyze the invented personas of Sarah Bernhardt and Madonna, as well as images of women by Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Magritte, de Kooning, Woody Allen, and Saura. While we will focus on original objects and primary texts (such as artists' letters or interviews), we will also critique essays by current feminist scholars and by practitioners of "the new cultural his-tory," in order to investigate possible models for understanding the relationship between a woman and her modern culture at large. Assignments will include a substantial research paper and at least one field trip.

Requisite: One course in modern art or consent of the instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2015-16. Professor Staller.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014

406 Historical Perspectives on Women's Human Rights

(Offered as History 406 [C] and SWAG 406.) This course provides a historical overview of conflicts over women's roles in family, the economy and the body politic. It addresses gains women have made as well as challenges they face in relation to economic development, military conflict, domestic inequality, health, and religious and cultural beliefs. It will introduce students to a range of obstacles that have arisen -- and continue to arise -- in the struggle to ensure that women are treated as full and legitimate bearers of human rights.  Materials will include some of the significant feminist critiques of human rights activities that have emerged from this struggle as well as a range of comparative views of advances and setbacks to women's rights in Latin America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and the U.S.  Students will become familiar with important instruments, strategies, and movements intended to remedy the inequalities that affect women.  Students will be expected to write a substantial research paper and participate actively in class discussion.  One class meeting per week.

Admission with consent of instructor.  Limited to 15 students.  Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Saxton.

 

 

2014-15: Not offered

410 Epidemics and Society: AIDS and Ebola

This seminar explores the AIDS and Ebola epidemics in the U.S. and globally, and the role of socio-economic, political and biological factors in the shaping of the epidemics. The course encourages students to think about AIDS, Ebola and other diseases politically, while remaining attentive to their bodily and health effects. We will engage with AIDS and Ebola on various scales, from the virus and immune cells to the transnational pharmaceutical industry, and from physical human contact to the political economies of health care. We will examine the racialization of the epidemics and study the processes by which some groups of people become more vulnerable to the epidemics than others. We will also explore the gender dimension of these epidemics, particularly the AIDS epidemic, from intimate sexual relations and power dynamics involved in negotiations over condom use, to global processes such as the feminization of poverty, the neoliberal economic restructuring of health systems, and the politics of scientific and medical research on AIDS. In addition, we will examine the role of social movements in responding to these epidemics.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Sadjadi.

2014-15: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Fall 2015

467 Social Movements, Civil Society and Democracy in India

(Offered as POSC 467 [SC] and SWAG 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 2015-16. Professor Basu.

 

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2013

469 South Asian Feminist Cinema

(Offered as SWAG 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.  Fall semester.  Professor Shandilya.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2015

471 Corporeal States:  Body, Nation, Text in Modern African Literature

(Offered as ENGL 471, BLST 412 [A], and SWAG 471.)  How do literary texts transmute human bodies into subjects–gendered subjects, colonial subjects, disabled subjects, terrorists, cultural icons, cyborgs?  And what happens when we use ideas about the body to represent the body politic? In this course we will examine how modern African writers utilize a variety of genres, including ethnographic writing, Kung Fu movies, pornography, traditional epic, and graffiti, to challenge our notions of what counts as a body, as a nation, or as a text. Alongside novels by established writers, we will consider recent books and digital creations by Chimamanda Adichie, Chris Abani, Teju Cole, Zakes Mda, Werewere Liking, and Taiye Selasi.

Open to juniors and seniors.  Limited to 15 students.  Omitted 2015-16.  Professor Cobham-Sander.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014

490 Special Topics

Independent Reading Courses.

Fall and spring semester.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014 and Spring 2015
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 2015, Spring 2016

498, 499, 499D, 498D Senior Departmental Honors

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

Fall semester.

2014-15: Offered in Fall 2014
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2015

Related Courses

ENGL-314 Sexuality and History in the Contemporary Novel (Course not offered this year.)
 

Contact Information

Rick Griffiths, Chair 2014-15
306 Beneski
413-542-5355
ftgriffiths@amherst.edu
Campus Box 2238
 
SWAGS Office
55 College St. / 14 Grosvenor House
Campus Box 2257 / PO Box 5000
Amherst, MA 01002-5000
Phone 413-542-5781
Fax 413-542-8192
swags@amherst.edu
 
Stephanie Kvam
Academic Department Coordinator
14 Grosvenor House
skvam@amherst.edu
413-542-5781