Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

2024-25

101 Intro to Queer/Trans Studies

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of queer/trans studies through a diverse range of texts and media, both canonical and new. Queer/trans studies is less about individual identities or groups of people and more about questioning and unpacking categories and concepts -- such as heterosexuality, race, sex, and sexuality -- that have long been viewed as fixed, binary, or normative. We will explore the analytical power and limits of “queering” a range of topics from politics to the family to disability to the state. We will consider how trans studies has created new areas of scholarly inquiry, from an explosion of interest in trans history to a reconsideration of the relationship between women’s rights and gender liberation. Finally, we will explore the creative work, knowledge production, community building, and political advocacy efforts of queer/trans people in modern life with an emphasis on Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and Pacific Islander artists, writers, and activists who have historically been marginalized in the field of queer studies.

Two class meetings per week. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Manion.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

117 Race, Difference, and the American Imagination

(Offered as BLST 117 [US] and SWAG 117) What role has “race” played in shaping the American imagination? How has its use as a metaphor in U.S. national life influenced our understandings of power, privilege, and justice? In what ways has popular culture influenced our understanding of race, and how do “creatives” today resist, reject, and reimagine racial and ethnic difference on social media? How do gender, sexuality, and other categories of difference intersect with race and ethnicity, and can these intersections give us a better understanding of American culture? In this course, we will examine contemporary racial discourse in the United States, surveying its use as a contested fact of social life by authors, artists, theorists, and activists in the twentieth and twenty-first century. By studying a range of creative and critical texts, including literature, poetry, music, art, film, comedy, cultural criticism, and social media, the course will prepare students to read racial discourse critically across genres and disciplines while also introducing them to the rigors of academic reading and writing.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Polk.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

123 Greek Civilization

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2023

158 Asian American History: 1800-Present

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023

160 Sexualities in International Relations

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2024

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TC/TR/TS] 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 30 students with 10 seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Theories in Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

This course provides an introduction to historical and contemporary intersectional and interdisciplinary feminist theory. We begin the course by first asking the questions: What is theory? Who gets to participate in theory building? How is feminist knowledge production influenced by power, privilege and geopolitics? We will explore the ways in which feminism is multi-vocal, non-linear, and influenced by multiple and shifting sites of feminist identities. This exploration includes the examination and analysis of local and global feminist thoughts on gender/sex, race, sexuality, disability, reproductive justice, colonialism, nationalism as they effect and shape social and economic forms of power and oppression. The emphasis of the course will remain focused on the theories produced by feminist, Black, queer, trans, indigenous, and transnational scholars, among others, to help explain and resist dominant or exploitative forms of power.

Recommended: SWAG 100 or another course on gender or sexuality. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Shandilya.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2024

209 Intersectional Feminist Science Studies

(Offered as ANTH 209, SOCI 207, and SWAG 209) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Limited to 20 students with 5 seats reserved for first-year students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Karkazis.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

213 Foundations of African American Literature

2024-25: Not offered

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

226 Theorizing the Black Queer Americas

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

227 Lovers and Friends: A Democratic Idea?

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2024

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) 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.

Spring semester. Limited to 25 students. Professor Polk.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Peralta.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2023

258 American Medical Injustice

Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2023

265 Manhood and Masculinity in the U.S.

What does it mean to be a “real man” in the contemporary United States? What impact does masculinity have on sports, pop culture, and health, for example? How do race and sexuality impact masculinity? These are just a few of the questions that we will begin considering in this course. Masculinity, like "whiteness," has long been an opaque social category, receiving scant attention as a focus of study in its own right. But within the past few decades social scientific scholarship on the cultural construction of masculinity and on men and masculinities as complex and changing symbolic categories are the subject of intense theorization. This was born in part from the recognition that early feminist and gender theory focused almost exclusively (and for obvious political reasons) on the position and experience of women. Men, except where they were situated as part of the problem (the abuser, the oppressor, the patriarch), were neither the object nor the subject of study. This course critically analyzes manhood and masculinity as socially constructed and ever-changing concepts deeply entangled with race, class, disability, and sexuality. We will interrogate how masculinities influence actions and self-perceptions as well as analyze how masculinity promotes hierarchies of power and privilege in groups, organizations, and institutions, such as education, work, religion, sports, family, media, and the military. We will investigate the origins and development of masculinity, its expressions, and its problematic manifestations (including hegemonic masculinity, violence, sexual assault, health outcomes, etc.). By the end of the course, students should have an understanding of the ways that masculinity has shaped the lives and choices of men and women, boys and girls and should also be able to identify and question the taken-for-granted aspects of masculinity.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Karkazis.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

274 Gender and Slavery in Latin America

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2022

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(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 Indian writer Meena Kandasamy's When I Hit You, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Adichie's Purple Hibiscus, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2024-25. Professor Shandilya.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], EUST 294, HIST 295 [EU/TR], and SWAG 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. Spring semester. Professor Polk. Sophomore Seminar.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer of Color Critique: Theory and Practice

(Offered as BLST 301 [US] and SWAG 301) This interdisciplinary methods course explores the emergent field of Queer of Color Critique, a mode of analysis pioneered by LGBTQ people of color. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the history, politics, art, and activism of queer and trans people of color while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBTQ activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: BLST 236 / SWAG 235 Black Sexualities or similar 200-level gender and sexuality course or consent of the instructor. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Polk.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2024

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

309 Writing Together: Film and Feminist Collectivity

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

311 Island Bodies and Bodily Autonomy

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2024

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2022

320 Strange Girls: Spanish Women’s Voices

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

321 Gender and Bollywood Cinema

(Offered as ASLC 321, FAMS 321, and SWAG 321) Bombay cinema, popularly known as “Bollywood Cinema,” is one of the largest film industries in the world. This course focuses on Bollywood cinema and its local and global offshoots to think about questions of gender, sexuality and agency. The course considers questions such as: What beauty standards are imposed on women in Bollywood and how do they connect to colonialism, race and empire? Do LGBTQ romances in Bollywood endorse homonormative narratives? How do we read the sexualization of the female body in song and dance numbers? Do women directors make more feminist films? Films range from the classic Umrao Jaan (1981) to the contemporary Gangubai Kathiwadi (2022), women dominated action-thrillers Kahaani (2012) and Raazi (2018), LGBTQ romances Kapoor and Sons and Aligarh (2016) among others.

Recommended: At least one course in FAMS or SWAGS. Spring semester. Professor Shandilya.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2024

324 Literature after Fascism: 1945 to 1989

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

332 Latin American Cinema

Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2023, Fall 2024

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

338 Toni Morrison-Multi-Genre Exploration

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023

339 Early Women Writers

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Fall 2023

342 Women of Ill Repute: Courtesans, Cocottes, and Sex Workers in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2023

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2022

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

346 Twentieth-Century Visions: Beauvoir, Fanon, Marcuse, Foucault

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

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

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2023

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Recommended Prior Coursework: SWAG 100 or HIST/SWAG 158. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Peralta.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Spring 2023

349 Law and Love

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

365 Reading the Romance

(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 the heterosexual romance such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and popular romance author Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series, alongside queer films like Bros and trans-romances like Torrey Peters' Detransition, Baby . We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela, and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Shandilya.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Fall 2023

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

381 Global Transgender Histories

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Decolonizing Feminist and Gender Studies

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year.

This seminar will explore the ways anticolonial and post-colonial religious nationalist movements employ gendered appeals and mobilize women and sexual minorities. Are there fundamental, irreconcilable tensions between religion and nationalism, on the one hand, and the freedom of women and lgbtq communities, on the other? How might political movements both challenge and re-inscribe dominant narratives of the nation? What are some alternative feminist and queer imaginaries? We will examine varied modes of agency and activism—through art, poetry, literature, cinema, and electoral politics among others

Limited to 25 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Basu.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

409 Black Feminist Health Science Studies & the African Diaspora

Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

416 Economics of Race and Gender

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2022, Fall 2024

420 Queer Antiquities: Global Perspectives

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

422 Woolf and Her Circles: British Women Writers, 1918-1939

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

430 Renaissance Bodies

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] 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. Spring semester. Professor Manion

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Required: At least two courses dealing substantively with gender/sexuality. Open to junior and seniors; sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2024-25. Professor Karkazis.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2023

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

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

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

Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

Departmental Courses

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

Related Courses

- (Course not offered this year.)LJST-260 Feminist Legal Theory