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Undergraduate Winter 2014 Course Descriptions

Undergraduate Winter 2014 Courses

Click here to view the undergraduate Winter 2014 schedule.

Course Descriptions:

01:988:101:01 Women, Culture, Society (Hybrid)

TTh 1:00 – 3:50PM (in class) SC-202 CAC
MWF (online)
 
Instructor: Nafisa Tanjeem
 
This course offers an introduction to major concepts, theories, and debates in Women's and Gender Studies. By utilizing a transnational feminist lens, we will unravel how gender identities are locally and globally constituted at the intersection of race, class, sexuality, nation, ethnicity, and so on. We will draw on interdisciplinary scholarships to discuss key themes such as social and scientific construction of gender; gender, war, and violence; and gendered commodity culture, media, and body image. Through a variety of assignments such as watching films and video clips, reading short stories, field trips, and creative projects, we will demystify common misconceptions about Women's and Gender Studies, critically interrogate what feminist theories and activism could mean in transnational contexts, and connect classroom learning with our everyday lives.



01:988:396:01 Topics in WGS: Gender and Bollywood

MTWThF 9:00-11:35 SC-119 CAC

Instructor: Debotri Dhar

Bollywood – a hybrid term deriving from Bombay and Hollywood – refers to India’s Mumbai-based Hindi film industry. The term gained popular currency when India overtook America as the world’s largest film producer, with an increasingly global reach that transcends national borders and boundaries. While known for its song-and-dance sequences, melodrama, and not too infrequent tendency towards straight lifts from Hollywood, Bollywood films have often also raised questions relevant to the life and times of the modern(izing) postcolonial nation and its diasporas worldwide, in the process blurring the traditional line between mainstream and critical cinema.

This course examines through a feminist lens some of these films and the larger political, social and cultural issues they raise, including arranged marriages, sex, prostitution, single motherhood, women in the workplace, and gender and cultural identity. Primary course material consists of Bollywood films, which we will be watching throughout the course. Alongside, we will read pertinent theoretical and analytical texts drawn from Women’s and Gender Studies, Film Studies, and Indian Studies. Working knowledge of Hindi, while useful, is not a prerequisite since the films will have subtitles in English.

 

01:988:317:01 Gender & Consumption

MTWThF 1:00-3:50PM SC-221 CAC

Instructor: Stephen Seely

We have all heard the phrase "you are what you buy." How true is that? What exactly are we doing when we shop? What is “consumer culture”? How do categories of difference, such as gender, race, class, sexuality and so on interact with and affect processes of consumption? How do these categories themselves become commodities? These are some of the major guiding questions that will frame our work together in Gender & Consumption.

After beginning with a brief overview of theoretical approaches to commodity and consumer culture, we will spend the majority of the course looking at a number of contemporary cultural phenomena in light of our theoretical framework. Topics to be discussed might include: sex work, pornography, tourism, shopping addiction, hoarding, advertising, the fashion industry, celebrity culture, corporatized activism, the pharmaceutical industry, the drug trade, health, the bioeconomy, et cetera.

 

01:988:490 Seminar Women & Contemporary Issues: Body and Contemporary Performing Arts: Theory and Practice
[Pre-req: 988:301, 302, or 30]

MTWThF 1:00-3:50 SC-104 CAC

Instructor: Snezana Otasevic

What can we learn about the body from performing arts?

The body has been used to justify women’s subordination, racial discrimination, and the pathologizing of non-procreative sexual practices. Those forms of discrimination are based on the assumption of the mind/body split, an assumption that dominated the history of Western thought. In that division, the body was considered to be inferior as well as both corrupted and corruptible. Because of that history, the body is one of the central topics of feminist theory. Contemporary feminist theory challenges the split between body and mind, arguing that any intellectual or spiritual experience is necessarily embodied.

Though feminist theory has drawn on biology, philosophy, psychoanalysis, and other disciplines, the field of performing arts has been largely neglected. However, recent feminist theory has shifted from the question: “what is the body?” to “what can a body do?” To find answers to this question we will turn to performing arts. Join us in exploring the world of artistic experience, which has tackled issues for decades that contemporary feminist theorists have only recently approached! We will talk about what performing arts can contribute to feminist theory and how feminist theory can engage in a discourse on performing arts that goes beyond mere interpretation and criticism.

In every class we will see an art piece (such as a ballet, play, or film) and discuss it alongside with some contemporary theoretical feminist pieces. We will raise questions about various topics, including sex/gender, sexuality, race, disability, capitalism, boundaries, and technology.

 

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