Undergraduate Courses

Fall 2014 Courses
Summer 2014 Courses
Spring 2014 Courses
Winter 2014 Courses
Fall 2013 Courses


Undergraduate Fall 2014 Courses

Click here to view the undergraduate Fall 2014 schedule.

Course Descriptions:


TTH6 (5:35-6:55) HSB-201 C/D

Professor Carolina Alonso

Every single person living in the world today has had her life shaped by the European colonial venture. This is the main premise of our class, and it is from this perspective that we will be approaching the study of the production of identity. We will engage thinkers from across the American continent (North, Central, South America and the Caribbean) and reflect with them upon three questions regarding identity: How has the colonization of the Americas and its aftermath influenced what Western Modernity understands as “the human”? How has the concept of identity been mobilized by colonized peoples across the Americas to advance a decolonial agenda? And, what do we mean by “decolonial”? Our discussions regarding these questions will propel two “on the ground” projects throughout the semester, which will help us reflect upon our locations as U.S. residents and as Rutgers students.


01:988:396:03 Topics in WGS: History of Native American Women

MW5 (3:55-5:15) LOR-115 C/D

Professor: Alison Bernstein

The History of Native American Women is a three credit history course, which is cross listed with women's studies, that explores the histories, roles, contributions and struggles of American Indian women. Particular emphasis will be given to the experiences of Indian women in the 20th century. It does so by placing issues of gender at the center of the debates around American Indian history and the social/political/cultural movements among Indians to secure self-determination, freedom of expression and tribal sovereignty. The course also focuses on understanding changing gender roles between Indian women and men within American Indian communities and the degree to which Indian women have assumed leadership roles within specific tribes and nationally.

The course encompasses a broad perspective, including overviews of major historical events beginning with tribal-colonists’ relations, colonization, the founding of the United States, Manifest Destiny, Indian Wars culminating in the Wounded Knee massacre in 1890, forced assimilation, the reforms of Indian New Deal in the 1930s, Indians and World War Two, the drive for Termination in the 1950s and 1960s and recent legal claims and victories regarding tribal sovereignty. It does so by emphasizing the roles of women, leading women activists and tribal leaders whose contributions have often been hidden, submerged, and/or devalued. The course also examines the impact of diverse Indian women’s expressions of cultural and political resistance to social inequality and injustice at the tribal, Pan-Indian and national levels. The course content includes primary texts, historical documents, documentary media, biographies and literary texts written by American Indian women as well as secondary sources and scholarly analyses. The often unheard voice of American Indian women is one of the key features of this course.

We will explore the diverse forms of expression of American Indian women including poetry, song, film, theatre and visual art; and the ways in which gender interacts with race/ethnicity, class, sexuality and culture to both catalyze and limit Indian women’s activism and self-expression within tribes and in broader political spheres. Finally, the course probes continuing issues related to Indian survival, self determination and identity in the 21st century -- the persistent poverty, poor education and health outcomes and the persistence of negative (and “positive”) stereotyping, racism, prejudice and discrimination against Indians in general, and Indian women in particular.                                       

The course is an elective that is open to juniors and seniors and sophomores with the professor’s permission.


01:988:240 - Gender & Science

TTH4 (2:15-3:35) TH-206 C/D

Professor: Catherine Read

What does gender have to do with science? What is science? Is science, by definition, the objective, value-neutral study of nature? What is participatory or phenomenological science? How do values related to gender affect the practice of science? In this course we will use a lecture/discussion format to cover material in feminist science studies in the areas of biology and psychology and their intersection. Alternative pratices in science will be considered.

We will examine concepts of nature and objectivity, including examples of research in evolutionary biology and psychology, genetics, and sex/gender identity in psychology. Examples of research will be discussed and critiqued. Finally, we will move further-into the actual practice of science and what that practice involves in terms of values and self-critique. Each student carries out observations of a natural object/process and records their observations in a journal.

Each week a thought question is given; students choose one of these on which to write a short response. Further, a short paper on the biography of a scientist relating the scientist's work to the context of their life is required. There are also two quizzes. The final requirement is a 15 page research paper detailing the student's observations and relating them to relevant published scientific work, written according to APA style guidelines. Guest speakers, films, and literary sources will form part of the course.

Women’s Global Health Movements (01:988: 407) Professor Wartenburg - ONLINE

Informed by the history of the International Women and Health Meetings (IWHMs), this course investigates the political vision and organizational structure for women’s health movements around the world. It contrasts early strategies driven by coalitions of activists from the North, which focused on reproductive rights, self-help, and a definition of health based largely in the physiology of women’s bodies with approaches advanced by activists from the global South, which attend to the social, cultural, and economic factors that affect women’s access to the most basic healthcare. This course examines how and why contemporary feminist conceptions of health are grounded in a comprehensive framework attentive to international power dynamics, globalization, macroeconomic policy, national and global poverty, conflict and war, and debt crises in various countries. Beginning with an overview of women’s contemporary health challenges, the class then analyzes the political tactics and strategies women have devised to secure access to healthcare for themselves, their families, households and communities. Introducing students to the global institutions, organizations, and policies that impact health, course material also traces how women’s nongovernmental organizations have attempted to transform existing institutions and policies of global health governance to enable women in all regions of the world to lead physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally healthier, more dignified lives.

The Growth Imperative, Global Ecology, and Women’s Health (01:988:409 ) Professor Wartenburg - ONLINE

Over the past half-century, scholars have debated the relationship between the quest for “endless growth”--capital accumulation on a global scale--and resource exhaustion. This course situates women’s health in the context of these debates, investigating the health consequences of environmental crises linked to various market-based development strategies and technological innovations. Analyzing externalized business costs in the currency of human health, the course investigates illness caused by toxic industrial products and byproducts, injury from resource extraction processes such as nuclear fission and deep-water oil drilling, the manifold health hazards stemming from violent conflict over control of scarce resources in postcolonial states, and dangers that attend dislocation resulting from climate change.

Debt, Crisis, and Women’s Health (01:988: 410 ) Professor Hoechst - ONLINE

Growing national debt has become a feature of increasing numbers of nations over the past 60 years, heightening dependence on international financial institutions and restricting the sphere of freedom of national policy makers. Health care provision has been subjected to severe cuts as nations struggle to meet their debt obligations and stabilize their economies. Framing ongoing global economic crisis as a consequence of excess rather than scarcity, this course unsettles the conventional moral calculus of credit and debt, exploring the relationship between debt and economic crisis, and examining the impacts of austerity policies on women’s health. Comparing experiences of nations in various regions of the world, the course considers the effects of continued borrowing to pay debt interest on humanitarian concerns. In particular, the course analyzes who suffers for the sake of debt repayment and the magnitude of that gendered suffering in highly leveraged societies.





Undergraduate Summer 2014 Courses

Click here to view the undergraduate Summer 2014 schedule.

Course Descriptions:

Caro flyer01:988:101 B2 Women, Culture, and Society: Pop Culture Politics - HYBRID

M 1:15-5:35, W (Online) 1:15-5:10 May 27-July 3 SC-221 CAC

Instructor: Carolina Alonso Bejarano

In this class we will analyze mainstream U.S. media and discuss everything Pop Culture from memes to advertising, music videos, TV shows, news, sports and reality TV: What are we being told to believe? We will talk about ideas as trivialized (and political) as sex, love, war and freedom; and we will explore how the field of gender studies can transform our understandings of knowledge, power, history and -ultimately- what we've come to call society. 

Yup! You guessed it. This will not be your everyday class. There will be no papers and no final, so active participation is key. We will read a little and watch lots of media –for example, check out Beyoncé’s awesome video Grown Woman, http://goo.gl/QAihTr; AXE’s 2014 Super Bowl Commercial, http://goo.gl/39LeYg; and Shit Girls Say, http://goo.gl/cBFhZh – to inquire what it means to stop for a minute, look around, and ask “why.”


jbsummer2014teachingflier01:988:101 E1 Women, Culture, and Society

TTH 1:45-5:25 June 23-July 31 FH-A1 CAC

Instructor: Jenna Brager

“Women, Culture and Society” engages history, culture, and contemporary issues to explore how gender systems and knowledge have been produced, regulated, performed and resisted, and to engage topics often absent from “traditional” academic discourse.

We will be looking at a variety of kinds of texts and methods to think about the ways in which Women's and Gender Studies confronts a set of key social and political issues. This course intends to offer a set of critical and conceptual tools, to open up rather than answer a set of questions.

In accordance to the SAS learning goals, “21st Century Challenges,” this course fulfills the following goals:
a. Analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person’s experiences of and perspectives on the world.
b. Analyze a contemporary global issue from a multidisciplinary perspective.
c. Analyze issues of social justice across local and global contexts.

988101H1 flyer01:988:101 H1 Women, Culture, and Society - HYBRID

M 1:45-5:25, W (Online) July 7-August 13 SC-207 CAC

Instructor: Rosemary Ndubuizu

WNBA v. NBA? How does gender shape our understanding of sports?
‘Arranged’ marriage v. ‘love’ marriage? How do gender, cultural imperialism, and consumerism affect our contemporary understanding of marriage?
Beyonce v. India Arie: How does skin color affect one’s popularity and gender performance?
If these questions interest you –and you enjoy an interactive learning experience—then this class is for you!

This introductory course to Women and Gender Studies (WGS) explores how gender, class, ethnicity, and race define and shape contemporary societies and our everyday lives. This interdisciplinary course requires you to interrogate your lived experiences and compels you to situate your evolving socio-political positions within a global context. Scholastically, you will sharpen your analytical skills, improve your academic writing and develop pedagogical skills. By using popular education, this course exposes and expects you to learn how to translate complex socio-political theories into interactive and popularized workshops.

In this hybrid course, we will have only three assignments: two papers and a final presentation.
For more questions about this course, please contact instructor Rosemary Ndubuizu at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Black Feminism  Cinema Flyer01:988:202:E1 Gender, Culture, and Representation: Cinema - HYBRID

T 1:45-5:25, TH (Online) June 23- July 31 SC-115 CAC

Instructor: Kathe Sandler

Taught by Guggenheim award-winning documentary filmmaker Kathe Sandler, this hybrid course explores the interplay of Black feminism and the work of Black women independent filmmakers including Dee Rees, Julie Dash, Ada Gay Griffith and Michelle Parkerson, Euzhan Palcy, Kiri Davis, Cheryl Dunye, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, Zina Saro-Wiwa, Shola Lynch, Shari Frilot, Pratibha Parmar, Mickalene Thomas, and Yoruba Richen. One book is required—Push, a novel by Sapphire—and all other readings are available on Sakai. In addition to films screened in class, you will watch approximately five more feature-length films, either at the RU Media Center, or through a streaming or DVD rental source on your own. Written responses are due twice per week as well as a 5-7 page final paper.




beyonceflyer01:988:250:B1 and H1 Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyoncé

MW 1:15-5:15 May 27–July 3 SC-201 CAC

MW 1:45-5:25 July 7–August 13 SC-121 CAC

Instructor: Kevin Allred

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is known as many things: singer, songwriter, actress, performer, half of hip hop and R&B’s most powerful couple, even fashion designer. But few take her seriously as a political figure. This course will attempt to think about our contemporary U.S. society and its current class, racial, gender, and sexual politics through the music and career of Beyoncé. On the surface, she might deploy messages about race, gender, class, and sexuality that appear conservative in relation to social norms, but during this course we will ask: how does she also challenge our very understanding of these categories? How does Beyoncé push the boundaries of these categories to make space for and embrace other perhaps more “deviant” bodies, desires, and/or politics? We will attempt to position Beyoncé as a progressive, feminist, and even queer figure through close examination of her music alongside readings on political issues, both contemporary and historical. We will juxtapose Beyoncé’s music with writings on black feminism and the black female experience in the U.S. (and beyond), to attempt to answer: can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?


The Gendered Body Poster01:988:318:E1 The Gendered Body: Sex, Pleasure, and Sex Work - HYBRID

T 1:45-5:25, W (Online) June 23-July 31 SC-102 CAC

Instructor: Lindsey Whitmore

This course fulfills requirements for the WGS major and/or any of the three minors.

In this hybrid course, we will consider pop culture, feminist, and activist perspectives on sex work (i.e. escorting, pornography, digital and web-based sex services, erotic dancing) in order to unpack how sex and pleasure are imagined, produced, and consumed in U.S. and transnational contexts today. How do we encounter and produce pleasure in our own lives? When do sex and pleasure become work? Who engages in sex work and why? How do race, class, gender identity, and other modes of difference affect one’s ability to do sex work safely? With a specific focus on sex worker-led movements for rights and justice across the globe and with the emergence of feminist, queer, and indie porn movements in the U.S., we will think creatively and collaboratively about how struggles over health and safety, criminalization, bodily autonomy, and self- and community-determination impact the making and selling of sex and pleasure today.



01:988:396:H1 Topics in Women's and Gender Studies: Social media and social movements - HYBRID

posternafisaW 1:45-5:25, Online July 7-August 13 SC-207 CAC

Instructor: Nafisa Tanjeem

Are social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube changing the world of social movements? How does social media frame social justice issues at the intersection of race, gender, class, sexuality, nation, and ethnicity? Does social media substitute, complement, or distract conventional organizing? How does online activism transform into offline protest, and vice versa? Which strategies do social media activists adopt to keep their campaigns alive?

“Social Media and Social Movements” addresses these exciting questions drawing on interdisciplinary scholarships of social movement studies, critical race theories, geography and cultural studies, media studies, and transnational feminist framework. It examines how social media continues to redefine what constitutes activism, community, collective identity, and public space. It explores the role of social media in inspiring movements, decentralized networks, civic engagement, and transnational collaboration between activists. Using a wide array of examples such as Barack Obama’s 2008 electoral campaign, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the Arab uprisings, the course inquires whether social media challenges power hierarchies and shifts the balance of power toward more bottom-up efforts.

This is a 3/3 hybrid course. The first three weeks will be conducted online. The class will meet on-site during the last three weeks.


01:988:416 Women’s Global Health: Medicine and Biopolitics: 1850-Present - ONLINE

June 23-July 31
Professor: Kyla Schuller

“Health is the new morality,” the editors of the provocative recent book Against Health proclaim. Their comment diagnoses the way a range of laws and cultural norms currently treat physical wellness as an individual’s duty to society, rather than an aspect of personal well-being. How did this come to be? Who profits from placing such a premium on the vitality of the body, and whose bodies are deemed “problems” standing in the way of national productivity?

We will explore how we can work toward reducing disease and suffering, while also developing a critical perspective on the ways “health” currently functions as a normalized set of bodily practices that benefits some groups at the expense of others. We will begin in the United States during the 1850s, a time when a small group of women became the first licensed female physicians in the modern world. As we will learn, these advances for (white) women often came at the cost of racial justice, as female physicians justified their unusual professional ambitions by their belief that they were contributing to the gradual perfection of the Anglo Saxon race. We will also examine how, concurrently, male physicians worked to clamp down on white women’s rising political and social power by illegalizing abortion and thus bringing women’s reproductive lives under the control of the nation-state and the medical community. Next, we will explore the eugenics movements of the early twentieth century in the U.S. and Latin America, which sought to improve the racial stock of the nation by preventing “unfit” women from reproducing and encouraging “fit” women to have more children. Readings include studies of mandatory health examinations for immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as well as accounts of the forced sterilization of thousands of working-class women. Finally, we will consider how the U.S. and other advanced economies have recently framed individual health as a moral imperative. We will consider topics such as the efforts of the South African government to access affordable AIDS drugs, the new politics of breastfeeding, the rise of cosmetic surgery in the developed world, and the stigmatization of mental and physical disability. We will also look at examples of how marginalized groups are actively intervening in medical and health discourse as a strategy of social justice and individual self-determination. To this end, we will explore the role of U.S. women of color in the fight for reproductive justice, fat-positive feminism, and the struggles of transgender folks for increased access to health care. Overall, students will learn how modern political and economic power often functions through optimizing the biological life itself of the population.

Readings include both primary sources and scholarship by authors including Elizabeth Blackwell, Alexandra Stern, Melinda Cooper, Dorothy Roberts, and Lennerd Davis. The course requires regular reading quizzes, postings to our online forum, and short writing assignments.



Undergraduate Spring 2014 Courses

Click here to view the undergraduate Spring 2014 schedule.

Course Descriptions:

01:988:201:01 Feminist Practices

MW4 (2:15-3:35 pm) RAB-207 C/D

Professor: Mary Hawkesworth

The 2011 “Slutwalk” in major cities around the world, the creation of a thrift shop in the poorest neighborhood in Hong Kong, activism against biopiracy, the rural reconstruction movement, the slow food movement, the creation of gender quotas for public office in more than 100 nations, a demand for inclusion at the World Social Forum, the prison abolition movement, the annual 16 Days Campaign against Violence Against Women, Riot Grrrls, the creation of women’s police stations in Brazil, Code Pink, Women in Black, Take-Back-the-Night rallies, the mobilization to preserve Douglass College (the women’s college at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey), transnational campaigns against femicide in Central America, the global campaign for sexual democracy, Sister Namibia’s campaign against political homophobia, the three-year GEAR campaign to establish UN Women, V-Day performances of Vagina Monologues, DIY ‘zines, the Women’s Caucus for Gender Justice at the International Criminal Court—all are examples of recent and continuing feminist practices. What do these practices have in common? What exactly makes them “feminist?” What is their relation to Women’s and Gender Studies or to knowledge production more generally? This course is designed to explore such questions.

Feminism is a vibrant tradition that has contributed to intellectual ferment, cultural enrichment, and social transformation in all regions of the world for at least five centuries. Feminism is also a highly contested term—meaning very different things to those who caricature and repudiate it and to those who embrace the label. Some define feminism as a network of practices designed to eliminate women’s economic, political, and social subordination. But many men and women endorse those goals while rejecting the feminist label. How do women and men who identify as feminist differ from those who do not?  What is at stake in claiming the feminist label?

Feminist practices involve social change projects inside and beyond the academy. Whether within the university or in larger national and global contexts, feminist projects entail challenging established relations of power (critique), envisioning alternative possibilities (theory), and activism to change social relations. Women’s and Gender Studies is often called the “academic arm” of feminism for it challenges what is believed to be “known” about women,  men, and gender non-conformers, demonstrating that established “knowledge” is often shaped by research that takes men’s lives as the unquestioned standard, omitting or distorting women’s and transgender experiences. As an interdisciplinary field, Women’s and Gender Studies seeks to correct distortions created when women are omitted from the study of the world. Taking diverse forms of feminist practice as its focal point, the course investigates how to study the complexity of women’s and men’s lives in ways that take race, gender-power, ethnicity, class, and nationality seriously. The course will also show how such feminist knowledge production challenges long-established beliefs about the world.


01:988:202:02 Gender, Culture, Representation: Cinema

M7&8 (6:10-9:00pm) SC-101 CAC

Instructor: Kathe Sandler

This course will explore race, gender, and sexuality in cinema from the 1980s to the present with a focus on the work of Black women independent filmmakers. Films by Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, Aishah Simmons, Michele Parkerson, Dee Rees, Mickalene Thomas, and Zina Saro-Wiwa among others will be explored. We will consider these works through a range of cultural critics and scholars including bell hooks, Michele Wallace, Jacqueline Bobo, Janell Hobson, Moya Bailey, Salimishah Tillet, and a range of online writers at The Crunk Feminist Collective, Racialicious, The Root, Ms. and Colorlines.


01:988:255 Gender, Art, and Society - ONLINE

Professors: Katherine Griefen (2 sections) and Yelena Kalinsky (1 section)
45 cap/minimum 30

Have you realized that when you walk through a museum, most of the artists whose work you are viewing are men? Yet women have played a major role in shaping art past and present, both as artists, patrons and models. This course will introduce you to women artists, their achievements, and impact. It will also introduce you to the social and cultural reasons for the neglect of women in the visual arts and how that neglect is being remedied today. In addition, this course will introduce you to more general concepts involved in gender representation throughout history, developing a global perspective. Course work will involve online assignments and discussions as well as a final assignment.


01:988:257 Gender and the Body: Representation and Pornography -­ ONLINE

Professor: Tara Burk (2 sections)
45 cap/minimum 30

This course will examine how the body has been represented in art and visual culture, as well as in pornography and consider the range of ways the nude body and pornography exist in contemporary art. We will explore the ways theories, such as feminism, critical race theory, queer theory, have shaped our cultural perspectives on what has been imaged. Artistic intention in relation to representing the body and the ways ideas about gender have shaped the depictions and portrayals will be discussed, as well as understanding the divisions between anti-porn and sex-positive theorists. We will learn about the key players in feminist art history, women’s and gender studies, sexuality studies, film theory, and cultural history who had a role in defining and expanding the categories we use to discuss these images. Course work will involve online assignments and discussions as well as a final assignment.

01:988:258 Gender, Race and Contemporary Art -­ ONLINE

Professor: Katherine Griefen (1 section)
45 cap/minimum 30

UPDATED MATERIALS! This course explores how contemporary American artists use their works to investigate issues relating to the intersection of gender and race through cultural production. In examining these issues, we will explore various art historical and critical approaches to the interpretation of works by artists such as Frida Kahlo, Adrian Piper, Deborah Grant, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Elia Alba, Mickalene Thomas, Carrie Mae Weems and many others. The course considers a number of issues in analyzing the relationship between artistic production and race such as: the racial dynamics that influenced the history of art and visual culture; lack of representation in visual and popular culture; how ethnic self-­definition differs from racial identity and how it converges with class and race; how and when have images function to problematize, deconstruct, or interpret race. Course work will involve online assignments and discussions as well as a final assignment.

01:988:259 Homosexuality and Visual Culture - ONLINE

Professor: Katherine Griefen (2 sections)
45 cap/minimum 30

How has history been changed by queer artists? This course will introduce you to the central role of homosexuality and homoeroticism in visual culture in the distant and recent past as well as the present day. You’ll learn about the marginalization of GLBTI artists and how, even when seemingly secret or invisible, they continued to participate directly in cultural production. You’ll also learn about the ways artists, critics, and patrons remedy censorship. Through this course you’ll develop the skills to discuss critical theory about queerness. Course work will involve online assignments and discussions as well as a final assignment.

01:988:305:01 Women and Art
[Same as: 01:082:305:01]

TTH4 (1:10-2:30) ZAM-MPR CAC

Professor: Joan Marter

This course focuses on women artists of the modern and contemporary period, and begins with the study of paintings by women from the 16th to the 19th centuries. We will consider how gender issues are encoded in images of women. Readings explore the socio-political context for the creation of women's art. The course will include two quizzes, a midterm, and final exam.

Students will also write a short paper as a review of a current exhibition. Visits to galleries in Chelsea and museums will feature works by contemporary women artists. The gallery visits include transportation and are considered “extra credit.”

There are no prerequisites in art history necessary for this course.


01:988:341:01 Gender & Popular Culture
[Pre-req: 988:101, 201, 202, 235 or permission]
Professor: Annie Fukushima

TTH4 (2:15-3:35) ARH-100 C/D

What would a feminist, queer critique of the 1% look like? What are the gender, race, and sexual politics of mass culture, or in other words, the entertainment of the 99%? We will take up these questions by looking at race, gender, and sexuality in contemporary popular culture, especially television and film.

Our contemporary era is characterized by extreme wealth inequality, the rise of global finance capital, free trade, the deregulation of the private sphere, the growth of the prison industrial complex, and the erosion of support for public services such as education. This stage of capitalism, which we entered in the late 1970s, is called neoliberalism. We will examine contemporary popular culture in order to understand how we experience neoliberalism not only as a distant economic structure, but also as an aspect of our intimate, daily lives. As Lisa Duggan explains in the course’s one required book, The Twilight of Equality, neoliberalism functions in part through reinforcing race and gender inequality. In other words, we won't take race, gender, and sexual difference for granted as stable identity categories, but rather, will examine how these notions of difference are processes that produced in Hollywood films, best-selling teen novels, and television shows. We will attend to the ways that ideas of race, gender, and sexuality are used in ways that both reinforce and destabilize the accumulation of wealth among the 1% and upper classes.

Analyzing films and TV shows such as The Kids are Alright, Gossip Girl, Avatar, and The Hunger Games, we will explore how popular culture has engaged with major features of neoliberalism, such as the proliferation of prisons, the war on terror, and the mainstreaming of gay marriage. Taking our cue from the British Cultural Studies tradition, we will look at culture as political ideology and commodity, investigating the story each text tells as well as its conditions of production, distribution, and reception. For example, when looking at reality TV, we will also learn about how Mexican women are organizing for better labor conditions in the Tijuana factories that produce most of the world’s television sets. Students will gain practice in analyzing visual texts, making connections between culture and the wider historical context, and analyzing how race, gender, and sexuality function as manifestations of contemporary capitalism. Students will write one or two papers and prepare a final presentation on a film or TV show of their choosing. Students will be required to screen films, at times of their own choice, at the Douglass Media Center.


01:988:366:01 Black Women Writers: The Making of Tradition
[Same as: 01:350:371:01]

M7,8 (7:15-10:05) HCK-211 C/D

Professor: Abena Busia

The objective of this course is to introduce the ways in which Black women writers in the USA, through the course of the twentieth century, negotiated being "Africans" in the New World. Whether as "Negroes," "Colored People," "Blacks" or "African Americans," these women developed strategies of resistance and survival that are reflected in their works and arguably create a tradition of writing that survives. With origins in spirituals and sacred writing, folk tales and the spoken word, their writings teach us the ways in which women writers as cultural workers respond to the circumstances of being Black in the US through the course of the twentieth century. By looking at the continuing legacy of different forms of writing including long and short fiction, sacred and secular life writings, drama, poetry and song we will trace how they answered the question posed by Countee Cullen at the beginning of the twentieth century on what it means "to make a poet black, and bid [her] sing."

The writings to be studied will span the twentieth century and will include such works as short stories and essays by Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Cade Bambara, novels by Nella Larson, Paule Marshall and Toni Morrison, plays by Lorraine Hansberry and Ntozake Shange and selected poems and songs from throughout the century.

The class will make use of documentary film, audio and video recordings of the writers, and a range of cultural forms from recipes and quilts to music, dance and sculpture to place the writers in the contexts of their times, and to illuminate the cultural contexts of their lives.


01:988:396:02 Topics in W&GS: Feminist Art & Politics

[Same as 01:351:361:01]

TTH5 (3:55-5:15) RAB-206 C/D

Professor: Harriet Davidson

The great feminist poet and essayist Adrienne Rich who passed away in 2012 had an immense impact on both feminist art and ideas. In this class we will look at her long career reading both her poetry and prose and will think about the role of art in a political movement. We will look at some of the artists around Richother poets such as Audre Lorde, as well as visual artists, performance artists and musicians trying to change the way gender and sexuality and finally the human and non-human are understood. 

Some of the topics we will cover will include affect theory and the use of emotion in art, the expansion of feminism into issues of race and class, and the growth of a new kind of ecopoetics out of feminist concerns with the body and a new way of thinking about the human. Always central will be the examination of how different kinds of representation, different kinds of media give us different understandings of the world.

Part of the work for this course will be creative: that is, in addition to some writing projects, students will develop their own political art  project.


01:088:413:90 Health Consequences of Global Trade in Pharmaceuticals - ONLINE

Professor: C. Moutsatsos

Multinational pharmaceutical companies remain the primary developers of new drug regimens. The health effects of drug research and development, however, vary markedly from one region of the world to another. This course explores the political economy of the global pharmaceutical industry, analyzing the geopolitical distribution of burdens and benefits.It examines ethical issues such as clinical trials on populations in the Global South, continuing sales of drugs across the Global South after they have been banned in the North, disproportionate investment in drugs for minor health problems while serious diseases affecting the poor remain insufficiently studied; inadequate vaccine development and manufacture; restrictions on the distribution of life-saving generic drugs in third world countries; overuse of antibiotics and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the role of pharmaceutical lobby in influencing healthcare within particular nations.


01:988:414:90 Gendered Professions and the Transnational Care Economy - ONLINE

Professor: K. Coogan Gehr

Nursing and teaching—two women-dominated professions—lie at the heart of the “care economy.” Involving work that requires intensive physical labor, person-to-person communication, and spatial proximity, the intimate nature of care work resists mechanization. In contrast to the production of commodities, the highly personalized labor of care is driven by human need rather than profit maximization. This course provides an overview of distinctive gendered professions whose object of labor is the human subject. In nursing and teaching, skill entails the effective exercise of professional judgment. Focused on the cultivation and preservation of human capacities, this professional labor resists routinization and automation. In addition to examining the distinctive nature of these caring professions, the course explores recent efforts to heighten the profit-making potential of the care economy, and it considers the long-term implications of efforts to deskill and outsource care work.


01:988:485:01 Motherhood: Nature and Culture, Policy and Politics

T2&3 (10:55-1:55) RAB-204 C/D

Professor: Mary Trigg

This class will draw on novels, photography, film, magazines and journals, and sociological and historical literature to investigate the representations and realities of diverse mothers in the United States. We will consider historical contexts as well as contemporary policy and politics that shape the experiences of mothers and the ways we interpret and judge their lives and needs. Special attention will be paid to immigrant mothers, African American mothers, and low-income mothers in the twentieth-century and contemporary US. Students will write two short papers or one longer paper, the choice will be theirs. 


988:490:01 Seminar in Women's and Contemporary Issues: Gender, Race, and Performance During the Harlem Renaissance
[Pre-req: 988:301 or 302, or 303]

T5&6 (3:55-6:55) HCK-123 C/D

Professor: Cheryl Wall

This multidisciplinary course analyzes the fabled cultural awakening among African Americans during the 1920s and 1930s. It focuses on the performance of gender and race identity in literature, popular culture, and the visual arts. As often as not, this performance subverted the rhetoric of uplift adopted by the leaders of the New Negro movement. The course examines the ways that blues singers such as Alberta Hunter, Ma Rainey, and Bessie Smith, as well as jazz performers including Josephine Baker, Gladys Bentley and Bricktop redefined gender and race identity in the United States and abroad; it also analyzes their influence on the content and form of African American literary production. In addition to a rich selection of poems, short stories and essays from the period, the class will read novels by Jessie Fauset (Plum Bun), Langston Hughes (Not Without Laughter), and Nella Larsen (Quicksand) that fictionalize the experiences of artists and entertainers.

Students will write a critical paper (5-7 pp.) on a literary text and create a project combining music, slides, and video, along with critical commentary, that responds to the themes of the course.


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.


Undergraduate Fall 2013 Courses

Click here to view the undergraduate Fall 2013 schedule.

Course Descriptions:

01:988:101:12 (Index # 30502) Women, Culture, Society

TTH8 (7:40-9:00) MU-213 CAC

Instructor: Jenna Brager

What is race, class, gender, and sexuality? What relevance do these categories play in the lives of women and men? How has the struggle for racial equality influenced and helped incubate feminist and queer liberation movements in the United States? Can men be feminists? What distinct roles have women of color played in these movements both in the “mainstream” and within their “own” communities? What confrontations have women of color feminists faced in many antiracist struggles?  What are the politics of “beauty,” self-image and the female body?  What has been the recent history of Black feminist cultural production? These questions are critical to the field of Women’s and Gender Studies and we will examine them throughout this introductory course.  This class is grounded in the political, social and cultural struggles of a number of United States communities of color with a focus on African American women.  Documentary film, narrative cinema, poetry, literature, and cultural criticism will be utilized to illuminate key ideas. By participating in this course, you will become well versed in a range of writing, scholarship, and media that is inclusive of the critical race movement, as well as multiracial, and African American feminism, queer theory, masculinity and “whiteness” studies, and a myriad of combinations. And you will have written about your own personal experiences in relation to these concerns.


01:988:202 (Index # 29374) Gender, Culture, and Representation: Post-Feminism, Race, & Neoliberal Politics

TTH4 (2:15-3:35) TH-206 C/D

Professor: Nikol Alexander-Floyd

Feminist scholars continue to confront postfeminism, that is, resistance to feminism through not only backlash, but appropriation of feminist ideas and/or incorporation of only formal, as opposed to substantive, forms of equality.  This course examines feminist approaches to postfeminism, as well as how it is elaborated in popular films, advertisements, and tv shows. Particular attention is given throughout to the critical role of race and post-Civil Rights politics and neo-liberalism in the development of postfeminism.


01:988:250:01 (Index # 35748) Feminist Perspectives: Politics, Food, and Environment

MTH2 (10:55-12:15) ARH-100 C/D

Professor: Stina Soderling

This course will address questions of the intersection of gender, food, and environmental politics from several different perspectives. We'll be talking about ecofeminism, the sexual politics of meat production, environmental activism, and maybe The Hunger Games. There will also be plenty of room for students to suggest topics of study. No previous experience in Women's studies necessary, but an interest in gender, food, and/or environment will be useful.


01:988:255 Gender, Art, and Society - ONLINE

Index # 33046, Section # 90: Katherine Griefen

Index # 35869, Section # 91: Ylena Kalinsky

Index # 35872, Section # 92: Ylena Kalinsky

 Have you realized that when you walk through a museum, most of the artists whose work you are viewing are men?  Yet women have played a major role in shaping art past and present, both as artists, patrons and models.  This course will introduce you to women artists, their achievements, and impact. It will also introduce you to the social and cultural reasons for the neglect of women in the visual arts and how that neglect is being remedied today.  In addition, this course will introduce you to more general concepts involved in gender representation throughout history, developing a global perspective. Course work will involve online assignments and discussions as well as a final assignment.


01:988:257 Gender and the Body: Representation and Pornography - ONLINE

Index # 39005, Section # 90: Tara Burk

Index # 39006, Section # 91: Tara Burk

This course will examine how the body has been represented in art and visual culture, as well as in pornography and consider the range of ways the nude body and pornography exist in contemporary art.  We will explore the ways theories, such as feminism, critical race theory, queer theory, have shaped our cultural perspectives on what has been imaged.  Artistic intention in relation to representing the body and the ways ideas about gender have shaped the depictions and portrayals will be discussed, as well as understanding the divisions between anti-porn and sex-positive theorists. We will learn about the key players in feminist art history, women’s and gender studies, sexuality studies, film theory, and cultural history who had a role in defining and expanding the categories we use to discuss these images. Course work will involve online assignments and discussions as well as a final assignment.


01:988:259 Homosexuality and Visual Culture - ONLINE

Index # 39008, Section # 90: Katherine Griefen

Index # 39009, Setion # 91: Katherine Griefen

How has history been changed by queer artists?  This course will introduce you to the central role of homosexuality and homoeroticism in visual culture in the distant and recent past as well as the present day.  You’ll learn about the marginalization of GLBTI artists and how, even when seemingly secret or invisible, they continued to participate directly in cultural production.  You’ll also learn about the ways artists, critics, and patrons remedy censorship.  Through this course you’ll develop the skills to discuss critical theory about queerness. Course work will involve online assignments and discussions as well as a final assignment.


01:988:490 (Index # 37091): Seminar Women & Contemporary Issues: Literature, Gender, and Environmental Justice

M/TH3 (12:35-1:55) FS-109 C/D

Professor: Yanoula Athanassakis

This course introduces you to both practical and theoretical approaches to environmental justice. We will look at 20th and 21stc. representations of production and consumption as connected to gender and human rights. How are the intimate spaces of women's bodies related to notions of American imperialism, ecological violence, and natural disasters like Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina? What are the politics involved in cycles of consumption and production, and what is actually being consumed? To address these issues we will examine visual and written texts of our times and investigate modes of consumption (of land, peoples, toxins, and capital). The last section of the course treats local issues of environmental degradation and gendered toxicity -- such readings will give us a chance to examine the global and local impact of our own everyday choices. Assignments will include in-class writing, two papers, and an exam.




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