Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Departmental ChairEthel Brooks
Undergraduate DirectorKyla Schuller
Associate Undergraduate DirectorIleana Nachescu
For a full list of all available WGSS classes, please see the Undergraduate Course Schedule
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Survey of key themes in transgender studies. Explores the category across medicine, history, anthropology, and women's and gender studies; transgender practices as embedded in race, class, sexuality, nationality, and ability.
Introduction to various disciplines' contributions to understanding the relationship of homosexuality, particularly lesbianism, to society. Includes a section on the political organization and recent theory coming out of the gay movement.
Introduction to the study of sexuality as well as sexual and gendered identity from multidisciplinary and historical perspectives. Includes U.S. and European approaches to sexology, legal regulation of sexual practices, and family formation.
Explores cultural representations of non-conforming sexualities in France from the late-19th century to the present. Approach combines writing exercises with close reading and analytical discussion of literature, theory, and film within evolving historical context. Taught in English.
Cultural construction and representation of same-sex desire in Western societies. Debates about identity, subjectivity, and the uses of experience included.
Considers how globalization alters conceptualizations of sexuality and its relationship to gender. Issues include global, diasporic, and postcolonial gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender activism, tourism and travel, HIV/AIDS organizing, "sexual rights" discourses, sex work, and asylum based on gender and sexual orientation.Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 190 or 235 or 201 or 202.
Historical, cross-cultural, and multidisciplinary approaches to sexuality research. Social, moral, and political meanings of sexuality in U.S. and transnational contexts. Current issues and debates around sexual norms. Prerequisite: 01:988:280.
Through case studies of pressing social justice issues, examines dynamics of oppression, linking competing theories of social justice to hierarchies grounded in race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, class, and sexuality, and to particular strategies for social transformation.
Introduces students to diverse practices of social justice activism including grassroots organizing, labor organizing, political organizing, and transnational organizing. Readings about social change efforts are combined with student participation in community mobilizations, labor organizing efforts, political campaigns, and transnational social movement and nongovernmental organization (NGO) activism
Intensive investigation of particular social justice issues such as environmental justice, outsourcing of reproductive labor, the informal economy, the prison-industrial complex. Topic varies each semester. Designed for social justice living-learning communities.
In-depth exploration of a particular social justice issue such as globalizing inequality, gendered migration, war and displacement, refugee camps, militarization, the color of AIDS, asylum-seeking, the prison-industrial complex. Topic varies with instructor. See website for details.
Supervised individual study of selected topics of interest with extensive reading and a research paper. Reserved for social justice minors.
Introductory survey examining key concepts and themes in women's and gender studies, including these twelve: body image and media; class; feminisms; gender/sex; globalization and neoliberalism; intersectionality; patriarchy and privilege; race; reproductive justice; sexuality and queer theory; social justice and human rights; and violence, conflict, and terrorism.
Study of gender, in the construction of knowledge in different fields, and the factors that encourage women to achieve agency and leadership.
This course examines issues related to women's paid and unpaid work as world markets integrate. Analyzes actions of governments, unions, women's movements, employers, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to promote equality and women's well-being.
This course brings together analytic frameworks in feminist theory and gender studies with emerging bodies of theory about digital media, social media, and digital humanities.
**FALL 2020 COURSE DESCRIPTION**
Examines development of women's and gender studies as interdisciplinary field of study; explores relationship of feminist scholarship to activism; introduces students to basic research techniques.Required for major.
Examines how gender is represented in cultural texts and artifacts; introduces students to theories of representation.
This course explores the intersection of religion and reproduction in the United States. During the semester we will focus primarily on pronatalism and abortion as two key aspects of reproduction. For each of these issues we will focus on how Jews and Christians, as well as Judaism and Christianity, in the US understand these issues, and wrestle with them internally. A few themes will continually arise: how religious ideas about kinship, women’s sexuality, and concern for demographic continuance are applied through forms of reproduction and reproductive interruption. Gender and religion will form the two primary modes of analysis for the study of reproduction. At the end of the semester we will also consider how class and race shape reproductive ideas and practices in the US.
Examination of dynamics of, and connections among, classism, racism, and sexism in contemporary American society; ways they influence and are influenced by the structure of society at large; their effect on individuals; and strategies for personal and social change.
Role of gender, race, and class in production and use of scientific and medical knowledge. Impact of gender bias on research in the life, physical, and social sciences.
Feminist examination of significant contemporary issues. The issue chosen will vary each year. Students should check the department's website for information. Issues to be considered include war, trafficking, poverty, environment, migration, globalization, and religion.
Feminist theory, model, and practice of mentoring. Topics include definitions and history of mentoring; personal narratives and mentoring practices; and mentoring women's leadership for social change.
Women artists, their achievements, and impact. Social and cultural reasons for their neglect in the visual arts and how that neglect is being remedied today. Different ways in which men and women are depicted in art and how those differences relate to culture and society.Please note that this is an online course.
Examination of representations of gendered bodies in art, sexuality, gender, politics, and pornography. Examines how to understand who defines what is obscene and why some work is called pornography.
Intersection of gender and race in contemporary American art. Black and white racial politics in relation to gender and contemporary art in the United States. Special focus on African-American artists.
**FALL 2020 COURSE DESCRIPTION** S90 ONLY
Central role of homosexuality and homoeroticism in visual culture in the distant and recent past as well as the present. Marginalization of homosexual artists, critics, and patrons despite direct participation in cultural production of art and popular culture.
Just after the end of the First World War, a new creature appeared on the streets of cities around the world. Her hair was short, as were her skirts. She smoked, wore lipstick, and went out dancing without a chaperone. No one knew what to make of her. To some, she was dangerous; to others, exciting. She was the flapper, garçonne, neue Frau, moga, modeng xiaojie, kallege ladki, la pelona: all terms for what we will call the “Modern Girl.” This course examines the so-called Modern Girl of the 1920's and 1930's, considering how she reflected—and helped to create—a new modern lifestyle. The Modern Girl was both a fictional creation and a flesh-and-blood creature. We will investigate “her” in her many manifestations, from fiction, film, and advertisements, to the sound of her heels clicking on actual city streets. This course will concentrate on the Modern Girl in Europe and the United States, but will also consider examples from Asia and Africa.
Critical examination of the nature, functions, and effects of war with particular attention to racialized and gendered dynamics of militarization, terrorism, counterterrorism, and genocide. Credit not given for both this course and 01:920:273.
Interdisciplinary and comparative introduction to the study of masculinities in the United States. Includes social history, and analyses of contemporary national and international contexts.
Investigation of how to study the complexity of women¿s, men¿s, and trans¿ lives in ways that take race, gender-power, ethnicity, class, and nationality seriously. Includes projects that use different techniques of knowledge production including qualitative methods.
Selected topics in women's and gender studies. Topics vary each term. Consult department.
La Casa Hispanica (La Casa for short) course is focused on the Latinx experience in the United States. We will delve into various topic and research areas that will specifically inform LATINX students of the rich identity, culture, history, politics, socio economic realities (and more!) that will help students grapple with what it means to be a Latinx woman in the U.S. We will explore collectively and individually current research and books in the academy focused on feminism and powerful movements made by Latinx women and leaders that will help us understand (through a deeper feminist lens) the lived experiences of Latinx people in the U.S. and abroad. **Latina/o/x/e are gender neutral terms to be inclusive of all folks who come from Latin American/Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries.
The Global Village is a Living-Learning Community that seeks to develop language skills, intercultural appreciation, global awareness, and a sense of community among participating students. This unique environment combines activities in and outside of the classroom, all of which are designed to strengthen the community. Engagement in all these activities is an essential part of this experience and, as such, it is important to recognize that what happens in the living community (for example, the residence halls, your rooms, the dining halls) shapes what happens in the classroom—vice versa. Respect for others in the community, as well as adhering both to the guidelines of your residence hall and the mission of Douglass Residential College, are essential to being an engaged member of the Global Village.
This semester we will examine the relationship between feminist pedagogical theory and feminist practice in the college classroom. We will begin with a brief overview of feminist epistemology starting from the premise that feminist epistemology informs feminist pedagogy. We will critique how we know what we know to be able to formulate practices that subvert gendered paradigms. We will also explore the meaning of women’s leadership, knowledge, and power through the mentor experience. We will accomplish this by examining texts that provide a framework for exploring different ways to construct definitions of knowledge and power. Your classroom experiences, in both your mentor seminar and the first-year Douglass Course, will give you a practical opportunity to examine the issues we will be raising this semester. In addition to our examination of feminist theory and practice, we will also be looking at the role that gender plays in our understanding of knowledge and power at a women’s college to challenge the orthodoxies surrounding conceptions of leadership.
This course tracks the various developments within the history of feminist theory. It begins with its emergence in and out of liberal, psychoanalytic, and Marxist conceptualizations of the subject. We consider the vexed and paradoxical nature of feminism’s relationship to these theories—they are what originally makes feminist theories thinkable in the West, yet at the same time, are what must be critique, resisted, reimagined, or altogether abandoned, according to many feminist theorists, as they insufficient and limited by their patriarchal, phallocentric, sexist, and often homophobic logics and dispositions. This first half culminates by examining how these critiques, anxieties, and discontents come to (in)form what is termed radical feminism. The second half of the course maps the interventions of a number of other feminist interventions, which critique and build off of these foundational theories, including: ecofeminism, care-focused feminism, black feminism, postcolonial and transnational feminism, queer and trans feminism, and feminist disability studies. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or by special permission.
Introduction to basic concepts central to contemporary feminist thought; exploration of the critical, productive relationship between feminist and patriarchal theory.Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or by special permission.
Compares the development of feminist writing in several historical periods across different cultures. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or by special permission.
Areas of law that regulate the position of women, including birth control, abortion, marriage, alimony, child support and custody, childcare, education, employment, criminal law (including rape, prostitution, women in prison, and the juvenile justice system), and constitutional rights. Readings in court decisions, statutes, and supplementary materials.
History of women and gender relations in the Islamic Middle East: origins of gender inequalities, women's functioning within society, reality versus literary depictions, recent transformations.
Women's activism in South Asia in autonomous feminist movements, as participants in organized political movements, and in family and community.Credit not given for both this course and 01:925:310.
Examines visual culture, especially Hollywood cinema and television, in light of the economic structure of neoliberalism. Race, gender, and sexuality as sites of power; visual texts; connections between culture and politics.
This course is an in-depth examination of diverse critical approaches to the development of feminism in Africa. Students will also build critical understanding of gender dialogues within African societies as experienced in their historical, cultural, social and economic contexts. Through readings, class discussions and written assignments, students will develop critical thinking, analytical, writing and speaking skills. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 235. Credit not given for both this course and 01:016:312.
This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the emergence and development of fiction written by Arab women. Emphasis will be laid on differences and similarities between Western and Arab feminist theories and identity issues as reflected in their literature. The course will provide a general understanding of modernist Arabic poetics, and the emergence and development of new literary genres of Arabic writing in the 19th and 20th centuries. Students will become familiar with the development and transformation of literary language, structures and imagery as embodied in selected texts by leading authors. Students will explore processes of change and the search for personal and cultural identity on the literary level in relation to the political and social spheres.
Introduces feminist approaches to consumption through readings that examine the relation of consumption to body, race, nation, and sex work. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 235 or permission of instructor.
Explores the processes by which the body is gendered in different cultures. How is the relationship between physical body, gender, and sexuality forged?
Examines societal responses to female behavior deviating from prescribed norms of social and feminine behavior from the colonial period to the present through the use of historical narratives, literature, and film to treat such themes as heresy, madness, prostitution, adultery, criminality, drug addiction, political protest, and lesbianism.
Evaluation of some major psychological conceptualizations of women in light of current research. Bases for these formulations and their influence on the position of women today. Credit not given for both this course and 01:830:381.
Feminist theories about race, gender, and nation. Focuses on U.S. nation formation, gender and American nationalism, and U.S. hegemony in a globalizing world. Examines how race and gender have independently and jointly determined life chances throughout American history." Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or by special permission. Cross-listed w/ 01:512:366
Involves intensive and extensive reading of several women's memoirs, all written within the last 50 years.
Examines how sexuality and gender became meaningful categories in Western culture through the emergence of sexual politics and queer theory.
Focuses on AIDS crisis, explores relationships between illness, race, ethnicity, and gender in health policy, research, and care for communities of color.
Examines development of feminist concepts of power and the relations between feminist and patriarchal theories.
Transnational intimacies, travel, and migration. Case studies of transnational adoption, marriage, sex work, and domestic work. Larger contexts of globalization and impact on families and sexual relations.
Use of varied theoretical approaches to examine how popular culture texts shape everyday perceptions of race, gender, family, and nation. Texts include film, television, and radio. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 235 or permission of instructor.
Course explores women's leadership for social change at work, in politics, communities, and the household in a variety of historical and contemporary meetings.
Prerequisites: By special permission of instructor. Students for this course must have applied and been accepted into the IWL Leadership Scholars Program.
Class explores women's spirituality, feminist theology, and spiritual systems from around the world. How are spiritual systems and practices gendered?
Social constitution of the self and communities through emergence and transformation of concepts and categories (race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality) associated with personal identity.
Examines how space and vision have been associated with historically developed concepts of femininity and masculinity.
Introduces modes of knowledge production, research methods, and strategies for interdisciplinary feminist scholarship. Required for students pursuing honors in women's and gender studies. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 235 or 201 or 301 or 302.
In-depth analysis of different ways women have organized for change. Focus on three or four case studies using cross-cultural perspectives to illustrate various themes of gender and collective action by women.
Autonomous women's movements in the 20th and 21st centuries. Select case studies illustrate themes of gender and collective action.
Introduces major theories in contemporary critical theory including structuralism, recent critiques of structuralism. Focuses on the models and criteria to analyze cultural and social life.
Examines work of theorists questioning the subordination of body to mind in modern Western thought.
Examines cultural stereotypes; political, economic, and social challenges confronting black women in the United States; and strategies of resistance developed by black women. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 235 or by permission.
Considers relationship between gender, law, and race in contemporary popular and political culture. Addresses impact of rise in televised court cases on perceptions of legal system and in stimulating public debates about justice. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 235 or 201 or 202.
Selected topics in women's and gender studies. Topics vary each semester. Consult department.
The best of opinion writing compels the reader to reconsider deeply held notions and it moves audiences toward agitating for social change. Now, more than ever, those of us who write for the public must direct our energies to advocating for what we believe to be good and right. We must also consider the ethical implications of the work we do. It is not all that hard to write persuasively, but it is—as it should be—challenging to write persuasively without manipulating, misleading or misinforming your audience(s).
We are living in challenging times. We are not the first generations to do so but many of the problems we are dealing with are unique to the 21st century. Democracy is facing unprecedented threats and an ever-growing political divide has created a contentious political climate that is incredibly fraught for marginalized communities. Global warming is altering the way and where we live, faster and more severely than we ever thought possible while a shocking number of people deny global warming even exists. Advocating for civil rights is branded as “identity politics,” by an entire political class that seeks to rule by theocratic and a very selective populism. The very idea of truth is being willfully eroded by those who are best served by falsehoods. Now, more than ever, we have to write toward social change, ensuring that as many people as possible are allowed to live freely, in unlegislated bodies. This is to say, that writing for social change is a creative act. It is a political act. It is a necessary act.
In this writing workshop we will explore what it means to write for social change, how to do so ethically and effectively, how to write with nuance about complex issues, how to reach multiple audiences, and how to write in ways that acknowledge multiple, divergent viewpoints. This is a reading and writing intensive course and will be taught in a hybrid format, sometimes in person, on campus and sometimes online, via Zoom.
Introduces Freudian concepts, methods and terminology, and the corresponding issues and debates in feminist theory.
Examines Freud's account of the unconscious and its relevance to theories of subjectivity, especially to feminist theory and antiracist theory.
Community service placement in women's and gender studies. Corequisite: Must be taken in conjunction with a designated CESEP (Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships) course offered in the women's and gender studies program.
Examines history and discourse of women's human rights; uses of humanitarian law in wartime; issues of gender-based violence, health, and sexuality.
Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 235 or permission of instructor.
Study of problems faced by women working in industry, unions, the home, and professions in light of modern agitation and social trends; analysis of sex-differentiated occupations, legislation, and service roles with attention to biological, psychological, and social differences between the sexes.
Politics and structure of global women's health movements. Relationship between health and phenomena such as international politics, globalization, economic policy, and conflict and war.
Examines how resource distribution shapes health risk, access to health care, and clinical outcomes. Relationship of gender, class, race, sexuality, and nation to health.
Examines women's health in relationship to contradictions between capitalist growth and resource exhaustion. Health consequences of environmental crises linked to new markets and technologies.
*Explores relationship between debt and economic crisis; examines impact of austerity policies on women's health in various nations.
Investigates shifting modes of food production, distribution, diet, and health. Compares consequences of changes for women in global North with women in global South.
Explores aspects of pharmaceutical industry. Analyzes burdens and benefits of drug research and development on different populations.
Overview of "care economy." Explores recent efforts to heighten its profit-making potential; considers long-term implications of efforts to deskill and outsource care work.
*Topic varies with instructor. The requirements for the course would be the equivalent of any 400-level course in the department.
RN Response Network provides medical assistance in the context of natural disasters wherever they may occur. This internship placement involves 150-180 hours of professional work with RN Response Network in conjunction with a research paper that links this professional experience with relevant academic work on humanitarian intervention.
Students work in organizations related to women's and gender studies. Supervision by assigned staff at the placement. Paper, student journal, and assessment of work performed at placement required. Permission of undergraduate director required.
Interns work in organizations related to women's and gender studies. Supervision by assigned staff at the placement site. Seminar, student journal, paper, and assessment of work experience required.Prerequisite: 01:988:301 or 302 or 303. Permission of undergraduate director required.
Examination of women, community activism, and leadership for change; explores how women's leadership shapes organizations, social movements, and policy development. Interns work in placements relevant to their policy interests and produce proposals for social action projects. Prerequisites: Acceptance into IWL Leadership Scholars Program and 01:988:344, or by permission of instructor.
Examines gender differences in economic opportunity, human rights, and political representation across developing countries.Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 235 or 301.
Independent action projects designed to address a particular problem or women's policy issue relevant to the work done at the internship site. Projects include gender component and development of leadership skills. Class meets biweekly.
The course will foster Women's and Gender Studies learning goals: Students will be able to identify, analyze, and critique the formation and reproduction of social, economic, and political hierarchies grounded in race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, and sexuality. The course aims to bridge feminist theory and praxis through readings, discussions and concrete experiences at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). In 2015, the CSW review 20 years of progress since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing China. The course will explore four broad themes: global strategies for sustainable development; human rights and macroeconomic policies; the contributions and insights of feminist perspectives on women's economic rights and development and the possibilities and liabilities of the United Nations as a venue for feminist advocacy. The course will encourage the use of an intersectional lens to explore these themes.
Around 1990, “queer” got a major make-over. Before that queer was more likely to be used as an epithet to disparage Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals, than to be enthusiastically embraced as a form of self-affirmation. “Queer!” was much more likely to be hurled as an insult, than proclaimed as an identity. Then, quite suddenly, the tables turned: “We’re here. We’re queer. We’re fabulous. Get used to it.” Queer heralded a new way of declaring “who” we are. It also changed who “we” are (insofar as we embrace our “queerness.”) So, what happened? Why did queer get “resignified” (to invoke Judith Butler’s idiom) and with what effects?
In this course, we will explore the changes in thinking “sex” and “sexuality” during the 1970s and 1980s that preceded the new queer apotheosis in order to understand the problems and questions to which “queer” provided a possible answer. In the 1970s and 1980s, “Lesbian and Gay”, or “Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual” (and sometimes “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transsexual”) named political movements as well as academic fields. Yet as questions about these identities got more troubling and as thinking about sexuality got more complicated, these names had increasing difficulty bearing the weight of both historical events and theoretical inquiry. Theoretically speaking, after publication of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, vol. 1 in 1976 (and its translation into English in 1978), “sexuality” began to be understood as (a) problematic, rather than appearing as a self-evident aspect of human experience. Historically speaking, after the emergence of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, the notion that “sex” could (or should) serve as the basis for political affinity seemed less clear-cut, and even the notion of what “sex” means—or should mean--became less obvious (as the debates about “safe sex” revealed).
Using Foucault’s insights, feminist theorists like Gaye Rubin, Eve Sedgwick, and Judith Butler began to rethink the intellectual work that “sexual identity” performs. Or, in Butler’s terms, they began to imagine sexual identities as performances. Their insights opened up new fields of inquiry and new ways of asking questions about sex and sexuality. Over the course of the 1980s, these new intellectual tools intersected with the new forms of political activism catalyzed in response to AIDS (e.g. ACT-UP) and from this turbulent field of thinking and acting a new form of sexual identification and sexual subjectification was born: Queer. By tracing this “queer” genealogy, we will explore the ways that sexuality both fictions identities and informs how we experience ourselves in their terms.
This course will explore contemporary relations between ethics and politics, between conceptions of leadership and the production of depoliticized masses, between individual values and public beliefs.
Examines the history of cultural contexts of visual narratives that address gender and sexuality and their influence on cultural policies. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or permission of instructor.
Explores the contributions of feminist analysis, advocacy, and policymaking to antipoverty policy and social justice politics. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or permission of instructor.
SAMPLE SYLLABUSInvestigates how motherhood is shaped by intentional public policies and social, economic, political, and cultural forces in the United States and globally. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or permission of instructor.
Using ethnography and gender as a category of analysis examines the experiences and implications of transnational development and environmental policies in specific localities. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or permission of instructor.
Examines the creation of narratives of women's health and health policy; through visits from health care experts, considers the impact of these narratives on practice. Prerequisite: 01:988:101 or 201 or 202 or 235 or permission of instructor.
Intensive reading and discussion; designed for graduating seniors. Topic changes annually. Pre-requisite: 01:988:301 or 302 or 303 or by permission of instructor.
Advanced course on a selected topic in women's and gender studies. Paper is required. Pre-requisite: 01:988:301 or 302 or 303 or by permission of instructor.
Selected interdisciplinary topics in women's and gender studies. Past topics included sexuality, popular culture, women and religion, and women and the arts. Prerequisite: 01:988:301 or 302 or 303 or by permission of instructor.
Independent study project under the guidance of a faculty supervisor. Permission of associate director required.
Individual research project to be written as honors thesis. Open only to seniors who are candidates for honors in women's and gender studies. Permission of undergraduate director required. Both semesters required.
The second semester of the Honors Research Seminar is designed to support student research and writing in completing the senior honors thesis in women’s and gender studies. The seminar provides a space to generate and critique the work required to complete the thesis, to discuss the knotty problems of interdisciplinary scholarship on gender, and to help you prepare to present and defend your work in front of an audience.
Development, discussion, production, and critique of a project related to gender, media, and technology. Written and oral project presentation, and options to also create an in-depth multimedia component to the project, complete an internship, or complete a service-learning experience.
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