BA MA Track
Women in Leadership
Naomi Klein
Women in Leadership
Naomi Klein
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Welcome to the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Undergraduate Spring 2015 Courses

 Click here to view the undergraduate Spring 2015 schedule. 


988 Course Descriptons:


01:988:202 (01) Gender, Culture and Representation: Feminist Film/Media: Politics, Culture, and Representation

W 2:15 - 5:15 ARH-100 C/D
Debra Zimmerman

This course will provide a critical and analytical investigation of independent feminist film and mainstream media, examining how women are represented in popular culture and how they represent themselves.   Using feminist documentary as a counterpoint we will explore the way that mainstream media misrepresents and excludes women's perspectives as well as the history of independent feminist filmmaking worldwide. Along with the classics of independent feminist film, including films by filmmakers Julie Dash, Ngozi Onwurah, Jane Campion, Sally Potter, Kim Longinotto, Lourdes Portillo and Trin T. Minh-ha, we’ll screen popular TV programs, Hollywood films and international art house cinema to explore the intersection of feminism and media culture and the construction of gender identity.    

Since the 1920’s images created by white men have dominated mainstream media and culture.  What happens when we deconstruct those images, looking at who has created them and who are they addressing?   How have independent films by women shifted that paradigm?  Feminist filmmakers have used genre and the form of documentary and narrative cinema to explore critical issues of the second and third wave of the women’s movement including: the politics of women’s health, violence against women, femicide, transnational feminism and sex trafficking.  Each week we will look at independent feminist films and/or mainstream media to compare, contrast and explore the relevant social, political, ideological, and aesthetic difference between the two.

Debra Zimmerman has been the Executive Director of Women Make Movies for more than 30 years and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her knowledge and experience with Rutgers students as the 2014-15 Laurie Chair in Women Studies.  


01:988:202 (02) Gender, Culture and Representation: Gender through the Lenses of Feminist Science Fiction and Feminist Science Studies

M/Th (12:35-1:55) RAB-204 C/D
Catherine Read
In this course we will read and interpret short selections of feminist science fiction from the 1970's to the present. Students will have the opportunity tochoose a reading of their own or to write their own science fiction. We will alternate these readings with relevant articles from feminist science studies analyzing the social and intellectual consequences for science that gender beliefs and biases bring. At the same time, we will be exploring how science as presented in popular culture shapes these very beliefs and biases. Students will learn how to work with literature as text, how to critique scientific studies and thinking, as well as studying the relation of nature and science in the context of gender studies.
01:988:240 Gender and Science
T/Th 3:55-5:15 – HSB 204 C/D
Professor Kyla Schuller
An introduction to many of the ways feminists engage with the sciences, this course examines ways that feminists have critiqued the production of scientific knowledge as well as ways that contemporary critical analyses of gender, race, and sexuality draw on scientific research. Taking both an historical and theoretical perspective we will investigate how dynamics of race, gender, and sexuality shaped specific episodes in the history of science, such as nineteenth-century race science and the practice of eugenics. We will also look at contemporary scientific practice, examining topics including the cultural attitudes toward women scientists, ideas about homosexuality in animals, and feminist theories of evolution. The course covers both the ways that science has historically been used to reinforce practices of race, gender, and sexuality inequality, as well as the ways that a variety of feminists have turned to science as an asset to the political and intellectual project of feminism. Throughout we will examine science in many genres: histories of science, fictional writing, documentary film, and feminist theory, among others. Students will write two short papers and take a midterm and final examination.


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

Online Course

Tara Burk

In this course we will examine the complicated interface between art and pornography. Our primary aim will be to critically engage sexually explicit imagery and to investigate the ways in which art and pornography can re-present, construct, and re-imagine gender and other facets of difference including race and sexuality. Taking the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960s as our point of departure, we'll trace the creation, distribution, and consumption of explicit imagery by artists, activists, filmmakers, and audiences. We'll examine the role played by technology, from video to the rise of the internet, in the ways pornography is consumed and understood. We'll learn about controversies regarding visual representations of certain types of bodies and desires, and the ways in which sexuality and sexual imaginaries changed in the wake of the public health crisis of HIV/AIDS.


01:988:337 Globalization, Sex, and Families

Cross-listed with 01:070:324

Th 12:35 - 3:35 / BIO-205 C/D

Professor Louisa Schein

In recent decades there has been a dramatic increase in people crossing borders to engage in sex, find work in other’s households, or form families. What does this do to love, intimacy and domestic life? What kinds of stigma, exploitation or inequality might be generated through the globalization of intimacy? We will examine several of the most common of these types of relationship, including: sex tourism, trafficking in women and children, international domestic work, transnational adoption, interracial marriage, and so-called “mail-order brides.” Readings will be interdisciplinary – from social science, literature and humanities and we view many feature and documentary films.


01:988:396 (05) Special Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies: Global Women’s Filmmaking

Cross-listed with 01:195:377:05 and 01:175:377:01

M 12:00 –3:00 and W 1:40 –3:00 / RC – 3 LIV

Professor Susan Martin-Márquez

In its “Women and Media Fact Sheet,” Rutgers’ Institute for Women’s Leadership shows that male characters comprise nearly 75% of speaking roles in major Hollywood films, and that “women are dramatically underrepresented behind the scenes in the U.S. film industry,” directing, for example, only 5% of the 250 highest grossing films in 2011. Some of the most celebrated international filmmakers, however, are women, and their works typically feature a much larger percentage of female protagonists. In this course we will study a wide variety of films from around the globe, directed by women and produced from the 1960s to the present. We will examine the local contexts out of which these films have emerged, exploring the ways in which women work to negotiate diverse cultures and film industries in order to realize their creative vision. We will also seek to place their films in critical dialogue with several currents in "Western" film theory which focus, for example, on questions of authorship and authority or the cinematographic construction of difference. Films from countries such as Argentina, Britain, China, (the former) Czechoslovakia, France, India, Iran, Martinique and Tunisia will be treated.

No prior work in film studies required; the semester will begin with a “crash course” in film analysis.


01:988:396 (07) Special Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies: Feminist Advocacy for Women’s Rights through the United Nations

W 2:15-5:15 – CWGL Conference Room C/D

Professor Radhika Balakrishnan

The course aims to use the engagement with feminist advocacy praxis as a means for developing critical perspectives on feminist advocacy theory. Throughout the seminar, students, acting as a learning community, will have an opportunity to meet and discuss advocacy strategies with US and international activists. During the CSW, students will be expected to spend four days in New York City attending official government sessions and participating in workshops led by nongovernmental organizations from around the world. The course will also offer opportunities to meet with Rutgers University faculty and local and global activists engaged in a wide variety of advocacy efforts from direct advocacy to using advanced communications technologies. Central to the life of the course will be the opportunities for students to reflect together on their experiences and develop their own critical analyses of the state of feminist activism and their own activist goals. These analyses will be shared through class discussions, analytical papers and an online discussion forum to engage the broader Rutgers community, as well as during a public event at Rutgers which they will plan and organize.


01:988:396 (90) Special Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies: Social Media and Social Movements

Online Course

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 campa “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 uprising, the course inquires whether social media challenges power hierarchies and shifts the balance of power toward more bottom-up efforts.


01:988:397 Freud and Feminism I: Sexuality 

TH 2:15 - 5:15 pm - VC-005 C/D

Professor Ed Cohen

At the end of the nineteenth century Sigmund Freud began to publish a body of texts that gave birth to the field of psychoanalysis. For the next four decades Freud created amassive archive based both on his therapeutic experiences and on the philosophical conclusions he drew from these experiences. Though Freud is perhaps best known for his insistence that the “unconscious” informs—and also deforms—our conscious behaviors, as well as the ways we make sense of them, he was not the first to propose this concept. However, he did give the unconscious a new significance when he affirmed that these unconscious meanings constitute “psychical reality” which is just as “real” as any other reality. Moreover, the reality of the psyche contains elements that do not properly belong to us insofar as they come to us from the world in which we live and from those with whom we live as infants. Freud’s emphasis on “infantile sexuality” and on the “Oedipus complex” represent his attempt to give meaningful shape to the paradox that we only become our “selves” by incorporating aspects of others who are not us. Freud recognized that the internal tension produced among these different aspects of the psyche causes friction between competing desires and drives, often leading to deleterious or painful patterns of thought and behavior. Thus, as a therapeutic practice psychoanalysis sought to ameliorate such human suffering, while as an intellectual practice psychoanalytic writings sought to understand the psychic dynamics that give rise to it.
In this course we will attempt to understand some of the basic concepts and insights of psychoanalysis with regard to sexuality. While what Freud meant by sexuality is not exactly clear, it nevertheless served as the crux for his interpretation of human existence. In this regard Freud takes up and transforms a trajectory of European thought which extends from the middle of the 18th century to the present that sees individual human beings as belonging to a species whose continued existence as a species relies on sexual reproduction. Concomitantly, this line of thought holds sexuality to be the most animal—and hence least “rational”—aspect of human lives, leading to conflicts within the individual between these distinct animal/human imperatives. As a late 19th century Viennese physician trained in neurology, Freud took up this paradox of the human animal by situating sexuality on the borderline between the biological and the psychic. In so doing, he elaborated some of the contradictions that bourgeois European society systematically engendered and then sought to explain and to treat them. Although Freud believed that his insights applied universally to all human beings, it seems more likely that Freud’s work illuminates the tensions created within a distinct cultural and economic milieu—tensions which contemporary American culture continues in many ways to develop and transform.
This course is not psychoanalytic per se. Rather it seeks to reflect on the ways Freud explains the dynamics of the human psyche and to consider some of the intellectual tools he offers us make sense of our own lives.


01:988:408 Impacts of Economic Inequality on Women’s Health

Online Course

Professor Heidi Hoechst

Domestic and global economic inequality places significant numbers of people at high risk for health crises even as they are denied access to care.  This course investigates the “pathogenic” aspects of economic inequality.  It examines how systems of unequal resource distribution grounded in class, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality and sexuality contribute to wide disparities of health risk, access to health care, and clinical outcomes.  It explores how global trade and transnational migration affect health costs, health care delivery systems, and the availability of health care professionals.  By tracing links between macro-economic policies and access to health care, the course analyzes pathologies suffered by individual women in the context of structural violence, which is exacerbated by the intersections of gender, class, race, national belonging, and geopolitical power.


01:988:411 Gendered Health Impacts of Structural Adjustment Programs

Online Course

Professor Heidi Hoechst

Since the 1980s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have conditioned loans to poor countries on implementation of economic policy requirements known collectively as structural adjustment.  Liberalizing trade, increasing export manufacturing, shifting from subsistence to export-oriented agriculture, and privatizing national assets and industries have been hallmarks of structural adjustment policies.  This course considers the gendered effects of structural adjustment.  It investigates why women are over-represented among those most negatively affected by cuts in public services, how their caretaking burdens increase and their paid employment decreases disproportionately with privatization.  Comparing experiences in the global South with more recent developments in the European Union, this course provides a gendered analysis of the global health impacts of structural adjustment programs.


01:988:416 Women’s Global Health Special Topics: The Color of AIDS: The Politics of Race During the AIDS Crisis

Online Course

Professor Carlos Decena

In recent years, the visibility of people of color (particularly women) infected and affected by HIV/AIDS in the United States has sparked discussions about the influences of individual and structural factors in how people negotiate risk, protection, mobilization and access to care and medications. This course focuses on AIDS and the way it is represented in scholarly, popular and community discussions. One of our key concerns will be to discuss the role that race thinking has in shaping the representations of communities, the problems, and the solutions identifies. The course explores cultural narratives of the spread of HIV among women and men from different racial/ethnic backgrounds, in addition to debating recent controversies caused by phenomena within the framework of contested social meanings of illness and deviance, or what Paula Treichler has aptly called “an epidemic of signification.” The course also explores linkages linkages between how we imagine and represent illness and already existing notions of racial/ethnic/sexual difference. Discussions of selected moments throughout the crisis will help us understand debates about the meanings of race, from the designation of Haitians as a risk group in the earliest stages of the epidemic to current debates about African Americans makes as AIDS carriers and women of color in the epidemic. Discussions of gender, sexuality and the status of AIDS among African Americans, Latinas/os, Asian Americans and Native Americans will foreground the problematic nature of “culture” and “visibility” in health policy, research and care provision.


01:988:490 Seminar: Gender and Media

T 10:55 - 1:55 - HCK-127 C/D

Professor Kyla Schuller

We live in volatile times. Across the country, people are faced with job insecurity, decreasing wages, long working hours, continual war, and police violence, all against the backdrop of a dramatically uncertain future for the existence of life as we know it on earth. How do we manage? How do our different positions according to hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexuality shape our ability to thrive in these difficult conditions? Do our popular forms of entertainment, especially TV and Blockbuster film, serve to anesthetize us to our difficult reality or to engage with it and maybe even strategize resistance?

In this class, we will examine popular film and TV in light of the economic structure of our day: neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is predominantly characterized by extreme wealth inequality. However, neoliberalism materializes not only in the economic realm, resulting in shrinking paychecks for the vast majority of us. It also works through the social structures of race, gender, and sexuality. We will analyze how TV shows such as Scandal and The Orange is the New Black and films including The Wolf of Wall Street and The Hunger Games help to construct new racial, gendered, and sexual roles that respond to the political imperatives of late capitalism. In this way, we will be exploring how these notions of human difference function as dense sites of power, serving as site of both oppression and resistance.

Taking our cue from the British Cultural Studies tradition, we will look at media aspolitical ideology and commodity, examining the story each text tells as well as its conditions of production, distribution, and reception. For example, when looking at reality TV, we will consider its function as cultural entertainment and also as a site of labor. We will watch a documentary 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 race, gender, and sexuality as sites of power, analyzing visual media, and making connections between culture and politics.


888 Course Descriptions: 


01:888:339 Research in Sexualities

MW 2:15-3:35 RAB-109B C/D

Professor Louisa Schein

How do researchers get at sexual norms and erotic experiences and how do they write about these often unnamed realities? This course takes a wide look at research on sexualities from a global and interdisciplinary perspective. We incorporate race, gender, class and ethnicity as well as sexual minorities in many different parts of the world. Asking how sexual cultures change, we place special emphasis on mass culture, popular media and capitalism. Readings, films and guest lectures contrast multiple genres: case studies, theoretical and historical works, personal narratives, literature and criticism, policy and activist writings. Pre-requisite: 01:888:290.


904 Course Descriptions:


01:904:402 Social Justice Capstone Seminar: Gender, Sex, Race and Revolution in the Middle East and Beyond

TTh 2:15 - 3:35 RAB-206 C/D

Professor Maya Mikdashi

What is a revolution? What is the difference between a revolution and an uprising, a civil war, or an anti-colonial movement? Since the Arab uprisings, which began 2010, this question has been much debated in the media and in the academy. This course aims to address the ways that gender, sex, and race are constructed, regulated and articulated at moments of political upheaval. While this course is centered in the contemporary Middle East, we will also be examining the Haitian, American, and French revolutions. We do so to better understand how the body and its regulation continue to be a central site from which the question of “revolution” emerges.

This course is inter-and trans-disciplinary. Throughout the semester we will be watching films and monitoring media in addition to weekly course readings.







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