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Spring 2009


WGST 07  First Year Seminar: Women, Gender and Science

Women have played a small role in western science, and their gradual inclusion influences what we know and how we know it. We explore what science is, and how “what we know” has been affected by societal ideas, past and present. Evaluating scientific critiques ranging from Kuhn to feminists such as Fox Keller and Haraway, we ask: how many women are in science, what are the obstacles, and has feminist critique changed science? Our work will include evaluation of data concerning women's participation in science, visits with feminists and scientists, and discussion of at least one film. Distributive credit: SOC

Professor Conkey

WGST 16 Contemporary Issues in Feminism

This course explores the theoretical underpinnings of some of the most highly contested issues in society today. We will look at a spectrum of positions on such issues as: questions of difference and equality; women’s health and reproductive rights; identity and identity politics; morality-pornography-violence; eco-feminism-environmentalism; children, family, and human rights; and the representation/performance of femininity/masculinity. Special emphasis will be placed on the connection between theory and practice. Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Martín

WGST 19.2/PHIL 50.2   Sexuality, Identity and the Legal Theory

Sexuality, Identity, and Legal Theory (Identical to Philosophy 50 in 09S, pending faculty approval). This course will examine sexual orientation, gender identity, and the law in the United States. Topics to be discussed will include: The roles of sex, gender, and sexual orientation in the law and the law’s role in shaping these categories; the rights to privacy, equal protection, free speech, and association; workplace discrimination; family law and same-sex marriage. Open to all students. Dist. SOC; WCult:

Professors Brison and Robinson

WGST 21.1/CLST 11 Did Roman Women Have a History?

In this course we explore the lives of Roman women first in terms of the larger institutional frameworks that structured and gave meaning to women’s lives, either by inclusion (family, marriage) or exclusion (law, politics). From this basis we investigate the characterization and self-representation of women in literary texts: women as mothers and wives, women as political actors, women as priests and ritual participants. Selected readings of Roman literary and legal sources will be supplemented by evidence from Roman inscriptions, domestic architecture, sculpture and coinage. Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Stewart

WGST 31.3/GOV 60/PHIL 18 Alternative Political Theory

In this seminar we engage with central themes and approaches of three contemporary alternative political theories: critical theory, post-structuralism, and feminist political theory. This course has three goals. First, we engage with these alternative theories to obtain a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of power in modern societies. Second, we analyze the ways in which these theories might assist us to think about issues pertaining to political resistance. Third, we analyze the ways in which the respective thinkers conceptualize socio-political change. We start out with Marx and Marcuse (critical theory), followed by Foucault and Derrida (post-structuralism), and we end with Iris Marion Young and Judith Butler (feminist political theory). Open to all students. Dist:TBA; WCult:TBA.

Professor Leeb

WGST 43.2/REL 31/CLST 11 Sex, Celibacy and the Problem of Purity

This course examines a crucial period in the history of Christianity—Late Antiquity. Between the years 300 and 500, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, established standards of doctrine and ecclesiastical organization, and developed the attitudes towards the body, sexuality and gender which informed Christian teaching for centuries to come. In this class we will ask: why did virginity become such an important aspect of Christian religiosity? What effect did Roman concepts of gender and sexuality have on Christian understanding of the relationship between men and women? What did martyrs, gladiators and monks have in common. Open to all students. Dist: TMV; WCult: W.

Professor MacEvitt

WGST 47.2/COLT 52   The Borderlands:  Latina/o Writers in the United States

In this course we will focus on the writings of US Latina/o writers. We will analyze how writers (Anzaldua, Alvarez, Cisneros, Castillo and others) negotiate a path between the two cultures (the US and Latin America) and the two languages that inform their literary production and shape their identity. This in-between status translates into an experimentation with genres and a questioning of traditional gender divisions as well as the construction of transcultural icons and objects. Open to all students. Dist: LIT or INT; WCult: W.

Professor Spitta

WGST 47.4/LACS 56 Latin American Women Writers: Negotiating Realities

This course focuses on narrative by Latin American women, primarily fiction, and how that fiction has been a force for social change. The course will introduce students to Feminist theories which have been applied to and by Latin American scholars to give account of diverse literary forms produced across cultural differences. The core articulating idea of the course is women’s impact on literature and on the world. Students will: 1. Become familiar with important authors and common themes in contemporary Latin American literature by women. 2. Be familiar with different literary periods and movements in Latin American literature. 3. Demonstrate an understanding of the different literary terminology employed in the analysis of different types of narratives, such as poetry, short stories, and plays. 4. Use literary terminology in their own analysis of contemporary Latin American literature. 5. Articulate a basic understanding of Latin American history, politics, human rights, social activism, and gender roles, as seen through the lens of fictional and non-fictional characters. 6. Discuss the social and political impact of Latin American writers in the struggle for social change. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW.

Professor Lirot

WGST 48.3/ENGL70.2 Love, Gender and Marriage In Shakespeare

In Shakespeare, issues so seemingly "domestic" as love, sexuality and family are problems of such colossal significance that they could be said to constitute the focal center of the canon itself. Hamlet and King Lear, for instance, are plays more truly "about" the politics of family than they are about the politics of kingdom. Focusing on seven plays, this course will interrogate the knotty issues of love, sexuality, and family. As part of the course, students will be required to participate in at least one scene production. Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group I. CA tags Genre-drama, Genders and Sexualities.

Professor Boose

WGST 51.5/ENGL 67.9/JWST 21.2 Modern Jewish American Women Writers

This course will explore the literature of Jewish American women from the late nineteenth century to the present; topics for discussion will include feminism, sexuality, identity politics, activism, and literary transmission. Among the readings will be poetry, fiction, memoir, and essays by such writers as Lazarus, Antin, Yezierska, Stock, Stein, Olsen, Rukeyser, Paley, Ozick, Rich, Piercy, Levertov, Gluck, Goldstein, Wasserstein, Goodman, Klepfisz, Feinberg, Chernin. Dist: LIT; WCult: CI. Course Group III. CA tags Genders and Sexualities, Cultural Studies and Popular Culture.

Professor Zeiger

WGST 52.1/AAAS 67/COLT 67 Colonial and Post-Colonial Masculinities

In this course, we will develop an understanding of masculinity as a construct which varies in time and space, and is constantly (re)shaped by such factors as race, class, and sexuality. The contexts of the colonial encounter and its postcolonial aftermath will set the stage for our examination of the ways in which social, political, economic, and cultural factors foster the production of specific masculinities. Texts include Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Lafferiere’s How to Make Love to a Negro, and additional writings by Irish, Indian, and Australian authors. Our study will be organized around the questions of the production of hegemonic and subaltern masculinities, the representation of the colonial and postcolonial male body, the militarization of masculinity, and the relation between masculinity and nationalism. Theoretical material on masculinities will frame our readings. Dist: LIT.

Professor Coly

WGST 56.6/FILM 47 Unlimited Women: Women and Popular Hindu Cinema

India’s attitude toward women is ambivalent, at best. As in other parts of the world, women’s lives in India are marked by the virgin-whore dichotomy. Although certain women are deified as keepers of national culture and family honor, the low social status accorded to women in general is reflected in the high rates of female infanticide in India. At the same time, the country boasts a mythological tradition that highlights several powerful women figures (including some aggressive Hindu goddesses), a long history of women leaders in politics, and a vibrant and active feminist movement. This course asks how these varied, contradictory aspects of life in modern India shape representations of women in contemporary media forms. Focusing on popular Hindi-language media—especially the film, television, and music industries—from the 1980s onwards, we will ask the following questions: What cultural values and archetypes are reflected in contemporary media representations of women? What pleasures do these images offer, especially for women audience members? What freedoms and choices is the “modern Indian woman” allowed, both on screen and in the “real” world of the industry? How do particular women’s performances either uphold or challenge dominant ideas about femininity and masculinity? How might new reading or viewing strategies allow us to re-imagine the place of women in the contemporary Indian cultural imagination?
Texts for this course will include: Unlimited Girls, Paromita Vohra’s 2002 documentary on young women and their relationship to the Indian women’s movement; selected episodes of important television serials like Ramayana, Mahabharat, Rajni (all prime-time hits in the 1980s), and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (a highly popular soap opera that was first aired in 2000); Purnima Mankekar’s television ethnography Screening Culture, Viewing Politics (1999) and Gayatri Gopinath’s Impossible Desires (2005); essays on the public persona of media personalities like playback singer Lata Mangeshkar, TV producer and director Ekta Kapoor, model and film star Aishwarya Rai, and Indi-pop singer Falguni Pathak. Given the widespread circulation and consumption of Indian media abroad, this course will attend to the reception of these shows and figures in India as well as in the diaspora.

Professor Sundar

WGST 65.1/JWST 52 Judaism, Sexuality and Queerness

What are the interconnections between Judaism, sexuality and queerness? How does Judaism shape gender? How do accepted ideas about gender and sexual orientation shape Judaism? How does Judaism promote and/or regulate sexuality? How is this different from/ similar to other faith traditions? What kind of sex is Kosher Sex? (Or did Shmuel Boteach just make that up?) Is it different from Christian sex?
This class will examine the intersections between gender formation, sexual identity, sexual practice, religious practice, cultural identity, and personal belief. Drawing upon contemporary gender theory, religious texts, and current interpretations of Jewish thought and culture in the works of Judith Halberstam, Marilyn Halter, Rachel Adler, Sander Gilman, Miriam Peskowitz. Laura Levitt, and David Biale we will examine the construction of Jewish identity as well as gender and sexual orientation through a feminist/queer lens.
We will also be investigating questions of race and ethnicity as it applies to the performance of Jewish gender issues in Jewish performers and blackface, the rise of the Jewish gangster, the association of Jewish women singers and “the blues,”and the “dirty” Jewish comics of the 1950s such as Lenny Bruce and Pearl Williams. Along with this we will be examining the multiplicity of ways contemporary Judaism understands and responds to sexual and gender orientations including discussions of same-sex marriage and transgender people in Jewish thought, worship and culture. Dist. TMV; WCult: CI.

Professor Bronski

WGST 67.1/JWST 51/GERM 42  Freud, Psycholanalysis, Jews and Gender

After a brief historical introduction to Freud’s time and environment, Fin-de-Siècle Vienna, we will discuss how Freud’s own writings, his biography and his biographers have shaped the perception of psychoanalysis as a specifically Jewish theory and practice. Through a close reading of Freud’s seminal texts on gender, sexuality, language and religion, we will trace the connections between psychoanalysis, Jewishness and gender that have impacted theoretical discussions until today, i.e., on hysteria or on anti-Semitism. We will close the class with historical, theoretical readings that explore and critique Freudian psychoanalysis on issues of anti-Semitism, politics, gender and sexuality (among others Karen Horney, Wilhelm Reich and Herbert Marcuse) and discuss the most recent debates on the status of Freud in the US. Taught in English. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Fuechtner

Associated Courses

AAAS 26/ENGL 67.10 Black Movements

Professor Colbert

AAAS 91/ENGL 72.4  The Harlem Renaissance

Professor Favor

LACS 56 Latin American Women Writers

Professor Lirot

REL 49 The Body in Japanese Religion

Professor Drott

Last Updated: 6/1/09