“Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” From Lord Byron to Lady Gaga, geniuses have always been bad news. Much of the cultural anxiety around genius is related to sex. Sigmund Freud’s essay on Leonardo Da Vinci defined genius in terms of sexual frustration. Edward Carpenter argued that genius was the third sex. Cesare Lombroso argued that genius was a genetic component of criminality. Christine Battersby thought the idea of genius was a tool for female oppression. In this course, we will look at changing ideas of genius and gender, from the Renaissance to the present.
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.
This is a general course on women in politics. We will examine the role of women as politicians, activists, and voters. The course will examine a wide range of issue areas, including: female attitudes on war and conflict, the reactions of women to different kinds of campaign tactics and policy positions, the differing barriers women face to attaining elected office in different countries, and how the challenges thought to be faced by female political leaders compare with those faced by female business leaders. One key question we will explore concerns whether female politicians are treated differently than male politicians, and how that might affect their strategies for reelection and governance. Open to all students. DIST:SOC; WCult: W (Pending Faculty Approval).
Sex (biological differences between men and women) and gender (social constructions of those differences) are not straight-forward or natural, and it naturally follows that gender inequalities and gender oppression are also not straightforward and natural. Therefore, we will pay close attention to the issue of power—in terms of control and distribution of resources and the enforcement of gender roles and sexuality. We will also look at how Western gender ideals have been imposed on people in other parts of the world. We will talk about concepts, perceptions, images, stories, encounters, games, connections and disconnections. Finally, we will explore questions of practice and resistance. (TOPICAL) Dist: INT; WCult: CI.
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.
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 that 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 become familiar with important authors and common themes in contemporary Latin American literature by women and different literary periods and movements in Latin American literature. Dist: LIT; WCult: NW.
While the European novel takes a notoriously orientalizing view of the exotic, often veiled, Muslim woman, in the hands of Muslim writers the novel has become a site for contestation of traditional gender definitions, even reinterpretation of legal and religious texts. We will read novels by Naguib Mahfouz, Assia Djebar, Tahar ben Jelloun, Nawal El Saadawi, Leila Ahmed, Fatima Mernissi, Leila Abouzeid, and Mariama Bâ. DIST: LIT; WCult: CI.
What do stories about animals tell us about the treatment of women in Western society? What do stories about women tell us about the treatment of animals in Western society? In this course, we will examine the philosophical traditions that associate women with animals, and will interrogate women’s complex response to those associations. We will read literary alongside religious and philosophical texts, and draw on current schools of critical thought such as eco-feminism to develop an understanding of these issues. Open to all students. Dist. LIT: WCult: CI.
In her well known passage from A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf stated that "we think back through our mothers if we are women"; twenty years later, Gertrude Stein would obliquely refer to herself as "the mother of us all." These two women occupy a central place in European and American modernism, their work having influenced successive generations of writers. Using a series of thematic and theoretical frameworks, we will explore the intersections between the two, asking how they staged their resistances to traditional/patriarchal literary and cultural structures. Possible frameworks are gender and genre; queer texts and contexts; war, nation, and gender; class, ethnicity, and authority; iconization. Texts by Woolf might include Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, and Between the Acts; texts by Stein might include Ida, Three Lives, Everybody's Autobiography, and Mrs. Reynolds. We will also be reading a selection of critical and/or feminist theory. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.
Professors Silver and Will
Last Updated: 3/28/11