This course will investigate the roles of women and men in society from an interdisciplinary point of view. We will analyze both the theoretical and practical aspects of gender attribution—how it shapes social roles within diverse cultures, and defines women and men's personal sense of identity. We will discuss the following questions: What are the actual differences between the sexes in the areas of biology, psychology, and moral development? What is the effect of gender on participation in the work force and politics, on language, and on artistic expression? We will also explore the changing patterns of relationships between the sexes and possibilities for the future. Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI. Note: Ten spaces are reserved in each section for incoming first-year students.
Professor A'Ness: 9L Hour, 10 Hour
Professor Munafo: 2A Hour
This course will explore a wide range of contemporary issues and debates in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies. We will do this by examining, in some detail, several issues now integral to present LGBT rights movements, but will expand our focus beyond the immediate concerns of political organizing to the broader questions these issue raise.
The LGBT movement, now three decades old, is facing serious growing pains. It has won toleration and some mainstream acceptance, but must now decide its current needs, agendas, social and political goals. We will look at three important areas of discussion: challenges to the legal system such as the repeal of sodomy laws and hate crime legislation; evolving social constructions of LGBT life such as gay marriage, the "gayby-boom," and the effect of AIDS on community formation; the threat of queer sexuality especially as it relates to issues of childhood sexuality, public sex, and transgender identity. We will be reading primary source material, including Supreme Court decisions, as well as critical theory by writers such as Lani Guinier and Samuel Delany. We will also look at how popular culture, movies like Basic Instinct, Scary Movie, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and television Will and Grace, Six Feet Under, both reflect and shape popular opinion. We will also examine how race, class, gender, and "the body" are integral to these topics and how queer representation in popular culture shapes both public discourse, and the LGBT cultural and political agendas.
Sex (biological differences between men and women) and gender (social constructions of those differences) are not straightforward 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: SOC or INT; WCult: CI.
This course will address various aspects of Feminism, Islam and Space. This course will seek to answer various questions about space, gender and Islam such as: What constitutes a Muslim Space and the "Muslim World"? Who decides and defines these spaces? How are these spaces gendered and influenced by Islam or Islamic practices? How do such gendering of spaces differ by place? Additionally we will explore the readings of several Islamic feminist scholars that address several gender related topics such as women's rights, gender roles, honor and Sharia (Islamic law). Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.
This course will address a range of topics concerning gender that are of particular significance to indigenous communities. These topics will be considered from historical, political, cultural and social perspectives. In the context of this class, the term "indigenous" is a category that includes tribal nations of the United States including Hawaii, the First Nations of Canada, and the indigenous people of Australia and New Zealand. The material is presented with particular concern for the diversity of indigenous groups and the variety of their own experiences and autochthony. We will explore their responses to misconceptions of tribal gender roles and identities projected upon Native people by the agents and institutions of settler colonialism. This approach opens a broader discussion about the many actions of indigenous communities to deconstruct and decolonize gender categories that are alien to the continuity, integrity, and vitality of their own traditions. The interdisciplinary approach of this course will engage texts from the fields of anthropology, philosophy, literature, history, and government policy. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.
Of all the cultural enterprises and big ticket myths in western history, probably none has been as strictly gendered as war. Traditionally, war has been constructed as powerfully gendered binary in which battle is posed as a nearly sacred and exclusively male domain through which young men are initiated into the masculine gender and the male bond. From the west's great classical war narrative of The Iliad onward, the feminine has, by contrast, been defined as that which instigates male-male conflict and that which wars are fought either to save or protect, be it a war to rescue Helen of Troy, to avenge the raped women of Kuwait whose plight was invoked as a cause for the l991 Gulf War, one to protect the faithful (or faithless and betraying) wife at home, or a war to defend the ultimate national repository of the feminine ideal to be protected from the rapacious invasions of the enemy: America the Beautiful, mother land and virgin land. As a counterpart to the protection of the feminine imagined as belonging to one's own males, the narrative either tacitly or overtly allows a soldier to view the all "enemy" women as objects to be raped; and in the most recent wars of ethnic genocide of the 1990s onward, women in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Sudan have become no longer just incidental victims or "collateral damage," but the primary objects of enemy destruction. Starting with the Gulf War, however, the strict spatialization of the American war myth was at least challenged by the new presence of women on the war front, women as POWs, and in the present war in Iraq, women coming home maimed and in body bags; and women have now been integrated—whether successfully or not-- into all of the U. S. military accredited academies. With a special although not exclusive concentration on U.S. culture of the past century, this course will take a look at film, fiction, non fiction and biography, news media and online material, in tracing the strongly gendered myths and narratives that are wrapped up in the cultural understanding of War. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.
Violence is widely recognized as a problem in modern society, with policies to combat violence, or employ it, dominating political discussion. Yet the meaning of violence is seldom analyzed. Using an ethnographic lens, this course explores violence as a socially and culturally mediated phenomenon. We will trace how anthropologists have conceptualized diverse forms of violence, from state terror and gang conflict to gender inequality and everyday suffering. Case studies are drawn from Mozambique, Jamaica, and Chicago. Recommended: Anthropology 3. Dist: SOC.
This introductory, multidisciplinary course examines women's religions ideas, beliefs, concerns, actions, rituals and socio-cultural experiences in African societies and cultures from a comparative, historical and gender perspective. We will look at women's experiences of social change in African religions, the encounter with Islam, slavery, Christianity, and colonialism. We will analyze the articulations of economic and political power or lack of power in religious ideas as we ask questions such as: What are the different antecedents and circumstances in which women exercise or are denied agency, leadership, power and happiness in their communities? Texts will include nonfiction, fiction, and film narratives. Open to all students. Dist: TMV; WCult: NW
In responding to the obstacles facing America's immigrants -- problems of dislocation, split identity, family disunity and claustrophobia, culture shock, language barriers, xenophobia, economic marginality, and racial and national oppression -- women often assume special burdens and find themselves having to invent new roles. They often bring powerful bicultural perspectives to their tasks of survival and opportunity seeking, however, and are increasingly active in struggles for cultural expression and social and economic justice. We will examine the different conditions for women in a variety of immigrant groups in America, reading in several histories, anthologies of feminist criticism, interdisciplinary surveys, and relevant texts in critical theory, but ultimately focusing on the words, in autobiography and fiction, of women writers. We will read such works as Akemi Kikimura's Through Harsh Winters: The Life of a Japanese Immigrant Woman; Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior; Bharati Mukerjee's Darkness; Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street; Jamaica Kincaid's Lucy; and Kim Chernin's In My Mother's House. Dist: LIT; WCult: W.
Our perceptions of food are often limited to familiarity with its preparation and consumption, but do we consider food as an extension of the self or as a marker of class, gender and sexuality? This course will look at food as an intersection of production, consumption and signification, and at how different cultural traditions regulate gender by infusing food with socially determined codes. Readings include Margaret Atwood, Isak Dinesen, Marguerite Duras, Laura Esquival, among others. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: W
This class examines the ways American commercial television has historically "assumed" gendered positionings of its audience, as well as operates as one of the strongest cultural touchstones of gendered identity in patriarchal, consumer society. After tracing television's place in the construction of gendered ideals through the history of the situation comedy, we examine "gender-specific" genres, such as sports, westerns, cop shows, and soap operas. Representative programs will be screened, and feminist essays on television history/theory are among assigned readings. Open to all students. Dist: ART; WCult: CI.
Our social structure is full of unseen, unspoken, and unheard dynamics. These hidden and irresponsible social behaviors have always contributed to the building of visible and invisible social walls. Behind these walls, a growing invisible population has found a way into visibility into society through addiction, violence, and crime. This course offers students the unique opportunity to collaborate with a group of people from behind those social walls from two different perspectives: theoretical and practical. For one class each week, students will study the root cause of social isolations and invisibility mainly pertaining to incarceration and addiction, in an active learning classroom. For the other half, students will travel to Valley Vista, an alcohol and chemical dependency treatment center in Bradford, Vermont, and participate in an interdisciplinary arts program there. Its goal is the creation and performance of an original production that will facilitate the patients' voices. The final project for the course will combine research on themes related to addiction, rehabilitation, transition, facilitation, and critical analysis and self-reflection on the effectiveness of community-based learning and performance in rehabilitation. Dist: ART; WCult: CI.
The seminar in Women's and Gender Studies is designed as a culminating experience for Women's and Gender Studies students and preparation for future work such as independent research, honors thesis, graduate studies and advanced scholarship. Enrollment is restricted to WGST majors and minors.
Mondays 3-6 PM
Last Updated: 9/18/13