Spring 2019

Note: Course times are subject to change, and information on this page may occasionally be incorrect. The official timetable published by the Registrar's Office is the final and correct version of course listings and distributive credits.

WGSS 07.15 Looks, Lookism, and the Law

People discriminate against other people based on appearance. We all do it, whether we like it or not. Nevertheless, all discrimination is not the same -- choosing a mate or a reproductive partner is quite different from hiring or firing an employee or renting space to a tenant. The law clearly prohibits discrimination of certain “protected classes” in situations where lifestyle and wage earning is concerned. Conversely, the law allows and, arguably, encourages discrimination against certain types of personal appearance. Appearance discrimination of those in unprotected classes can go so far as to endanger the fiscal and psychological welfare those human beings, but few laws and policies exist to counteract the discrimination. Should American society, as a fair, democratic and just society, tolerate certain types of appearance discrimination or should we ask our legislators, policy makers and courts to offer protections like those offered to protected classes? If so, how can we help them do it well? On the other hand, would their interference only make things worse? After all, one can argue that ineffective law and policy is equal to or worse than none at all. Dist: TMV.

Professor Sargent
2A Hour

WGSS 07.17 Watch Your Language! Writing and Unwriting Bias in News Reports

What is bias? And how does it manifest in the stories we tell in general and in news reports in specific? How do our word choices affect how we think about certain groups, and how does what we think about different types of people affect our choice of words? In this course students will examine a number of common linguistic and stylistic choices that reporters and editors writing in English tend to make when covering stories about minority groups inside the US or people in other parts of the world. The course will pay special attention to some of the main forms of bias (such as implicit bias or confirmation bias) as it examines how a narrative in general and a news story in specific is created. What is an “editorial line” and how does that influence the ways stories are told? In what ways are biases implicitly affirmed? And can biases ever be avoided? These are some of the questions that will be tackled in class. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Morsi
3B Hour

WGSS 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 Ellison
2A Hour

NEW! WGSS 21.03/CLST 11.14 Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Greece

In this course we will analyze artifacts (e.g. frescoes and vase paintings, statuary, house interiors) and texts (e.g. love poetry, court cases, philosophical treatises, medical texts, tragedy and comedy) from Greece and its surrounding islands between about 3000 and 300 BCE. In addition to thinking critically about this primary material, allowing us to formulate our own opinions about it, we will read modern scholarly and popular texts focusing on gender and sexuality in prehistoric and ancient Greece. Dist: SOC; WCult: W.

Professor Kramer
2 Hour

WGSS 23.02/HIST 28 American Women in the 20th Century

This course is a multi-cultural multi-media history of American women from the Civil War to the present. We will discuss race and class tensions in the woman suffrage movement; women, labor, and radicalism from the 1910s through the 1940s; civil rights, welfare rights, the rebirth of feminism in the 1960s and 70s; and backlash politics from the 1950s to the 1980s. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Orleck
12 Hour

WGSS 30.05/LACS 36 Maid in America: The Politics of Domestic Labor

In Maid in America we study the representation, history, and rights of domestic workers in the Americas with a focus on the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. Specifically, we look at representation and rights from artistic, legal, and sociological perspectives. Using the the theoretical frames of intersectional and transnational feminism we will analyze primary texts that include essays, manifestos, theater, and documentary film. Topics we will explore will include media representation and controlling images, migrant imaginaries, invisible labors, modern-day slavery, the feminization of migrant work, and labor organization and rights. The class will include a theater workshop component that will culminate in the public presentation of an original group performance titled: Making the Invisible Visible: The Politics of Domestic Labor. Dist: ART; WCult: CI.

Professor A'Ness
10A Hour

WGSS 31.04/GOV 20.01 Women and Politics

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: CI.

Professor D. Brooks
12 Hour

WGSS 33.01/AAAS 25/SOCY 46 Constructing Black Womanhood

This course is a critical examination of the historical and contemporary status of black women in the United States, as presented in fiction, primary accounts, and social science literature. We will explore the nature, extent, and consequences of the multiple discriminations of race, sex, and class, as the context in which these women shaped their social roles and identities within the black community and the larger society. We will consider the themes of family, motherhood, and sexuality; educational, economic and political participation; aesthetics and religious traditions; and self and social images. Open to juniors and seniors. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor King
2A Hour

WGSS 34.02/AAAS 40 Gender Identities and Politics in Africa

This interdisciplinary course explores the constructions of gender identities in different African socio-cultural contexts. The emphasis is on contemporary Africa, although we will discuss some of the historical framework of these identities. We will read historical accounts of gender in some pre-colonial African societies, investigate the impact of colonialism, and examine gender in some anti-colonial movements. We will also analyze gender in urban and rural contexts, and address such questions as homosexuality and gay rights. Dist: INT; WCult: CI.

Professor Coly
2A Hour

WGSS 36.01/ANTH 31 Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective

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. Dist: INT or SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Billings
2A Hour

WGSS 37.06/GEOG 80.06/ASCL 70.71 Women in Asian Cities NEW

The cross-list for this course is pending faculty approval.

We live in a time of increasing urbanization and globalization, paralleled with prevailing poverty and uneven access to infrastructure. In this course, we will explore these issues through a focus on women across Asia. We will also examine how politics of race, class, caste, religion, and migration status shape urban experiences for these women. Major thematic areas for this course include migration, informal economies, mobility, culture, and urban nature. The class will draw on academic scholarship, newspaper articles and popular culture to introduce gendered perspectives on cities across Asia including Istanbul, Tehran, Mumbai, Hong Kong, and Manila. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Parikh
2A Hour

WGSS 40.04/AAAS 88.15/GEOG 62 Black Women's Activism, 1970-Present

In this course we will explore several genres of writing, grounded in an intellectual engagement with the creative, scholarly, and activist writing of Black women of all genders from 1970 to the present. How does Black women’s activism constitute a political intellectual tradition that impacts how we do research and pose questions? How does black women’s activism refigure the categories and categorization of knowledge and knowledge production? What does it mean to write oneself into existence if and when knowledge is premised on their epistemic and actual disappearance? This course approaches Black women’s intellectual and cultural production as one entry point into the project of creating from nothing, writing to become, writing as an act of survival, and writing to envision and practice new worlds. These are all vital skills in a rapidly transforming social, economic, political and climatic landscapes. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Ellison
10A Hour

WGSS 44.03/AAAS 42/REL 66 Women, Religion, and Social Change in Africa

This interdisciplinary course focuses on women's religions ideas, rituals, and experiences in African societies from a comparative, historical, and gendered perspective. We will look at women's experiences of social change in indigenous African religions, the impact of the new religions of Christianity and Islam, colonialism, and the experience of post-colonial societies. Topics include women's prophetic movements, critiques of under-development, female initiation, conversion and reconversion. Open to all students. Dist: SOC; WCult: NW.

Professor Baum
10A Hour

WGSS 52.06/FRIT 37.05/AAAS 67.80 Black Queer and Trans Futures: An Experiment

Engaging with the histories and present realities of colonial dispossession, racial violence and cisheteropatriarchy on campus and beyond, we will examine and craft visions of alternative futures grounded in prison abolition. Drawing on archival research, critical theory and speculative fiction from Black queer and trans thinkers such as Miss Major, Edouard Glissant, Marie Vieux-Chauvet, Octavia Butler, and Samuel Delany, our goal will be to challenge our current carceral order, chart how we move past it, and imagine what liberatory prison abolitionist futures lie beyond. Dist: SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Batraville
2A Hour

WGSS 53.07/ANTH 44 Language, Gender, and Sexuality (New Cross-List)

This course will introduce students to foundational and current thinking about the connections among language, gender, and sexuality, from readings in linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and feminist theory. A cross-cultural approach will characterize the class, and units will link language, gender and sexuality to themes such as power, (in)equality, and identity. Students will also be encouraged to consider the significance of gender and sexuality in the context of quotidian language use.  Dist: SOC.

Professor Billings
10A Hour

WGSS 56.03/FILM 43.02 Family Matters: Almodóvar, Gender Reversals, and New Communities

Pedro Almodóvar Caballero, Spain's most internationally acclaimed filmmaker will be studied in this course as representative of what critics have termed the New Spanish Cinema Movement.  Almodóvar's filmmaking, both in aesthetic and cultural terms, addresses issues which will appeal to students interested in understanding how culture, politics, and aesthetics get entangled in ways that “queer” gender identity, family structures, notions of community and the societal expectations and limitations surrounding them. The course will also compare his work with other contemporary filmmakers that have reconfigured in their films the boundaries of “family.” Dist: ART; WCult: CI.

Professor Martín
10 Hour

WGSS 61.06/PHIL 04.01 Feminist Perspectives on Reproductive Ethics

This class focuses on ethical issues concerning human reproduction.  Some of these issues are familiar: Is abortion moral?  Is sex-selection ethical?  Other issues may be less familiar:  Does prenatal testing express a negative message about living with disability?  Is there anything wrong with aiming to have a deaf child? Yet other issues have arisen with the commercialization and globalization of reproduction: Is there anything wrong with selling one’s reproductive labor? Is it ethical to ‘outsource’ pregnancy to Indian surrogates? We will start by looking backward to ethical issues around the introduction of contraception; we will end by looking forward, to the promise of same-sex reproduction through in vitro-gametogenesis, and reproduction via artificial gestation.  While we will consider numerous perspectives on each issue, special consideration will be given to feminist viewpoints.  Dist: TMV.

Professor Bumpus
11 Hour

NEW! WGSS 65.08/AAAS 42 Black LGBTQ History

This course is an introduction to the study of Black LGBTQ history in the United States. We will examine a range of primary and secondary source materials from the nineteenth century through the late twentieth century. This material includes documentaries, scholarship, newspaper articles, newsletters, diaries and letters. We will look at sexual relationships in the nineteenth century among slaves and free people as well as the cultures of sexual diversity and gender transgression a couple of generations after slavery that gave rise to the jazz age and the Harlem Renaissance. We will also take a look at post-war America, the Civil Rights and Black Power era for their moments of sexual expression and gender variance as well as repression. This course will continue to examine Black experience into the AIDS crisis, gay marriage debates and transgender rights movements.

Professor Richardson '91
11 Hour.

WGSS 67.04/COLT 57.08/INTS 17 Humanities and Human Rights

This course will focus on the deep connections between democracy and the role of the arts in the public sphere.  We will focus on the work of artists who deem that the role of their creations is to generate dialogue around issues of social justice. We will study the work of writers,  filmmakers, documentarians, photographers, and poets, individuals, who make "energy" (intellectual energy) usable in different places and contexts.  This course will cross disciplinary boundaries and follow the "comparative method" scrupulously.  We will be reading literature with care and learning how to read literarily—with intensive textual scrutiny, defiance, and metatheoretical awareness—a wide array of theoretical, visual and filmic texts. Dist: INT or ART; WCult: CI.

Professor Martín
3A Hour

NEW Associated Course

SPAN 65.09/THEA 10.65 Performeras on the Latin American Stage

This course provides an overview of women's dramatic writing and cultural expression from Latin America and considers how these texts intersect, reflect, disrupt or resist canonical literary movements in Latin America. Course content includes traditional dramatic forms as well as non-literary, visual and performative forms of expression.  By examining works of very diverse ranges, we will also challenge society’s and the authors’ conceptualizations of Latin American women as a way to critique underlying issues of race, class, gender, and other power structures.

Professor Santana
3A Hour