Fall 2009

WGST 7 First-Year Seminar: Writing India

In this course we will examine how writers and artists from India and the west have depicted and interacted with India over the past 400 years. We will study a variety of genres such as travel accounts, memoirs, myths, novels, histories and films. Of particular interest will be the works of women writers and how they portray the status of and issues associated with women in the various regions of India. Through close literary and cultural analysis, we will explore how images are created and for what purposes, and what effect these creations are designed to have on the public of a certain time period and for posterity.

Professor Beasley

WGST 10 Sex, Gender and Society

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.

Section 1: Professor Moody

Section 2: Professor Munafo

WGST 19.1 Queer Marriage, Hate Crimes and Will and Grace: Contemporary Issues in LGBTS Studies

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.

Professor Bronski

WGST 36.1/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. (TOPICAL) Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: CI.

Professor Igoe

12 hour

WGST 37.1/GEOG 19 Gender, Space and the Environment

This course is meant to help students understand the relationships between the gendered construction of our society, and the ways we have organized our spaces and places, including our homes, places of work, cities, nations and environments. Accordingly, the course will be organized around these different spatial scales, examining everything from the ways we organize our living rooms, to the ways we have shaped empires, to the way Western society has dealt with environmental issues. Dist. SOC; WCult: CI.

Professor Domosh

WGST 42.4/ENGL 62.2 War and Gender

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 1991 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.

Professor Boose
10A hour

WGST 47.1/ENGL 62.3 Immigrant Women Writing in America

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.

Professor Zeiger
11 hour

WGST 52.2/ENGL 67.9/AAAS 84 Caribbean Women Writers: Prose Fiction

In this course we will read, discuss and write about a selection of female-authored novels from the Anglophone Caribbean. Required reading will include Zee Edgell’s Beka Lamb, Ramabai Espinet’s The Swinging Bridge, Andrea Levy’s Small Island, Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night, and Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea. We will relate the texts to the historical, social and cultural realities of the region; identify and analyze the major thematic concerns of individual writers; examine each writer’s treatment of issues such as gender, class, ethnicity, family and identity; and evaluate technical aspects of these works of fiction, among them structure, characterization, language use (of particular significance in the Caribbean context), narrative perspective and voice. We will explore commonalities and differences among the texts. Students will be expected to present and develop ideas in academic essays which use a formal register of English, are well organized, and adhere to the required documentation style.

Professor Hodge
2A hour

WGST 59.2/ENGL 67.2 Transforming Selves Through Narrative

We create our identities and transform ourselves through stories. This community-based learning course offers students the unique opportunity to work directly with a local population in crisis, as well as study the effects of poverty, class structures, drug addiction, incarceration, and the issues facing people after treatment and/or imprisonment. For one class each week, students will study and discussion relevant readings in the traditional classroom. For the second class, students will travel to Valley Vista, a substance abuse rehabilitation center in Bradford, Vermont, to participate in a program for women clients.  Its goal is the creation and performance of an original production that will facilitate the clients' voices. The written work for the course combines critical analysis and self-reflection on the effectiveness of service learning and performance in recovery.  Dist: LIT; World Cultures: CI, pending faculty approval.

Professors Hernandez and Schweitzer
2A hour

WGST 80 Feminist Theory and Methodology: Performing Feminisms

This course is designed as a culminating experience for WGST students and preparation for future work such as independent research, honors thesis, graduate studies and advanced scholarship. In 09F, this course will survey the impact of feminism on the theater and consider how playwrights and performance artists have challenged and changed existing norms and advanced feminist theory and practice. We will look at the contexts from which their works emerged, dominant themes and styles, intercultural dialogues, audience reception and critical response. Some questions we will address are: What dramatic strategies have proven effective in conveying feminist ideology? How are subject positions and agency represented onstage?  To what extent do these positions serve as liberatory models for activism and community outreach? Can we define a feminist aesthetics in these artists' work? Our goal is to track and assess the contribution of theater practitioners and critics to the evolution of feminist performance and thought. Artists and critics will include Split Britches, Carolee Schneemann, Rachel Rosenthal, Sue-Ellen Case, Jean Forte, Jill Dolan and Peggy Phelan.   Dist: ART; WCult: CI.

Professor Chin