Amherst College
Women’s Studies Courses
Fall 1996

14 Grosvenor House		

Women and Art in Early Modern Europe	
Nicola Courtright
Monday, Wednesday  2:00	

This course will examine the ways in which prevailing ideas about women and gender
shaped visual imagery, and how these images, in turn, influenced ideas concerning
women from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment.  It will adopt a comparative
perspective, both by identifying regional differences among European nations and
tracing changes over time.  In addition to considering patronage of art by women
and works by women artists, we will look at the depiction of women heroes such as
Judith; the portrayal of women rulers, including Elizabeth I and Marie de’ Medici;
and the imagery of rape.  Topics emerging from these categories of art include
biological theories about women; humanist defenses of women; the relationship
between the exercise of political power and sexuality; differing attitudes toward
women in Catholic and Protestant art; and feminine ideals of beauty. 

WAGS 10	
Reading Gender, Reading Race
Michele Barale
Monday, Wednesday  2:00

See Department for description.

WAGS 24	
Topics in Feminist Theories II: Identifying Bodies
Michele Barale
Tuesday, Thursday  2:00

The theory that the personal is political has been central to feminist analysis. 
This course will focus on cultural constructions and representations of the body,
the most personal of all political sites.  We will think about the body as gendered
and racial and sexual, as well as scarred, diminished, enlarged, remodeled; as
disciplined, tortured, forced to speak and made to keep mute.  Texts will be drawn
from across the academic disciplines as well as from popular culture.  Some
readings will be obvious examples of theorizing -- Foucault, Sedgwick and Moon,
DuCille; with others the theories that propel them will seem nearly invisible --
Vogue, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape; and with still others, we might dispute
“theory” as property descriptive - - The Cancer Journals, Beauty Secrets, Women En

WAGS 29	
Black Gay Fiction	

See Department for description.

Sexuality and Culture	
Frederick Griffiths
Monday, Wednesday, Friday  10:00

This year we shall construct an anatomy of liberation plots, ancient and modern. 
In claiming the freedoms promised in the American charter, the civil rights
movement, second-wave feminism, and gay-lesbian liberation have variously
cultivated and debunked archetypal myths of deliverance:  exodus and odyssey;
heroic and pious self-sacrifice; romantic rescue; the Word that sets free.  These
contested plots revive primordial questions:  How does “freedom,” though illusory
and unachievable as an ideal, serve by this absence as a powerful marker of gender,
sexuality, race, ethnicity, and class?  Can new narratives of freedom and
self-fashioning survive the appeal to some immutable “nature” (theistic or not)? 
Do disputes about these themes alleviate or depend the Eurocentrism of the dominant
culture?  What are the narrative potentials of themes traditionally neglected or
resisted (human maternity, the Middle Passage, lesbian desire)?  Can gay identities
free themselves from male privilege and the protective homosociality of the heroic
and pedagogical traditions?  Can lesbian identities appropriate that privilege?  We
shall pursue three central themes:  guys in uniform (Homer, Illiad; Sophocles,
Philoctetes;  excerpts from the Hebrew and Christian scriptures; Willa Cather, One
of Ours James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain; Bernardo Bertolucci, “The
Conformist”; Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day; Gregg Araki “The Living End”);
violence, desire, and the construction of maternity (The Homeric Hymn to Demeter; 
Euripides’ Alcestis, Medea, and Bacchae; Hariet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a
Slave Girl; Willa Cather, My Antonia; Toni Morrison, Beloved; James Camer,
“Aliens”); the American children of the Word (Plato, Symposium; Frederick Douglass,
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass; Henry James, The Bostonians;  Shawn
Wong, Homebase; Charles Johnson, Faith and the Good Thing). 

Images of Women in Third World Cinema	
Beheroze Shroff
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00

In this class we will study women’s space and women’s images in films from Third
World countries.  Through critical analysis of films and through class discussions,
we will understand the experiences of women from their depiction in selected works
of film makers from Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Essays and articles on “Third
Cinema” film theory, women’s issues and social and political issues concerning the
films will be read in order to define the cinematic language or style of this
cinema in which women are portrayed.  Issues such as colonization of land and
colonization of women’s sexuality; education and alienation; and national
liberation struggles will be discussed. 

205 Morgan Hall		

Gender:  An Anthropological Perspective	
Deborah Gewertz

This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a
cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify
and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women.  Consideration
will be given the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in
different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of
the industrialized nations. 

SOC 21	
The Family	
Jan Dizard

The intent of this course is to assess the sources and implication of changes in
family structure.  We shall focus largely on contemporary family relationships in
America, but we will necessarily have to examine family forms different from ours,
particularly those that are our historical antecendents.  From an
historical/cross-cultural vantage point, we will be better able to understand
shifting attitudes toward the family as well as the ways the family broadly shapes
character and becomes an important aspect of social dynamics. 

507 Merrill Science		

Medical Risk Assessment:  How Do You Know?	
Patricia O’Hara

This course will investigate the scientific underpinnings (or lack thereof) for
many popular beliefs concerning women’s health and other more general medical-risk
issues.  How does one evaluate allegations in the media of fraudulent research,
financially-driven research agendas, or environmental health risks?  After a
discussion of the critical components of a scientific proof and an introduction to
the necessary scientific principles, students will be asked to be critical readers
of original sources including the scientific literature.  The organization,
direction, efficacy, and funding of medical and other health-related research will
also be explored.  Topics will include, but are not limited to, breast cancer,
contraception and fertility; diet and disease; and environmental health hazards. 

201 Williston Hall		

BS 23	
Black Studies:  Short Fiction from the Black World
Andrea Benton Rushing

Examines nexus between orature and written literature from Africa and it’s New
World Diaspora Caribbean and the U.S. 

BS 44	
Issues of Gender in African Literature	
Rhonda Cobham-Sander

See Department for description.

4 Johnson Chapel		

ENG 75	
Creating a Self:  Black Women’s Testimonies Memoirs and 
Andrea Benton Rushing

Begins in Africa.  Includes Brazil, Caribbean and U.S.

5 Barrett Hall

Contemporary French Literature: Post-Existentialism, the New 
Novel and Literary Avant-Garde after 1950
Leah Hewitt

The focus will be on the novelistic experiments after World War II and the debates
surrounding literature’s ability to take into account historical and social change. 
Readings will include novels by Marguerite Duras, Nathalie Sarraute, Alain Robbe-
Grillet and Patrick Modiano. 

PS 24	
Politics in Post-Colonial Nations	
Amrita Basu

In an era in which traditional systems of classification have been seriously
challenged both intellectually and politically, can we still speak of a Third
World?  Why Third?  And particularly why Third given the disintegration of the
Second?  This course will problematize our undersatnding of the Third World and of
state-society relations within it.  By studying ethnic, regional, and class-based
social movements, we will analyze the ways in which post-colonial states re-enact
the forms of domination to which they have been subject.  We will also consider the
perspectives of nationalist leaders, activists, and intellectuals who seek to
strengthen boundaries between center and periphery.  The changing influence of
Western capitalist nations on post-colonial socieites will be considered

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