AMHERST COLLEGE WOST COURSES
FALL 1997

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WAGS 13
Gender Representations
Michele Barale

This course will examine the textual construction of gender. The intellectual complications confronting us in such an examination arise from the difficulty of separating gender from other categories of identity: race and ethnicity; class sexuality. For example, a novel such as John Okada’s No-No Boy suggests in its very title that gender and an historically specific racial identity (Japanese-American men who refused to participate in World War II) cannot be disentangled. Reading for the course will include the following: Jane Eyre; The Country of the Pointed Firs; O Pioneers; Their Eyes Were Watching God; No-No Boy, A Streetcar Named Desire; The Ballad of the Sad Cafe; Woman Hollering Creek; A Separate Peace; Sula. There will be frequent writing assignments.


WAGS 31
Sexuality and Culture
Frederick Griffiths

This course will match up ancient and American texts to explore slavery as a basis for hierarchies of gender, sexuality, and race. Ancient slaveholding societies, especially Greece and Israel, remain foundational for Euro-American culture, but in ways that often veil historical patterns of oppression and encourage casual use of slavery as a trope. With an eye to the historical background, we shall alternate between two thematic emphases. First the complimentary archetypes of the Great Mother and the Terrible Mother: The Homeric Hymn to Demeter; Aeschylus, Oresteia; Euripides, Medea, Ion, and The Bacchae; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Willa Cather, My Antonia; James Cameron, “Aliens”, Toni Morrison, Beloved. The second integrating theme will be the escaping/enslaving patriarchy (Homer’s Odyssey, the Books of Genesis and Exodus) as it is recast in terms of American racial history (Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass; Shawn Wong, homebase) and of gay and female subjectivity (James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain; Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon; Pat Barker, The Eye of the Door; Peter Weir, “Gallipoli”).


WAGS 29
Black Gay Fiction
E. Patrick Johnson

This course will examine fictional and non-fictional texts of gay and lesbian black writers in the United States. We will pay close attention to identity politics and how they are articulated in these texts. In addition to examining these works, we will also read a number of theorists who offer “queer” readings of the “canonical” texts. The course readings may include works by Essex, Hemphill, Becky Birtha, April Sinclair, Audre Lorde, E. Lynn Harris, bell hooks, Larry Duplechan, Derek Scott, Bessie Smith, Marlon Riggs, Barbara Smith, James Baldwin, Cheryl Clark, Isaac Julien, and Kobena Mercer. Two class meetings per week. Not open to Freshmen.


WAGS 51
Science Fiction
Michele Barale
Andrew Parker

Surveying a range of classic and contemporary texts in the genre of science fiction, this course will explore the relation between the politics of world- making and the technologies of literary representation. Special attention will be accorded to questions of gender, race, class, sexuality and nation as these affect the construction of fictional worlds.


WAGS 53
Representing Domestic Violence
Kristin Bumiller
Karen Sanchez-Eppler

This course is concerned with literary, political and legal representations of domestic violence and the relationship between them. We question how domestic violence challenges the normative cultural definitions of home as safe or love as enabling. This course will consider how these representations of domestic violence the boundaries between privet and public, love and cruelty, victim and oppressor. In order to better understand the gaps and links between representations and experience, theory and praxis, students as part of this work will hold internships (three hours a week) at a variety of area agencies and organizations that respond to situations of domestic violence.


WAGS 75
Senior Seminar
Margaret Hunt

This seminar is designed to integrate the interdisciplinary work of the major. Each student will present a seminar and write a major paper on a topic of current research in this field, chosen in consultation with faculty. The seminar presentation will also serve as the occasion for the student’s comprehensive examination in Women’s and Gender Studies.


ANTH 35
Gender: An Anthropological Participate
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 position of men and women in the evolution of society, and in the different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations. Five College Professor Trostle.


ENG 55/BLST 29
Perceptions of Childhood in African and Caribbean Literature
C.R. Cobham-Sander
component

“One is not born a woman: one becomes a woman.” One also becomes a man and the same process may be observed in the formation of ethnic, class or religious identities. This course explores the process of self-definition in literary works from Africa and the Caribbean that are built around child protagonists. The authors’ various methods of ordering experience through the choice of literary form and narrative technique will be examined, as well as the child/author’s perception of his or her society. Readings are taken from Camara Laye, Wole Soyinka, Ellen Kuzwayo, Derek Walcott and Simone Scharz-Bart among others. French tests will be read in translation.


ENG 74
Performance of African American Literature
E. Patrick Johnson

This course will explore the African American novel as both a literary and a cultural text. Reading these novels as literary texts, we will discuss narrative structure, plot construction, literal and figurative language, and closure. Reading them as cultural texts, we will discuss historical (poliitical and social) dynamics of these novels as they reflect the African American experience. Through solo, duo, and group performances we will also examine how all of these elements may be understood more meaningfully if we shift the emphasis from the author/reader relationship to that of performer/audience. Novels by Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Ernest Gaines, Randal Kenan, James Baldwin, and others.


BIOL 14
Evolutionary Biology of Human Social Behavior
William Zimmerman
component

A study of how recent extensions of the theory of natural selection explain the origin and evolution of human social behavior. After consideration of the relevant principles of genetics, evolution, population biology, and animal behavior, the social evolution of animals will be discussed. With this background, several aspects of human psychological and social evolution will be considered: the instinct to create and acquire language; aggression within and between the sexes; mating patterns; the origin of patriarchy; systems of kinship and inheritance; incest avoidance; reciprocity and exchange; warfare; moral behavior, and the evolution of laws and justice


PSYCH 40
Sex Role Socialization
Rose Olver

An examination of the socialization processes throughout life that produce and maintain sex-typed behaviors. The focus is on the development of the psychological characteristics of males and females and the implications of that development for participation in social roles. Consideration of the biological and cultural determinants of masculine and feminine behaviors will form the basis for an exploration of alternative developmental possibilities. Careful attention will be given to the adequacy of the assumptions underlying psychological constructs and research in the study of sex differences