Being Human: Literary and Philosophical Conceptions of Human Nature
L. Brown Kennedy & Lisa Shapiro
Tuesday, Thursday 10:30-11:50 a.m.
Understanding ourselves involves understanding ourselves as human beings, and understanding ourselves as human beings involves situating human nature within the natural world. In the 17th century the place of humans within the natural world (and in tandem the political, social and religious worlds) became particularly problematic as the dominant conception of the natural world shifted from the medieval "enchanted" world to the more modern mechanistic world. New discoveries changed peoples' understanding of things as basic as what a human being could look like. In this interdisciplinary class we will look at how poets, dramatists, and philosophers come to conceive of human beings and the problems those conceptions face. Specific topics will include: the union of mind/ soul and body; the status of "monsters" or deformed or different human bodies; and the place of women within humankind. (Among others, we will consider works of Shakespeare, Montaigne, Descartes, Elizabeth I of England, Elizabeth of Bohemia, and John Donne.)
History of the Second Wave Women's Movement
Wednesday 2:30-5:20 p.m.
The focus of this course is the Second Wave Women's Movement with a special emphasis on the trajectory of that movement in Western Massachusetts. We will discuss its preconditions and the impact it made on society, politics, and culture from 1964 to the present. We will read some critical early feminist texts and discuss key debates within feminism. Students will be encouraged to do primary source research and to consider issues of gender, race, class, and sexual orientation in their analysis. This class is part of a larger project of the Valley Women's History Collaborative's work to locate, collect, and preserve women's history in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties from 1968-1998. One part of that project is an oral history component where we will be interviewing some of the women who were active in the Women's Liberation Movement in the Valley and who helped create and sustain feminist and/or lesbian institutions. Students will have the opportunity to learn oral history methodology. The first part of this class will offer a general historical introduction to the post World War II period. The second half of the course will be dedicated to primary research. Students will have wide latitude in choosing their topics. However, if you choose to work with the collaborative, you will need to follow its goals and guidelines for research. Part of our work will be in documenting feminist activity at Hampshire College.
Wednesday, Friday 1:00-2:20 p.m. Ellie Siegel
In this course, we will explore what we can bring from our knowledge as readers to the act of creating fiction and how writing fiction might shape the way we approach women's narratives as readers. Discussion will focus on the representation of gender, sexuality, race and culture, the use of language and structure, and the relation of the acts of writing and reading to feminist theory and practice. Several classes will be devoted to the presentation and discussion of student work. Readings may include A Room of One's Own, Beloved, The Fifth Child, Bastard Out of Carolina, Autobiography of My Mother, Red Azalea, and selected short stories and critical essays. Students should expect to keep a journal, to write in a variety of genres (fiction, personal essay, biography, autobiography), and to attend a series of films on Wednesday evenings. Ellie Siegel, a faculty member in the writing program, will assist in teaching the course and will be available to help students with their writing.
Third World, Second Sex: Does Economic Development Enrich or Impoverish Women's Lives?
Tuesday, Thursday 10:30-11:50 a.m.
What happens to women when societies "modernize" and industrialize their economies? Is capitalist economic development a step forward or a step backward for women in industrialized and developing countries? In this seminar we look at debates about how some trends in worldwide capitalist development affect women's status, roles, and access to resources, and locate the debates in historical context. In the "global assembly line" debate we look at women's changing work roles. We ask whether women workers in textile and electronics factories gain valuable skills, power, and resources through these jobs, or whether they are super-exploited by multinational corporations. In the population control debate, we ask whether population policies improve the health and living standards of women and their families or whether the main effect of these policies is to control women, reinforcing their subordinate positions in society. Other topics include the effects of economic change on family forms, the nature of women's work in the so-called "informal sector," and what's happening to women in the current worldwide economic crisis.
Human Rights, Popular Culture and Political Reform in Contemporary China
Tuesday, Thursday 9:00 - 10:20 a.m.
Human rights activists in the west assert that China is one of the worst offenders of human rights in the world today, pointing particularly to Chinese rule in Tibet and to the treatment of political dissidents, while others argue that there have been great improvements in human rights in the 1980s and 1990s. We will evaluate the impact of the changes induced in all aspects of Chinese life and politics by the booming economy and "opening" to global forces in the past two decades on human rights, cultural expression and political reform in China, examining various theories about the development of "civil society" and the state. In this context, we will examine Chinese rule in contemporary Tibet; the development and suppression of the democracy movement of the late 1980s; the emergence of new trends in popular culture (film, TV and print media); the impact of population control on women's rights and status; and the role of human rights in US- China relations. Designed to provide relevant background on Chinese society today for any students who may wish to participate in the Hampshire China Exchange program. Extra meeting times may be scheduled occasionally to view documentary videos and films. Students going on the China exchange second semester will also have the opportunity to meet in the evenings with visiting Chinese scholars from the exchange program to discuss issues of living and studying in China.
EXPERIMENTAL SCHOOL OF
Harold F. Johnson Library
SCHOOL OF SOCIAL SCIENCE
Franklin Patterson Hall