WAGS (Women and Gender Studies) 14 Grosvenor 542-5781

WAGS 8 Bad Girls
Tuesday, Thursday Time: TBA

To many Europeans in the nineteenth century, women were becoming threatening. With assertiveness and sometimes violence, they demanded suffrage and work outside the home (where they would compete with men for jobs); as newspapers reported, they carried deadly syphilis. This course will examine this set of converging events, contemporary evolutionary theory, debates over "la femme au foyer" and "la nouvelle femme," and arguments that linked women with putatively deviant sexuality and inferior races. We will study images of women as powerful and decadently self-destructing addicts. We will address how women claimed agency, as defiant outlaws or by the act of painting. We will analyze the ways in which such images recast as well as reinforced prevailing beliefs in France, England and Spain, and consider how stereotypes changed over time. We will read texts by Jarry and Huysmans, and consider a range of artists from Renior, Degas, and Beardsley to Picasso, de Kooning and the Gorilla Girls.

WAGS 13 Textualities
Tuesday, Thursday 11:30

This course will read a variety of texts - modern and not so new; novels, plays short stories, critical essays - in order to think about the implications that language and narrative bring to gender, race, and sexuality. For example, the very title of John Okada's No-No Boy refuses to disentangle gender from an historically specific racial identity. The hard-won autonomy of the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre depends upon not only the presence of a man who at one point cross-dresses as a gypsy woman, but also upon his attic-imprisoned Creole wife, as well as Jane's proposal of marriage from a zealous future missionary. In Sandra Cisneros' Woman Hollering Creek, daytime television and pick-up trucks define differing kinds of femininity. Other readings for the course will include work by Cather, Hurston, Hwang, Jewett, McCullers, Morrison, and Stein.

WAGS 31 Sexuality and Culture
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00

An examination of the social and artistic construction of genders, bodies, and desires. In any given semester, the course may examine particular historical periods, ethnic groups, sexual orientation, and theoretical approaches. The topical changes from year to year. In 2000 this course will compare ancient and modern narratives to consider how the institution of slavery shapes and exposes hierarchies of gender, sexuality and race. Some central questions: How does the slaves' body serve as a preferred site for representation of violence, sexuality and maternity? How can slaves own narratives counteract and exploit this tendency? How does the disruption of of maternity and marriage by slave systems reveal and influence the workings of these institutions in free populations? From antiquity we shall read Homer's Odyssey, and Homeric Hymn to Demeter, tragedies by Sophocles and Euripides, and selections from Genisis and Exodus. From the modern era, the self- narratives of Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, and Mary Prince will be considered beside recent re-imaginings: Octavia Butler, Kindred; Toni Morrison, Beloved; and Rita Dove, The Darker Face of Earth. Other modern works include Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights; Herman Melville, Benito Cereno; Willa Cather, My Antonia; Maxine Hong Kingston, The Woman Warrior; Martha Graham, "Night Journey," and Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid's Tale."

WAGS 32 Sex, Self and Fear
Tuesday, Thursday 2:00-4:00 pm

Freud located identity formation in the emotion of fear - a boy's fear of castration, a girl's terror at lack. Later theories have agreed that worries about exposure, ridicule, and confession shape the sexual self. Our course will explore the gendered origins and effects of fear, asking how fear of the other sex and fear about the self, ground identity. We will try to differentiate among forms of fear, comparing anxiety, obsession, trauma and phobia. Course material will be studied for the ways in which it condenses and substitutes various forms of dread. The course material will include fiction (Pat Barker, Regeneration; Lydia Chukovskaya, Sofia Petrovna; Toni Morrison, Jazz; Mary Shelley, Frankenstein) poetry (by Anna Akhamatova, Rita Dove, Thom Gunn, Elizabeth Macklin); quasi-autobiography (Kenzaburo Oe, A quiet life; Nathalie Sarraute, Childhood), and film (Carrie, M, Perfect World, Psycho, Vertigo). We will ask what cultural and psychological work fear performs: what fears are required for liberation from social taboos? How do adults contain (and repeat) the fears that ruled childhood? Why do we like to be frightened?

WAGS 53 Representing Domestic Violence
Monday, Wednesday 12:30

This course is concerned with literary, political and legal representations of domestic violence and the relations 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 disrupt the boundaries between private and public, love and cruelty, victim and oppressor. In order to better understand the gaps and links between representation and experience, theory and praxis, students will hold internships (three hours per week) at a variety of area agencies and organizations that respond to situations of domestic violence.

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Women of Color
Summer 2000
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