Women's Studies courses, Hampshire College, Fall 2009

Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies Emily Dickinson Hall 559-5361
Interdiscplinary Arts Writing Center Bldg 559-5824
Natural Sciences Cole Science Center 559-5373
Social Science Franklin Patterson 218 559-5409

HACU 0136T – Antebellum Social Movements
Susan Tracy
Monday, Wednesday  10:30-11:50 a.m.

The "antebellum period" (1820-1860) is the tumultuous period before the Civil War, which witnessed the "modernization" of the Northern economy, society and politics fueled by the expansion of the Euro-American population into the West engendering several Native American wars, a foreign war in Mexico, and the expansion of slavery. The United States witnessed rapid industrialization, urbanization, and immigration that changed the nature of citizenship. Some people inspired by Christian evangelism sought "a more perfect union" through a series of social change movements. In addition to the intersectional conflict over slavery, which eventually drove the country to Civil War, this period witnessed an interracial anti-slavery movement, an active feminist movement, a utopian communities movement, and a peace movement. The origins, membership and legacy of these movements will be our focus. This will be a project-based course where students will have the opportunity to undertake local archival research.

HACU 0140 – Writing from the Diaspora: Contemporary Women's Literature
Alicia Ellis
Monday, Wednesday  1:00-2:20 p.m.

This course is designed to provide a familiarity with some defining texts by contemporary women writers. You will be asked to think and write about meanings which have become naturalized in practice and ideology and how our texts think through/beyond those taxonomies of power, coercion and abridgement in order to neutralize them. Topics to be discussed include: gender and sexuality, race and class, immigration and colonialism, the politics of identity and embodiment and the creative female voice. Frequent short writing assignments and class presentations. Authors will include Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, Jamaica Kincaid, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, Elizabeth Alexander, Edwige Danticat.

HACU 0145 – Daoism, Shamanism and Shinto: Indigenous Religions of East Asia
(Ryan) Bong Seok Joo
Tuesday, Thursday  2:00-3:50 p.m.

This course introduces religious traditions originated and developed in China, Korea and Japan. We will first study Daoist and Confucian scriptures of Daodejing, Zhuangzi, Analects and Mencius, followed by an examination of their religious history and practices. We will explore the traditions of Korean Shamanism and Japanese Shinto next, paying close attention to their legends, worldview, ritual practices and the role of women. We will also study "New Religions" common to all three countries from the 19th century onward. Lastly, the course will investigate how "imported" religions such as Buddhism, Christianity and Communism were reshaped by the indigenous religions, and vice versa.

HACU 0185 – Alien/Freak/Monster: Race, Sex, and Otherness in Sci-Fi and Horror
Susana Loza
Tuesday, Thursday  10:30-11:50 a.m.

This course examines questions of race, gender, sexuality, cultural difference, and reproduction in science fiction and horror films. It investigates how and why people in different social positions have been constructed as foreign, freakish, or monstrous. In addition to exploring the relationship between sex/gender norms and hierarchies based on race/species or class/caste, we will also consider the following questions: Does the figure of the alien/freak/monster reconfigure the relationship between bodies, technology, and the division of labor? How do such figures simultaneously buttress and transgress the boundary between human and non-human, normal and abnormal, Self and Other? How does society use the grotesque body of the alien/freak/monster to police the liminal limits of sexuality, gender, and ethnicity? How does The Other come to embody Pure Evil? Finally, what are the consequences of living as an alien/freak/monster for specific groups and individuals? This course is reading-, writing-, and theory-intensive.

HACU – 0209 – Video I – Queer Looks
Kara Lynch
Tuesday  7:00-10:00 p.m.

Video I is an introductory video production course. Over the course of the semester students will gain experience in pre-production, production and post-production techniques as well as learn to think and look critically about the making of the moving image. We will engage with video as a specific visual medium for expression, and we will apply queer theory and practice as a lens and sounding board in relation to issues of representation, spectatorship, identification, practice and distribution. Projects are designed to develop basic technical proficiency in the video medium as well as the necessary working skills and mental discipline so important to a successful working process. Final production projects will experiment with established media genres. Readings, screenings, in-class critiques and discussion will focus on media analysis and the role of technology in image production. There is a lab fee charged for the course.

HACU 0223 – Woman and Poet
Lise Sanders
Monday, Wednesday  1:00-2:20 p.m.

In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf observed that "[The woman] born with a gift of poetry in the sixteenth century was an unhappy woman, a woman at strife against herself." What professional and personal challenges have female poets faced throughout history? How have women reconciled societal expectations of 'proper femininity' with the desire to write and publish? How has the marketplace influenced the development of poetry by women? How does the study of gender difference influence the process of reading and analyzing poems? These are some of the many questions this course will address. We will study the lives and works of poets ranging from Anne Bradstreet, Phyllis Wheatley, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinson, to Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Anne Sexton, and Sylvia Plath. This course satisfies the Division I distribution requirement.

HACU/SS 236– Food, Pain, Sex, Death: Bodies and Souls in History (1300-1800)
Jutta Sperling
Tuesday, Thursday  10:30-11:50 a.m.

This course will investigate bodily practices and the gendered representation of bodies in Europe from the late Middle Ages to the age of the French Revolution. At the center of our inquiry will be the emergence of the “modern self” during the Renaissance as a result of a complex set of practices, such as: the confessional mode of talking about sexuality; dissection as a way to penetrate women’s “hidden secrets;” colonization and the formation of desire; the repression of spectacular, body-centered forms of devotion involving pain and self-starvation; art and the anatomy of gender difference; emergent concepts of race; prisons and the birth of the modern soul; medical discourse and the rise of sexual “identity.”

HACU 0245 – The American Transcendentalists
Alan Hodder
Tuesday, Thursday  12:30-1:50 p.m.

Even in its heyday in the 1830’s and 40’s, the Transcendentalist Movement never included more than a few dozen vocal supporters, but it fostered several significant cultural precedents, including a couple of America’s first utopian communities (Brook Farm and Fruitlands), an early women’s rights manifesto (Fullers Woman in the Nineteenth Century), the first enthusiastic appropriation of Asian religious ideas, and, in the travel writings of Thoreau, the nation’s earliest influential environmentalism. The Transcendentalists also produced some of the richest and most original literature of the nineteenth century. The purpose of this course is two-fold: to explore in depth the principal writings of the Transcendentalists in their distinctive literary, religious, and historical settings; and to examine these texts reflexively for what they may say to us today. While sampling other writings of the period, we will read extensively in the work of three premier literary and cultural figures: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau.

HACU 0258 – Media Production II: Women Directors: Film and Video
Joan Braderman
Wednesday  6:00-9:00 p.m., Thursday  6:00 9:00 p.m.

A course in reading films and videos as well as considering how they are produced historically, we will take gender as our point of departure. Engaging actively with making visual images will be part of our work. We explore the reasons for the historical absence of women filmmakers and study the works they produced when they won the right to do so. International cinemas, both dominant medias and films and videos made to oppose that system will be examined. We will analyze diverse works: from avant-garde director, Germaine Dulac, in Paris in the twenties of the last century to Ida Lupino, in Hollywood in the 50’s to the 70’s explosion of feminist films and videos and the historical and theoretical work that accompanied them. We will also consider several contemporary directors, though the largest bodies of work so far have been made by that group of women who were stirred into action by the Second Wave of the Women’s Movement? who are still working today, such as: Sally Potter, Yvonne Rainer, Margarethe Von Trotta et al. Students are expected to attend all class meetings and learn to take detailed formal notes on all films and tapes screened. In addition to weekly assignments, an ambitious final project should be written, performed, photographed, filmed or installed.

IA 0132 – Feminist Fictions
Lynne Hanley
Tuesday, Thursday  10:30-11:50 a.m.

This course will explore works of fiction by post-women's liberation writers. Discussion will focus on forms of narration, use of language and structure, the representation of gender, sexuality, race and culture, and the relation of the acts of writing and reading to feminist theory and practice. Readings will include Beloved, The Autobiography of My Mother, A Book of Common Prayer, For the Country Entirely, Stone Butch Blues. We will also read A Room of One's Own and selected critical essays, and students should expect to keep a journal consisting of at least one typed paragraph on each text, and to attend a series of films on Wednesday evenings. Students will write in a variety of forms-personal essay, literary criticism, short fiction, and autobiography. For the final project, students will write a 1-15 page portrait of their mother, which will be critiqued in small groups, revised and presented to the class.


NS 272 - Anthropology of Reproduction
Pamela Stone
Wednesday, Friday 10:30-11:50 a.m.

This course focuses on the biological and cultural components of reproduction from an evolutionary and cross-cultural perspective. Beginning with the evolution of the pelvis, this course examines the nutritional problems, growth and developmental problems, health problems, and the trauma that can affect successful childbirth. The birth process will be studied for women in the ancient world and we will examine historical trends in obstetrics, as well. World-wide rates of maternal mortality will be used to understand the risks that some women face. Birthing customs and beliefs will be examined for indigenous women in a number of different cultures. Students will be required to present and discuss material and to work on a single large research project throughout the semester that relates to the course topic.


SS 112T– Queering the Renaissance
Jutta Sperling
Tuesday, Thursday  9:00-10:20 a.m.

We've always known that Michelangelo was gay and Henri III, King of France, liked to cross-dress.  Recent historical scholarship has shown how homosocial environments like female convents, male literary academies or youth associations promoted same-sex relationships.  Especially after the re-discovery of the clitoris in the sixteenth century, debates about hermaphrodites, the seat of lesbian desire, and the usefulness of African clitoridectomy stirred up the medical and political establishment.  In the military, cross-dressing was rampant; even evidence of trans-gendering can be found in sixteenth-century Spain.  This course will explore issues of self-identity in a period that, to contemporary observers, can seem hauntingly familiar and irrevocably foreign at the same time.

SS 0119 – Third World, Does Economic Development Enrich or Impoverish Women’s Lives
Laurie Nisonoff
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. We will use journal articles, short fiction, videos, and The Women Gender & Development Reader to explore these issues.

SS 0152 – Social Movements and Social Change: Zapatismo & Latin America’s “Third Left”
Margaret Cerulllo
Wednesday, Friday  2:00-2:20 p.m.

Today, newspapers speak of a decided tilt to the left in Latin America (Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, for example, all have presidents who affirm socialism). This movement is accompanied, or propelled by, indigenous coalitions, that are challenging even governments firmly in the US orbit (Uribe’s Columbia). This was not the case fifteen years ago, when, to everyone’s astonishment, the Zapatistas rose in revolt in Chiapas. Surfacing the same day that NAFTA went into effect January 1, 1994, they announced a different vision of Mexico’s future. The actions and writings of the Zapatistas constitute an extraordinary case study in which many preoccupations converge: the economic, the political, indigenous rights, women’s rights, civil society, cultural memory, and writing that is poetic and political. Focusing on the Zapatista revolt enables us to consider an example of ‘local’ resistance to ‘global’ designs, the ongoing challenge to neoliberal economics and to limited conceptions of ‘democracy’ that condemn populations to invisibility, their cultural memory to oblivion, and their needs and knowledge to subaltern status.

SS 0227 – Women and Politics in Africa
C. Newbury
Tuesday, Thursday  2:00-3:20 p.m.

This course will explore the genesis and effects of political activism by women in Africa, which some believe represents a new African feminism, and its implications for state/civil society relations in contemporary Africa. Topics will include the historical effects of colonialism on the economic, social, and political roles of African women, the nature of urban/rural distinctions, and the diverse responses by women to the economic and political crises of postcolonial African polities. Case studies of specific African countries, with readings of novels and women's life histories as well as analyses by social scientists.

SS 0240 – Reproductive Rights:  Domestic and International Perspectives
Marlene Fried, Elizabeth Hartmann
Tuesday, Thursday  2:00-3:20 p.m.

This course will introduce students to a broad range of reproductive rights issues and the history of feminist activism surrounding them. Among the topics we will address are: the distinction between population control and birth control; abortion and maternal mortality; the pros and cons of contraceptive technologies; old and new eugenics; HIV/AIDS and reproductive and sexual health; new frameworks including reproductive justice; fundamentalist assaults on reproductive rights; and controversies in feminist organizing at the national and transnational levels.

SS 0252 – Headscarf
Berna Turam
Tuesday  12:30-3:20 p.m.

The course introduces, reflects on and tackles the Islamic headscarf controversy, which has recently become a major dividing issue not only in Muslim societies but also in the West. We will engage with a rich and rapidly developing literature from across the disciplines, sociology, anthropology, geography and political science. Islamic headscarf have been perceived and reacted to differently by various groups. Some argue that it is an individual choice, while others disagree by highlighting the role of pious community (neighborhood, friends, family etc) in shaping decisions of wearing a headscarf. Is it as a symbol of political Islam? Or should headscarf be seen as part of the identity and identity politics? The course will adopt a multi-sited analysis, as the conflict occurs at many different levels, places and among various groups. It divides university campuses (faculty, administration and students) in countries like Turkey and France which apply a legal headscarf ban in official sites and universities. It also divides women's groups and feminists some of which see it as a means of emancipation and empowerment for women. Secularist feminists part ways with these views by highlighting the restrictions of religion puts on women's life, and by arguing that it serves to reinforce patriarchy. In addition to the splits between non-state social actors, we will also study how the headscarf divides state departments. By using case studies, such as the opposition between the pro-Islamic government and the constitutional court in Turkey, we will explore the larger political context in which the debate is embedded. Finally, we will explore how the disputes about headscarf divides urban space by legally or informally restricting the access of veiled women into certain urban sites. The course will conclude by bringing in the views of EU and international community, which will enable us to analyze the conflict at a more global level.

SS 0273 – The Politics of Urban Social Movements
Martha Ackelsberg
Monday  1:00-3:50 p.m.

This course will examine a variety of U.S.-based movements, both historical and contemporary, that have been centered in cities in an effort to understand their special characteristics and the relationship between urban spaces and political action. We will explore a range of theoretical and case-study material on social-political movements in the urban context. Readings and class discussions will focus on the formation and development of group consciousness and of social movements; assignments will include archival research using primary documents from a variety of different movements. We will address questions such as: What, if anything, is unique about the urban context, and about those who engage in social activism? How do we understand the prominence of women in these movements? What is the role of global and national economic changes in the structuring of urban social movements?