Amherst College Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
Fall 2014 Courses

American Studies 103 Morgan Hall 542-2246

AMST 232Racialization in the U.S.: The Asian/Pacific/American Experience
Sujani K. Reddy
Monday, Wednesday 3:00 – 4:20 pm

This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to Asian/Pacific/American Studies. We will begin by looking at the founding of the field through the student-led social movements of the 1960s and ask ourselves how relevant these origins have been to the subsequent development of the field. We will then use questions that arise from this material to guide our overview of the histories, cultures, and communities that make up the multiplicity of Asian/Pacific America. Topics will include, but not be limited to, the racialization of Asian Americans through immigrant exclusion and immigration law; the role of U.S. imperialism and global geo-politics in shaping migration from Asia to the U.S., the problems and possibilities in a pan-ethnic label like A/P/A, interracial conflict and cooperation, cultural and media representations by and about Asian Americans, diaspora, and homeland politics. In addition, throughout the semester we will practice focusing on the relationships between race, gender, class, sexuality, and nation. The ultimate goal of the course is to develop a set of analytic tools that students can then use for further research and inquiry.

AMST 240 – Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American Studies
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 – 11:20 am
Kiara M. Vigil

From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American Studies, engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film and literary texts in particular will provide primary grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narrative in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with indigenous peoples? And, how has the creation of a national American literary tradition often defined itself as both apart from and yet indebted to Native American cultural traditions? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have contributed to discussions of citizenship and identity, and changed over time with particular attention to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project that may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States.


AMST 302/SOCI 302 – Globalization, Inequality and Social Change
Tuesday, Thursday 1:00 – 2:20 pm

Leah Schmalzbauer

This course is an in-depth exploration of the increasing global interconnectedness of economic, political, and social processes, what many have come to call “globalization.” We begin by developing a sociological critique of the relationship between inequality, post-World War II global capitalism, and the neoliberal ideology that underlies it.  We do this through study of the major institutions and actors that endorse and perpetuate global capitalism. We then explore case studies which critically examine how contemporary globalization is playing out in daily life via experiences of labor, consumption, family and community.  We dedicate the last part of the course to investigating diverse examples of grassroots resistance to the current capitalist order.  As we strive to achieve a complex analysis of globalization, we will be challenged to grapple seriously with issues of power and social justice and to reflect on our own social positions within an increasingly intricate global web.  In accordance, we will focus throughout the course on how intersections of race, class, gender and citizenship influence the human experience of globalization. 


Economics 315 Converse Hall 542-2249

ECON 412 – Applied Microeconomics Seminar
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 – 11:20 am
Jessica Wolpaw Reyes

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.


English 1 Johnson Chapel 542-2231

ENGL 217 – Making Literary Histories
Tuesday, Thursday 1:00 – 2:20 pm
Peter Berek

[before 1800]  What is “English Literature,” and how does one construct its history?  What counts as “England” (especially in relation to Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, and to ancient Greece and Rome)? What is the relationship between histories of literature and political, social, religious and intellectual histories? What is the role of gender in the making of literature, and the making of its histories? These are the kinds of questions we will ask as we read texts from the seventh through the seventeenth centuries, including works such as Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (in translation) and writers such as Chaucer, Margery Kempe, Sir Philip Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Donne, Jonson, Aemilia Lanyer, Mary Wroth, George Herbert, Marvell, and Milton.

ENGL 471/BLST 412 – Corporeal States:  Body, Nation, Text in Modern African Literature
Monday, Wednesday 8:30 – 9:50 am
C. Rhonda Cobham-Sander

How do literary texts transmute human bodies into subjects–gendered subjects, colonial subjects, disabled subjects, terrorists, cultural icons, cyborgs?  And what happens when we use ideas about the body to represent the body politic? In this course we will examine how modern African writers utilize a variety of genres, including ethnographic writing, Kung Fu movies, pornography, traditional epic, and graffiti, to challenge our notions of what counts as a body, as a nation, or as a text. Alongside novels by established writers, we will consider recent books and digital creations by Chimamanda Adichie, Chris Abani, Teju Cole, Zakes Mda, Werewere Liking, and Taiye Selasi.


European Studies 101 Barrett Hall 542-2312

EUST 209/HIST 209 – Fascism
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 – 11:20 am
Rick A. Lopez

This course addresses the vexing questions of what fascism is, whether it was a global phenomenon, and whether it has been historically banished. The first part of the semester will consider the conceptual issues related to nationalism, modernity, and fascism. Next we will address case studies, noting comparative continuities and regional peculiarities. The countries that will receive the most attention are Italy, France, Argentina, Britain, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and Mexico, with additional attention to Portugal, Japan, China, New Guinea, Chile, Turkey, Palestine and Australia. This will be followed by an examination of gender and fascism, including the role of women as agents of this radical ideology. The course will close with two recent works of scholarship, one on transnational fascism in early twentieth-century Argentina and the other on the applicability of the term “fascism” to contemporary movements in the Middle East.


Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought 208 Clark House 542-2380

LJST 374/POSC 474 – Norms, Rights, and Social Justice: Feminists, Disability Rights Activists and the Poor at the Boundaries of the Law
Tuesday 2:30 – 5:00 pm
Kristin Bumiller

This seminar explores how the civil rights movement began a process of social change and identity-based activism. We evaluate the successes and failures of “excluded” groups’ efforts to use the law. We primarily focus on the recent scholarship of theorists, legal professionals, and activists to define “post-identity politics” strategies and to counteract the social processes that “normalize” persons on the basis of gender, sexuality, disability, and class.


Political Science 103 Clark House 542-2208

POSC 356 – Regulating Citizenship
Wednesday 1:20 – 5:30 pm
Kristin Bumiller

This course considers a fundamental issue that faces all democratic societies: How do we decide when and whether to include or exclude individuals from the rights and privileges of citizenship? In the context of immigration policy, this is an issue of state power to control boundaries and preserve national identity. The state also exercises penal power that justifies segregating and/or denying privileges to individuals faced with criminal sanctions. Citizenship is regulated not only through the direct exercise of force by the state, but also by educational systems, social norms, and private organizations. Exclusion is also the result of poverty, disability, and discrimination based on gender, race, age, and ethnic identity. This course will describe and examine the many forms of exclusion and inclusion that occur in contemporary democracies and raise questions about the purpose and justice of these processes. We will also explore models of social change that would promote more inclusive societies. This course will be conducted inside a correctional facility and enroll an equal number of Amherst students and residents of the facility. Permission to enroll will be granted on the basis of a questionnaire and personal interview with the instructor.


Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies 14 Grosvenor 542-5781

SWAG 206/ARHA 284/EUST 284 – Women and Art in Early Modern Europe
Monday, Wednesday 12:30 – 1:50 pm
Nicola M. Courtright
UMass WGSS Majors/Minors Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms

This course will examine the ways in which prevailing ideas about women and gender-shaped visual imagery, and how these images 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.

SWAG 208/BLST 345/ENGL 276 - Black Feminist Literary Traditions
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00-11:20 a.m.
Aneeka Henderson
UMass WGSS Majors/Minors Distribution requirement: Critical Race Feminisms 

Reading the work of black feminist literary theorists and black women writers, we will examine the construction of black female identity in American literature, with a specific focus on how black women writers negotiate race, gender, sexuality, and class in their work. In addition to reading novels, literary criticism, book reviews, and watching documentaries, we will examine the stakes of adaptation and mediation for black female-authored texts. Students will watch and analyze the film and television adaptations of The Color Purple (1985), The Women of Brewster Place (1989), and Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005) as well as examine how Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970) was mediated and interpreted by Oprah Winfrey’s book club and daytime talk show. Authors will include Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Gloria Naylor.

SWAG 210/ANTH 210 – Anthropology of Sexuality
Monday, Wednesday 10:00 – 11:20 am

Sahar Sadjadi
UMass WGSS Majors/Minors Distribution requirement:  Sexuality studies

See department for description.


SWAG 237/SOC 237 – Gender and Work
Monday, Wednesday 9:30 – 10:50 am
Eunmi Mun

How has the rise of working women complicated modern workplaces and the idea of work? One challenge is how to value women’s work fairly. One index of this challenge is that in workplaces across the world, women earn significantly less than men and are underrepresented in high status positions. What explains such gender gaps in the workplace? Taking an empirical, social-science perspective, this course will discuss three main aspects of gender and work. First, we will cover major theories of gender inequality, such as psychological stereotyping, social exclusion, structural barriers, and gendered socialization. Second, in learning about the sociological mechanisms of inequality in the workplace, we will expand our discussion to women’s work in the family and examine how the conflicts individuals face when trying to have both career and family influence women’s lives. Finally, we will discuss the mixed results of public policies proposed to reduce gender inequality and work-family incompatibilities and the possible reasons for those mixed results.

The following course is still being offered, but the SWG designation has been removed. It will not count towards WGSS credit.

SWAG 247/BLST 247 – Panther Theory: Reading Black Power
Monday, Wednesday 2:00 – 3:20 pm
John E. Drabinski

[US] What is the memory and legacy of the Black Panther Party? The Party is probably best known for its militant politics and iconic imagery:  guns, leather jackets, confrontations with the police, and often audacious forms of public protest.  We remember those politics and that imagery for good reason:  the Party’s organization and struggle galvanized communities beleaguered by poverty, police violence, and mass incarceration.  But it is important to also recall that the Black Panthers were an intellectual movement that theorized mobilization, forms of strategy, ideas of solidarity and collaboration, and armed self-defense out of close study of a wide range of both conventional and revolutionary thinkers. This course focuses on that element of the Party’s life, exploring the Black Panthers as an intellectual movement.  We will read key figures Huey P. Newton, Eldridge Cleaver, Elaine Brown, and Angela Davis with close attention to how they engage and transform canonical figures of Western philosophy like Socrates, Descartes, and G.W.F. Hegel, as well as revolutionary writers Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin, Che Guevara, Mao Tse-Tung, and Frantz Fanon.  We will also discuss how the Party related to the wider Black Power movement (especially Stokely Carmichael and Maulana Karenga) through public debates on political and cultural nationalism and internationalism.  Across our reading and discussion, we will have to think carefully about how Party social programs in nutrition, education, and healthcare emerged out of--and not just alongside or in addition to--militant political theory and action.  The class will work closely with the Amherst College Library, which houses an extensive collection of Black Power newspapers, original writings, and other materials in the College’s archive.


SWAG 310/ARHA 385/EUST 385 – Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 – 11:20 am

Natasha Staller

This course will explore the construction of the monstrous, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate the varied forms of monstrous creatures, their putative powers, and the explanations given for their existence-as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they share. Among the artists to be considered are Valdés Leal, Velázquez, Goya, Munch, Ensor, Redon, Nolde, Picasso, Dalí, Kiki Smith, and Cindy Sherman.

SWAG 329/BLST 377 - Bad Black Women
Tuesday, Thursday 1:00-2:20 p.m.

Aneeka Henderson

History has long valorized passive, obedient, and long-suffering black women alongside aggressive and outspoken black male leaders and activists.  This course provides an alternative narrative to this misrepresentation, as we will explore how “bad” is defined by one’s race, gender, class, and sexuality as well as how black women have transgressed the boundaries of what it means to be “good” in U.S. society. We will use an interdisciplinary perspective to examine why black women have used covert and explicit maneuvers to challenge the stereotypical “respectable” or “good” black woman and the various risks and rewards they incur for their “deviance.” In addition to analyzing black women’s literature, we will study black women’s political activism, prostitution, and rising incarceration as well as black women’s nonconformity in art, poetry, music, dance, and film. Students should be aware that part of this course is “immersive” and consequently, students will be asked to participate in a master class that will provide a space for students to learn and explore how dance has been historically used to defy race, class, and gender norms.  Authors, scholars, political activists, and artists include Ida B. Wells, Toni Morrison, Anita Hill, Sapphire, Beth Ritchie, Dorothy West, Lorna Simpson, Donna Kate Rushin, Billie Holiday, and Beyoncé among many others. 

SWAG 362/ASLC 363/HIST 397– Women in the Middle East
Tuesday, Thursday 2:30 – 3:50 pm
Monica M. Ringer
UMass WGSS Majors/Minors Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms

The course examines the major developments, themes and issues in woman’s history in the Middle East. The first segment of the course concerns the early Islamic period and discusses the impact of the Quran on the status of women, the development of Islamic religious traditions and Islamic law. Questions concerning the historiography of this “formative” period of Islamic history, as well as hermeneutics of the Quran will be the focus of this segment. The second segment of the course concerns the 19th- and 20th-century Middle East. We will investigate the emergence and development of the “woman question,” the role of gender in the construction of Middle Eastern nationalisms, women’s political participation, and the debates concerning the connections between women, gender, and religious and cultural traditions. The third segment of the course concerns the contemporary Middle East, and investigates new developments and emerging trends of women’s political, social and religious activism in different countries. The course will provide a familiarity with the major primary texts concerning women and the study of women in the Middle East, as well as with the debates concerning the interpretation of texts, law, religion, and history in the shaping of women’s status and concerns in the Middle East today. This class is conducted as a seminar. Two class meetings per week.

SWAG 374/ARHA 374 – To Sculpt a Modern Woman's Life
Tuesday 1:00 – 3:30 pm

Natasha Staller

We will revel in dramatically different works by women artists, from Magdalena Abakanowicz, Lyda Benglis and Louise Bourgeois, to Eva Hesse, Jeanne-Claude, Jenny Holzer, Rona Pondick, Doris Salcedo, Kiki Smith and Rachel Whiteread on down, as we explore how they created themselves through their work. As a foil, we will analyze the invented personas of Sarah Bernhardt and Madonna, as well as images of women by Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso, Magritte, de Kooning, Woody Allen, and Saura. While we will focus on original objects and primary texts (such as artists' letters or interviews), we will also critique essays by current feminist scholars and by practitioners of "the new cultural his-tory," in order to investigate possible models for understanding the relationship between a woman and her modern culture at large. Assignments will include a substantial research paper and at least one field trip.


SWAG 410 – Gender and HIV/AIDS
Monday 2:00 – 4:30 pm

Sahar Sadjadi

See department for description.


SWAG 467/POSC 467 – Social Movements, Civil Society and Democracy in India
Wednesday 7:00 – 9:30 pm

Amrita Basu
UMass WGSS Majors/Minors Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms

The goal of this seminar is illuminate the complex character of social movements and civil society organizations and their vital influence on Indian democracy. Social movements have strengthened democratic processes by forming or allying with political parties and thereby contributed to the growth of a multi-party system. They have increased the political power of previously marginalized and underprivileged groups and pressured the state to address social inequalities. However conservative religious movements and civil society organizations have threatened minority rights and undermined secular, democratic principles. During the semester, we will interact through internet technology with students, scholars and community organizers in India.

SWAG 469/ASLC 452/FAMS 322– Feminist Cinema
Tuesday 2:30 – 5:00 pm

Krupa Shandilya

See department for description.

SWAG 471/BLST 412/ENGL 417- Corporeal States: Body, Nation, Text in Modern African Literature
Monday, Wednesday 8:30-9:50 a.m.

C. Rhonda Cobham-Sanders
UMass WGSS Majors/Minors Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms

How do literary texts transmute human bodies into subjects–gendered subjects, colonial subjects, disabled subjects, terrorists, cultural icons, cyborgs?  And what happens when we use ideas about the body to represent the body politic? In this course we will examine how modern African writers utilize a variety of genres, including ethnographic writing, Kung Fu movies, pornography, traditional epic, and graffiti, to challenge our notions of what counts as a body, as a nation, or as a text. Alongside novels by established writers, we will consider recent books and digital creations by Chimamanda Adichie, Chris Abani, Teju Cole, Zakes Mda, Werewere Liking, and Taiye Selasi.