Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
Fall 2014 Courses


WOMENSST 187 – Gender, Sexuality and Culture
Monday, Wednesday 10:10
Friday discussions, 9:05, 10:10, 11:05
Alexandrina Deschamps

Placing women’s experiences at the center of interpretation, this class introduces basic concepts and key areas of gender both historically and contemporaneously.  It is an inter-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and cross cultural study of gender as well as an overview of theoretical perspectives of its intersection with other social constructs of difference (race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and age).  We will move beyond the theme of “gender difference” and examine the ongoing debate about the politics of gender inequality and inequity in our societies and cultures.  Students will engage in critical reading and thinking about these interlocking systems which have shaped and influenced the historical, cultural, social, political, and economical contexts of our lives.  Specific attention will be given to resistance of those gendered inequalities, and the various ways that social movements have created new systems of change by engaging in national and global transformational politics.  Lecture, discussion.  Gen Ed IU

WOMENSST 201 – Gender and Difference:  Critical Analyses
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:05-9:55 a.m.  Abigail Boggs
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:15-12:05 p.m.  Abigail Boggs
Monday, Wednesday  2:30-3:45 p.m.  Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:15 a.m.  Dawn Lovegrove

An introduction to the vibrant field of women's studies, this course introduces students to the basic concepts in the field as well as making connections to our lives. An interdisciplinary field grounded in a commitment to both intellectual rigor and individual and social transformation-to the world of ideas and the material world in which we live-women's studies asks fundamental questions about the world and our lives. What does it mean to be a woman?  How is the category "woman" constructed differently across social groups, cultures and historical periods?  Are there common experiences and essential characteristics that define all women?  How do the differences among women according to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nationality complicate our commonalities?  How do we analyze women's multiple identities and social positions?  How can an understanding of women's lives empower us to act as agents of personal and social change?  Readings include a range of women thinkers both in the U.S. and around the world, grounding our analyses in multiple voices, highlighting both the diversity, richness and power of women's ideas and reflecting the diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives in the field.

WOMENSST 294E – LGBTQ Movements, Law and Policy:  Global Perspectives
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Svati Shah
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality studies and Transnational Feminisms

LGBTQ Movements are now active around the world, in almost every country, and in every major city. This course reviews the histories, politics and artistic production, particularly the visual art and films, of LGBTQ movements globally. Drawing on theories of the production and politics of gender and sexuality, the course poses a number of questions that help us to analyze LGBTQ movements today. For example, what does it mean to use terms like “gay”, “lesbian,” and “queer” to speak of people and movements in such a wide range of places? What are the politics of speaking of transgender rights in the context of LGBTQ rights in these various contexts? How may we understand intersex politics and identity in instances where intersex rights are understood to be part of LGBTQ rights? Why are LGBTQ movements so visible in this moment, particularly those in countries in the Global South? How do the domestic politics of queer and trans movements in the U.S., particularly with respect to race and class, shape American foreign policy on these issues? What is the political economy of these movements and categories, especially with regard to the politics of funding? Students will be encouraged to engage with these questions in relation to specific examples of LGBTQ movements through reading, films and visual art, writing projects, and class discussions.

WOMENSST 295M – Politics of Reproduction and Mothering
Tuesday, Thursday  1:00-2:15 p.m.
Laura Briggs
Distribution requirement:  Critical race feminisms

Popular media blame feminism for the intensifying time crunch of families in the US struggling with having to have every adult in the work force and no time left for reproductive labor: raising children, caring for elders, building communities, caring for people with disabilities. Furthermore, it offers only two solutions: "lean in" or lean back and ask the workplace to change. In addition, we tend to think of all of these as professional and white people problems. These course explores an alternative analysis: that feminists in the 70s argued fiercely for good, free, 24-hour community day care centers and almost won, but for the intervention of an emergent evangelical right; and that feminists and communities of color have been struggling ever since on questions of social reproduction, and these fights have had names like welfare, health care, schools, neoliberalism, gay marriage, immigration, IVF, and foreclosure.

WOMENSST 297S – Girls in the System
Monday, Wednesday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Adina Giannelli

This interdisciplinary seminar will consider the role of gender in the juvenile justice system, in the United States and transnationally. Drawing on sociological literature, social critiques, policy papers, case law, documentary film, personal narratives, and even fiction, we will learn about and reflect upon the issues experienced by girls in the system. Final assignment will be student-driven, in consultation with instructor.   In the context of this course, we will critically examine the history of girls in the juvenile justice system; what it means to be in “the system”; the role of “justice” in the juvenile system; and the relationship between gender and justice. We will review some of the major issues faced by the girls who are subject to this system. Finally, we will explore the following questions: What are the goals of the juvenile justice system, and whose interests does it serve? Who is tracked into the system, and why? What is the relationship between race, gender, sexuality, culture and tracking, diversion, alternatives, and outcomes for girls in the juvenile justice system? How does the system address--or fail to address--issues of education, health, wellness, and community? And how do those who are subject to this system contest its confines, demonstrating voice, vision, and agency?

WOMENSST 301 – Theorizing Gender, Race and Power
Monday, Wednesday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Kirsten Leng

This class examines ways of analyzing and reflecting on current issues and controversies in feminist thought within an international context sensitive to class, race, and sexual power concerns. Topics may include work and international economic development, violence against women, racism, class and poverty, heterosexism, the social construction of gender, race and sexuality, global feminism, women, nationalism and the state, reproductive issues, pornography and media representations of women. Prerequisite: WOMENSST 201 or consent of instructor.

WOMENSST 391W – Writing for Majors
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Miliann Kang

Fulfills Junior Year Writing requirement for WGSS majors (non-majors admitted with permission of instructor if space available). Are there distinctively feminist forms and methods of writing?  What are the challenges and contributions of feminist writing and argumentation for research, creative, and professional work in a variety of fields.  This class will help students develop skills in analyzing texts, organizing arguments, providing persuasive evidence and articulating ideas to diverse audiences. It will address a broad range of sources and approaches including scholarly publications, creative writing, popular culture reviews, public arguments, Internet sources, monographs, first-person narratives, grant proposals, and archival and bibliographic resources.  Must have fulfilled GenEd CW requirement.

WOMENSST 392F – Feminist Engagements with Biomedicine:
Health, Ethics and the Nature of Difference
Thursday  2:30-5:00
Angela Willey
Distribution requirement:  Critical race feminisms and sexuality Studies

In this class we will explore how deeply biomedicine and concerns around it are premised on assumptions about the nature of difference.  Through the lenses of disability, critical race, and queer feminisms, we will explore conceptions of health and ethics in the overlapping fields of feminist body theory, science studies, bioethics and health movements.  The course will revolve around a series of questions that arise when we think/talk/write across disciplines, genres, and settings about what it means to engage biomedical constructions of and engagements with difference from a feminist perspective.  These questions include (but are not limited to): What is biology?  What is “the body”?  What is ethics?  What is health?  What is science?  What is feminism?  What are the relationships among these concepts?  We will explore a range of types and expressions of ethical concern with the body and with bio-medical inquiry and practice.  Through interdisciplinary inquiry we will begin to map ethical questions and frameworks being proposed, debated and institutionalized across and beyond the academy with regard to the status and practice of biomedicine.  In the first two sections of the course, “Feminists Theorize the Body, Embodiment, and Bio-Ethics” and “Difference as/and Illness”, we will build a shared set of theoretical tools and language for thinking, talking, and writing about “the body”, biology, ethics, and difference.  In the final section of the class we will look in depth at a “gynecology” as a site of feminist engagement with biomedicine.  Drawing on a wide variety of feminist engagements, we will touch on a wide range of topics from trans health issues to menopause to intersex treatment to sexual dysfunction. 

WOMENSST 393T – Writing Love in the African Diaspora
Monday, Wednesday  4:00-5:15 p.m.
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms and Sexuality Studies

This course explores how various forms of intimacy and human connection are imagined in contemporary writing of the African Diaspora. From parent-child affections, to heterosexual romance, to queer intimacies, to the closeness between friends, “love” is a central theme in literature and a crucial part of how we define humanity. Focusing on twentieth and twenty-first century texts such as Junot Diaz’s This is How You Lose Her, Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter, Ben Okri’s The Famished Road, Dee Rees’s Pariah, and Toni Morrison’s Love, we will consider how various forms of intimacy are written and read in the African Diaspora.  We will take up these works alongside key texts from earlier moments in Afrodiasporic literature, as well as theoretical and critical work in Diaspora feminism, queer theory, and affect studies. Reading through these lenses, we will consider several questions: How do processes of Diaspora, including enslavement, colonization, migration, and war shape how love is imagined in Afrodiasporic literature? What do literary affective relationships reveal about cultural notions of gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, and race? How are intimacy and human connection evoked through various Diasporic modernist, magical realist, and other literary techniques? How are notions of love and intimacy used to invoke transnational connection in Diasporic spoken word and hip-hop?  Prior coursework in WGSS, English, African-American Studies, Latino/a Studies, or other related fields will be helpful.

WOMENSST 394R – Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Latin America
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:15 a.m.
Cora Fernandez Anderson
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality studies and Transnational Feminisms

Since the 1990s Latin America has witnessed increasing societal and political debates over sexual and reproductive rights. Issues such as contraceptives, abortion, gay marriage, transgender rights, sexual education and assisted reproductive technology have risen to the top of some countries’ agendas after decades of silence, taboos, and restrictive or non-existent legislation. The course aims to provide a survey of sexual and reproductive rights in Latin America comparing the region as a whole with other areas of the world, while at the same time highlighting the disparities that exist within it. The course analyzes the multiple factors behind the current policies focusing particularly on the role of women and gay rights movements in advancing more liberal legislation. In addition, we will look at the role of the Catholic Church in these debates and their struggles to prevent any legislative change that goes against their doctrine from happening. Among the cases we will explore are Argentina’s gay marriage and gender identity legislation, Uruguay’s decriminalization of abortion, Costa Rica’s ban on IVF technologies and Peru’s coercive sterilization program of indigenous populations.

WOMENSST 397TC – Transgender Politics and Critical Thought
Monday, Wednesday, Friday   10:10-11:00 a.m.
Sonny Nordmarken
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality studies

Transgender studies is a new and rapidly-growing interdisciplinary field today. This course will examine both long-standing and recent political debates, critiques, and practices of resistance in the field, among scholars, activists, and artists. Investigating these issues, we will consider the following questions. How are trans and gender diverse individuals’ lives implicated by interrelated regulatory regimes of gender, racism, colonization, neoliberal global capitalism, nationalism and homonationalism, ableism, medicalization, empire, state governmentality, and ideals of normative embodiment? How do cultural assumptions of sex as fixed and binary shape interpretive frames and thus policies, institutions, administrative systems and social practices that trans people must negotiate? What discursive processes produce, discipline, expel, and erase bodies, and which bodies do they expel and erase? What political debates animate trans and gender diverse communities in the U.S. and across global sites, in this historical moment? How are trans and gender diverse people resisting complex systems of oppression? Through active engagement, both in and outside of class, we will build a critical analytical framework around contemporary trans politics and theory. This is an advanced course requiring basic knowledge of transgender issues.

WOMENSST 592M – Sex and Science:  Power of Knowledge
Monday  11:15-1:45 p.m.
Kirsten Leng
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality studies

Why and how has science assumed such a central role in defining the ‘truth’ of sex?  Why and how have scientific ‘facts’ become compelling resources for grounding and asserting a sense of sexual selfhood—and for expressing political demands?  In this seminar, we will explore the entangled histories of sexual science, sexual subjectivities, and sexual politics.  In particular, we will examine on how science has come to define biological sex and “sexual orientation” as binary and constitutive of individual identities.  Our course will take an historical perspective, with a focus on developments in Europe and the United States.  As we move from the past through to the present, we will consider how scientific knowledge is shaped by the perspective of the researcher and the relationship between the researcher and her subject; how expertise about sex is determined; how scientific knowledge about sex has changed over time; and what the personal and political implications of sexual scientific knowledge are.

WOMENSST 592AA – Asian American Feminisms
Thursday  2:30-5:00 p.m.
Miliann Kang
Distribution requirement:  Critical Race Feminisms

How have the figures of the Chinese bachelor, the geisha, the war bride, the hermaphrodite, the orphan, the tiger mother, the Asian nerd, the rice king, the rice queen, and the trafficked woman shaped understandings of Asian Americans, and how have these representations been critiqued by Asian American feminist scholars and writers?  Is there a body of work that constitutes “Asian American feminism(s)” and what are its distinctive contributions to the field of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies?  How does this body of work illuminate historical and contemporary configurations of gender, sexuality, race, class, nation, citizenship, migration, empire, war, neoliberalism and globalization?  In exploring these questions, this course examines Asian American histories, bodies, identities, diasporic communities, representations, and politics through multi- and interdisciplinary approaches, including social science research, literature, popular representations, film, poetry and art. 

WOMENSST 791B – Feminist Theory
Tuesday  4:00-6:30 p.m.
Svati Shah

This is a graduate seminar in feminist theory, and constitutes a core course for students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate Program. The seminar will be organized around questions that emerge for feminism from contemporary discourses of transnationalism, economic development, and human rights. The course readings will draw from multiple fields, including history, anthropology, and legal studies, with an emphasis on interventions and developments in feminist theory that have emerged since 1985. It will also draw from numerously located feminist work, including much work that is being produced by feminists in India. Given that students will be approaching the work from multiple disciplines, and with a range of theoretical expertise, we will be emphasizing the methodological and historical contexts for each of the works we will be discussing in class.