AMHERST COLLEGE WOMEN'S STUDIES COURSES - Spring 2003

WAGS (Women and Gender Studies) 14 Grosvenor 542-5781
Classics Grosvenor 542-2189
English 1 Johnson Chapel 542-2672
Fine Arts 102 Fayerweather 542-2365
History 11 Chapin 542-2229
Political Science 103 Clark House 542-2380
Psychology Psychology Building 542-2217
Sociology/Anthropology 205 Morgan Hall 542-2193
Spanish 5 Barrett Hall 542-2317
Theatre and Dance Webster Hall 542-2411

WAGS 6/ART 84 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe
Monday, Wednesday 12:30 p.m.
Courtright

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

WAGS 11 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender
Monday, Wednesday 12:30 p.m.
Barale
Rose Olver

This course introduces students to the issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender and gender roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics will include the uses and limits of biology in explaining human gender differences; male and female sexualities including homosexualities; women and social change; women's participation in production and reproduction; the relationship among gender, race and class as intertwining oppressions; and the functions of visual and verbal representation in the creating, enforcing and contesting of gender norms.

WAGS 12 Hard Reading
Tuesday, Thursday 11:00 a.m.
Barale

Many things can make a text difficult to read, just as we understand the very idea that reading is "hard" or "easy" in any number of ways. A novel or play or short story can evade us because its narrative is convoluted or because its structure is fractured. We might have to slog through language that is "outdated" or dialectical. We might find we dislike the characters - or perhaps the author. Paragraphs can be too long, conversations too stilted, and all action might take place in the white space. Sometimes the very subject matter of a text makes it difficult for us to enjoy a piece of writing; we could loathe regional writing or find certain topics threatening or even repulsive. In this course we will examine some positive examples of books that seem to push us away. We will read works by some of the following writers: Emily Bronte, Ralph Ellison, George Eliot, Sarah Jewett, Ha Jin, Adrienne Kennedy, Nella Larsen, Annie Proulx, Gertrude Stein, and David Henry Hwang.

WAGS 28/
ENGLISH 18
Reading Popular Culture
Wednesday 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Parham

The purpose of this class is to learn how to use theoretical and primary texts to critique and write about contemporary popular culture: movies, television; radio and the news media. This semester's topic is "girl power," the pop-culture term for what is better understood as "post-feminism.". Instances of girl power are characterized by their emphases on female protagonists who fight, speak, and enter intimate relationships on their own, sometimes, angry, terms. The 1990s saw a dramatic transformation in the representation of women's relationships to their own sense of power. But has this rising phenomenon of "women who kick ass" come at a cost? Are these representations simply appropriations of what has been generally construed as "male power," or are they genuine reassessments of the relationship between gender, power, and the individual?

WAGS 44 Women's Activism in Global Perspective
Monday 2:00 p.m.
Bumiller

Globally as well as locally, women are claiming a new voice in civil society by spearheading both egalitarian movements for social change and reactionary movements which would restore them to putatively traditional roles. They are prominent in local level community-based struggles but also in women's movements, perhaps the most international movements in the world today. This course will explore the varied expressions of women's activism at the grass roots, national and transnational levels. How is it influenced by the intervention of the state and international agencies? How is it affected by globalization? Among the issues and movements which we will address are struggles to redefine women's rights as human rights, women's activism in religious nationalism, the international gay-lesbian movement, welfare rights activism, responses to state regulation, and campaigns around domestic violence. Our understanding of women's activism is informed by a richly comparative perspective and attention to cases from diverse regions of the world.

WAGS 47 Asian and Asian American Women: Myths of Deference, Arts of Resistance
Tuesday, Thursday 11:30 a.m.
Amrita Basu

Even the most sympathetic observers often assume that Asian women are so deeply oppressed that they demure in the face of intolerable conditions. Such notions of women's deference find echoes in popular conceptions of Asian American women. Part of the work of this course is to question assumptions of women's quiescence by redefining agency and activism. But an equally important challenge is to avoid romanticizing resistance by recognizing victimization in the absence of agency, agency in the absence of activism, and activism in the absence of social change. Thus while appreciating the inventive ways in which Asian and Asian American women resist, we will explore why such resistance may perpetuate their subjugation.

WAGS 56 Women and Islamic Construction of Gender
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 a.m.
Elias

The focus of this course is on the lives of contemporary Muslim women, the factors informing constructions of gender in the Islamic world, and the role played by questions of women's status in modern Islamic religion and society. We will begin by briefly examining the status and images of women in classical Islamic thought, including themes relating to scripture, tradition, law, theology, philosophy and literature. The second section of the course will focus on contemporary Muslim women in a number of different cultural contexts in order to highlight a variety of issues significant for contemporary Muslim women: veiling and seclusion, kinship structures, violence, health, feminist activism, literary expression, etc. The final section of the course will deal with an exploration of Muslim feminist thought, which we will attempt to place in dialogue with western feminism with the hope of arriving at a better understanding of issues related to gender, ethics and cultural relativism. Weekly readings will include original religious texts in translation, secondary interpretations, ethnographic descriptions and literary works by Muslim women authors.

WAGS 65/
POLSCI 65
States of Poverty
Tuesday 2:00 p.m.
Bumiller

In this course the students will examine the role of the modern welfare state in people's everyday lives. We will study the historical growth and retrenchment of the modern welfare state in the United States and other Western democracies. The course will critically examine the ideologies of ""dependency"" and the role of the state as an agent of social control. In particular, we will study the ways in which state action has implications for gender identities. In this course we will analyze the construction of social problems linked to states of poverty, including hunger, homelessness, health care, disability, discrimination, and violence. We will ask how these conditions disproportionately affect the lives of women and children. We will take a broad view of the interventions of the welfare state by considering not only the impact of public assistance and social service programs, but the role of the police, family courts, therapeutic professionals, and schools in creating and responding to the conditions of impoverishment. The work of the seminar will culminate in the production of a research paper and students will be given the option of incorporating field work into the independent project.

WAGS 67/
HISTORY 47
Women and Politics in 20th Century America
Tuesday, Thursday 2:00 p.m.
Saxton

This course will look at a number of political battles women have fought over the last one hundred years, beginning with suffrage, and including protective legislation and benefits for mothers and children. It will look at women's experiences in the Civil Rights and anti-war movements and the development of Second Wave Feminism as well as the many feminisms that emerged in its wake. Students will study the background of, and engage in debate about, a number of current battles including those over reproductive rights, pornography, and sexual harassment. We will make an effort to relate these controversies to earlier themes in twentieth-century women's politics.

WAGS 95 Latina Feminisms in the Americas
Tuesday, Thursday 11:30 a.m.
Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez

Based on issues of race, class and sexuality, this course will examine texts by Chicana and Latina writers and filmmakers that offer an alternative feminist mapping to Anglo-dominated feminisms. Starting with the important anthology, This Bridge Called My Back, and Cherie Moraga's notion of "third world feminism," a feminism that is/was grounded in working-class ideologies and that forged political linkages between marginalized women and men by destabilizing heterosexuality, we will move through theoretical and literary trajectories and engage multiple types of Latina feminisms of the Americas taken up in a variety of forms (fiction, poetry, film, and theory). We will trace such political movements from their break with male-centered nationalisms of the 1960s to what Chicana feminist scholar Sonia Saldivar-Hull calls "transfronteriza feminism" and examine the pressures and material conditions of violence and how violence is used to discipline the bodies of third-world subjects in the Americas. Such readings will allow us to acknowledge the political activities of "silenced" women as feminist. The primary aim of this course is to familiarize students with the range of Latina writers who have shaped the landscape of cultural and literary studies of the borderlands broadly defined. Texts will include but are not limited to In the Time of the Butterflies; Borderland/La Frontera; I. Rigoberta Menchu; Loving in the War Years; Woman Hollering Creek, and the film "La Operacion."

CLASS 38
Component
Greek Drama
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 11:00-11:50 a.m.
Griffiths

Selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes with attention to staging, Athenian politics, and the modern use of the texts to reconstruct systems of gender, sexuality, class, and ethnicity. We shall also consider the remakings of the plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater: Michael Cacoyannis, The Trojan Women Martha Graham, Night Journey; Rita Dove, The Darker Face of the Earth; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Oedipus Rex and Medea.

ENGLISH 75
Component
Citizenship: Migration, Diaspora and New Forms of Political Participation
Monday, Wednesday 8:30 a.m.
Jana Evans Braziel

In this course, we will explore contemporary ideas about citizenship as forged across national boundaries in the Americas; specifically, we will examine how ideas about what it means to be and to participate politically as a citizen change when individuals participate in more than one nation-state, such as individuals of Haitian descent living in Montreal; Cuban descent living in Miami; or Dominican descent in New York. Our primary texts will include short stories, novels, films, journalistic essays, and academic writings. In addition to examining how migration and diaspora challenge traditional notions of citizenship and political belonging, the course will also explore how these movements have been shaped by geopolitical shifts such as decolonization and the end of the "Cold War"; and by global capitalism and the consolidation of world trade markets through alliances such as the North American Free Trade Alliance (NAFTA) and international regulatory bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the World Bank. We will also explore how transnational grassroots movements for social justice challenge these global formations and actively participate in forging new spaces for citizenship across national territories. Not open to first-year students.

FRENCH 11
Component
Cultural History of France
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00-11:20 a.m.
Caplan

Conducted in French. A survey of French civilization: literature, history, art and society. We will discuss Romanesque and Gothic art, the role of women in medieval society, witchcraft and the Church, Reformation and Counter-Reformation, the centralization of power and the emergence of absolute monarchy. Slides and films will complement lectures, reading and discussion of monuments, events and social structures.

HISTORY 52
Component
U.S. Latino/a History
Tuesday, Thursday 10:00 - 11:20 a.m.
Lopez

An introduction to the history of U.S. Latinos/as in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Central themes include ethnic and national identity, community formation, cultural imperialism, migration, gender, art, and political mobilization. Most U.S. Latino groups will be addressed, but the concentration will be on Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, with a secondary emphasis on Dominicans and Cubans. The first half covers the nineteenth century through WWII to consider how U.S. imperialism in the Caribbean, Central America, and the present-day U.S. Southwest related to social, political, and economic changes within emerging Latino societies. The second half of the course traces the rise of radical politics after WWII; the emergence of the Chicano and Puerto Rican Movements; and the more recent turn toward a Pan-Latino or Hispanic identity. Discussions and secondary readings supplemented by original documents, fiction, film, lectures, and visual materials.

SPANISH 46 Spanish American Women's Writings
Tuesday, Thursday 11:30-12:50 p.m.
Benitez

Conducted in Spanish. For over three centuries Spanish American women have been continuously writing. They have produced a massive amount of works, ranging from travelogues and memoirs to poetry and theater, from novels and short stories to essays and criticism. Furthermore, they have written in the tradition of many literary currents and movements. This course will discuss works by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda (Cuba, nineteenth-century romantic novel), Flora Tristán (Peru, nineteenth-century travelogue), Teresa de la Parra (Venezuela, Modernista memoirs), Rosario Castellanos (Mexico, theater), Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala, life story), Sylvia Iparraguirre (Argentina, historical novel), Isabel Allende (Chile, short stories), María Amparo Escandón (Neo-Picaresca novel), and others.

TH&DA 24
component
20th Century American Dance
Monday, Wednesday 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Valis-Hill

Sixties Vanguard to Nineties Hip-Hop. This survey of late twentieth-century dance begins in the sixties-a decade of revolt and redefinition in American modern dance when expressions of nonconformity became a key theme for artists of the counterculture who struggled for self-definition in defiance of traditional social values. The socio-political environment of the sixties, particularly the Feminist Movement, provoked new ideas about dance, the dancer's body and a radically changed dance aesthetic; and produced dance works that spoke of freedom, spontaneity, spirituality; experimentation, democratic participation and the liberation of the body. The postmodern perspectives that grew out of debates of the period about the nature of gender, ethnicity, and sexuality in turn yielded theories about the relationship between cultural forms and the construction of identities from a new generation of dancers, whose works emphasized dialogue and self-reflective critique. Presenting dance as an art form and embodied social practice, borrowing from spectacular vernaculars, and blurring the traditional boundaries of the modern and classical, these late-century renegades moved dance (as performance art and prime subject for cultural studies) from the margins to the mainstream.


Program Core Courses
Women of Color Courses
UMass Departmental Courses
UMass Component Courses
Continuing Ed Courses
Graduate Level Courses
Hampshire College
Mount Holyoke College
Smith College
Amherst College Home
UMass listings
Five-College Listings