Amherst College Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies courses, Spring 2012

Black Studies                                                              108 Cooper                                    542-5800

BLST 241/HST 248 – African American History from Reconstruction to the Present
Julia Rabig
Monday, Wednesday  2:00-3:20 p.m.
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This course is a survey of the social, cultural, and political history of African American men and women since the 1870s. Among the major topics addressed: the legacies of Reconstruction; the political and economic origins of Jim Crow; the new racism of the 1890s; black leadership and organizational strategies; the Great Migration of the World War I era; the Harlem Renaissance; the urbanization of black life and culture; the impact of the Great Depression and the New Deal; the social and military experience of World War II; the causes, course and consequences of the modern civil rights movement; the experience of blacks in the Vietnam War; and issues of race and class in the 1970s and 1980s.

English                                                                           1 Johnson Chapel                        542-2231

ENG 456/BLST 441/FAMS 451 - Ghosts in Shells? Virtuality and Embodiment from Passing to the Posthuman
Marisa Parham
Thursday  2:00-4:30 p.m.
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This class begins with narratives about individuals who pass–that is, who come to be recognized as someone different from whom they were sexually or racially “born as.”  Such stories suggest that one’s identity depends minimally on the body into which one is born, and is more attached to the supplementation and presentation of that body in support of whichever cultural story the body is desired to tell.  Drawing on familiar liberal humanist claims, which centralize human identity in the mind, these narratives also respond to the growing sophistication of human experience with virtual worlds–from acts of reading to immersions in computer simulation.  But what kinds of tensions emerge when bodies nonetheless signify beyond an individual’s self-imagination?  As technology expands the possibilities of the virtual, for instance surrogacy, cloning, and cybernetics, what pressures are brought to bear on the physical human body and its processes to signify authentic humanness?  Rather than ask whether identity is natural or cultural, our discussions will project these questions into a not-so-distant future:  What would it mean to take “human” as only one identity, as a category amongst many others, each also acknowledged as equally subject to the same social and biological matrices of desire, creation, and recognition?  We will approach these questions through works of literature, philosophy, media history, and contemporary science writing.

European Studies                                                     B3 Converse Hall                        542-2312

EUST 229/HIST 229 – The European Enlightenment
Margaret Hunt
Monday, Wednesday  12:30-1:50 p.m.
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This course begins with the political, social, cultural and economic upheavals of late seventeenth-century England, France, and the Netherlands. The second part of the course will look at the Enlightenment as a distinctive philosophical movement, evaluating its relationship to science, to classical antiquity, to organized religion, to new conceptions of justice, and to the changing character of European politics. The final part will look at the Enlightenment as a broad-based cultural movement. Among the topics discussed here will be the role played by Enlightened ideas in the French Revolution, women and non-elites in the Enlightenment, scientific racism, pornography and libertinism, orientalism, and the impact of press censorship. Readings for the course will include works by Descartes, Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, Hume, Adam Smith, Choderlos de Laclos, Kant and others.

French                                                                            201 Barrett                                   542-2317

FREN 208 – French Conversation
Leah Hewitt
Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10:10-10:50 or 11:00-11:50 a.m.
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To gain as much confidence as possible in idiomatic French, we discuss French social institutions and culture, trying to appreciate differences between French and American viewpoints. Our conversational exchanges will touch upon such topics as French education, art and architecture, the status of women, the spectrum of political parties, minority groups, religion, and the position of France and French-speaking countries in the world.

History                                                                           11 Chapin                                       542-2229

HIST 263 – Struggles for Democracy in Modern Latin America, 1820 to the present
Rick Lopez
Tuesday, Thursday  2:00-3:20 p.m.
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Latin Americans began their struggle for democracy during the Independence wars at the start of the 19th century. Their struggle continues today. This course considers the historical meanings of democracy in various Latin American countries, with particular attention to the relationship between liberalism and democracy in the 19th century; the broadening of democracy at the start of the 20th century; the rise and fall of military dictatorships in the 1960s-80s and their impact upon civil society; and the current clashes between neo-Liberal economic programs and the neo-populist resurgence of the left.  Readings and discussions will focus on the ways broad economic and political shifts impacted individuals' lives; how each economic class experienced these shifts differently; the way race and gender have shaped peoples' experience with democratization and repression; and the personal processes of radicalization by which individuals became inspired to take risks in their struggle for inclusion and against repression.  Because the approach is thematic and chronological, some countries and regions will receive more attention than others.  Meetings and readings will draw on secondary studies, historical documents, testimonials, music, images, and film. 

HIST 467 – Race and Nation in the U.S.-Mexican Borderland
Rick Lopez
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00 – 12:20 p.m.
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The U.S.-Mexican borderland has been the site of violent conflict over race and nationality. The way race and nation have been defined, and the ways these definitions have changed over time, has been linked intimately with struggles over politics, economics, and culture in a land that is short on ecological resources, but rich in mineral wealth and ideal for commercial agriculture. Central themes include state and nation formation; nationalism; indigenous politics; Mexican-American politics; constructions of whiteness; gender; violence; industrialization; colonialism and imperialist expansion; and cultural improvisation. In addition to secondary readings, the class incorporates original documents, music, film and images. This is a history research seminar. As such, we will learn how to find and interpret original documents; how to develop original research questions that contribute to current historical debates; and how to formulate effective analytical questions and historical arguments. Students will be required to complete an independent research paper.


Sociology/Anthropology                                        205 Morgan Hall                         542-2193

ANTH 335 – Gender:  An Anthropological Perspective
Deborah Gewertz
Wednesday 2:00-4:30 p.m.

This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Women and Gender Studies                                14 Grosvenor                                542-5781

WAGS 100 – The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender
Margaret Hunt, Krupa Shandilya
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:20 a.m.
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 change from year-to-year and have included women and social change; male and female sexualities including homosexualities; the uses and limits of biology in explaining human gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the relationship among gender, race and class as intertwining oppressions; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.
WAGS 112/ENG 153 – New Women in America
Wendy Bergoffen
Monday, Wednesday  12:30-1:50 p.m.

This course will examine the emergence of the “New Woman” as a category of social theory, political action, and literary representation at the turning of the twentieth century.  Early readings will trace the origins of the New Woman as a response to nineteenth-century notions of “True Womanhood.”  Discussions will situate literary representations of women in larger cultural events taking place during the Progressive Era–debates over suffrage as well as their relationship to issues of citizenship, immigration, Jim Crow segregation, urbanization, and nativism.  The course will focus on texts written by a diverse group of women that present multiple and, at times, conflicting images of the New Woman.  Close attention will be paid to the manner in which these women writers constructed their fictions, particularly to issues of language, style, and form.  Readings will include texts by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Pauline Hopkins, Anzia Yezierska, and Sui Sin Far.

WAGS 113/ARHA 146/EUST 146 – Art from the Realm of Dreams
Natasha Staller
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:50 p.m.

We begin with a long-standing Spanish obsession with dreams, analyzing images and texts by Calderón, Quevedo and Goya. We next will consider a range of dream workers from a range of cultures, centuries, and disciplines--among them Apollinaire, Freud, Breton, Dalí, Carrington, and Kahlo--as well as others working around the globe in our own time.

WAGS 205/ASLC 328 – The Dao of Sex:  Sexuality in China, Past and Present
Paola Zamperini
Monday, Wednesday  12:30-1:50 p.m.

This survey course will focus on sexual culture in China, from pre-Qin times to the present. Using various sources such as ancient medical texts, Daoist manuals, court poetry and Confucian classics, paintings and illustrated books, movies and documentaries, as well as modern and pre-modern fiction written both in the classic and vernacular languages, we will explore notions of sex, sexuality, and desire. Through the lens of cultural history and gender studies, we will try to reconstruct the genealogy of the discourses centered around sex that developed in China, at all levels of society, throughout 5,000 years. Among the topics covered will be sexual yoga, prostitution, pornography, and sex-tourism.

WAGS 206/ARHA 284/EUST 284 – Women and Art in Early Modern Europe
Nicola Courtright
Tuesday Thursday  11:30-12:50 p.m.

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.

WAGS 232/SPAN 232 – Women Writers of Spain
Sara Brenneis
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:50 p.m.

Twentieth-century Spanish women writers have carved out a particular niche in the canon of Spanish literature. Often envisioned as a single entity, they have distinguished themselves as individual writers, just as their male counterparts have. In reading contemporary novels, short fiction, essays and poetry authored by women, this course will consider how one defines an escritura femenina in Spain and what, if anything, differentiates the escritura femenina as a gendered space from other modes of writing. Conducted in Spanish.

WAGS 300 – Ideas and Methods in the Study of Gender
Amrita Basu
Tuesday  2:00-4:00 p.m.

This seminar will explore the influence of gender studies and of feminism on our research questions, methods and the way we situate ourselves in relationship to our scholarship. For example, how can we employ ethnography, textual analysis, empirical data and archival sources in studying the complex ties between the local and the global, and the national and the transnational? Which ideas and methods are best suited to analyzing the varied forms of women’s resistance across ideological, class, racial and national differences? Our major goal will be to foster students' critical skills as inter-disciplinary, cross cultural writers and researchers. 

WAGS 311 – Gendering Political Economy
Nancy Folbre
Monday, Wednesday  2:00-3:20 p.m.
This course will explore the interface between feminist theory and political economy. It will ask how the social construction of gender has shaped the discourse of economics, with a strong emphasis on feminist theory's intellectual history in Britain, the U.S., and France. It will also explore a variety of ways that economic theory can help explain the evolution of gender inequality, with particular attention to insights of recent behavioral and experimental research. No formal background in economics is necessary, but participants must have a high level of intellectual curiosity about social science in general, and economics in particular. Students should also be prepared to tackle some technical topics including utility maximization, game theory, statistical analysis, and experimental methodologies. Course pedagogy will emphasize active learning, consistent class participation, a number of small written assignments and oral presentations, and a final research paper.


WAGS 330/BLST 236 – Black Sexualities
Khary Polk
Monday, Wednesday  2:00-3:20 p.m.

From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.  Priority to students who have taken introductory courses in either Black Studies or Women’s and Gender Studies.

WAGS 469/ASLC 452/FAMS 322 – South Asian Feminist Cinema
Krupa Shandilya
Wednesday  2:00-4:30 p.m.

How do we define the word “feminism”? Can the term be used to define cinematic texts outside the Euro-American world? In this course we will study a range of issues that have been integral to feminist theory--the body, domesticity, same sex desire, gendered constructions of the nation, feminist utopias and dystopias--through a range of South Asian cinematic texts. Through our viewings and readings we will consider whether the term “feminist” can be applied to these texts, and we will experiment with new theoretical lenses for exploring these films. Films will range from Satyajit Ray’s classic masterpiece Charulata to Gurinder Chadha’s trendy diasporic film, Bend It Like Beckham. Attendance for screenings on Monday is compulsory.