Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Program Courses, Spring 2012


WOMENSST 187A – Gender, Sexuality and Culture
Alexandrina Deschamps
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30-10:45 a.m.

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.  Taught in Webster Residence Hal, Orchard Hill.  Gen Ed IU

WOMENSST 187B – Gender, Sexuality and Culture
Dayo F. Gore
Monday, Wednesday 10:10-11:00 a.m. & Friday Discs

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 & Difference: Critical Analyses
Banu Subramaniam
Tuesday, Thursday 1:00-2:15 p.m.

Introduction to fundamental questions and concepts of feminist thought and to the basic intellectual tools of analysis integrating economic and cultural imperialism, gender, class, race, and sexual orientation.  Also addresses the multifaceted dimensions of women’s lived experiences within a global context.

WOMENSST 201HCS – Gender & Difference: Critical Analyses Community Service Learning
Miliann Kang
Tuesday, Thursday 11:15- 12:30 p.m.

Introduction to fundamental questions and concepts of feminist thought and to the basic intellectual tools of analysis integrating economic and cultural imperialism, gender, class, race, and sexual orientation.  Also addresses the multifaceted dimensions of women’s lived experiences within a global context.  Course readings, lectures and assignments will center the importance of Community Service Learning in the field of Women, Gender and Sexuality studies.

WOMENSST 285 – Introduction to Biology of Difference
Laura Briggs
Monday, Wednesday 11:15-1205 p.m. & Friday Discs 11:15, 12:20

What does science tell us about some of the burning issues of our times? Are women's brains different from men's? Is there a gay gene? Are we really ruled by our hormones? Does testosterone make men more aggressive? Are there racial differences in intelligence? How do we account for different health outcomes among men and women, among different racial groups?  This course explores such controversial topics as gender difference in brain anatomy, genetic models of gayness and intelligence, reproductive technology, hormones, and HIV/AIDS.  GenEd S I U

WOMENSST 292G - Crazy Ladies!?!: Feminism(s) and the Diaspora
Allia Matta & Rani Varghese
Tuesday 4:00-6:30 p.m.

"...that definition of me, and millions like us, formulated by others to serve out their fantasies, a definition we have to combat at unconscionable cost to the self and even use, at times, in order to survive; the cause of so much shame and rage as well as oddly enough, a source of pride..." ("Reena" Paule Marshall) Using multi-media sources, including film, images, music and texts, this course examines the interplay of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other aspects of social identity in women's lives and communities. Emphasizing intersectionality, transnational feminist frameworks and psychological theories as a critical lenses, we will examine the historical and cultural narratives of women of color. Drawing on authors such as Audre Lorde, June Jordan, bell hooks, Chandra Mohanty, Toni Morrison,  Suheir Hammad, Gloria Anzaldúa, and Andrea Smith, this course further complicates how history, positionality and culture work to create diverse narratives of women of color in the U.S.

WOMENSST 295C – Career and Life Choices
Karen Lederer
Monday 2:30-3:45 p.m.

Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies teaches critical thinking skills.  How can students use these skills to make informed career choices?  How is it possible to engage in planning one’s career while conscious of the realities of race, sex, and class in today’s economy?  What are career options for students whose values include working for a better society?  Is it possible to put together a balanced life and pay the bills besides?  How can pressured college seniors, get all the career tasks they need to do done (resume writing, budgeting, researching career opportunities, networking, informational interviews) while finishing out their college degree?  Students will formulate their own career questions and choices.  The first part of the semester is self awareness, articulating interests, skills and values.  The 2nd part of the semester focuses on workforce information and practical job search skills.  Assignments include: self awareness exercises, informational interviews, budget, resume, cover letter and more.

WOMENSST 296Q – Colloq:  Mosaics in Masculinity
Monday, Wednesday  1:25-2:15 p.m.


This course is an introductory examination into the social construction of masculinity and its performance, from the raising of boys to men's violence against women and other men, and finally to the pro-feminist and male positive movement across the country. This course will be facilitated by an undergraduate student.  Contact Roy Ribitzky at rribitzk@student.umass.edu to register.

WOMENSST 297A – Anthropological Perspectives in LGBTQ Studies
Svati Shah
Tuesday, Thursday 4:00-5:15 p.m.

This course will discuss contemporary LGBT and Queer Studies through the lens of anthropological work on sexuality.  Anthropology has a longstanding relationship with the idea of sexuality; in its early days, more than a century ago, anthropology defined 'primitives' largely in relation to the perceived sexual practices of people in non-Western places.  This course will explore this history, and will ask what we can learn about the politics of sexuality in a transnational context, taking this aspect of the history of anthropology into account.  What does it mean, in a contemporary context, to ask about culture, cultural sensitivity, and LGBTQ identities, in the multitude of places around the world that now have active LGBTQ movements?  We will focus on these movements in Asia, Africa, and Latin and South America, while providing a theoretical overview of social science research on sexuality studies.

WOMENSST 297M – Does the Doctor Know Best? Debating Medical Ethics with 
Television’s Dr. House, M.D.
Banu Subramaniam & Karen Lederer
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30-10:45 a.m.


This course examines the field of medical ethics using the television show House M. D. In the show, Dr. House is presented as a cantankerous, renegade yet brilliant doctor who constantly defies ethics rules and professional norms; he treats his patients and colleagues with little trust or humanity. And yet, the show presents Dr. House as a deeply intuitive, brilliant doctor who ultimately gets it right. The course examines this show to explore the constructions of doctors and medicine as well as ethical guidelines in the practice of medicine. Using the tools of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, the course investigates the real life practices of doctors and the U.S. health care system. What ethical and professional guidelines do or don't or should doctors follow? The outrageous practices of Dr. House show both the strengths and limitations of strict bureaucratic guidelines--guidelines which can sometimes get in the way of diagnosis and treatment. Using the show House M. D., this course debates some of the key issues in medical ethics to explore both the need for sound ethical principles in the practice of medicine as well as contemporary debates in the field.  Some of the issues explored include:  the politics of health care, medicalization of childbirth, dr/patient confidentiality, racial categories in medicine, the binary sex/gender system, disability, genetic testing, abortion, organ transplant, vaccination, euthanasia and more.


WOMENSST 397F/597F – South Asian Gender & Sexuality
Svati Shah
Tuesday. Thursday 1:00-2:15 p.m.

This course will review major developments in feminist and sexuality-based social movements in South Asia since the turn of the twentieth century.  We will also explore the intersections of the politics of gender and sexuality in South Asia within the context of economic globalization policies that have been undertaken in the region since the early 1990s. The course readings will draw upon ethnographic studies, NGO reports, and theoretical critiques which examine economic globalization as an important structuring context for understanding changes in the ways in which the politics of gender and sexuality are constituted in the region. The course will explore these intersections by drawing from critiques of globalization, writings from South Asian feminist and LGBTQ movements, and contemporary social theory. While these critiques largely delineate global processes, the course will focus on the South Asian region to discern unique ways in which these processes find purchase with local histories and political formations. Specific case studies will include work on LGBT movements in the region, migration, feminism, communalism, legal reform, and the geopolitics of the region.

WOMENSTT 691B – Feminist Research Methods
Angie Willey
Wednesday 4:40-7:00 p.m.

This seminar will include readings on general questions of feminist methodology and ethics of research.  Open to graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies students only.  Register with program coordinator, Nancy Campbell Patteson, in 208 Bartlett Hall.

WOMENSST 692B – History of Feminist Theory
Ann Ferguson
Wednesday 2:30-5:00 p.m.

This course is designed for upper level undergraduates with some background in feminist theory as well as for graduate students who want a foundation in social theory on which contemporary US feminist theory is based. We will read some basic selections from the key currents in social theory from which different paradigms in feminist theory in the 1960s emerged. These will include Classical Liberal thought (Wollstonecraft, Mill, Goldman), Marxism, Existentialism, Freudian thought, Poststructuralist thought (Foucault), Postcolonial thought, and Critical Race theory (Omi and Winant). We will read feminists who extend each paradigm to try to answer feminist questions, including Rubin and Federici, Beauvoir, Millett and Mackinnon, Chodorow and Irigaray, Butler and Feder, Mohanty and hooks. There will be a short paper due the middle of the semester, a term paper, a class presentation, and short homework questions, with answers to be posted online. Most readings will be available online, except those in two recommended texts, Foucault History of Sexuality, v. 1 and Scholz Feminism. These inexpensive paperbacks, as well as optional texts, will be available in the Food for Thought Bookstore in Amherst.