Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies Women of Color courses, Spring 2012


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,intergroup 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, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Chandra Mohanty, 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 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.

AFROAM 326 – Black Women in US History
Cynara Robinson
Tuesday, Thursday 9:30-10:45

The history of African American women from the experience of slavery to the present. Emphasis on the effect of racist institutions and practices on women. The ways in which women organized themselves to address the needs of African Americans in general and their own in particular. The achievements of such leaders as Mary Church Terrell, Harriet Tubman, Ella Baker, and Mary McLeod Bethune as well as lesser known women.  (Gen.Ed. HS, U)

HISTORY 491E – Women in South Asia
Tuesday, Thursday 4:00-5:15 p.m.

This course maps the history of women in South Asia from 1800 to the present.  Topics include: social, economic and cultural policies of the colonial state concerning women; the gendered nature of the social and religious reform movements; the development of women's education; and the gendered nature of consequences of the anti-colonial nationalist struggle.  We will discuss how the persistence of poverty, unemployment, and religious fundamentalism in post-colonial South Asia, primarily in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, has affected the lives of women.  Throughout the course, we will analyze the gradual development of a heterogeneous women's movement in colonial and post-colonial South Asia.  We will analyze both secondary readings and primary source documents.  We will also read relevant fictional pieces and view selected documentary and feature films to understand the divergent representations of women and gender in South Asia.


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.


CSI 144 – The Brown Woman's Burden
Uditi Sen
Monday, Wednesday  1:00-2:20 p.m.

Colonial discourse in nineteenth century India held up the abject condition of women's lives as proof of the inferior nature of Indian society. Saving the 'brown woman' became the justification for colonial domination in India. Far from being relegated to the pages of history, this logic has been evoked repeatedly, most recently in the invasion of Afghanistan. This course will explore the consequences of this discourse for women's lives and feminist movements in colonial and ex-colonial societies, where the 'brown woman' has been forced to bear the double burden of foreign domination and cultural chauvinism. We will begin by exploring how the subject position of the Indian woman has been historically shaped by the conflicting forces of colonialism and nationalism. Next, we will study how this colonial legacy makes women's movements in India today susceptible to allegations of westernization by conservatives and nationalists. Finally, we will explore how America's war on terror justifies waging war on Muslim men in the name of 'saving' Muslim women.  (Note, this is the only 100-level course that can fulfill this requirement)



GNDST 204-02/ASIAN 220 – Women Writing in India
Indira Peterson
Tuesday, Thursday  1:15-2:30 p.m.

Critical study of women's writing in India, in genres ranging from classical and medieval poems, tales, and songs (e.g., Tiruppavai) to novels, plays, and personal narratives by modern women writers (e.g., Rokeya Hossain's Sultana's Dream, Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things), in translation from Indian languages and in the original English. We will focus on women's perspectives and voices, women's agency, and resistance to dominant discourses. Attention is paid to historical contexts, the socioreligious constructions of women and gender, and the role of ideologies such as colonialism and nationalism in the production and reception of women's writing.

GNDST 204-03/ASIAN 215 – Androgyny and Gender Negotiation in Contemporary Chinese Women's Theater
Y. Wang
Wednesday  1:15-4:05 p.m.

Yue Opera, an all-female art that flourished in Shanghai in 1923, resulted from China's social changes and the women's movement. Combining traditional with modern forms and Chinese with Western cultures, Yue Opera today attracts loyal and enthusiastic audiences despite pop arts crazes. We will focus on how audiences, particularly women, are fascinated by gender renegotiations as well as by the all-female cast. The class will read and watch classics of this theater, including Dream of the Red Chamber, Story of the Western Chamber, Peony Pavilion, and Butterfly Lovers. Students will also learn the basics of traditional Chinese opera.

GNDST 210-02/RELIG 207 – Women and Gender in Islam
Andy Steinfels
Monday, Wednesday  11:00-12:15 p.m.

This course will examine a range of ways in which Islam has constructed women--and women have constructed Islam. We will study concepts of gender as they are reflected in classical Islamic texts, as well as different aspects of the social, economic, political, and ritual lives of women in various Islamic societies.

GNDST 250 – Women and Social Movements in Latin America
C. Anderson
Tuesday, Thursday  2:40-3:55 p.m.

In the last 30 years, Latin America has seen the emergence of a large array of social movements that have shaped the political and economic processes in the region. From human rights to peasants' movements, from indigenous to unemployed movements, women have been increasingly involved in political activism. What has been the role of women in these movements? How have traditional women's roles been at the same time useful and an obstacle to their activism? How have women influenced the repertoires, frames, identities and strategies of these movements? We will answer these questions through the exploration of case studies in the region using academic readings, testimonies, and documentaries.

GNDST 333-05/SPAN 330/LATAM 387 – Latina Feminisms
Micaela Diaz-Sanchez
Tuesday, Thursday  11:00-12:15 p.m.

This course offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of feminist ideologies among Latinas throughout the United States. Employing a range of sources from archival texts to artistic images and ethnographies, we will study the histories and representations of Latina feminist theories across academic and aesthetic approaches. Focusing on the multiplicity of lived experiences among Puertorriqueñas, Chicanas, Mexicanas, Centroamericanas, Dominicanas, Suramericanas and many other communities in the United States, we will interrogate how gender and sexuality have informed the development of Latina feminist movements and political histories.


AFRAM 366 – Ida B. Wells and the Struggle Against Racial Violence
Paula Giddings
Wednesday  7:00-9:30 p.m.

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was a black investigative journalist who began, in 1892, the nation's first anti-lynching campaign. In her deconstruction of the reasons for, and response to, violence--and particularly lynching--she also uncovered the myriad components of racism in a formative period of race relations that depended on ideas of emerging social sciences, gender identity, and sexuality. The course will follow Wells's campaign, and in the process study the profound intersections of race, class, gender and sexuality which have shaped American culture and history.

ANTHR 251- Women and Modernity in East Asia
Suzanne Gottschamg
Tuesday, Thursday  3:00-4:50 p.m.

This course explores the roles, representations and experiences of women in 20th-century China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan in the context of the modernization projects of these countries. Through ethnographic and historical readings, film and discussion this course examines how issues pertaining to women and gender relations have been highlighted in political, economic, and cultural institutions. The course compares the ways that Asian women have experienced these processes through three major topics: war and revolution, gendered aspects of work, and women in relation to the family.

ENG 277 – Postcolonial Women Writers
Ambreen Hai
Tuesday, Thursday  1:00-2:20 p.m.

A comparative study of 20th century women writers in English from Africa, the Caribbean, South Asia and Australia. We will read novels, short stories, poetry, plays and autobiography in their historical, cultural and political contexts as well as theoretical essays to address questions such as: how have women writers addressed the dual challenge of contesting sexism and patriarchy from within their indigenous cultures as well as the legacies of western imperialism from without? How have they combined feminism with anti-colonialism? How have they deployed the act of writing as cultural work on multiple counts: addressing multiple audiences; challenging different stereotypes about gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity? What new stories have they told to counter older stories, what silences have they broken? How have they renegotiated the public and the private, or called attention to areas often ignored by their male contemporaries, such as relations among women, familial dynamics, motherhood, bodily desire, or the gendered effects of migration and diaspora? Writers include Anita Desai, Kamala Das, Thrity Umrigar, Deepa Mehta, Ama Ata Aidoo, Bessie Head, Nawal el Saadawi, Jamaica Kincaid, Michelle Cliff, Zadie Smith, Sally Morgan.

LAS 244/SOC 244 – Feminisms and Women’s Movements:  Latin American Women’s and Latinas’ Pursuit of Social Justice
Ginetta Candelario
Tuesday, Thursday  1:00-2:50 p.m.
inside or outside

This course is designed to familiarize students with the history of Latin American and Latina (primarily Chicana) feminist thought and activism. A central goal of the course is to provide an understanding of the relationship between feminist thought, women's movements and local/national contexts and conditions. The writings of Latin American and Latina feminists will comprise the majority of the texts; thus we are limited to the work of those who write and/or publish in English. (Students who are proficient in Spanish or Portuguese will have an opportunity to read feminist materials in those languages for their written projects.)

REL 277 -  South Asian Masculinities
Andy Rotman
Monday, Wednesday  1:10-2:30 p.m.

This course considers the role of religion in the construction of male identities in South Asia, and how these identities function in the South Asian public sphere. Topics to be considered will include: Krishna devotion and transgender performance; the cinematic phenomenon of the "angry young man"; hijras and the construction of gender; wrestling and the politics of semen retention; and the connection between Lord Ram and the rise of militant Hindu nationalism.

SPAN 221 – The Brazilian Body:  Representing Women in Brazil’s Literature and Culture
Marguerite Harrison
Monday, Wednesday, Friday  11:00-12:10 a.m.

This course raises questions about gender, race, class and stereotype through narratives and images of women’s bodies in 19th and 20th century Brazil. Works by writers such as Jorge Amado, Clarice Lispector, Ana Miranda and Marilene Felinto, and artists Tarsila do Amaral, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Lygia Clark, and Rosana Paulino, among others, will be studied with the aim of addressing traditional cultural biases about beauty, sexuality, and Brazilian national identity.

SPAN 245:  Muslim Women in Spain:  756 to the Present
Ibtissam Bouachrine
Monday, Wednesday, Friday  11:00-12:10 p.m.

Topics course.   This course examines the experiences of Muslim women in the Iberian Peninsula from the Middle Ages until today. Discussions will focus on Muslim women¿s literary and cultural contributions to the Spanish society. Students will also be invited to think critically about categories and identities such as, woman, Muslim, European, African, Amazighi, and Mediterranean. A satisfactory command of Spanish is required.

SWG 201 – Queer Black Studies, An Introduction
Kevin Quashie
Tuesday, Thursday  9:00-10:20 a.m.

How does queer studies, which questions the naturalization of identity, relate to black cultural studies, where identity is both subject to criticism and the foundation of a politic? What role has the black body played in the construction of gender and sexuality? How does the performativity of racial blackness (from blackface minstrelsy to hip hop) relate to ideas from queer theory? How do we understand the particular ways that homophobia has seemed to manifest in black communities? This course will highlight these four questions through theoretical, historical and sociological texts (as well as film, music and literature).