Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
Spring 2013
AMHERST COLLEGE


American Studies 102 Morgan Hall 542-2246

AMST 236 – From Civil rights  to Immigrant Rights:   The Politics of Race, Nation and Migration Since World War II
Sujani Reddy
Monday, Wednesday  3:00-4:20 p.m.
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This course centers ongoing struggles for social justice and liberation as a means for investigating the landscape of U.S. social formation in what many term the "post-civil rights" era.  Our inquiry will begin with the youth-led movements of the late 1960s and 1970s and move through to the present day.  Topics will include questions of empire, the criminalization of radical movements, the prison industrial complex, the "war on drugs," the diversification of immigration to the United States, struggles over citizenship, migrant labor, and immigrant detention and deportation. Throughout we will pay attention to the relationships between hierarchies of gender, sexuality, race, class and nation and specific attention to the shape of contemporary debates about the issues we examine.

AMST 320 – Red/Black Literature:  At the Crossroads of Native American and African American Literary Histories
Kiara Vigil
Tuesday  2:30-4:50 p.m.
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This class will consider the crossroads Brennan articulates. The crossroads, marked by an X, offers a visual and symbolic point of intersection with undefined meaning and the potential for fateful outcomes. Reading literary and historical texts students will consider how the crossroads carries specific meanings for an Afro-Native literary tradition. Students will bring Scott Lyons’ theorization of the X mark, as the signature Native people placed on treaties, to issues of coercion and consent in African American literature and history. By considering these traditions together this class focuses on texts that speak in a triple voice, inflected by echoes of a Native American oral tradition, flashes of African American vernacular culture, and forms and techniques adapted from various models of modern Western literature. Students will read literary works as well as primary and secondary historical sources that point us to the sometimes powerful and also fraught intersections of Black and Indian histories in the United States from the nineteenth century to the decades following the Civil Rights and Black and Red Power movements. Topics of particular attention include land and politics, history and identity, and gender and sexuality, and focus on themes of race, place, family, and belonging. Some of the authors featured in this course are Vine Deloria Jr., Michael Dorris, Leslie Marmon Silko, Kaylynn Two Trees, Alice Walker, Frances Washburn, and Craig Womack. In addition to active participation in seminar discussions students will write a series of short papers in response to the readings and conduct short research assignments.

Asian Languages & Civilization 110 Webster 542-5841

ASLC – The Monday, the Outlaws and the Stone:  The Novel in Pre-Modern China
Paola Zamperini
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:50 p.m.
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This course will be devoted to reading the English translations of the major Chinese novels, from the Ming dynasty Xiyouji (Journey to the West), to the Jin Ping Mei (The Plum in the Golden Vase), the Shui hu zhuan (The Water Margins), to the eighteenth-century novel Hongloumeng (The Dream of the Red Chambers. Due to the length of each individual text, only one major novel will be the focus of the course each time, though we will often include selections from other contemporary and related sources, when relevant to the overall understanding of the text under study. In spring 2013 we will read the English translation of Xiyou ji, Journey to the West. As we explore this text, uncovering its richness and complexity, we will in turn address issues such as the place of the novel in traditional Chinese literature; authorship and authority; narrative strategies and plot development; Buddhism in China and its meanings and roles in literature and art; buddhafields, paradises, and hells; Daoist and Buddhist magic; the figure and the fortune of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, in narratives past and present; ghosts, demons and exorcism; travel narratives and geographical wonders; desire, sexuality, femininity, masculinity, and their discontents. In addition to Xiyou ji, representative theoretical work in the field of pre-modern Chinese literature will be incorporated as much as possible.

Black Studies 108 Cooper 542-5800

BLST 441/ENGL 456/FAMS 451 – Ghosts in Shells?  Virtuality and Embodiment from Passing to the Posthuman
Chris Mason Johnson, Marisa Parham
Tuesday, Thursday  8:30-9:50 a.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.

Political Science 103 Clark House 542-2318

POSC 302 – Disabling Institutions
Kristin Bumiller
Monday, Wednesday  12:00-1:20 p.m.
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This course will consider how institutions, often contrary to their intended purposes, serve to disable individuals and limit their life potential. We will examine a variety of institutions, including state bureaucracies, facilities designed to house people with mental and physical conditions, schools, and prisons. We will also consider a range of disablements, resulting from visible and invisible disabilities as well as gender, sexuality, race and class-based discrimination. We will explore how institutions might be redesigned to less rigidly enforce normalcy and to enable the political participation of individuals who currently experience social exclusion. 

POSC 400 – Domestic Politics
Kristin Bumiller
Monday  2:30-4:30 p.m.
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This course will explore the domestic sphere as a site of politics. We will define the domestic sphere broadly, including politics in the home, private life, and state and local governments. The principle questions to be addressed will include: How does the conception of public and private shift over time and what are the forces driving these changes? How is the private sphere seen as a site of safety versus danger? What are the consequences of the intervention of state power and policing into the private sphere? A wide range of issues will be covered including the role of bureaucracies, the social organization of families, regulation of health and safety, domestic violence, urban revitalization, the deinstitutionalization of people with disabilities, homelessness, economic and racial inequality, policing, and incarceration. The course will examine these issues primarily in the context of American politics and society.

Women and Gender Studies 14 Grosvenor 542-5781

WAGS 113/ARHA 146/EUST 146 – Art from the Realm of Dreams
Natasha Staller
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:20 a.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 123/CLAS 123 – Greek Civilization
Frederick Griffiths
Monday, Wednesday, Friday  11:00-11:50 a.m.

We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did oral and mythological traditions develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts?  Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides.  The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

WAGS 200 – Feminist Theory
Krupa Shandilya
Tuesday, Thursday  8:30-9:50 a.m.

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation. Texts include feminist philosopher Judith Butler's Gender Trouble, anthropologist Kamala Visweswaran's Fictions of Feminist Ethnography, and feminist economist Bina Agarwal's The Structure of Patriarchy.

WAGS 201 – Feminism, Gender and Science
Banu Subramaniam
Tuesday   2:30-4:30 p.m.

This course introduces the burgeoning field of feminist science and technology studies.  How should we theorize the relationship between race, gender, sexuality and the sciences?  How has science grown to be the center of our cultural visions and imaginations and what does that mean for our futures?  Drawing on the literature of the history, sociology and philosophy of science the course first examines some of the foundational theories pertaining to feminism, gender and science. Then, using examples from the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it looks at the way science and technology are embedded within a social and historical context.  Finally, the course examines a series of modern debates and case studies relating to claims about biological differences of gender, race and sexuality, genetic technologies, reproductive biology and technologies, eugenics, environmental feminism, alternate energy, climate change, and women’s health.  Students will have flexibility in picking case studies that interest them.  This is a discussion course and students are expected to participate.

WAGS 202/BLST 242 – Black Women’s Narratives and Counternarratives:  Love and Family
Aneeka Henderson
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:50 p.m.

Why do love and courtship continue to be central concerns in black women's literature and contemporary black popular fiction?  Are these thematic issues representative of apolitical yearnings or an allegory for political subjectivity?  Drawing on a wide range of texts, we will examine the chasm between the "popular" and the literary, as we uncover how representations of love and courtship vary in both genres.  Surveying the growing discourse in media outlets such as CNN and the Washington Post regarding the "crisis" of the single black woman, students will analyze the contentious public debates regarding black women and love and connect them to black women's literature and black feminist literary theory.  Authors covered will range from Nella Larsen to Terry McMillan and topics will include gender, race, class, and sexuality.

WAGS 207/POSC 207 – The Home and the World:  Women and Gender in South Asia
Krupa Shandilya/Amrita Basu
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:20 a.m.

This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of “home”? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world? Texts will include Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown, Ram Gopal Varma’s epic film Sarkar and Partha Chatterjee’s The Nation and Its Fragments.

WAGS 237 – Gender and Work
Eunmi Mun
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:20 a.m.

How has the rise of working women complicated modern workplaces and the idea of work? One challenge is how to value women’s work fairly. One index of this challenge is that in workplaces across the world, women earn significantly less than men and are underrepresented in high status positions. What explains such gender gaps in the workplace? Taking an empirical, social-science perspective, this course will discuss three main aspects of gender and work. First, we will cover major theories of gender inequality, such as psychological stereotyping, social exclusion, structural barriers, and gendered socialization. Second, in learning about the sociological mechanisms of inequality in the workplace, we will expand our discussion to women’s work in the family and examine how the conflicts individuals face when trying to have both career and family influence women’s lives. Finally, we will discuss the mixed results of public policies proposed to reduce gender inequality and work-family incompatibilities and the possible reasons for those mixed results.

WAGS 300 – Ideas and Methods in the Study of Gender
Margaret Hunt
Thursday  2:30-4:30 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 312 – Queer Geographies
Michele Barale
Monday, Friday  12:00-1:20 p.m.

This course will critically examine multiple works by three writers: Sarah Orne Jewett, Willa Cather, and Carson McCullers.  As American regional writers--Jewett, Maine; Cather, the West;  McCullers, the South--all three concern themselves with insiders and outsiders, with foreigners, neighbors, strangers, and natives. When these deeply national, and often highly racial or ethnic, distinctions begin to also make sense as sexual and gender categories, the textual layering of the narratives becomes perplexing. This course will require three short papers and one lengthy one.  

WAGS 326/ASLC 326 – Enlightening Passion:  Sexuality and Gender in Tibetan Buddhism
Paola Zamperini
Monday, Wednesday  12:30-1:50 p.m.


In this course we will study the lives of prominent female teachers in Tibetan Buddhism from its inception up to the present day. Our focus will be on reconstructing the narratives of the trajectories to realization that women like Yedshe Tsogyal, Mandarava, Yid Thogma, Machig Labdron, Sera Khandro, and Ayu Khandro, among others, undertook, often at high personal and societal cost. By utilizing biographical and--as much as possible--autobiographical records (in English translation), we will analyze the religious and social aspects of these women’s choice to privilege the Vajarayana path to enlightenment, often (but not always), at the expense of more conventional and accepted lifestyles. In order to do so, we will explore in depth the meanings attached to femininity, masculinity, sexuality, and gender dynamics within Tibetan monastic and lay life.  The course will combine methodology from Buddhist studies, Tibetan studies, women and gender studies, critical theory, and literary criticism in an effort to unravel and explore the complex negotiations that Buddhist female teachers engaged in during their spiritual pursuit, in the context of traditional as well as contemporary Tibetan culture. Recommended requisite:  Previous knowledge of Tibetan culture and Buddhism. 


WAGS 330/BLST 236 – Black Sexualities
Khary Polk
Tuesday, Thursday  2:30 – 3:50 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.

WAGS 467/POSC 467 – Social Movements, Civil Society and Democracy in India
Amrita Basu
Wednesday  2:30-4:30 p.m.

The goal of this seminar is illuminate the complex character of social movements and civil society organizations and their vital influence on Indian democracy. Social movements have strengthened democratic processes by forming or allying with political parties and thereby contributed to the growth of a multi-party system. They have increased the political power of previously marginalized and underprivileged groups and pressured the state to address social inequalities. However conservative religious movements and civil society organizations have threatened minority rights and undermined secular, democratic principles. During the semester, we will interact through internet technology with students, scholars and community organizers in India.