Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
Spring 2014 Amherst College WGSS Courses

AMST 237 - Inside-Out: A People’s History of Immigration
Tuesday 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Sujani K. Reddy

What does immigration to the United States look like from the perspectives of migrants themselves?  How do hierarchies of race, citizenship, gender, class and sexuality shape immigrant inclusion and exclusion from the space of the nation-state?  How does attention to these differences reveal the boundaries of the United States as a “nation of immigrants”?  How do they open up avenues for conceptualizing the global, imperial dimensions of migration and the formation of the United States?  This course explores these questions by focusing on a series of primary and secondary sources told from the “bottom up.”  These will be drawn from literature, autobiography, film, music, oral history, performance art, history, and works that attempt to combine these. We will analyze these materials in relation to the broad sweep of US immigration history from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Throughout we will focus on the relationship between “official” history and migrant subjectivities and the politics of cultural and historical production. This course will be conducted inside a correctional facility and enroll an equal number of Amherst students and residents of the facility. Permission to enroll will be granted on the basis of a questionnaire and personal interview with the instructor.

Sociology/Anthropology                                        102 Morgan Hall                         542-2193

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

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.

Black Studies                                                              108 Cooper                                    542-5800

BLST 236 – Black Sexualities
Thursday  2:30 – 5:10 p.m.
Khary O. Polk

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.

 

Mellon Tutorials                                                      

COLQ 334 01 -  Archives of Childhood
Tuesday 1:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Karen J. Sanchez-Eppler
Component

Childhood is elusive and so is the past. This Mellon Research Seminar explores the particular problems of researching the lives of children, and recognizes those challenges as exemplary of the difficulties of historical inquiry in general. We know that evidence from the past tends to come to us in bits and pieces, and that the motivations and perspectives of people in the past inevitably prove difficult to discern.  Across class, gender, racial, religious, and geographic categories the historical records that children leave are often quite literally scribbles and scraps. Moreover, evidence of childhood almost always comes heavily mediated by adult hands and adult memories. This Mellon Research Seminar is devoted to developing research methods and locating research materials that can help us to access the experiences and perspectives of children in the nineteenth-century United States. We will focus on developing strategies for locating primary materials in archives that rarely use age as a category of analysis and on developing methods of interpretation for making sense of materials that may initially seem too scanty, too formulaic, too obedient, or even too cute to be historically meaningful. Research sites may include letters and diaries, school work and copy-texts, marginalia in children’s books, institutional records, photographs, and the adult recollection offered by memoirs. This course is part of a new model of tutorials at Amherst designed to enable students to engage in substantive and collaborative research with faculty.

English                                                                           1 Johnson Chapel                        542-2231

ENGL 314 – Sexuality and History in the Contemporary Novel
Monday, Wednesday 12:30 pm – 1:50 p.m.
Judith E. Frank

A study of American and British gay and lesbian novelists, from 1990 to the present, who have written historical novels. We will examine such topics as the kinds of expressive and ideological possibilities the historical novel offers gay and lesbian novelists, the representation of sexuality in narratives that take place before Stonewall, and the way these authors position queer lives in history. Novelists include Sarah Waters, Emma Donoghue, Jeanette Winterson, Leslie Feinberg, Alan Hollinghurst, Colm Tóibín, and Michael Cunningham.

Economics                                                                    315 Converse Hall                      542-2249

ECON 412 – Applied Microeconomics Seminar
Tuesday, Thursday, 10 – 11:20 a.m.
Jessica Wolpaw Reyes
Component

The field of applied microeconomics (“applied micro”) is a fundamentally outward-looking branch of economics. Applied microeconomists take economic theories and methodologies out into the world and apply them to interesting questions of individual behavior and societal outcomes. This upper-level seminar will start with an overview of the field and its methodologies, followed by foundational material in econometric identification and behavioral economics. We will then address substantive areas such as environmental economics, the fetal origins hypothesis, antisocial behavior, economics of crime, and the economics of gender, race, and inequality. Specific topics will vary from year to year. Most of the course will be devoted to close reading of research papers, including discussion of the relative merits of particular theoretical and empirical methodologies. Students will participate actively in class discussion, make oral presentations, evaluate empirical data, and write analytical papers.

Film and Media Studies                                         14 Grosvenor                                542-5781

FAMS 324 – Gender and Nationhood in South Asian Cinema
Monday, Wednesday 12:00 – 1:20 p.m.
Catherine S. Masud

This course will examine the interplay of gender and national identity in post-colonial South Asian cinema. We will begin by tracing the development of the film industry in the region with reference to the historical and political context.  We will look at the different streams of South Asian cinema, from mainstream "Bollywood" movies to regional/national cinema to parallel and diasporic film. Within this framework, we will examine the shifting feminine and masculine representations of nationhood, and the way they intersect with religious identity. Specific topics include a critical analysis of the portrayal of women in the films of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, the mother-goddess construct of Indian nationalism in mainstream cinema, thematic treatments of the relationship between machismo and Hindu/Muslim revivalism, and gender and Muslim identity in the cinema of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

German                                                                         101 Barrett Hall                          542-2312

GERM 360 – Performance
Wednesday, 12:00 pm – 3:00 p.m.
Heidi Gilpin
Component

What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European--primarily German--culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will be also screened.  Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.

Law, Jurisprudence

  and Social Thought                                             208 Clark House                       542-2380

 

LJST 349 – Law and Love
Thursday 1:00 – 3:30 pm
Martha M. Umphrey
Component

At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as, philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

Philosophy                                                                   208 Cooper House                      542-5805

PHIL 339 – Moral Blindness
Tuesday, Thursday 1:00 -2:20 pm
Jyl Gentzler, Daniel A. Koltonski
Component

Since the sixteenth century, justice has often been represented in art as a woman wearing a blindfold. Since the latter half of the twentieth century, various social institutions in the United States have attempted to make moral progress by adopting policies that are race-, gender-, age-, sexuality-, religion-, disability-, etc. “blind.”  Twentieth-century American philosopher John Rawls has famously suggested that we would best understand what justice demands if we imagine ourselves deciding on the basic structure of society “behind a veil of ignorance.” And eighteenth-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant argued that genuine friendship demands that we not pursue certain types of knowledge of one another.  But blindness is not always a moral advantage.  Certain types of ignorance lead to damaging stereotyping and biases against various groups of individuals.  Ignorance of the lives that others must live and of the effects of past biases leads not inevitably to moral respect, but just as often to moral indifference.  When does morality require ignorance and when does it require knowledge? In a world in which blind and blinding biases against certain groups of individuals lead to great moral wrongs, is justice really best served by remaining blind?  Or should justice full-sightedly compensate for past and present wrongs to members of groups who were wronged by past or present blindnesses?  Do different forms of social and economic relations foster different sorts of moral blindness and insight?  Does occupying different social standpoints within social organizations foster different sorts of moral blindness or insight? To what extent are we responsible for the quality of our own moral vision and that of others?

Political Science                                                        103 Clark House                          542-2318

POSC 302  - Disabling Instituions
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30 am – 12:50 pm
Kristin Bumiller
component

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.

Psychology                                                                   321 Merrill                                    542-2217

PSYC 332 - Psychology of Adolescence
Wednesday 2:00 – 4:30 pm
Elizabeth J. Aries
component

In this course we will examine adolescent behavior from the perspective of psychologists, sociologists, historians, and anthropologists. We will look at theories of adolescent development, empirical research studies, first person accounts written by adolescents, and narratives about adolescents written by journalists and novelists. We will cover the psychological and social changes that accompany and follow the physiological changes of puberty and the acquisition of new cognitive capacities. Topics include the role of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, and sexuality in the formation of identity; changing relationships with family and peers; the development of intimate relationships; and the opportunities and constraints posed by neighborhoods and schools. The course aims to help students become more critical readers of and writers about the empirical and theoretical literature on adolescence.

Spanish                                                                          201 Barrett Hall                          542-2317

SPAN 240 – Fact or Fiction: Representations of Latina
and Latin American Women in Film
Tuesday, Thursday 8:30 – 9:50 am
Lucia Suarez

From La Malinche (sixteenth century) to J. Lo, Latin American and Latina women have been sexualized, demonized, objectified, and even erased by narrative and visual representations. Lately, feminist texts have interrogated and challenged sexist and stereotypical master narratives; yet, a tension remains that repeatedly places women of color on a complex stage. Throughout this course, we will think critically about representations of women in Latin America and the U.S. Through select examples of major screen stars from Hollywood and Latin America, we will engage a politically informed historical analysis of the way Latino/a images have been constructed. Our study will begin with black and white films from the 1930s, depicting the role of the United States government and the needs of Latin American politics in the construction of Latina identity. We will then examine the intersections between literature, film, and history, studying, for example, the role of the Good Neighbor Policy in effecting the construction of Latin American images via a Hollywood lens. This is a bilingual class. Much of Latino/a literature is available in English only. However, our discussions and written assignments will be in Spanish.

SPAN 357 – Foundational Women Poets from South America
Monday, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
TBA

Conducted in Spanish.  This course focuses on some of the most representative women poets from Latin America, including Spanish America, the Caribbean, and Brazil. Canonical authors studied include Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (México), Salomé Ureña (República Dominicana), Gabriela Mistral (Chile), Dulce María Loynaz (Cuba), as well as Cecília Meireles, Hilda Hist, and Adélia Prado from Brazil. We will explore why their poetic works are considered “foundational and representative” and study the authors’ historical and aesthetic motivations through reading, analysis and discussion.

Women and Gender Studies                                14 Grosvenor                                542-5781

WAGS 200 – Feminist Theory
Tuesday, Thursday 10 -11:20 am
Sahar Sadjadi

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 202 – Black Women’s Narratives and Counternarratives: Love and the Family
Aneeka Henderson
Tuesday, Thursday 11:30  am – 12:50 pm

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 229/ASLC229 -  Gender and Nation in South Asian Cinema
Monday, Wednesday 12:00 pm – 1:50 pm
Tuesday, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Catherine S. Masud

This course will examine the interplay of gender and national identity in post-colonial South Asian cinema. We will begin by tracing the development of the film industry in the region with reference to the historical and political context.  We will look at the different streams of South Asian cinema, from mainstream "Bollywood" movies to regional/national cinema to parallel and diasporic film. Within this framework, we will examine the shifting feminine and masculine representations of nationhood, and the way they intersect with religious identity. Specific topics include a critical analysis of the portrayal of women in the films of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak, the mother-goddess construct of Indian nationalism in mainstream cinema, thematic treatments of the relationship between machismo and Hindu/Muslim revivalism, and gender and Muslim identity in the cinema of Bangladesh and Pakistan.

WAGS 237/SOC 237 – Gender and Work
10:00 – 11:20 a.m.
Eunmi Mun

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 239/REL261 01 – Women and Judaism
Monday  2:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Nidtich

A study of the portrayal of women in Jewish tradition. Readings will include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic legal (halakic) and non-legal (aggadic) material; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; and works of fiction and non-fiction concerning the woman in modern Judaism. Employing an inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural approach, we will examine not only the actual roles played by women in particular historical periods and cultural contexts, but also the roles they assume in traditional literary patterns and religious symbol systems.

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

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 328 – Science and Sexuality
Monday, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Sahar Sadjadi

This seminar explores the role of science in the understanding and making of human sexuality.  The notion of “sexuality”--its emergence and its recent history--has an intimate relation to biology, medicine and psychology.  In this course we explore the historical emergence of the scientific model of sexuality and the challenges to this model posed from other worldviews and social forces, mainly religion, social sciences, and political movements. We examine how sex has intersected with race and nationality in the medical model (for instance, in the notion of degeneration), and we look closely at the conceptualization of feminine and masculine sexual difference.  We briefly address studies of animal models for human sexuality, and we examine in more depth case histories of “perversion,” venereal disease, orgasm and sex hormones. We also compare contemporary biological explanations of sexuality with the nineteenth-century ones, for instance, the notion of the “gay gene” as compared to the hereditary model of “sexual inversion.” Course readings include historical and contemporary sexological and biological texts (Darwin, Freud, Kinsey, etc.), their critiques, and contemporary literature in science studies, including feminist and queer studies of science. This seminar requires active participation, reading an array of diverse and interdisciplinary texts and preparing research-based papers and presentations.

WAGS 429 -  Women Filmmakers of South Asia
Thursday  2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Catherine S. Masud

This course will provide an overview of the major South Asian women filmmakers in the region and the diaspora: their cinematic language and vision, the feminist dimension of their work, and their place within the spectrum of global cinematic trends. Specific topics to be addressed include the challenges women face in the industry, a comparative view of their representations of gender, same sex desire, religious extremism, social conservatism and women's experience. We will examine the work of Deepa Mehta, Mira Nair, Nandita Das, Aparna Sen, Sabiha Sumar, and Gurinder Chadha among others. We have invited some of the filmmakers to lecture after the screenings of their respective films. There will be required film screenings in addition to the regular course meetings.