Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies
Spring 2015 Courses


WOMENSST 201 – Gender and Difference:  Critical Analyses
Monday, Wednesday, Friday  10:10-11:00 a.m. - Dawn Lovegrove
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:15 a.m. – Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m. – Abigail Boggs

An introduction to the vibrant field of women, gender, sexuality studies, this course introduces students to the basic concepts in the field as well as making connections to our lives. An interdisciplinary field grounded in a commitment to both intellectual rigor and individual and social transformation-to the world of ideas and the material world in which we live-WGSS asks fundamental questions about the world and our lives. What does it mean to be a woman?  How is the category "woman" constructed differently across social groups, cultures and historical periods?  Are there common experiences and essential characteristics that define all women?  How do the differences among women according to race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nationality complicate our commonalities?  How do we analyze women's multiple identities and social positions?  How can an understanding of women's lives empower us to act as agents of personal and social change?  Readings include a range of women thinkers both in the U.S. and around the world, grounding our analyses in multiple voices, highlighting both the diversity, richness and power of women's ideas and reflecting the diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives in the field.

WOMENSST 285 – Introduction to Biology of Difference
Tuesday, Thursday  4:00-5:15 p.m.
Kirsten Leng

The course centrally examines our understanding of the "body". While humans have many similarities and differences, we are organized around certain axes of "difference" that have profound consequences - sex, gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, nationality etc. These differences can shape not only group affiliation and identity, but also claims about intellectual and behavioral capacities. This course will explore popular claims, critiques and understandings of "difference" as well as academic research, its claims, debates and critiques. This is an interdisciplinary course that will draw from the biological and social sciences and the humanities. We will explore principles of human biology - anatomy, physiology, sex/gender/sexuality, reproductive biology, genetics, as well as the scientific method(s) and experimental designs. The course will give students the tools to analyze scientific studies, to understand the relationship of nature and culture, science and society, biology and politics.  Gen Ed (U, SI)

WOMENSST 290B – Transnational Approaches to Queer and Sexuality Studies (4 credits)
Monday, Wednesday  11:15-12:05 p.m.
Discussion sections Friday  10:10, 11:15
Svati Shah
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality Studies

This interdisciplinary course will help students to understand what the term “sexuality studies” means, by providing a foundation in the key concepts, historical and social contexts, topics, and politics that inform the fields of sexuality studies, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, and queer studies.   Course instruction will be carried out through readings, lectures, films, and discussions, as well as individual and group assignments.  Over the course of the semester, students will develop and use critical thinking skills to discern how “sexuality” becomes consolidated as a distinct category of analysis in the late nineteenth century, and what it means to speak about sexuality and transgender politics and categories today.  Topics include queer theories and politics, trans theories and politics, LGBTQ social movements within and outside of the U.S., relationships with feminist reproductive justice movements, heterosexuality, homophobia, and HIV/AIDS and health discourses.  The range of materials covered will prioritize developing analyses that examine the interplay between sexuality and class, gender, race, ethnicity, and neoliberalism.

WOMENSST 291G – Feminist and Queer Approaches to Critical University Studies
Tuesday, Thursday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Abigail Boggs

The university is in crisis, or so we are often told. University budgets are shrinking while tuition and student debt are increasing exponentially, especially for women and students of color. And yet, we’re here. As students, instructors, and staff we continue to look to the university as a productive pace for thinking and working.  And Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies is here as an academic field dedicated to a collective engagement with the way power constitutes bodies, desires, knowledge, and ways of being in the world. This undergraduate course will introduce students to the emerging field of critical university studies through a feminist, queer, and anti-racist frame. What, we will ask, does it look like to think in and about the university at this historical moment? What does it mean to consider the university’s history in relationship to power and the nation-state? What are the gender, sexual, and racial politics of knowledge production? And what are we going to do about it?

WOMENSST 295C – Career and Life Choices
Wednesday  2:30-4:10 p.m.
Karen Lederer

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, gender, sexuality, 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, particularly activists, 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 second part of the semester focuses on workforce information, practical job search skills, and research on a possible field.  Assignments include: self awareness exercises, informational interviews, budget, resume, cover letter, career research and more.

WOMENSST 295Q – Black Queer Feminisms
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Mecca Jamilah Sullivan
Distribution requirement:  Critical Race Feminisms, Sexuality Studies, women of color inside the U.S.

This course will explore the writing, music, art, media and cultural thought of queer feminist figures of the African Diaspora. Pairing important creative works with key texts in black queer and feminist theory from various Diaspora locations, we will explore the landscape of contemporary cultural production among black queer feminist communities on a transnational stage. Our work will take us through several genres including poetry, fiction, hip-hop music and videos, blogs and web communities, film, webseries, and drama, and will take up the work of contemporary black LGBT and queer feminist artists from several Diaspora locales including South Africa, England, Germany, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Canada, Cuba, the U.S. and others. Throughout our discussions, we’ll examine the shifting meanings of terms like “black,” “feminist,” and “queer” in each of the settings, and consider how they expand and challenge our own understandings of difference and power. Assignments include regular participation, in-class writing, a short paper, a final paper, a final project, and some creative work. Prior coursework in WGSS, Afro-American Studies, and/or English will be helpful.

WOMENSST 297AA – Healthy Guys or Healthy Guise:  Men, Masculinity and Health
Thursday  4:00-6:30 p.m.
Thomas Schiff

Utilizing a feminist critique of masculinity, this course will explore how constructions and performances of masculinity impact individual and collective health outcomes, with a particular focus on intersections of masculinity with race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, and culture. Our examination will include dialogue, experiential exercises, and media analysis. We will view and analyze numerous films, film clips, and other media imagery as part of our in class work. In addition to interrogating the intersection of masculinity, identity, and health, we also will explore strategies for individual, institutional, and cultural change.

WOMENSST 392EF – Sex and European Feminism
Tuesday, Thursday  1:00-2:15 p.m.
Kirsten Leng
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality Studies

Why has sex been a central issue for feminism throughout its history?  How have feminist attitudes towards sex changed over time, and how have attitudes varied amongst feminists themselves? What connections did feminists make between sexual reform, women’s rights, and broader social, political, and economic change?  And what are the legacies of  past feminist sexual politics for the present day?  This course addresses these questions by exploring the history of feminist sexual politics in Europe over the course of the “long nineteenth century,” that is, between the years 1789 and 1918, and will focus on developments in Britain, France, and Germany.  From the French Revolution to the First World War, we will examine feminists’ writing and activism regarding intimacy, heterosexuality, same-sex desire, prostitution, and birth control to understand how definitions of “sex,” “feminism,” and “sexual politics” have changed over time.  We will also analyze how feminist sexual politics have been shaped by race and class, and will assess similarities and differences amongst feminists from different national backgrounds.  Finally, we will explore the ways in which feminism and sexual politics have been shaped by major developments in modern European history—and how these same developments have been profoundly shaped by gender, sexuality, and feminist activism.

WOMENSST 392J – Critical Prison Studies
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:15 a.m.
Adina Giannelli
Distribution requirement:  Critical Race Feminisms

Drawing on key feminist literature, poetry, political theory, theater, sociological texts, film, personal narratives, and fiction, this course will offer an introduction to the prison and its critiques, feminist and otherwise, in the U.S. and beyond. In the context of this course, we will critically examine the history of the prison; what it means to be in “in prison”; the role of “justice” in the juvenile system; and review some of the major issues faced by those who are subject this system. We will read from works including Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Angela Davis’ Are Prisons Obsolete?, Athol Fugard’s The Island, Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, Roger Lancaster’s Sex, Panic, and the Punitive State, Dorothy Roberts’ Killing the Black Body, and Nawal El Saadawi’s Woman at Point Zero.

WOMENSST 395B – Feminism, Buddhist Thought and Contemplative Practices
Monday, Wednesday  4:00-5:15 p.m.
Miliann Kang

Feminism and Buddhism both are concerned with suffering and liberation from suffering.  Both seek to bring about change through the development of awareness and the overcoming of ignorance.  Both address these issues as they pertain to individual minds and bodies and to group-level processes and social structures.  How can these two fields engage in closer conversation with each other?  Although we will examine the historical and contemporary contributions of women Buddhist teachers and practitioners, this course is not about “women in Buddhism.” Rather, it seeks to explore the following questions: How can feminist theories related to embodiment, anti-essentialism, reflexivity, deconstructing binaries, and challenging injustice converse with Buddhist and other contemplative teachings regarding enlightenment, liberation, compassion, suffering and breaking through illusions and unhealthy habit patterns?  What specific pedagogical theories and practices can feminism learn from Buddhist and other contemplative practices, and vice versa?  How can higher education bring greater self-awareness into the classroom and foster trust, openness and deep exploration?  What are the obstacles and challenges to these pedagogies and how can they be addressed?  Who is engaged in this work, and what lessons and resources can we share with each other?  The course aims to provide a space for students to experiment with new ways of learning, thinking and interacting with each other. 

WOMENSST 395SB – Sex, Gender and Health
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Josefa Scherer
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality Studies

This class is designed for students interested in women, gender, sexuality and /or queer studies and social science approaches to biomedical and allied health topics. Through readings, lectures, discussions, films and writing we will broaden our understandings of the body (the material body) and the social life of that body (identity and subjectivity).  We will discuss potential answers to questions about the relationship between health and medicine and the construction of health, wellness, illness and disease. We will use the creative and scholarly resources we have at our disposal to think critically about the medical encounter and its impact on embodiment and identity.  You should take this course if you are interested in spending time thinking about potential answers to questions like:  How is the gendered and sexed body seen and experienced in the medical encounter? What do we expect from a medical encounter in terms of providing information about our bodies? What does the medical encounter tell us about ourselves? How are identities, communities and programs of research informed by bodies that look similar to each other and bodies that look different from each other? What does that mean?

WOMENSST 395M – Politics of Abortion in the Americas
Tuesday, Thursday  1:00-2:15 p.m.
Cora Fernandez Anderson
Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms, Sexuality Studies, women of color outside the U.S.

The Americas have been characterized by the strictness of its laws in the criminalization of abortion. The only countries in the hemisphere in which the practice is legal are Canada, Cuba, the Guyanas and the US. There are countries such as Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua in which abortion is criminalized even in cases in which the mother’s life is at risk. This course introduces students to the politics of abortion in the Americas. Some of the questions we will consider are: what role have women’s movements played in advancing abortion rights in the region? What has mattered most for the movements' success, their internal characteristics or external forces? Has the way the movement framed the demand for the right to abortion mattered? Has the increase in the number of women in positions of power made a difference? What about the coming to power of leftist governments in many Latin American countries? How has the political influence of the Catholic and Evangelical churches influenced policies in this area? What about the role of the anti choice movement? We will answer these questions by exploring examples from all across the region through primary and secondary sources.

WOMENSST 397TC – Transgender Politics and Critical Thought
Tuesday, Thursday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Sonny Nordmarken
Distribution requirement:  Sexuality Studies

Transgender studies is a new and rapidly-growing interdisciplinary field today. This course will examine both long-standing and recent political debates, critiques, and practices of resistance in the field, among scholars, activists, and artists. Investigating these issues, we will consider the following questions. How are trans and gender diverse individuals' lives implicated by interrelated regulatory regimes of gender, racism, colonization, neoliberal global capitalism, nationalism and homonationalism, ableism, medicalization, empire, state governmentality, and ideals of normative embodiment? How do cultural assumptions of sex as fixed and binary shape interpretive frames and thus policies, institutions, administrative systems and social practices that trans people must negotiate? What discursive processes produce, discipline, expel, and erase bodies, and which bodies do they expel and erase? What political debates animate trans and gender diverse communities in the U.S. and across global sites, in this historical moment? How are trans and gender diverse people resisting complex systems of oppression? Through active engagement, both in and outside of class, we will build a critical analytical framework around contemporary trans politics and theory. This is an advanced course requiring basic knowledge of transgender issues.

WOMENSST 494TI – Unthinking the Transnational
Monday 2:30-5:00 p.m.
Svati Shah
Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms, Sexuality Studies, women of color outside the U.S.

This course is about the framework of transnational women's and gendered activisms and scholarship. We will survey the field of transnational feminist research and praxis, locating structures of power, practices of resistance, and the geographies of development at work in a range of theories and social movements. The course will not only examine the implementation of feminist politics and projects that have sought to ensure some measurable social, cultural, and economic changes, but also explore the ways conceptions of the `global' and `transnational' have informed these efforts. Students will have the opportunity to assess which of these practices can be applicable, transferable, and/or travel on a global scale. We will focus not only on the agency of individuals, but also on the impact on people's lives and their communities as they adopt strategies to improve material, social, cultural, and political conditions of their lives. Satisfies the Integrative Experience for BA-WOST majors. This class is open to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Seniors only.  Pre Requisites: WOMENSST 301 or 394H, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Juniors who meet the pre-requisites may seek permission from the instructor to enroll.

WOMENSST 691B – Issues in Feminist Research
Wednesday  4:00-6:30 p.m.
Angie Willey

Contact department to register.  This course will begin from the question, “what is feminist research?”  Through classic and current readings on feminist knowledge production, we will explore questions such as: What makes feminist research feminist?  What makes it research?  What are the proper objects of feminist research?  Who can do feminist research?  What can feminist research do?  Why do we do feminist research?  How do feminists research?  Are there feminist ways of doing research?  Why and how do the stories we tell in our research matter, and to whom?  Some of the key issues/themes we will address include: accountability, location, citational practices and politics, identifying stakes and stakeholders, intersectionality, inter/disciplinarity, choosing and describing our topics and methods, and research as storytelling.  The class will be writing intensive and will culminate in each student producing a research portfolio.

WOMENSST 692C – Issues in Feminist Theory
Monday  2:30-5:00 p.m.
Ann Ferguson

This seminar is designed for graduate students who want to improve their background in feminist theory as it has developed in the 20th and 21st century United States.  Some background in social theory is presupposed.  Although the course will be organized topically there will be some attention to historical writings of feminist theory. The theories of race, gender, sexuality and social domination of Marx, Freud and Foucault will be considered through those feminist theorists who have appropriated aspects of their theories and methods.

WOMENSST 695A – Transnational Feminisms
Thursday 2:30-5:00 p.m.
Laura Briggs
Distribution requirement:  Transnational Feminisms

How does a consideration of feminist concerns - gender, sexuality, the private, the domestic - help us interpret the current conjuncture? To get at these questions, this class will take up issues of secularism, neoliberalism, human rights, health, imperialism, epistemology, transnationalism, reproduction, and sexuality as they structure the relationship of the U.S. to the global south (particularly Latin America).