WOST 391P / 591 P:
BODIES, GENDER AND PERFORMANCE
Fall 2002 Syllabus
Prof. Natasha Pravaz
TuTh 9:30 - 10:45 a.m.
Office hours.: Tuesday 11 a.m.-12 p.m., and by appointment. Bartlett 7C.
In this course we will explore the ways women have been represented, marked and produced as such, and
women's own investments and/or contestations of these processes. Conceptualizing gender as performance,
we will inspect corporeal practices stemming from one's social location, and temporary identification
strategies on the part of the subject. We will study the representation of women's bodies in science, art
and popular culture, and the ways our bodies have been inscribed and invested as "female" in different
cultural contexts, defining both our biological outlook and our identities as "women." Turning toward an
understanding of how the marking of the body becomes a fundamental piece in the constitution of women's
own subjectivities, we will examine the performative ways in which women live in, through and against our
bodies in practice.
Books for sale at: Food for Thought Books. E. Pleasant Street, Amherst.
Lancaster, Roger N. & Micaela di Leonardo (eds.) 1997 The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History,
Political Economy. New York: Routledge.
Lock, Margaret. 1993 Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause in Japan and North America.
Berkeley: University of California Press. California Press.
Reading Kit for sale at: Collective Copies. S. Pleasant Street, Amherst.
- Class Participation: The success of this course depends on your full engagement and
participation in class. You are expected to come to every class and to have read the materials carefully.
I expect that we can build a safe and creative learning environment where we are all able to share our
ideas productively. Your class participation is worth
10% of your grade.
- Individual Presentation: Each student will be expected to choose one article or chapter from
the reading list for presentation in class. You will read the article or chapter carefully and deliver a
15 minute presentation summarizing what you consider to be the main points of the article. Then, you will
present a series of questions and/or comments to the class to facilitate discussion of the materials. The
presentation is worth 15%. The class BEFORE your presentation you will be expected to hand in a 5 page
review of the article where you address the key issues raised in it and critically engage them. Your
presentation should build on this review, which is 20% of your grade.
- Outline: As a preparatory step toward the writing of your research paper, you will develop a
3 page outline where you will describe in broad strokes what the focus of your paper will be. This will
allow me to provide you with feedback before you get started on your project. Details on how to write
this outline will be provided. The outline is due on October 1 and is 20% of your grade.
- Research Paper: On December 3 you will be expected to hand in a 15 to 17 page paper where you
develop a topic of your choice using one or more of the perspectives discussed in class. You can build
upon your individual presentation or move on to different matters. Even though you might choose to
discuss specific practices or issues dealt with in class materials, your paper will be graded for
originality and critical thinking. This means you will need to bring to bear your personal analytic
skills and creativity. The paper is worth 35% of your final grade.
Unit I: Gender, Race and the Politics of Representation of the Body
- 9/5-Introductions and Overview
- 9/10-NO CLASS TODAY
- 9/12-Lancaster, Roger & Micaela di Leonardo 1997 "Introduction." In G/S.
-De Lauretis, Teresa 1997 "The Violence of Rhetoric: On Representation and
Gender." In G/S (18).
- 9/17-Laqueur, Thomas 1997 "Orgasm, Generation, and the Politics of Reproductive
Biology." In G/S (15).
- Jordanova, Ludmilla 1989 "Nature Unveiling Before Science." In Reading Kit.
- 9/19- Fausto-Sterling, Anne 1997 "How to Build a Man." In G/S (16).
-Martin, Emily 1997 "The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed Romance Based on Stereotypical
Male-Female Roles." In Reading Kit.
- 9/24- Patton, Cindy 1997 "From Nation to Family: Containing African AIDS." In
- 9/26- Lutz, Catherine A. and Jane L. Collins 1997 "The Color of Sex: Postwar
Photographic Histories of Race and Gender in National Geographic
Magazine." In G/S (20).
- 10/1 -OUTLINE IS DUE TODAY
-Harden, Jacalyn D. 1997 "The Enterprise of Empire: Race, Class, Gender and
Japanese National Identity." In G/S (32).
Unit II: Incorporating Social Discourse, Ma(r)king The Body
- 10/3-Povinelli, Elizabeth 1997 "Sex Acts and Sovereignty: Race and Sexuality in the Construction
of the Australian Nation." In G/S (34).
-Stoler, Ann Laura 1997 "Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Gender,
Race and Morality in Colonial Asia." In G/S (1).
- 10/8-Rapp, Rayna 1997 "Constructing Amniocentesis: Maternal and Medical
Discourses." In Reading Kit.
- 10/10-Davis-Floyd, Robbie E. 1988 "Birth as an American Rite of Passage." In
-Franklin, Sarah 1997 "Making Sense of Missed Conceptions: Anthropological
Perspectives on Unexplained Infertility." In Reading Kit.
- 10/15 -Broch-Due, Vigdis 1993 "Making Meaning Out of Matter: Perceptions of Sex, Gender and Bodies
Among the Turkana." In Reading Kit.
- 10/17- Boddy, Janice 1997 "Womb as Oasis: The Symbolic Context of Pharaonic
Circumcision in Rural Northern Sudan." In G/S (21).
- Sheehan, Elizabeth 1997 "Victorian Clitoridectomy: Isaac Baker Brown and
His Harmless Operative Procedure." In G/S (22).
- 10/22- Strathern, Marilyn 1993 "Making Incomplete." In Reading Kit.
- 10/24-Bordo, Susan 1997 "Material Girl: The Effacements of Postmodern Culture." In G/S (23).
- 10/29-Lindisfarne, Nancy 1994 "Variant Masculinities, Variant Virginities: Rethinking Honour and
Shame." In Reading Kit.
Unit III: Post-structuralism and the Performativity of Gender
- 10/31- Foucault, Michel 1980 "Body/Power." In Reading Kit.
-Butler, Judith 1990 "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and
Feminist Theory." In Reading Kit.
- 11/5 - Bartky, Sandra Lee 1988 "Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of
Patriarchal Power." In Reading Kit.
-Bordo, Susan 1993 "Feminism, Foucault and the Politics of the Body." In
- 11/7- Cornwall, Andrea 1994 "Gendered Identities and Gender Ambiguity Among
Travestis in Salvador, Brazil." In Reading Kit
- 11/12- Mahmood, Saba 2001 "Feminist Theory, Embodiment and the Docile Agent:
Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival." In Reading Kit.
- 11/14-Stein, Arlene 1997 "Sisters and Queers: The Decentering of Lesbian
Feminism." In G/S (25).
- 11/19-Butler, Judith 1997 "Excerpt from 'Introduction' to Bodies That Matter." In
- 11/21-Lancaster, Roger 1997 "Guto's Performance: Notes on the Transvestism of
Everyday Life." In G/S (37).
- 11/26-Martin, Emily 1997 "The End of the Body?" In G/S (36).
- 11/28 -THANKSGIVING - NO CLASS TODAY
Unit IV: Ethnography and the Aging Body as Lived Experience
- 12/3 -RESEARCH PAPER IS DUE TODAY
-Lock, Margaret 1993 Encounters with Aging: Mythologies of Menopause
in Japan and North America. Read up to chapter 2, inclusive.
- 12/5-Lock, Margaret. Read chapters 3 and 4.
- 12/10 -Lock, Margaret. Finish book.
- 12/12 -COURSE SUMMARY AND EVALUATION