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Academics

Spring 2021 Course Guide

Spire is live on 10/26!  Please check back. 

WGSS | Major/Minor Distribution Requirements | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

Attention Majors and Minors - requirements have changed!   Students who enter the major or minor Fall 2020 or after are under new requirements.  For those of you that will need the distribution requirements check back here for the listings.

WGSS 187 – Gender, Sexuality and Culture
Monday, Wednesday  4:00-5:15 p.m.  - Derek Siegel
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.  - Sandra Russell
UWW Section – Adina Giannelli

This course offers an introduction to some of the basic concepts and theoretical perspectives in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Drawing on disciplinary, interdisciplinary and cross-cultural studies, students will engage critically with issues such as gender inequities, sexuality, families, work, media images, queer issues, masculinity, reproductive rights, and history. Throughout the course, students will explore how experiences of gender and sexuality intersect with other social constructs of difference, including race/ethnicity, class, and age. Special attention will be paid to the ways in which interlocking systems of oppression have shaped and influenced the historical, cultural, social, political, and economical contexts of our lives, and the social movements at the local, national and transnational levels which have led to key transformations. (Gen. Ed. I, DU)

WGSS 201 – Gender and Difference:  Critical Analyses
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:15 a.m.
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Rachel Briggs

An introduction to the vibrant field of women, gender, and sexuality studies, this course familiarizes students with the basic concepts in the field and draws connections to the world in which we live. An interdisciplinary field grounded in commitment to both intellectual rigor and individual and social transformation, WGSS asks fundamental questions about the conceptual and material conditions of our lives. What are “gender,” “sexuality,” “race,” and “class?” How are gender categories, in particular, constructed differently across social groups, nations, and historical periods? What are the connections between gender and socio-political categories such as race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, (dis)ability and others? How do power structures such as sexism, racism, heterosexism, and classism and others intersect? How can an understanding of gender and power enable us to act as agents of individual and social change? Emphasizing inquiry in transnational feminisms, critical race feminisms, and sexuality studies, this course examines gender within a broad nexus of identity categories, social positions, and power structures. Areas of focus may include queer and trans studies; feminist literatures and cultures; feminist science studies; reproductive politics; gender, labor and feminist economics, environmental and climate justice; the politics of desire, and others. Readings include a range of queer, feminist and women thinkers from around the world, reflecting diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives in the field.

WGSS 205 – Feminist Health Politics
Tuesday, Thursday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Svati Shah

What is health?  What makes health a matter of feminism?  And what might a feminist health politics look like?  These questions lay at the heart of this course.  In Feminist Health Politics, we will examine how health becomes defined, and will question whether health and disease are objectively measured conditions or subjective states.  We will also consider why and how definitions and standards of health have changed over time; why and how standards and adjudications of health vary according to gender, race, sexuality, class, and nationality; and how definitions of health affect the way we value certain bodies and ways of living.   Additionally, we will explore how knowledge about health is created; how environmental conditions, social location, politics, and economic conditions affect health; how various groups have fought for changes to health care practices and delivery; and how experiences of health and illness have been reported and represented.

WGSS 290C – History of Sexuality and Race in the U.S.
Monday, Wednesday  10:10-11:00 a.m.
Discussions Friday  
Laura Briggs

This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary feminist study of sexuality. Its primary goal is to provide a forum for students to consider the history of sexuality and race in the U.S. both in terms of theoretical frameworks within women's and gender studies, and in terms of a range of sites where those theoretical approaches become material, are negotiated, or are shifted. The course is a fully interdisciplinary innovation. It will emphasize the links rather than differences between theory and practice and between cultural, material, and historical approaches to the body, gender, and sexuality. Throughout the course we will consider contemporary sexual politics "from the science of sex and sexuality to marriage debates" in light of histories of racial and sexual formations. (Gen. Ed. HS, DU)

WGSS 291P – From Shrek to Killing Eve:  Gender and Pop Culture
Monday, Wednesday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Rachel Briggs

This course examines popular culture—including television, film, music, music videos, sports, and social media—from a feminist perspective. We will watch and read a range of popular media and look at popular culture as a site of political and social ideology, interrogating how popular culture works to normalize and perpetuate oppression. Course content will address the question of how film and television produce meaning around race, gender, and other identities and what popular culture says about society. Course content will include the changing of LGBT depictions throughout recent history, the impact of the Hayes code, and the continues representational violence that occurs through the trope of “bury your gays” which continues to be an issue in film and television. We will watch films, such as Shrek, to explore satire and its limit and will watch television shows, such as Killing Eve and Black Mirror, to look at how they utilize generic conventions to disrupt normative meanings around gender, violence, and technology. We will also take a deep dive into social media and its effects on current politics and our own experiences with social media usage. This will be examined within the broader context of propaganda, the rise of authoritarianism, and distorted representations of fascism in popular media. We will also examine the relationship of media and pop culture to social justice and the potential for different types of media to disrupt norms, such as hip-hop culture, short stories that resist normative structures, and various films/TV shows. 

WGSS 292C – The Cultural Politics of Pandemics
Tuesday, Thursday  1:00-2:15 p.m.
Kirsten Leng

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has shed light - often harsh light - upon the realities of life in 2020. It has exposed the implications of the decades-long rollback of social and economic welfare programs; the vulnerability of globally-interconnected economic systems premised on free markets and entrepreneurship; the gendered and raced division of productive and reproductive labor and inequalities in health care; and the perennial racist and xenophobic impulses that seek to scapegoat a crisis. COVID-19 has also raised questions about the nature of community and compassion, the importance of interpersonal relationships, the meaning of freedom in public health emergencies, and the ethics of collective responsibility, particularly for the most vulnerable among us. In The Cultural Politics of Pandemics, we will explore all of these issues, using COVID-19 as a launching point but broadening out to consider pandemics of the past. Materials will include theoretical and historical texts regarding health and pandemics, contemporary journalistic coverage, and cultural works including novellas, graphic novels, and films.

WGSS 292L/AFROAM 292L – Losing Gender
Monday, Wednesday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Biko Caruthers

Have you ever felt that gender is a bit odd? Ever feel a little perplexed about "gender reveal parties" and the obsession around an unborn child's genitals? Binaries are strange, knowing the range of thought, expression and creativity humanity* is capable of. Why are we told there are two main genders? What happens when you take all of this into account alongside histories of slavery and conquest? This course will take seriously the claim that gender is anti-Black, that slavery marked an epochal rupture and that slavery is a technology for producing a kind of human. Following the work of Hortense Spillers' Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: An American Grammar Book, this course is interested in thinking through how the politics gender differentiation was and still is central to black subject making in the New World. One of the objectives for this course, is to develop a way to advocate for a politics vested in the abolition of gender in the long run and in the short-run, doing the work in thinking about how race, gender, and sexuality has been vital to subject making.

WGSS 293W - Beauty as Work:  Nail Salons, Fashion and Medical Tourism
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Miliann Kang

How have bodies become both the site and the vehicle for new forms of labor, consumption, production and reproduction? What does the commercialization of the body and embodied exchanges reveal about interconnections between personal, local, national and global contexts? This course will examine enactments of body labor in locations and processes ranging from nail salons, beauty pageants, cosmetic surgery, surrogacy, medical tourism to frontline healthcare work within the pandemic.  Drawing on interdisciplinary feminist, transnational and ethnic studies scholarship, it centers bodies and body labor as lenses through which to examine race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, labor, migration and globalization. 

WGSS 293R/HISTORY 293R – Womxn Against Imperialism
Tuesday, Thursday  4:00-5:15 p.m.
Adeline Broussan

This course explores the relationship of women (cis, trans, identifying as non-binary) to the social, cultural, economic, and political developments shaping the United States as an empire from 1890 to the present. It examines the regulation of womxn's bodies and sexualities, the gendered narrative of imperialism, and womxn's resistance to imperial power at home and abroad. This course will specifically focus on how class, race, ethnicity, and sexual identity have affected womxn's historical experience through a transnational lens. It questions the mainstream historical narrative to reclaim the voices of underrepresented and/or silenced groups.

WGSS 295D - Democracy Works:  People, Power and Government
Monday, Wednesday, Friday  10:10-11:00 a.m.
Jo Comerford

Civil Rights leader, Dolores Herta, is famous for saying, "The only way Democracy can work is if people participate."  With this in mind, class participants will take a deep dive into Massachusetts state government to explore the legislative and budget processes focusing on where people - as individuals and as part of social movements - are powerful.  This course will start with the basics and move on to the intersection of inside and outside strategy and organizing.

WGSS 393G – Global Mommy Wars
Tuesday, Thursday  2:30-3:45 p.m.
Miliann Kang

How has motherhood become a highly contested site for racial politics? How are mothers pitted against each other in ways that undermine struggles for reproductive justice? The "mommy wars" were once shorthand for a mostly media-fueled catfight between middle class stay-at-home versus working mothers. These old mommy wars have not gone away, but they have been sutured to newly virulent debates focused on racialized discourses regarding tiger mothers, "anchor babies," birthright citizenship and family separations at the border.  This course will focus on constructions of Asian American motherhood while situating these in comparison to scholarship and debates regarding Black, Latinx, Native and Indigenous and White mothers and motherhood.  It will draw on a wide range of materials, including feminist and ethnic studies scholarship, public debates, policy initiatives, media representation, and creative writing to explore how race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, nation and migration have shaped current and historical constructions of motherhood.  This course will count towards the theory requirement for WGSS majors.  

WGSS 340 – Critical Prison Studies
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Laura Ciolkowski

There are currently over 2 million people living in prisons and jails across the United States - more incarcerated people per capita than any other country in the world.  What is the carceral state and how do particular gendered and racialized bodies get caught up in its logics?  How do gender, race, sexuality, and class shape systems of discipline, punishment, surveillance, and control?  What is "anti-carceral feminism" and what are some of the abolitionist critiques of the prison industrial complex?  This course approaches the issue of mass incarceration through the lens of feminist social justice theory, gender and sexuality studies, and critical race theory.  An intersectional and deeply interdisciplinary exploration of the carceral, the course draws on literature, memoir, film, history, social science, psychology, art and popular media to interrogate and explore the many dimensions of mass incarceration in the US.

WGSS 395N/ANTHRO 395N – Gender, Nation and Body Politics
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:15 a.m.
Amanda Johnson

In this course, we will examine feminist theorizations, critiques, and accounts of gender and sexuality in the context of nation-state formations, colonization, globalization, and migration. We will interrogate how the gendered body becomes a target of violence, regulation, and objectification, but also functions as a site of resistance. We will also examine how the body serves as a marker nation and identity, and a locus generating knowledge, both scientific and experiential. Some issues we will cover include racialization, labor, citizenship, heteronormativity, reproduction, schooling, and incarceration, as well as the role of anthropology and ethnography in both understanding and enacting political engagements with these issues.

WGSS 491E/ANTHRO 491E – Queer Ethnographies
Tuesday, Thursday  11:30-12:45 p.m.
Svati Shah

Ethnography, the signal methodology of anthropology, is now a widespread research method, taken up by scholars across disciplines seeking to understand social processes in everyday life. Queer scholars in the United States pioneered the use of ethnographic methods within the US, arguing that queer communities constituted 'subcultures' that should be studied in their own right. This course begins with these earlier works, from the 1970s and 1980s, and will quickly move to a survey of contemporary queer ethnographic work. The course will end with a consideration of ethnographic film that addresses the everyday lives of LGBTQI people and movements from around the world. Students will come away from the course with a better understanding of the theoretical critiques that ethnography  makes available for scholars of sexuality and gender, and of the history of ethnography within anthropology.  This course will count towards the theory requirement for WGSS majors

WGSS 494TI – Unthinking the Transnational
Tuesday, Thursday  10:00-11:15 a.m.
Kirsten Leng

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.
 

WGSS 695E - Theorizing Eros
Thursday  4:00-6:30 p.m.
Angie Willey

This graduate seminar centers around the project of theorizing eros. The erotic has been a rich site of queer feminist thinking about the epistemic and material costs of the imposition of sexuality as an interpretive grid for making sense of human nature. The course will begin with the study of sexuality as a knowledge system, with a focus on racial and colonial histories of sexuality, while most of the rest of the semester will be devoted to queer feminist considerations of the erotic as a site of ethics and politics. Michele Foucault famously distinguished between “scientia sexualis” and “ars erotica” and Audre Lorde, coterminously, between the “pornographic” and the “erotic.” In The History of Sexuality and “Uses of the Erotic,” eros operates as a set of possibilities, or capacities, - for pleasure, joy, fulfilment, satisfaction – that exceed and provincialize sexuality and which might inspire ways of rethinking nature, need, and relationality. In addition to Lorde and Foucault, we will read Lynne Huffer, L.H. Stallings, Ladelle McWhorter, Adrienne Marie Brown, Sharon Holland, Ela Przybylo, Jennifer Nash, and Amber Jamilla Musser, among others, to help us think capaciously about what queer feminist erotics can do.  

WGSS 705 – Feminist Epistemologies and Interdisciplinary Methodologies
Tuesday  2:30-5:00 p.m.
Laura Ciolkowski

This course was formerly titled:  WGSS 691B - Issues in Feminist Research.   This is a required course for students enrolled in the Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies.  Those students will be given priority enrollment.   Certificate students can contact lindah@umass.edu if the class is full.

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, research as storytelling, and the relationship between power and knowledge.

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WGSSUMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

 

 

WGSS | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

For component courses, majors and minors must focus their work on WGSS topics in order for these courses to count.   Note that 100-level courses only count towards the minor.  

 

WGSS | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Cont. Ed. | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

 

WGSS | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

Wintersession/Spring 21 UWW (ONLINE) COURSES

WGSS Majors and Minors must focus their papers or projects on WGSS topics to count courses listed as "component."  100-level courses only count toward the minor.  All other courses listed 200-level and above automatically count.   Registration

 

WGSS  | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

 

WGSS  | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

 

WGSS | Major/Minor Distribution Requirements | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall. | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

 

WGSS | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith

 

WGSS  | UMass Departmental | UMass Component
Graduate Level | Online Summer/Fall | Amherst | Hampshire | Mt. Holyoke | Smith