Classes

    Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This workshop offers the student hands-on experience in analyzing, evaluating, and creating legal policy on a range of issues related to gender violence. The three main areas of concentration are campus sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and sex trafficking and prostitution. We advise government officials (local, state and federal); national, international, and local advocacy groups working to stop gender violence; and individuals needing assistance in knowing their rights or accessing services. Recent activities include submitting comments to the White House Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault; helping an advocacy organization on preventing domestic violence homicide; and preparing a training for Middlesex County Police Chiefs on investigating sex trafficking rings.
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    Gender Identity and the Law

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    From participation in the military to hormone coverage for transgender youth, transgender issues cut to the heart of some of the hardest questions we face today about the relationship between law, politics, science, medicine, public opinion, and identity. This course examines this complex and novel area of law in the context of a changing judicial and political landscape. Students will be encouraged to consider all points of view and delve into the strongest arguments for and against efforts to expand legal protections for transgender people.
    Taught by a leading practitioner in the field, this course emphasizes the legal tools and decision-making processes involved in doing pathbreaking civil rights work. Students will gain an insight into the strategic and ethical tradeoffs involved in using the legal and political system to enact societal change.
    Topics covered include: overview of gender identity and the development of transgender rights; constitutional and statutory frameworks for legal recognition of gender identity; access to sex-segregated spaces and activities; religion-, speech-, and ethics-based objections; access to health care and reproductive technology; non-binary and intersex identities; race and transgender experience; and unique considerations in military, family, and prison litigation.
    Class materials include: case law, case documents, legislative materials, regulatory materials, press accounts, legal scholarship, and sources from other academic disciplines.... Read more about Gender Identity and the Law

    The Neurobiology of Sex Differences: Implications for Mental Illness

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    It is no mystery that men and women are biologically and behaviorally different, but the way these differences impact mental health has often gone unrecognized. Sex and gender have both been increasingly identified as significant factors in disease prevalence, expression of symptoms, and responses to treatment. As such, it is critical that we understand the influence of sex differences and the consequences of adopting a "one size fits all" approach to health care. Unfortunately, this understanding has historically been difficult, if not impossible, to achieve because most of the knowledge we have in this area is based on research conducted exclusively in males. This disproportionate focus on male data is slowly beginning to change, but there are still those who doubt whether the presence/impact of sex differences is significant enough to warrant further investigation. In this course, we explore this debate, focusing on the neurobiology, methodology, significant findings, and future implications of research on sex differences.

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    Gender and Judaism in Modern America

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Both demographic and cultural reproduction pose critical challenges to minority religions, placing pressure on personal decisions, group dynamics, religious practices, and intergroup relations.  This course follows the navigation of these pressures by American Jews, and the explores formations of gender and sexuality that result.  Topics include marriage, dating and family formation, synagogue life and Jewish ritual, as well as social and political movements that have become vehicles of American Jewish identity: civil rights, second-wave feminism, and Zionism.  Readings include works by Riv-Ellen Prell, Lynn Davidman, Joyce Antler and Sarah Imhoff as well as fiction by Philip Roth and Anita Diamant.
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    Establishing Loving Spaces for Learning: Nurturing Gender & Sexual Identity Development in US Schools

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course explores both the role of gender and sexuality in shaping young peoples' schooling experiences, opportunities, and outcomes, and the role of schooling experiences in shaping young people's notions of gender and sexuality. In many ways, the course is about the "hidden curriculum" of heteronormativity, or the subtle practices in schools that privilege heterosexual, gendered identities and ways of being. As such, students in the course will apply the concept of the hidden curriculum to the study of gender and schooling in order to understand why and how children and youth with different gender identities experience schooling differently and why and how heteronormative schooling detrimentally impacts all students. By the end of the course, students should be able to: (1) identify specific strategies that educators at various levels might use to support students in negotiating gender and sexuality norms; (2) identify tools that schools can use to build positive, nurturing environments, which open up possibilities for complex gender and sexual identity development; and (3) analyze and evaluate a variety of school practices, curricula, policies, and programs that seek to support healthy gender and sexual identity development for U.S. children and adolescents. The course will provide opportunities to consider the ways in which other elements of identity (e.g., race, culture, socio-economic status, age, geography, etc.) intersect with gender and sexuality in the process of identity development. Although schools will be the central setting examined, course materials are also applicable to community-based settings.... Read more about Establishing Loving Spaces for Learning: Nurturing Gender & Sexual Identity Development in US Schools

    Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    At the intersection of debates about religion, private morality and public policy, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are lightning rods of controversy in most societies. Political polarization has been particularly pronounced with regard to abortion rights, but is also evident in an array of other SRHR issues. Drawing on examples from constitutional and high courts in Latin America and Africa, as well as cases in various regional and international supra-national human rights forums, the course will explore: the historical origins of asserting international legal claims to SRHR; challenges and benefits of turning toward domestic courts and international forums to advance sexual and reproductive health; evolving narratives of women’s agency and state obligations; and power dynamics/conflicts within global SRHR advocacy. We will discuss the limitations of the autonomy narrative and adoption of “reproductive justice” paradigm in the US, and compare that with evolutions of SRHR in other national contexts, as well as in international law. Some of the topics to be covered include: gender-based violence; involuntary sterilization; abortion; access to care (obstetric care/LGBTQ access to care); disrespect and abuse/obstetric violence; SRHR of persons with disabilities; assisted reproductive technologies; and SRHR in an era of conservative populism and backlash against so-called “gender ideology.”
    Issues of SRHR present an opportunity to extend thinking on judicial review across contexts of varying levels of democratic consolidation, as well as to critically examine the effectiveness of international human rights law in changing “lived realities.” On the one hand, the marginalization of claimants suggests a place for counter-majoritarian rights protection. Similarly, advocates have sought to set standards in international human rights forums, as these spaces have been perceived as less “tainted” by the political power structures that inflect domestic law and institutions. On the other hand, the morally contested nature of SRHR norms often complicates the claims of courts and supra-national forums to special competence, limits their ability to catalyze the politics of implementation (including within health systems), and inspires backlash. We will explore lessons with respect to how engaging with different SRHR issues can affect the sociological legitimacy of tribunals at domestic and international levels, as well as public attitudes and the dynamics of social conflict.... Read more about Contested Domains: Comparative and International Legal Struggles over Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

    Title IX: Sex and Equality on Campus

    Semester: 

    Winter

    Offered: 

    2020

    Title IX of the Civil Rights Act promises equal access to educational opportunities. This has been one of the most dynamic areas of civil rights jurisprudence in the recent past, and promises to remain so in the future. While the Obama Administration prioritized the protection of students from sexual assault, the current Department of Education has retreated significantly from this position. This leads us to question various aspects of administrative rulemaking, law enforcement and social policy. What is the role of an administrative agency in enforcing civil rights? What power does the public have to compel enforcement? What other avenues are available to achieve sex equality at schools? How do we formulate policy that provides fairness to both sides of case while preserving the integrity of the purpose of Title IX?
    Issues surrounding Title IX include rights to sexual autonomy, bodily integrity, gender expression and the right to be free from sex discrimination in an educational environment. This intensive course offers the opportunity to delve deeply into these critical issues of gender equality.... Read more about Title IX: Sex and Equality on Campus

    Gender Violence, Law and Social Justice

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course offers an in-depth examination of the phenomenon of gender-motivated violence. Following a consideration of the prevalence and variation of types of sexual violence and coercion around the world, we consider questions such as: How, if at all, is violence against women different from other types of violence? How effective have legal strategies to address violence against women been, and what shifts in thinking about gender-motivated violence would be necessary finally to eradicate it? How has the #MeToo movement reshaped the possibility of legal reform? How does the toleration of sexual violence shape people’s expectations and sense of entitlements? What are the implications of gender-based violence for the constitutional guarantee of equal protection of the laws? Does equal protection itself have a gendered meaning and reality?
    Among the types of violence against women we will consider are: intimate-partner violence; domestic homicide; prostitution; rape; sex trafficking of women and children; and violence against women facilitated by the Internet. The readings consist of primary and secondary materials drawn from several disciplines: law, social science, political science, public health, psychology, evolutionary biology and women and gender studies.
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    Sexual and Reproductive Health: A Global Perspective

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course is designed to provide an overview of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) from a global perspective with a focus on the most disadvantaged populations. The course will cover the most critical topics and dimensions in this field, i.e. historic, conceptual, research, methodological, policy, programmatic, rights, and advocacy. The themes will include the role of the global community in shaping the SRH agenda, sexual and reproductive rights, maternal health measurement and quality of care, unsafe abortion, contraception, adolescents’ SRH, women’s health along the life course and integration of reproductive healthcare. Gender, social inequalities and rights will be underpinning dimensions along the entire course. Students will be introduced to the core SRH literature and learn about the outstanding debates, acute knowledge gaps, effective evidence-based interventions, progress, current challenges and the most promising public health approaches to overcome them. This course will be fully participatory. Students are expected to reflect on readings, lead discussions, prepare group or individual case studies and prepare assigned homework.
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    Embodying Gender: Public Health, Biology and the Body Politic

    Semester: 

    Winter

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course will focus on the social and biological processes and relationships from interpersonal to institutional involved in embodying gender, as part of shaping and changing societal distributions of, including inequities in, health, disease, and well-being. It will consider how different frameworks of conceptualizing and addressing gender, biological sex, and sexuality (that is, the lived experience of being sexual beings, in relation to self, other people, and institutions) shape questions people ask about and explanations and interventions they offer for a variety of health outcomes. Examples span the lifecourse and historical generations and include chronic non-communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS, occupational injuries, reproductive health, mental health, and mortality, each analyzed in relation to societal and ecological context, global health policy and human rights, work, and the behaviors of people and institutions. In all these cases, issues of gender and sexuality will be related to other societal determinants of health, including social class, racism, and other forms of inequality. The objective is to improve praxis for research, teaching, policy, and action, so as to advance knowledge and action needed for producing sound public health policy and health equity, including in relation to gender and sexuality.
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    Women, Gender and Health: Critical Issues in Mental Health

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2021

    This course explores issues relevant to mental illness, mental health from a gender perspective. Course themes include illness constructs, life cycle and transitions, collective and individual trauma, role and relationship and embodiment. Topics include eating disorders, pain, hormonally mediated mood disorders, and PTSD. Examples highlight US and international experience. Readings are multidisciplinary, including public health and medicine, social sciences, history and literature.
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    Feminist Political Philosophy

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Political philosophy is the project of offering and evaluating answers to normative questions about politics—about how we as a society should get along and share in all the benefits and costs of living cooperatively. The “feminist” in “feminist political philosophy” can be taken to modify different aspects of that project. Unsurprisingly, then, work in feminist political philosophy is extraordinarily diverse. Notwithstanding some in-fighting about the right way to be a feminist political philosopher, this diversity is part of what equips us to make good progress in developing and refining answers to important political questions. Still, we might wonder what unifies these different traditions and methodologies. Many regard “the personal is political” as the unifying insight of contemporary feminist philosophy. This will be the unifying theme for us as well, as we work to better understand that slogan and explore its implications. We will begin by examining foundational work in contemporary political philosophy on theories of justice, as well as feminist challenges to that work. The tradition of liberalism is of particular interest, because the values it celebrates seem at once empowering and problematic from the perspective of feminist political philosophy. Ideals of liberty, individuality, and free choice can be deployed by feminists to critique unjust institutions, but they also appear to shield a great deal of injustice from censure. On the applied side, then, we’ll consider some “hard cases” for liberal feminist political philosophers: prostitution, pornography, and the gendered division of labor. Along the way, we’ll hear from some more radical voices, and we’ll explore intersections between feminism, social class, and race.
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    Transnationalism and the Francophone World: Race, Gender, Sexuality

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This graduate course links different regions of the Francophone world and provides an introduction to the major debates about gender issues in postcolonial Francophone studies. We focus on the aesthetics and politics of writers who challenge the notion of a stable identity, be it national, racial or sexual. The course draws on the historico-cultural issues pertinent to each region (Africa, the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Ocean). Writers include Mariama Bâ (Senegal), Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe/France/USA), Ananda Devi (Mauritius and France), Fatou Diome (Senegal and France), Assia Djebar (Algeria/France/USA), Marie Chauvet (Haiti), Shenaz Patel (Mauritius), and Linda Lê (Vietnam and France).
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    Sex, Gender, and Sexuality II

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    The second of two parts, the course will continue to explore the theoretical articulation of sex, gender, and sexuality in feminist and queer theory, with attention to the role of other differences – racial, ethnic, religious, and differences in physical ability – in contemporary work. Prerequisite: REL 1572 or consent of the instructor.

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    Girl Culture, Media, and Japan

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    In contemporary Japan, girls and girl culture are considered to be among the most significant sources of popular cultural trends. For instance, the girly aesthetics of “cute” (kawaii) has animated broad areas of Japanese culture since the 1980s and has become a global cultural idiom through the dissemination of Japanese entertainment medias and fashion products abroad. The course will explore a number of key questions about Japanese (and global) girl culture. How did the conceptualization of girlhood, girl culture, girl bodies, and girl affect transform in Japan from the early twentieth century to the present?  How did various medias and media consumption help shape these trends? What can the exploration of “girls’ question” tell us, not only about Japanese socio-cultural history, but also about the general conditions of youth, gender, and media culture in the world today (e.g., the sea of pink at Women’s March, 2016)? We will begin the semester by unpacking key terms such as “girl,” “girlhood,” and “girl culture” in relations to the modern and contemporary notions of gender, maturity, and majority.  The course materials include fiction, fashion magazines, teen films, manga, and animation.  No prior knowledge of Japanese language or history is expected. 

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    Modern Women Writers: Love, Agony, Friendship

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    What does is it mean to be, or feel as, a woman? This course will survey thirteen major female authors from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries who ask these questions in their novels, plays, and essays. In our lectures, we will move through literary explorations of womanhood in Modernism, to Expressionism, the Feminist movements, and on to contemporary questions of trauma, reproductive rights, and the future of feeling like and as a woman. 

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    Gender and Empire in the Modern Mediterranean

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Questions of empire are fundamentally intertwined with questions of gender. This course will focus on the imperial and intercultural contact zones of the Mediterranean—at once connecting and dividing Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa—from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. With an interest both in men’s and women’s experiences and in representations of masculinity and femininity, our inquiry will also straddle the divide between colonizer and colonized. Readings will include both primary and secondary sources, ranging from images, novels, and films to memoirs, testimonials, and government documents, and from Edward Said and Frantz Fanon to Assia Djebar and Tahar Ben Jelloun. Students will learn to assess how modern imperial encounters were mediated by gendered logics of power; how these overlapped with dynamics of race, class, and nation; and how the Mediterranean region itself gave rise to different understandings of gender and empire.

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    Sex, Gender, and Afrofuturism

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    The explosion of interest in Afrofuturism in the last two decades speaks to an ever more urgent desire to understand how people of color project themselves into narratives of both the future—and the past. Moreover, the work of Afrofuturist intellectuals has been profoundly concerned with matters of gender and sexuality. Indeed, examinations of inter-racial and inter-species “mixing,” alternative family and community structure, and disruptions of gender binaries have been central to Afrofuturist thought. In this course we will examine these ideas both historically and aesthetically, asking how the large interest in Afrofuturism developed from the early part of the twentieth century until now. Focusing primarily on science fiction and fantasy literature, the course will treat a broad range of artists including, W.E.B. DuBois, George Schulyer, Marlon James, Octavia Butler, Andrea Hairston; Nalo Hopkinson; N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and others.

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