Classes

    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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    Leaning In, Hooking Up: Visions of Feminism and Femininity in the 21st Century

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    What does it mean to “do” feminism, or to “be” a feminist in the 21st-century United States? What can we make of the dominant social expectations for a woman’s life? This course explores contemporary ideals of feminine success, including their physical, familial, professional, and political manifestations. We will engage with highly-contested topics—including sexual violence and Title 9; work-life balance; the imperatives of self-care and presentation; and new models for sexuality, reproduction, family, motherhood, and domestic life—using the tools of theory and cultural studies to interrogate their framing within popular discourse. Throughout, we will critique ideological formations of gender, particularly as bounded by race, class, and sexuality.

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    Feminism and Anthropology

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course considers the relationship between feminism (as activist realm, as theoretical field, in its institutionalized form as gender studies) and anthropology. We will begin with early ethnographic writing by women and about women, and analyze some of the interventions feminists hope to make in anthropology. We will then examine the relationship between feminism and anthropology through two topics: kinship and politics. Our course will consider how feminist anthropologists have connected the study of kinship, culture and nature, and carved out a place for the anthropological study of gender relations. In our study of kinship, the politics of reproduction and of labor will be important issues, such as the question of who gets to be related to whom, and whose work counts as what. In our study of politics, we will look at specific feminist statements and consider their impact on, and relationship with, the field of anthropology. Finally, our course will investigate more recent work on nature and biology, as well as (queer) gender and sexuality, in order to speculate on the futures and potentials of feminist anthropologies.

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