This course will explore ancient Greek ideologies of gender difference and sexuality, including the mythical "origins" of gender, legal definitions of marriage and adultery, the gendering of space, the portrayal of women on the tragic stage, gender-bending and cross-dressing in comedy, medical models of sex and childbirth, and the links between pederasty and pedagogy. With the help of some important modern discussions about the construction of gender, sexuality, and identity, we will try to assess the ways in which sexual practices and male and female identities were imagined, formed, reinforced, and institutionalized during the archaic and classical periods (roughly 800-300 BCE).
This course begins with feminist critical engagements with other theories and practices, including Marxism, psychoanalysis, and Foucault. It will then move on to debates and discussions within feminism, as well as intersections of feminist theory with other theories including sexualities studies, post-colonial/trans-national studies, transgender studies. One of the major concerns of the course is the relationship between feminism, theory, and politics. Throughout the course, we will discuss the contemporaneous movements that intersected with emergence of these theoretical concerns.
From Eve to Mary and from Lady Philosophy to Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, medieval women are associated with knowing, good and bad, philosophical and experiential. We seek our own knowledge of them through allegories and visions, autobiographies and visions, philosophical studies and gynecological treatises. Works by Robert Grosseteste, Catherine of Siena, Christine de Pizan, Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe.
Feminism shapes the world we live in today. Debates about women's and sexual rights define almost every public debate today -- from sexual harassment, to electoral politics, to development, public health, and human rights. But when, and where, did ideas of women's equal rights and liberation emerge? This course digs into the deep history of feminism from a global perspective. It traces the intimate relationship between feminism, colonialism, and racism in case studies from America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, from the eighteenth century until today. We will immerse ourselves in rare materials on transnational and global feminism in the Schlesinger Library here at Harvard. Over the course of the semester, you will build a toolkit of critical thinking and writing skills by engaging diverse primary sources, including political writings of women of color and colonized women, short stories, posters, movies, and human rights reports. You will come away from the course having a deeper understanding of ideas of equality and justice that define politics today. Readings will highlight marginalized authors, women writers, especially women of color authors, from previously enslaved women in the US South to indigenous people to colonized women in India and Africa. Reading assignments will focus on primary historical sources and encompass diverse genres, from political thought and speeches to fantasy fiction to posters. Students will build critical skills through assignments that build source analysis skills over the course of the semester, including an annotation of visual materials (a poster or cartoon), short primary source analysis papers using materials from Schlesinger Library, and a final film analysis paper.
Motherhood, romantic love, independence, sexuality, citizenship, fantasy, death: these are just some of the themes explored in women's novels, written in French, in the twentieth century. We will read eight novels together, exploring how they have finally become classics, even given what they say about life and what it means for women to write about it.