Classes

    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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    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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    Gender, Race, and Poverty in the United States

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course investigates the realities of poverty through an intersectional lens, meaning that we will consider the simultaneous impact of race, gender, sexuality (and other identities) on economic insecurity. In what ways are conversations about poverty and its causes infused with assumptions and stereotypes related to gender, race, and sexuality? We hear so much in the media about what causes poverty – what is reality and what is myth? How do these myths operate to reinforce and sustain economic inequality? Who and what gets left out of the conversation about poverty? Topics in the course include historical understandings of poverty; intergenerational class mobility; depictions of poverty in pop culture; and bringing attention to populations that often get left out of mainstream conversations about poverty.

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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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    Women, Men, and Other Animals

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course explores ways in which human collectives have conceived of other animals, whether in analogical relations for scientific research, exploitative relations for food and labor, affective relations like fear, disgust, love. What are some histories of these unique interdependencies between human animals and nonhuman animals? We will critically explore the relentless and yet slippery divisions between humans and nonhuman animals, seeing them as a falsely singular, conflictual and segregatory divide that has played historical roles in intrahuman violence as well as in the rhetoric, images and institutions of settlement, colonialism and capitalism. We will see ways in which the difference schemes of seeming givens of gender, sexuality, race, nationhood, and ability carry these legacies and obscure other ones that honor and redeem the lives of nonhuman animals. Informing many human/animal divides are binary relations of mind/body, man/woman, light/dark, modernity/tradition, West/rest, civilized/barbarian. Yet it is also evident that animals do not only carry these legacies and burdens; "they" are not simple metaphors nor are they wearers of mere signs for human meaning. They act in a world that is also theirs, and refuse the orders of being imposed on them. Our primary and secondary readings are drawn from queer and trans studies, philosophy, feminist science studies, indigenous studies, fiction, film, activist movements, and more. This is a heavily discussion-based course; we will together learn to be “animal critics” of many phenomena, including the readings themselves, all of which need interpretive augmentation and critique in a given place and time.

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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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    Theories of Race and Sexuality

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Emphasizing the development of (transgressive) discourses of gender and sexuality within communities of color, this course will examine key contemporary texts addressing transgender identity, H.I.V./A.I.D.S., abjection, queer of color critique, reproduction and pornography.  We will explore the work of: C. Riley Snorton, Dagmawi Woubshet, Darieck Scott, Sharon Holland, Roderick A. Ferguson, Jose Munoz, Samuel Delany, Jennifer C. Nash, Jasbir Puar, and more.

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    Hysterical Women: A History

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    What does it mean when contemporary media sources characterize celebrity figures, or frenzied consumers, as 'hysterical’? How are "hysteria" and "insanity" related, and what are the historical roots of these loaded concepts? This seminar addresses the complex history of hysteria by asking how this medicalized affliction has assumed a multiplicity of forms, especially on feminized and non-white bodies. As depicted through newspapers, multimedia sources, medical literature, sociological articles, and psychoanalytic texts, 'hysteria' affords a unique lens onto the social, cultural and medical history of mental and physical suffering. In a postcolonial world, the term has taken on even more complexity. As we compose a 'history of hysteria,' we will reflect on who gets to record history and whose narratives get left out.

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    Topics in Gender and Culture in Japan: Seminar

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This semester, Spring 2019, the seminar will examine theories and practices of feminism in Japan and elsewhere.  In particular, we will study several forms of “radical feminism,” including women’s liberation movement or ribu in early 1970s Japan.  We will explore “radicality” in feminism, articulated against the grain of discourses on women’s rights and equality.  Topics treated in the course include, radical feminism and the New Left, feminist genealogies, feminism and violence, the politics of feminist manifestos, feminism and futurity, and the feminist politics of organization.  Some of the reading materials are in Japanese.

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    Revolutionary Women: Contemporary Fiction of Dissent in Context

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    The twentieth century had its fair share of revolutions—Bolshevik, Young Turk, Iranian, and feminist—that changed the course of history. In each of these revolutions, women and minorities played a key role in fostering change in Russia, Turkey, Iran, and the US. Revolutionaries penned essays, plays, poems, novels, graphic novels, and memoirs about the massive shifts occurring around them. In this course, we will read the work of Armenian women revolutionaries alongside works from the cultures in which they were embedded. We will sit in on conversations about human rights, family structures, economics, religion, culture, language, and sexuality with authors to include: Zabel Yessayan (Ottoman Empire/France/Armenia), Shushanik Kurghinian (Armenia), Alexandra Kollontai (USSR), Marjane Satrapi (France/Iran), Zoya Pirzad (Iran), Nancy Agabian (USA), Audre Lorde (USA), and others. Because all non-English works will be read in translation, no knowledge of Armenian, Farsi, Russian, or Turkish is required.

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    Native American Women: History and Myth

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course explores histories of women from diverse indigenous nations within the current boundaries of the United States. We will attend closely to methods and sources employed in historical inquiry about Native women even as we track change over time in a range of contexts. We will address multiple themes that intersect in Native women’s experience: tensions between history and myth, concepts of family and intimate relationships, spiritual understandings and notions of tradition, gender roles and cross-cultural gender difference, processes of colonialism, conceptions of land and effects of land dispossession, cultural negotiation and adaptation, public representation and misrepresentation, and personal, familial, and tribal perseverance. 

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    Black Womens Voices in the #MeToo Era

    Semester: 

    N/A

    Offered: 

    2019

    When accepting the Oscar for Best Actress in 2015 Patricia Arquette said the following: “The truth is, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are at play that do affect women, and it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we all fought for to fight for us now.”
    This course examines why such statements are part of a larger and longer tradition of disappearing black women and why they are popular in the cultural zeitgeist. Through extensive reading and tough discussion this class examines the current discourse around sexual harassment and assault from the #MeToo movement through the informed lens of Harriet Jacobs’s slave narrative Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Both “texts” involve navigating spaces of subjugation and supremacy and yet one voice has remained steadily ignored in mainstream audiences. We will also look at the intersection of race and gender that Incidents reveals and trace how these remain intact or not through today.

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    Women in Economic Life

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2019

    Examines the economic lives of women in different historical periods and places. Considers legal, literary, statistical and other sources. Will also explore the place of women in the history of economic thought. Students will prepare individual research projects, and are encouraged to undertake original research using primary sources.

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