Classes

    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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    Women, Religion, and the Problem of Historical Agency

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course examines recent scholarship on women in American religious history, focusing particularly on questions of narration, agency and power. We will ask several interrelated questions: How have historians integrated women into narratives of American religious history? Whose stories have they highlighted, and why? How have they conceptualized women as historical agents? We will read major interpretive works as well as theoretical accounts of gender, social structure, and power. Readings will explore the diversity of religious traditions in America, including Puritanism, Judaism, Mormonism, Catholicism, African-American Christianity, evangelicalism, and Islam. Jointly offered in the Divinity School as HDS 2186

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    Solidarity: Transnational Women's Rights from Suffrage to NGOs

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    “Solidarity” takes an intersectional approach to the study of women’s and sexual rights in transnational perspective from the late nineteenth century until today. In this course, we will explore how American feminism, particularly through the fight for women’s suffrage, set the agenda for issues of equality and sexual rights around the world, often in complex and contradictory ways. Through a semester-long engagement with Schlesinger Library collections on transnational feminist and women of color feminisms, we will investigate feminist links to and critiques of the imperial project – from anti-trafficking campaigns in colonial and postcolonial India, to transnational feminist labor movements in the Philippines and Bangladesh, to the wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Together, we will think about the complex relationship of feminism and war, the place of feminist thought in debates about incarceration and immigration, and the contradictory role of feminism in global movements for rights. 


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    Writing Women: Workshop

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Women have historically exerted their voice and power through writing, even as the professional writing trades of journalism and publishing have historically been unwelcoming of their presence. This seminar class will examine reporting and writing by and about women, and engage students in the practice of writing about gender, feminism, and women’s lives. Students will produce and workshop their own researched and reported longform articles, while simultaneously inspecting how the media represents women’s issues and learning the history of women writers in American journalism. We will grapple with questions of interviewing, structure, creative expression, ethics, and fair representation, along with the fundaments of narrative nonfiction.


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    Psychology of Women

    Semester: 

    N/A

    Offered: 

    2020

    How does being a woman affect our behavior, our evaluations of ourselves, and our interactions with others? This course examines psychological science on women and girls in western industrialized societies, addressing such topics as gender stereotypes, girlhood, women and work, relationships, pregnancy and motherhood, mental health, violence against women, and women in later adulthood. We will consider these topics through an understanding of gender as a social construction, being mindful of the intersections of gender, sexuality, class, and race. Although focused on women’s lives and experiences, this course is highly relevant to people of all genders.
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    Mothers, Diviners and Prophets: The Religious Lives of Women in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    This course reconstructs the religious lives of Israelite women, examining topics such as goddess worship, female religious experts, and family and household religion using biblical and archaeological evidence. It also considers the influence of gender theory in Biblical Studies, including feminist critique and recent work on kinship and matrilineal descent.... Read more about Mothers, Diviners and Prophets: The Religious Lives of Women in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Israel

    Gender and Public Policy Seminar: Promoting Diversity in Organizations

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    The Gender and Public Policy Seminar has been designed to give students an opportunity to engage with leading-edge scholars and practitioners working to advance gender equality. Because the subject of “gender and public policy” is too wide ranging and global to address within a single semester, we aim to focus the course each year on a “spotlight” issue. 

    The spotlight focus for the Spring 2020 semester is promoting race and gender equality at work. More specifically, the seminar will cover organizationally-relevant research on workplace discrimination, and offer a model...

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    Violence, Gender, and Global Politics

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    In this course, we will consider the international dimensions of gender, sex and violence, largely within the context of war and conflict. Both academic scholarship and current policy debates are informed by powerful—and often unquestioned—assumptions about sex, gender and violence. Recent research has started to challenge some of these ideas, and policymakers are responding with calls for better data, increased attention to long-hidden problems, and new strategies to confront these difficult problems. In the course, we begin with a review of theoretical constructs, then turn to a series of policy relevant questions on the politics of sex, gender, and violence. Topics that we will cover include gendered causes and consequences of war (e.g., Does gender inequality cause conflict? Are women leaders more peaceful? What are the consequences of war for people of different genders?); gendered motivations for political violence; the regulation of sex and gender within armed groups, including the military, insurgencies and terrorist organizations; and wartime sexual violence. The course will include discussions of research design and implementation, as well as the implications of research on policy responses and interventions.

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    Working for Change: Understanding Gender in International Development

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2020

    Gender affects multiple aspects of international development, including the challenges that communities face around the world, and how organizations and governments can most effectively support these communities to achieve their goals. This course covers gender theory and frameworks, drawing from feminist writers and scholars from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines. We will study gender as it relates to specific topics, including labor market participation and employment, education, violence against women and girls, peace building, civil society, and women’s leadership. We will learn what is known in each arena, and study which approaches work well and which do not. This course is intended to be an introduction to gender in international development; students with extensive experience in this area should consult with the instructor if interested.<--break->

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