Classes

    Rethinking Transnational Feminism

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    While some claim that global feminism is made possible by a shared common condition among women, others argue that power differentials make such claims nonsensical. What does transnational feminism mean for politics today? Can it be democratic? How have historical figures attempted to think and act on a world stage? This course offers a broad overview of transnational feminism through one genealogy of its appearances in theoretical, social movement, and institutional forms. This is a junior tutorial.

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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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    Psychology of the Gendered Body

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    Our perceptions of gender—our own and others’—powerfully shape our embodied experiences and behaviors. This course examines the embodiment of gender via the lens of psychological science. We will begin by exploring recent research related to gender and the body, and then study the underlying psychological mechanisms that influence our self-perceptions about gender. Our disciplinary foundation in psychological science will allow us to complicate current understandings of gender and embodiment by considering factors such as sex, race, sexuality, experience, intention, and awareness.

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    Queering the South: Race, Gender, & Sexuality in the American South

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    The course examines the intertwined histories of race, gender, and sexuality in the American South from the end of Reconstruction in 1877 through the present. We will consider how struggles for gender and sexual freedom are linked to race in the modern South. The course proceeds along two tracks: first, we gain knowledge about the lives of women, trans people, and gay people in the South. Second, we consider how African Americans, women, and LGBTQ individuals struggled for freedom and how these efforts changed over time in response to opposition, developments elsewhere in the world, and victories. We will explore the circumstances under which people from different backgrounds come together in pursuit of a common goal and the times when conflicts arise. We will read poetry and novels, manifestos and diaries, and secondary literature written by historians. In addition, we’ll watch videos and listen to music to understand the different ways people queered the South during the last century. The course recognizes that Southerners do not fit neatly into racial, gender, or sexual boxes and so investigates the intersections of identities to lend complexity and verve to the histories of people often forgotten.

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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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    Black Masculinities

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2019

    With particular emphasis on mid-twentieth century American culture, this seminar will examine complex - and often contradictory - iterations of race and gender in works of literary and visual culture produced by and about African American men.  We will explore the work of: Shirely Clarke, Chester Himes, Iceberg Slim, Alice Walker, Melvin Van Peebles, Samuel Delany, James Baldwin, Robert Deane Pharr, Eldridge Cleaver, Amiri Baraka, and more.

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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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    Feminist Theory as Critique

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    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.

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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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    Beyond the Sound Bite: Women, Gender, and Sexuality in The Daily News

    Semester: 

    Spring

    Offered: 

    2019

    We are bombarded by sound bites from all over the globe, moving at disorienting speeds, reorganizing our relationship to time and space with increasingly dystopic results. This course will focus on selected televisual and digital events in "real time" from September-December 2019. We will analyze the embedded bits of gender and sexuality always at work in the representations of those events. Topics include: politics, the environment, military adventures, and popular revolt in dialogue with important texts in WGS Studies.

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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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    Medieval Women and the Problem of Knowledge

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    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.

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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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    Global Feminisms

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    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.

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    "The Words to Say It": Women Writing in French from Colette to Satrapi

    Semester: 

    Fall

    Offered: 

    2019

    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.

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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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