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.
Why do men and women tend to cluster into different occupations? Why do they earn different wages? Is there a certain path that all countries follow as they become more economically prosperous, or do issues concerning men's and women's work differ dramatically across countries because of cultural reasons? This course provides an overview of key issues and perspectives in the study of men, women, and work in contemporary society. ... Read more about Men, Women and Work
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In this course, we examine some key questions about how language and gender work together in the world. What does it mean for language to be gendered? Are there “male” and “female” ways of speaking? Can language reinforce the patriarchy? Is gender something we express or something we build in interaction? How does gender intersect in language with other social identities like ethnicity, race, class, religion, and sexuality? How can we understand gendered language beyond the binary? The course focusses on language as a practice, as well as a system of representation. We consider words, conversations, and embodied interaction and draw on scholarship on language use around the world.
This course is an introduction to the field of feminist biblical studies. We will discuss the intellectual history and institutional development of feminist biblical studies around the globe and explore different methods of analysis such as rhetorical, historical, queer, or intersectional kyriarchal analyses. We also will explore biblical women’s stories such as Eve, Sarah, Hagar Mary of Magdala, or the slave girl Rhoda. Lectures, group meetings, discussions, and presentations seek to foster participatory, collaborative and democratic styles of learning.
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).
The seminar will engage in a feminist reading of Scripture Stories about wo/men in order to trace the cultural imprint of these stories and assess whether they are “good news” for wo/men. Special attention will be given to feminist interpretation, and political-cultural imagination. Discussion will focus on the significance of social location, critical methods, and religious imagination for the interpretation and teaching of these stories about biblical wo/men and their cultural-theological significance for contemporary religious education and ministerial praxis.
This seminar explores the culture and politics of American imperialism from the late 19th century to the present, with particular attention to race and gender. This writing and discussion-intensive course encourages students to examine how formal and informal imperial relations developed, and to analyze how American empire functioned on the ground for those who imposed it and those who resisted, appropriated, or accommodated it. The course focuses especially on American relations with Asia and Latin America, and topics include immigration, military occupation, gendered and racialized cultural engagement, international adoption, humanitarianism, and international development. Assigned readings bring together scholarship from American Studies, Women’s Studies, Ethnic Studies, Anthropology, and American History.
The study of immigration and the study of gender often do not intersect. This is despite the fact that scholars in both fields of study focus on questions concerning cultural membership and equal citizenship and the processes that produce social inequality. The goal of this course is to reinvigorate the linkages between gender and immigration. We will interrogate how gender, as it intersects with race, shapes practices and policies of im/migration and migrants’ lived experiences: what is the gendered character of migration patterns, and policies? How does migration occur on a voluntary and involuntary basis in ways that disproportionately disadvantage marginalized groups along lines of gender and race? And conversely, in what ways do the practices and consequences of immigration and transnationalism shape and constitute gender relations? The course will combine discussions of current issues on public media and news articles with academic analyses to encourage students to think about the complex interrelations between immigration, sexuality, gender and race, and the ways these shape our social world.