In a powerful essay, the late writer and activist Audre Lorde suggested, “Where the words of women are crying to be heard we must each of us recognize our responsibility to seek those words out, to read them and share them and examine them in their pertinence to our lives.” Lorde is not alone in asking us to pay attention to and take responsibility for women’s stories; for centuries scholars and activists alike have championed the words of women, including women of color and queer women, whose stories have routinely gone untold or unheard. Yet if this issue has always been pressing, the call to heed women’s stories seems especially urgent at a moment when such stories have come to dominate the cultural landscape and public consciousness – from news accounts to popular shows, literature to social media. This course responds to this moment by examining how women’s stories are narrated across a variety of media and exploring what impact the sharing of them can have. Our first unit will focus on short stories by contemporary women authors Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, and Jenny Zhang that raise questions about the body, family, love, and society. Our second unit then turns to television, studying Hulu’s 2017 adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale. Informed by readings in critical feminist theory, we’ll consider how the show probes the troubling connections between gender, authority, power, and image. Finally, our third unit engages visual and performance art alongside movements like #MeToo and #SayHerName, offering students an opportunity to pursue independent research projects that explore the relations between art, activism, and social media.
Faculty: Alexandra Gold
School: Faculty of Arts & Sciences
Semester: Full Spring Term