Course Descriptions

Course Catalog for WOMEN, GENDER, AND SEXUALITY
WMGS 101
Women, Gender, and Sexuality
This course introduces students to the study of women, gender, and sexuality, paying attention to issues of power, agency, and resistance. Using a variety of 19th- and 20th-century American materials, the course seeks to understand: women’s experiences and the way they have been shaped, normative and nonnormative alignments of sex, gender, and sexuality across different historical periods, and the intersection of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation.
This course is not open to seniors.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 133
Blues Women to Nicki Minaj
This course explores the music of black American women in music fro the era of blues queens of the 1920s through Nicki Minaj. Along the way we will listen to and read about the music of blues greats Ma Rainey and Bessie smith; trailblazer Marian Anderson; jazz legends Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington; Motown superstar Dina Ross and the fabulous Supremes; disco queen Donna summer; gospel and sould diva Aretha Franklin; rocker Tina Turner; and, ultimately, women in hip-hop, among them Queen Latifa, Lil Kim, and Nicki Minaj. Because context is critical to understanding of the music of these women, course readings will situate the women in their social and musical times.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 224
Sex and Sexualities in Ancient Greece and Rome
Do current Western attitudes toward sex and sexuality have a history? How and why did ancient Greek society glorify and institutionalize homosexuality and consider it superior to heterosexuality? What were the origins and evolution of Greek and Roman sexual attitudes and practices, and in what ways did Roman sexuality differ from Greek? This course will examine ancient Greek and Roman sexual values and practices in order to illuminate contemporary attitudes toward sex and the body. Readings will include selections from Homer, Sappho, Plato, Juvenal, Martial, Petronius, Catullus, and other ancient writers, as well as modern critical analyses. This course is intended for and open to all students. There is no prerequisite for enrollment.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 239
African-American Feminism
This course is a historical survey of the writings of African-American women as they have historically attempted to negotiate fundamental philosophical questions of the "race problem" and the "woman problem." To this extent, we will be inserting black women's voices into the philosophical canon of both race and feminism. Along with exploring and contextualizing the responses and dialogues of women writers, like Anna Julia Cooper with their more famous male contemporaries such as Du Bois, up to more contemporary articulations of black women's voices in what is known as hip-hop feminism, we will ask the question of whether there is a particular black feminist thought, epistemology, and thus philosophy.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 245
The Hollywood Musical
Perhaps more than any other genre, the musical epitomized Hollywood’s “golden age.” This course traces the development of the enormously popular genre from its emergence at the beginning of the Great Depression to its decline amid the social upheavals of the 1960s. It pays particular attention to the genre’s queering of masculinity and femininity, as well as its relationship to camp modes of reception. Readings by Jane Feuer, Rick Altman, Richard Dyer, Janet Staiger, and Steven Cohan.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 246
Sociology of Gender
Sex and gender are used as principles of social organization in all known societies. This course surveys research in the sociological study of gender with the goal of providing students with a theoretical grounding for analyzing gender from a sociological perspective. We will explore how our lives and the world around us are shaped by gender and how gender has been constructed over time. We will further examine how sociological research on gender helps us to understand power and inequality at various levels – institutional, organizational, and interactional—by examining various topics such as gender socialization, reproduction, education, work, and violence. We will also pay attention to how gender reinforces and builds upon other areas of inequality such as social class, race, ethnicity, and age.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 247
Marriage in Greek and Roman Society
How did ancient Greek and Roman societies understand “marriage,” a concept so familiar to us in contemporary American society? In recent years we have witnessed how its very definition, the kind of obligations and rights it entails, and how it defines gender roles are bound up in a web of familial, religious, and political interests that can change, despite insistence on “tradition.” In this course, we will read a survey of Greek and Roman texts that engage with the concept of marriage over a millennium, including Homer’s Odyssey, Athenian tragedies and legal oratory, Roman comedies, the account of Roman history by Livy, and the Roman poet Ovid’s epic Metamorphoses.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 248
Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Religion
Why do particular embodiments render some people “other” within their religion? How are women represented in religious texts and images? How does gender determine what counts for religiously-sanctioned behavior? This course provides an overview of topics where issues of gender and sexuality intersect with particular religious traditions (including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native American traditions). Topics include: purity and power, celibacy and virginity, marriage and reproduction, veiling and eating practices, violence and sacrifice, as well as the issue of religious leadership and ordination. This course may count towards the Women, Gender and Sexuality major.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 260
Sexual Diversity and Society
Sexuality has often been considered to be a natural, biological instinct-a drive that is fueled by hormones, genes or deep psychic impulses. During the last twenty years, however, scholars (including sociologists) have challenged this view of sexuality. Instead, they argue that how we organize our sexuality-our desires, ideas, value systems, practices and identities-are profoundly shaped by social and cultural influences. Although this course focuses on the social construction of homosexuality, we will also examine the many ways that normative as well as nonnormative sexualities are socially constructed. We will also examine the many ways that the social construction of sexuality is informed by class, gender, race and ethnicity. Using materials from sociology and from the many other disciplines that are working in the areas of lesbian and gay studies and queer theory, we will explore the impact that history, economics, social structure and cultural logics have had on sexual behaviors, identities, and belief systems. Enrollment limited.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 301
Western Feminist Thought
An exploration of the main currents in American feminism, with occasional excursions into European thought. The course readings assume (rather than demonstrate) women’s historical subordination to man and put forward various explanations and strategies for change. Readings in J.S. Mill, C. P. Gilman, Emma Goldman, Simone de Beauvoir, Adrienne Rich, bell hooks, Mary Daly, Audre Lorde, and others. This course is not open to First-Year students.
Prerequisite: C- or better in one other course in Women Gender and Sexuality.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 308
Mapping Modern American Sexualities
This course examines the emergence of modern forms of sexual personhood in the United States. Starting in the late nineteenth century, it tracks the shift from gender role to object choice as the organizing principle of sexual identities, desires, and practices while paying particular attention to the consolidation of the hetero/homosexual binary. Readings include novels, plays, films, and memoirs, as well as key theoretical texts.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 315
Women in America
An examination of women’s varied experiences in the public and private spheres, from their own perspective as well as that of the dominant society. The experiences of women of different classes and races will be compared, as will the relationship between images of women and changing realities of their lives. Emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 319
The Woman's Film
In the 1930s Hollywood created a new genre, the woman’s picture or “weepie,” designed specifically for female audiences. This course examines the development of this enormously popular genre from the 1930s to the 1960s, including important cycles of women’s pictures such as the female gothic and the maternal melodrama. It pays particular attention to the genre’s exploration of female sexuality and its homoerotic organization of the look. It also considers the genre’s role in the formation of contemporary theories of female spectatorship. Film screenings include both versions of Imitations of Life, These Three, Stage Door, Blonde Venus, Stella Dallas, Mildred Pierce, Rebecca, Suspicion, Gaslight, The Old Maid, Old Acquaintance, The Great Lie, Letter from an Unknown Woman, All that Heaven Allows, and Marnie. Readings by Doane, Williams, Modleski, de Lauretis, Jacobs, and White.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 321
Gender and Sexuality in Middle Eastern History
This course takes constructions of femininity and masculinity and related representations of male and female sexuality in both the pre-modern and modern Middle East, with an emphasis on the Arab world, as its focus. Through theoretical readings and primary sources, both written and visual, we will explore the ways in which gender and sexuality have shaped political, economic, and cultural life in the Middle East.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 326
Representations of Miscegenations
The course examines the notion of miscegenation (interracial relations), including how the term was coined and defined. Using an interdisciplinary approach, we will consider the different and conflicting ways that interracial relations have been represented, historically and contemporaneously, as well as the implications of those varied representations. Examining both primary and secondary texts, including fiction, film, legal cases, historical criticism, and drama, we will explore how instances of interracial contact both threaten and expand formulations of race and “Americanness” in the U.S. and beyond. How is miscegenation emblematic of other issues invoked, such as gender, nation, and sexuality? How do enactments of interracial contact complicate the subjects that they “stage”?
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 335
Mapping American Masculinities
This course examines the construction of masculinity in American society starting with Theodore Roosevelt’s call at the turn of the twentieth century for men to revitalize the nation by pursuing the “strenuous life." Through close readings of literary and filmic texts, it considers why American manhood has so often been seen as in crisis. It pays particular attention to the formation of non-normative masculinities (African-American, female, and gay) in relation to entrenched racial, class, and sexual hierarchies, as well as the impact of the feminist, civil rights, and gay liberation movements on the shifting construction of male identity. In addition to critical essays, readings also include Tarzan of the Apes, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, The Great Gatsby, The Sun also Rises, Native Son, Another Country, and Kiss Me Deadly (Spillane). Film screenings include Kiss Me Deadly (Aldrich), Shaft, Magnum Force, Philadelphia, Brokeback Mountain, Cleopatra Jones, and Boys Don’t Cry.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 342
History of Sexuality
This course examines the ways in which notions of the body, gender, sexual desire, and sexuality have been organized over space and time. Taking as a starting point the geographical regions of the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America in the ancient and medieval periods, the course seeks to de-center discourses of Western sexual modernity. It then addresses the ways in which colonialism, racism, nationalism, and globalization have depended on and disrupted normative ideas about modern sexuality, including the hetero/homosexual binary. Throughout the course we will ask how historians use theoretical and primary sources to construct a history of sexuality. Course expectations include a final research paper.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 343
Women and Empire
This course examines women’s involvement in British imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. What part did ideologies of femininity play in pro-imperialist discourse? In what ways did women writers attempt to "feminize" the imperialist project? What was the relationship between the emerging feminist movement and imperialism at the turn of the 20th century? How have women writers in both centuries resisted imperialist axiomatics? How do women authors from once-colonized countries write about the past? How are post-colonial women represented by contemporary writers? Authors to be studied include Charlotte Brontë, Flora Annie Steel, Rudyard Kipling, Jean Rhys, Jamaica Kincaid, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Alexander McCall Smith.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 345
Film Noir
This course traces the development of film noir, a distinctive style of Hollywood filmmaking inspired by the hardboiled detective fiction of Dashiell Hammett, James Cain, and Raymond Chandler. It pays particular attention to the genre’s complicated gender and sexual politics. In addition to classic examples of film noir, the course also considers novels by Hammett, Cain, and Chandler.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 352
Bodies in Context: Gender, Sexuality and Violence
This course introduces various ways to examine and interpret the human body in socio-cultural anthropology with a special focus on the contexts of gender, sexuality and war/conflict. Students will explore and critically evaluate key concepts used in the field of anthropology of the body. Readings will include classical anthropological literature as well as a selection of contemporary ethnographic case studies to illustrate and visualize the key themes on the ground.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 359
Feminist Political Theory
This course examines debates in feminist political theory. Topics will include liberal and socialist feminist theory, as well as radical, postcolonial, and postmodern feminist theory. We will also consider feminist perspectives on issues of race and sex, pornography, law and rights, and “hot button” issues like veiling. We will pay particular attention to the question of what feminism means and should mean in increasingly multicultural, global societies. Readings will include work by Mary Wollstonecraft, Carol Gilligan, Catherine MacKinnon, Chandra Mohanty, Wendy Brown, Audre Lorde, Patricia Williams, & Judith Butler.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 369
Queer Studies: Issues and Controversies
This broadly interdisciplinary course examines the impact of queer theory on the study of gender and sexuality in both the humanities and the social sciences. In positing that there is no necessary or causal relationship between sex, gender, and sexuality, queer theory has raised important questions about the identity-based understandings of gender and sexuality still dominant in the social sciences. This course focuses on the issues queer theory has raised in the social sciences as its influence has spread beyond the humanities. Topics covered include: queer theory’s critique of identity; institutional versus discursive forms of power in the regulation of gender and sexuality; the value of psychoanalysis for the study of sexuality; and lesbian and gay historiography versus queer historiography.
1.00 units, Lecture
WMGS 399
Independent Study
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment.
1.00 units min / 2.00 units max, Independent Study
WMGS 401
Senior Seminar
The goals of this seminar are to sharpen critical thinking and to afford an opportunity for synthesis of student work in women, gender, and sexuality. Towards these ends we will examine the construction of race, class, and sexuality in America as they intersect with gender. The capstone of the course is a twenty-five-page research paper. There will be opportunities to share work in progress with seminar members and to involve the wider campus community in the issues.
This course is open only to senior Women Gender and Sexuality majors and minors.
1.00 units, Seminar
WMGS 466
Teaching Assistantship
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment.
0.50 units min / 1.00 units max, Independent Study
WMGS 497
Senior Thesis
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for enrollment in this single term thesis.
1.00 units, Independent Study
WMGS 498
Senior Thesis Part 1
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and director are required for each semester of this yearlong thesis. (Two course credits are considered pending in the first semester; two course credits will be awarded for completion in the second semester).
2.00 units, Independent Study
WMGS 499
Senior Thesis Part 2
Submission of the special registration form, available in the Registrar’s Office, and the approval of the instructor and chairperson are required for each semester of this yearlong thesis. (Two course credits are considered pending in the first semester; two course credits will be awarded for completion in the second semester.)
2.00 units, Independent Study