Fall 2019 COURSES
MA Program in Women’s and Gender Studies
Women’s Studies Certificate Program
WGS 71001/WSCP 81001– Feminist Texts and Theories
GC: MON, 9:30AM-11:30AM, 3 credits, Prof. Jillian Báez
This course will explore the work of reading, writing, and publishing feminist texts and theories, emphasizing the historical context and means of production of feminist scholarship. Topics will include inquiries into various feminist presses, writing and media collectives, women’s studies journals, and digital archives (such as the Kitchen Table/Women of Color Press, the Feminist Press, the Combahee River Collective, Triple Jeopardy, Hijas de Cuauhtémoc, off our backs, Feminist Theory, Meridians, WSQ, GLQ, TSQ; feministkilljoys, equalityarchives). The course will also demystify the work of submitting to and editing for an interdisciplinary journal of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.
WGS 71701/WSCP 71700 – Global Feminisms
GC: MON, 11:45AM-1:45PM, 3 credits, Prof. Rupal Oza
With the rise of authoritarian regimes around the world, what insights do feminist movements and theorizing offer? What are the fault lines between different forms of feminisms? How do liberal feminist ideals and principles intertwine with an imperial agenda? What are the links and divergences between Islamaphobia and racism? Who should be the arbiter of “equality,” “fairness,” and “human rights”? What ethical questions shape the practices of feminism and feminist politics both domestically and internationally? What is the relationship between modes of production, political economy, and gender politics? What are the possibilities and limits of a transnational feminist politics? What are the material conditions/structural factors which enable and/or undermine transnational feminist solidarity? This course grapples with some of these questions in the wake of rapid world altering changes.
We will explore the gender dynamics of racial, ethnic, and economic relations of power in domestic, international, and transnational settings. We will examine feminist scholarship produced by and about American women of color, women from the global south, and other social and political actors whose experiences and thinking have shaped contemporary ideas about gender, power, and international political economies. We will explore how both self-identified feminists and people who do not consider themselves feminists write about and understand gender, justice, human rights, tolerance, agency, imperialism, and other relevant topics. We will also examine how women and self-identified feminists practice solidarity across and within national boundaries, paying attention to the possibilities and constraints that shape transnational feminist activism. We will look at both empirical and theoretical texts from a range of academic disciplines.
WGS 79600 – Independent Study
WGS 79601 – Internship
WGS 79602 – Thesis Supervision
WEEKLY FALL SCHEDULE [Week of September 9th, 2019]
[Lavender-WGS/WSCP Core courses; Periwinkle-Africana Studies; Dark Blue- Anthropology; Purple- English; Pink- Environmental Psych; Bright Blue- Futures Initiative; Orange- French; Yellow- MALS; Grey- Middle Eastern Studies; Light Green- Philosophy; Dark Green- Political Science; Red- Sociology]
CROSS-LISTED ELECTIVE COURSES
WSCP 81000 – Black America
GC: MON, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Juan Battle
Cross-listed with Africana Studies Certificate Program.
This course will serve as a broad, historical survey of the Black experience (mainly) within the United States. Because students will be exposed to (and contribute from) a wide variety of perspectives on the subject, this course is appropriate for students in the traditional social sciences (e.g. sociology, anthropology, psychology, urban education, and history) as well as more contemporary ones (e.g. women’s studies, race studies, American studies, cultural studies, lesbian and gay studies).
WSCP 81000 – Critical Anthropologies of the US
GC: WED, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Ida Susser
Cross-listed with Anthropology.
WSCP 81000 – Coloniality of Disaster
GC: THURS, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Yarimar Bonilla
Cross-listed with Anthropology.
WSCP 81000 – Race, Space, and Autonomy
GC: THURS, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Christopher Loperena
Cross-listed with Anthropology.
This seminar will examine the theoretical literature on race and space, and their co-articulation under conditions of racial capitalism. While informed by anthropological engagements with these concepts, we will also draw from the work of critical geography and philosophy. Finally, we will analyze contemporary struggles for autonomy, and discuss the ways in which expressions of freedom serve to both reinforce and reshape larger structural conditions of inequality. Course readings will include ethnographic works by Audre Simpson, Jafari Allen and Joao Costa Vargas.
WSCP 81000 – Il/liberal Aesthetics
GC: MON, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 2/4 credits, Prof. Kandice Chuh
Cross-listed with English.
This course occasions the study of the relationship between politics and aesthetics. How and with what effects is that relationship organized by and in service of the liberal-colonial-racial capitalist order that is modernity? How and with what effects is that relationship elaborated in difference from that order? We’ll spend some time historicizing aesthetics but will emphasize throughout the aesthetic expressions and theorizations of politics and aesthetics emerging out of the intellectual and artistic-literary genealogies that are disidentified with the aesthetics of liberalism. We’ll attend to the role of aesthetic education, as well as those of pleasure and discomfort, as we collectively undertake consideration of the meaningfulness of thinking aesthetics and politics together. Women of color feminism, queer of color critique, Black studies, ethnic studies, Native American studies, settler colonial and postcolonial critique, and performance studies, constellate to form the center of gravity of this course. Students should expect a substantial reading load in addition to biweekly short writing assignments. Students taking the class for 2 credits will fulfill the requirements of the course with those short assignments. Students taking the class for 4 credits will submit a longer essay or equivalent project at semester’s end. Everyone is expected to be actively engaged and present throughout the course.
WSCP 81000 – Migrations and the Literary: Decolonizing Borders in Theory and Practice
GC: WED, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 2/4 credits, Prof. Peter Hitchcock
Cross-listed with English.
In a lecture at the University of Cape Town in the early Nineties, Edward Said suggested “Our model for academic freedom should [therefore] be the migrant or traveler: for if, in the real world outside the academy, we must needs be ourselves and only ourselves, inside the academy we should be able to discover and travel among other selves, other identities, other varieties of the human adventure.” Said’s positioning here is complex and not unproblematic but refers simultaneously to his life and politics, to his sense of the world (for which he often used the terms “worldliness” or “circumstantiality”), and to his concern for an academy that had recently been berated by Allan Bloom. Said’s understanding of the migrant, or “traveler,” is certainly idiosyncratic, yet it opens up a pertinent and prescient argument not just about the place of the migrant in academe, but about the shifting borders of migrancy in the contemporary period. Rather than being an introduction to migration and migration studies (a huge area of research and contention, not least because 1 in 7 people on the planet are currently defined as migrants), this course will consider what Thomas Nail terms “the figure of the migrant,” both as a narrative mode and as an eminently postcolonial problematic. Instead of reading the migrant as primarily imperialism and colonialism’s signal effect, we will study migrant literature and theory as agential in their own right, as a set of racial, sexual, and gendered provocations about how we think through literary knowledge as decolonization. On the one hand, the salience of Gloria Anzaldua’s elaboration of borderlands continues to pick away at any state identity that pivots on exclusion in the name of protection; on the other hand, the intensification of migratory movement, as refugee, as asylum seeker, as exile, as worker, extends her critique in new ways, and both literature and theory grapple with such dynamism. Using specific examples of writing, we will examine migration as an entangled logic of decolonization, one that offers critical terms within border crossing, interdisciplinarity, and aesthetic engagement.
The course will begin with some basic questions. What is migrant literature? Is it a theme, the writer’s biography, a state of mind, a form of cultural capital? Are all borders decolonized by crossing them? What about internal migration in the othering of identity? Doesn’t migrant literature homogenize as much as differentiate? What if the writer migrates from the norms of migrancy? And what of disciplinary border crossing in readings of the migrant? As we delve deeper into representative literature and theory throughout the term, should we think of genres of literary migration, rather than forms? What makes migrant literature count? Does migrant literature permit the undocumented to document? What does it say about the politics and poetics of translation, and of world literature in the current conjuncture? As you can tell, the course offers several research avenues, but in general the idea is to take migration literature and theory as an opening to postcolonial critique, and to an interdisciplinary understanding of the literary in the world system as such. Readings in literature and theory may include Fanon, Patel, Lowe, Said, Salih, Unnikrishnan, Deleuze, Federici, Sassen, Anzaldua, Benjamin, Luibheid, Bhabha, Mukherjee, Spivak, Farah, Nguyen, and Adichie.
WSCP 81000 – Aestheticism, Decadence, Modernism, 1880-1930
GC: TUES, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 2/4 credits, Prof. Richard Kaye
Cross-listed with English.
This class explores the relation between the aestheticist and decadent movements as well as their determination of modernist aesthetics. We will begin with late-nineteenth-century British, American, and French works by Hardy, Wilde, James, and Huysmans. The fin de siècle was a time of pervasive fears and fantasies dominated by such figures as the New Woman, the urban detective, the homosexual bachelor, the Anarchist, the Oriental, the overreaching colonialist, the self-preening aesthete, the vampire, and the femme fatale, the latter reaching an apotheosis in Wilde’s Salome. In the diverse writings of Pater, Olive Schreiner, Vernon Lee, and Wilde, aestheticism emerged as a theoretically coherent and varied movement absorbed in exquisite surfaces, tantalizing ambiguities, and useless artifice. For decadent writers and artists, scientific theories of “degeneration” could be recalibrated as erotically charged, non-teleological experiments, while Freud drew on “decadent” scenarios for his proto-modernist narratives dealing with hysteria and sexual disorder, preeminently in Dora: Fragment of a Case of Hysteria, Women writers, meanwhile, struggled to find a place within the male-defined coteries of aestheticism and decadence, a theme dramatized in Henry James’ tale “The Author of Beltraffio,,” narrated by a decadent acolyte, in which the aestheticist project must be sequestered from female readers, who can only misconstrue its aims as immoral. Yet there were also alliances between male decadents and feminist writers (Wilde promoted Schreiner’s novel The Story of an African Farm because of its bold challenge to realist conventions and depiction of colonialist malaise.) In France, the woman writer Rachilde publishes Monsieur Venus (1884), a symbolist/decadent novella concerning a dominatrix noblewoman, Raoule, who gradually transforms her working-class lover Jacques into her mistress by emptying him of all his “masculine” traits.
In the class’s section part we will explore how the fin outlasted the siècle, maintaining an intense afterlife in the Anglo-American modernist writing of Yeats, James, Eliot, Conrad, Joyce, Lawrence, and Djuna Barnes. The morbidity, subjectivism, sexual experimentalism, and excesses of literary technique characteristic of 1890s sensibility foment modernist revisions that seek to repress their origins in decadent poetics. Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, with its hero who cannot “develop,” inspires modernist counter-bildungsromanae. We consider Joyce’s Stephen Hero, an early version of Portrait of the Artist as Young Man, arguably a satire of aestheticism as well as a novel with an explicitly Paterian protagonist. The keenly observing, detached bachelor familiar from James also narrates Rilke’s lyrical The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (arguably the first modernist novel) and that helps to form the paralyzed solitary consciousness of Eliot’s “Prufrock.” Arguably the narrator of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness adopts decadent techniques for his coiled narrative of colonial tragedy. We will consider, too, Eliot’s absorption in the figure of the Jew as an emblem of a malevolent decadent cosmopolitanism versus Djuna Barnes’ depiction of the decadent Jew in her novel Nightwood as a more positively transformative cultural agent. Our class concludes with James’ The Golden Bowl, a novel of twinned adulteries that is one of James’ most topical, aesthetically difficult, and decadent works of fiction. Among the works we will read: Hardy, Jude the Obscure, Huysmans, Against Nature; Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Salome; Schreiner, Story of an African Farm; Freud, Dora: Analysis of a Fragment of a Case of Hysteria; Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Joyce, Stephen Hero, Yeats, Selected Poems; Lawrence, Selected Short Fiction; Eliot, Selected Poetry; James, The Golden Bowl; Barnes, Nightwood; Showalter, Elaine, ed., Daughters of Decadence. We will read relevant critical and theoretical texts, including Walter Pater, “Conclusion” to The Renaissance; Arthur Symons, “The Decadent Movement in Literature”; Mario Praz, from The Romantic Agony; George Bataille, from Literature and Evil; Richard Ellmann, “The Uses of Decadence”; Richard Gilman, from Decadence: The Strange Life of an Epithet; Linda Dowling, “The Decadent and The New Woman”; Michael Riffaterre, “Decadent Paradoxes,” Leo Bersani, from The Culture of Redemption; Regenia Gagnier, “Individualism, Decadence, and Globalization,” Vincent Sherrry, from Decadence and the Reinvention of Modernism”; Matthew Potolsky, from The Decadent Republic of Letters. A mid-term paper as well as a final paper that may be drawn from the mid-term essay. This class can be adapted to parts of the New Portfolio Examination.
WSCP 81000 – Queer Literacy and Its Discontents (or Discovering Oppressive Power Brokers of Education)
GC: MON, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 2/4 credits, Prof. Mark McBeth
Cross-listed with English.
In this course, Queer Literacy, we will focus upon how literacy sponsorships played a role in the dynamic power play between heternormative/homophobic public discourses and queer subject formation,. In “Sponsors of Literacy,” Deborah Brandt lists a group of “figures who turned up most typically in people’s memories of literacy learning: older relatives, teachers, priests, supervisors, military officers, editors, influential authors. [These sponsors of literacy,] as we ordinarily think of them, are powerful figures who bankroll events or smooth the way for initiates” (167, emphasis added). For Gay, Lesbian and Trans individuals who lived through the twentieth century, these prevalent figures of sponsorship– who would presumably “smooth the way for initiates”–in fact, constrained the literacy of queer learners. Ellen Louise Hart has claimed that “the acts of reading and writing are acts of creation, not peripheral but essential to all education and all learning” and, moreover she adds, for LGBTQ students, who navigate through patriarchy, heterosexism, and homophobia, literacy often takes on special roles for their survival (“Literacy and the Lesbian/Gay Learner” 31). The adverse confluence of these societal forces–an intradependent set of discourses that reified each other–kept queer initiates in identificatory check under an unspoken platform of heteronormative literacy sponsorship so that for most of the twentieth century the Queer community could not gain an affirmative foothold of self-worth through the literate practices that normally allow for such growth and development.
While this course will focus its analytic attentions on heternormative discourses and the counter-normative measures twentieth-century queers took to upend them, students could (in fact, should also) investigate the primary sources of public media, archival artifacts, and other “traceable” materials to discover how over-deterministic discourses shaped the literacy potentials/capabilities/futures of other marginalized communities. Participants in this course will visit various archives and special collections around the city.
Potential Reading List
Brandt, Deborah. “Sponsors of Literacy.” College Composition and Communication 49.2 (May 1998): 165 -185.
Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” New York, NY: Routledge, 1993.
Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1: An Introduction. New York, NY: Vintage Books, Random House, 1978/1990. Print.
Gee, James Paul. Literacy and Education. New York, NY: Routledge, 2015.
Hart, Ellen Louise. “Literacy and the Lesbian/Gay Learner” The Lesbian in Front of the Classroom: Writings by Lesbian Teachers. (Eds. Sarah-Hope Parmeter and Irene Reti) Santa Cruz, CA: HerBooks, 1988. Print.
Minton, Henry L. Departing from Deviance: A History of Homosexual Rights and Emancipatory Science in America. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2002.
Mortenen, Peter. “The Work of Illiteracy in the Rhetorical Curriculum.” Journal of Curriculum Studies 44.6 (2012): 761-786.
Pratt, Mary Louise. “Arts of the Contact Zone” Profession. (1991): 33040.
Pritchard, Eric Parnell. Fashioning LIves: The Politics of Black Queer Literacy. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press, 2017.
Terry, Jennifer. An American Obsession: Science, Medecine, and Homosexuality in Modern Society. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
_____. “Anxious Slippages between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’: A Brief History of the Scientific Sear for Homosexual Bodies. Deviant Bodies (Ed. Urla, Jacqueline and Terry, Jennifer). Bloomington, IL: Indiana University Press, 1995. 129-169.
Warner, Michael. Publics and Counterpublics. Brooklyn, NY: Zone Books, 2002.
Wilder, Craig Steven. Ebony & Ivy. New York, NY: Bloomsbury Press, 2013.
WSCP 81000 – Actors, Bodies, and Performance in Early Modern England
GC: THURS, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 2/4 credits, Prof. Tanya Pollard
Cross-listed with English.
This course will explore ways that actors, both individually and collectively, shaped the construction of plays in early modern England. How did the members and power dynamics of repertory companies inspire playwrights’ development of characters and plots? What can we learn from accounts of actors in plays and other documents, and how did recognizable bodies interact with prosthetics such as wigs, cosmetics, blackface, and physical deformities? How might factors such as height, build, beards, voices, previous acting parts, and reputations have affected roles, and how did authors and audiences play with conventional practices of crossing lines of gender, race, class, and age? Readings will plays that include Marlowe’s Dido and Tamburlaine; Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Othello, Anthony and Cleopatra, and Tempest; and Jonson’s Alchemist; as well as theatrical documents and scholarship by theater historians, literary critics, and performance theorists.
WSCP 81000 – Just Places
GC: THURS, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, Prof. David Chapin
Cross-listed with Environmental Psychology.
WSCP 81000 – Sustainability and Democratic Processes
GC: WED, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Susan Saegert
Cross-listed with Environmental Psychology.
INTERDISCIPLINARY / THE FUTURES INITIATIVE
WSCP 81000 – Interdisciplinary Topics in Law: Mothers in Law
GC: MON, 11:45AM-1:45PM, 3 credits, Profs. Sara McDougall and Julie Suk
Cross-listed with The Futures Initiative.
This course will introduce students to central issues in the history and sociology of law, through the study of motherhood. The lens of motherhood will open up broader themes in the study of law and society, including categories such as gender, constitutionalism, and criminal justice. Studying the socio-legal history of motherhood will enable students to learn the skills of legal reasoning, utilize methods of legal-historical research, and pursue experiential learning through field studies, panel discussions open to the public, and the authoring of publicly available teaching materials on select topics.
First, we will explore how ideas of women as mothers have been enshrined in law, from the legal definition of the mother in civil law, to the legal treatment of pregnancy.
Second, this course will study women as lawmakers, as “founding mothers” of twentieth-century constitutions, and laws more generally. We will explore biographies of women lawyers and lawmakers.
Third, we will consider mothers as law-breakers, by engaging the history of mothers in prison, and the current legal issues arising from incarceration of mothers. This component of the course may include field trips to engage the criminal justice system.
WSCP 81000 – Transformations of Modernity, 1941-Present
GC: THURS, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Profs. Karen Miller and Andrea Morrell
Cross-listed with The Futures Initiative.
This class will put colonial relations of power at the center of our study, exploring how claims about modernity have been used to both amplify and challenge inequalities on both intimate and global scales. It will interrogate the widely held assumption that “modernity” is linked to liberty, freedom, and state-protected equality. Instead, it will examine the multiple, contested, and conflicting meanings that people have used to understand the concept of modernity from the early 20th century into the present. How, we will ask, have various people used the moniker “modern” and to what end? How have modernity’s opposites – primitivity / backwardness / tradition – also been used to characterize spaces, people, institutions, states, “cultures,” geographies, technologies, etc.? In other words, we will explore the incredibly mixed set of foundations and legacies that shape the notion of modernity, as well as a range of responses from a range of different positions to its contradictory sensibilities. This class is interdisciplinary and will examine these questions through a range of texts, disciplines, and methodologies.
WSCP 81000 – Voices of the City: Accessibility, Reciprocity, and Self-Representation in Place-Based Community Research
GC: THURS, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, Profs. Tarry Hum and Prithi Kanakamedala
Cross-listed with The Futures Initiative.
Scholars active in place-based or participatory action research are committed to documenting community narratives and neighborhoods. It is central to our work, rooted in social justice, that these communities are not just represented, but that they have equitable stake in the project. Yet practitioners across the city struggle with core issues of accessibility, reciprocity, self-representation, and equity within the communities they work with. Who do place-based researchers represent, and does our work empower communities to tell their own stories? What histories do we contest and perpetuate with this work? And, who gets to participate? This inter-disciplinary course combines best or effective practices in Public History, Oral History, and Urban Planning to consider a number of projects in New York City that seek to document communities and narratives about the city that are not traditionally represented.
WSCP 81000 – Writing the Self: From Augustine to AIDS and Beyond
GC: TUES, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 2/3/4 credits, Prof. Domna Stanton
Cross-listed with French.
How is the self written, visualized, constructed? What different forms and shapes do such texts take over time, in different genres? What purposes do they serve, for the several selves inscribed in a text and for others (including the self) who will read it.This course will begin by examining several theoretical texts on writing the self (Lejeune, Smith, Derrida, Butler, Stanton), then trace self-writing from the Middle Ages (Augustine, Kempe) through the early-modern periods, focusing on both the global (travel narratives on conquest –La Casas, Equiano), and on various forms (letter and diary, for instance) of gendered interiority (Gentileschi, Sévigné, Westover). Signal texts on post-Enlightenment confession and memoir (Rousseau, Sand) will be followed in the second half of the seminar by a more thematic approach to issues of modernity, including slavery and liberation always deferred (Jacobs, Douglass, Coates); modernism and the limits of experimentation (Woolf, Nin, Cahun); autofiction (Colette, Stein); dislocated, traumatized selves in wars and holocausts (de Beauvoir, Sartre, Anne Frank, Levi, Agamben, Henson [comfort women]); testimonio, the indigenous (Hurston, Menchu) and human rights narratives (Eggers); and French post-structuralism and the psychoanalytic (Barthes, Cardinal, Louise Bourgeois, Lacan). Our last two seminars will lead to a discussion of contemporary inscriptions of sexual and medical bodies, featuring birthing, AIDS, cancer and transgender selves (Arenas, Guibert, Bornstein, Leonard), and end with digital/virtual self-writing and the selfie (Abramovic, Smith, Giroux, Nemer and Freeman). Throughout, we will consider what the enduring obsession with confessing/revealing/ concealing; constructing and deconstructing selves might mean; and finally, whether, at bottom, all writing is self-writing
Work for the course: Whether the course is taken for 2, 3 or 4 credits, all students will be responsible for doing the readings closely and for engaging consistently in class discussion.
a, Students who take the course for 2 credits will present in class a reading of one primary text, which will also be submitted in writing (c 5-7 pp); these students will also take the final exam.
b, Students who take the course for 3 credits, will do all of the above and in addition, they will do a 10-13 page paper on a topic they select, after consultation with the instructor. They will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography and an outline, and the introduction (the schedule will be indicated on the syllabus).
c, Students who take the course for 4 credits will do all of the above, but will do a 20-25-page paper on a topic they select, after consultation with the instructor; they will also submit a thesis statement, a bibliography and an outline, and an introduction (the schedule will be indicated on the syllabus).
Please contact Domna Stanton with any questions (email@example.com).
The syllabus and the course materials to be downloaded will be posted on Blackboard by August 15, 2019.
The class will be conducted in English; readings are in English and French; all French readings will be listed in the syllabus along with their translations.
WSCP 81000 – Contemporary Feminist Theories
GC: TUES, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Jean Halley
Cross-listed with MALS.
This course explores Contemporary Feminist Theories through feminist work about “bodies with gender,” and about what it means to “have” gender and to “be female” with a focus on the United States. Making use of the frame offered by Patricia Ticineto Clough’s book, Feminist Thought, we consider contemporary feminist theories on differences and similarities in the experiences of women and other gendered bodies across lines of class, race and sexuality. We examine how gender defines human experiences and how feminists resist these definitions. Sigmund Freud once called work and love the central arenas of human life. We examine contemporary feminist theories on what it means to have gender in love and to be gendered at work, along with an examination of the representation of women and gender in the larger culture, and of violence in the lives of gendered bodies particularly those gendered female. We make use of a variety of texts in exploring feminist thinking on the “nature” of gender, love and sexuality, so-called women’s work, the expectations “experts” have of diversely gendered bodies, and the representation of gender in the mass media.
WSCP 81000 – Women and Film
GC: TUES, 4:15PM-8:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Elizabeth Alsop
Cross-listed with MALS.
This course will explore female filmmakers’ contributions to global cinema from the studio era to the present, with a particular focus on the ways women have navigated and responded to dominant modes of film production, distribution, and representation. Our primary goals will be to examine the history of women’s labor and creativity in the cinema, while also reckoning with the devalorization of that labor, both in film studies curricula—which has often deprecated the work of women in popular Hollywood genres—and in film history, which continues to minimize the role of female directors in epochal movements. We’ll analyze our weekly screenings in terms of aesthetics and ideology, and consider the ways female filmmakers have engaged with the discourses of feminism, as well as questions of race, class, and sexual identity. We’ll conclude by considering how recent developments, including the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, have affected women’s roles within the 21st-century media landscape.
Screenings may include work by Ida Lupino, Agnès Varda, Věra Chytilová, Chantal Akerman, Barbara Loden, Claudia Weil, Elaine May, Lina Wertmüller, Lizzie Borden, Jane Campion, Julie Dash, Cheryl Dunye, Andrea Arnold, Claire Denis, and Lucrecia Martel. Students will be asked to read essays by scholars such as Laura Mulvey, bell hooks, Claire Johnston, Judith Mayne, Teresa de Lauretis, Tania Modleski, Lúcia Nagib, and Patricia White, among others.
Among the questions we might ask: What have been the prevailing structural constraints faced by female directors in various national contexts? How have industry expectations and cultural biases—regarding gender, genre, and audience—shaped the careers of female filmmakers, and in turn, existing canons? How might film history better account for the work of female editors, producers, and writers, and what is the feminist potential of less auteurist accounts? What should viewers do with the “bad” objects of popular culture? Finally, what “progress,” if any, has been made when it comes to women’s representation behind the camera? How and to what extent might the rise of streaming television platforms be changing the game?
Students will be asked to produce weekly 1-page response papers and a final, 15-20 page paper or creative project. Members of the class would be responsible for facilitating one class session, which includes generating questions and curating additional resources about our screening using a class blog on the CUNY Academic Commons.
MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES
WSCP 81000 – Gender, Sexuality, and Body Politics in the Middle East
GC: THURS, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Elhum Haghighat
Cross-listed with MAMES.
This course offers an overview of the key issues in the study of gender in the contemporary Middle East region. It goes deeper into the understanding of how conceptions of gender, sexuality and body politics are negotiated, positioned, and reproduced in a variety of social and political contexts in the Middle East region and to some degree in the Diasporas. Gendered understanding of the prevailing discourses, social practices, norms and trends in the Middle East societies and politics will be discussed.
WSCP 81000 – Marx and Marxism
GC: MON, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 4 credits, Prof. Charles Mills
Cross-listed with Philosophy.
Widely judged to be dead in the heyday of neo-liberalism and the seeming global post-Cold War triumph of market ideology, left theory has made an impressive comeback in recent years. Witness the concern about the growing chasm between rich and poor in Western nations, and the spectacle of a self-proclaimed socialist drawing huge crowds on the U.S. campaign trail. Karl Marx’s ideas about macro historical patterns, globalization, economic tendencies within capitalist society, commodification and alienation, the power of the privileged classes, the role of dominant ideologies, and the possibility of a radically new social order are thus arguably as relevant as ever. In this course, we will focus on trying to get clear on some of the key concepts within Marx’s thought, how they have been developed by others, and the complex relationship (sometimes involving both critique and appropriation) between Marxism and other bodies of radical “oppositional” political theory (feminism, critical race theory, postcolonial theory).
WSCP 81000 – American Political Thought
GC: TUES, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Ruth O’Brien
Cross-listed with Political Science.
American political thought asks the big theoretical questions about freedom and equality within a representative democracy, even as the United States returns to being a society premised upon gross inequalities. Yet, nearly a century after women gained the right to vote women have no voice in the historical canon of American political thought. This class will pay particular attention to the continuing absence of female voices — in the canon of American political thought and in the American political system.
As with race, this absence will be studied as a silence that speaks volumes about the real nature of American citizenship. Sexism and misogyny, like white supremacy and racism, were built into the American political tradition. These supremacies were designed and propagated by white male propertied citizens, reflecting the hierarchical nature of the American political system that glaringly contradicts the Declaration of Independence phrase “all [people] are created equal.”
WSCP 81000 – Gender and Globalization
GC: MON, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, Prof. Hester Eisenstein
Cross-listed with Sociology.
In this course we will examine the relationship between “globalization,” and the changes in gender relations that have taken place since the 1960s.Since the end of the “long boom” (starting after World War II and lasting through the mid-1970s), academic and mainstream feminism have enjoyed enormous success, during a period of economic, social, and political restructuring that has created an intensified polarization between rich and poor, and an ever-growing mass of desperately impoverished people around the globe. This course will examine this paradox.
We will define globalization, starting from the premise that this is a stage in the development of the international capitalist system, under the economic and military domination of the world’s only remaining superpower. Poor countries have been forced to open their borders to the free flow of capital from the rich countries.”Globalization” involves the intensive use of female labor, from maquiladoras to electronics to textiles. It has also produced an acceleration of “informal” work for women.
While educated women can now walk through many doors previously closed to them, in the worlds of business, sports, academe and politics, the majority of women in the world are increasingly impoverished, overworked and exploited, and subjected to a wide variety of forms of sexual, military, and economic violence. The majority of the world’s migrants and refugees are now women and children.
Where does the ideology of globalization come from? How has globalization affected the conditions of women and children in the developed and the developing world? How has contemporary feminism been shaped by the workforce participation of women? What is the role of class and race in the women’s movement, domestically and internationally? Why are issues of gender, sexuality, and race so central to the culture wars being waged at home and abroad by religious fundamentalist leaders? How does the association of “liberated women” with modernity affect the process of globalization? In the revived social movement that has placed the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other international financial institutions at the center of an intensified campaign for social justice, what is the place for organized women’s activism?
Readings in the course are selected from theoretical writings as well as case studies, and students will be encouraged to develop their own research and activist agendas.
WSCP 81000 – Social Welfare Policy
GC: TUES, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Janet Gornick
Cross-listed with Sociology.
This course will examine social welfare policy in the United States, in historical and cross‐national perspective. We will begin with an overview of the development of social welfare policy in the U.S. We will focus on crucial historical periods – including the Civil War years, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and the “welfare reform” of the 1990s and early 2000s. Second, we will assess “the big picture” of the American welfare state, through the lens of its underlying institutional framework. Third, we will analyze a set of contemporary challenges in the U.S. that call for active policy responses, such as inequality, health insurance, low‐wage work, and care. Finally, we will survey selected social policy lessons from other high‐income countries, especially in Europe, where social provisions are typically more extensive than they are in the U.S.
WSCP 81000 – Criminology in Theory and Practice
GC: THURS, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Profs. Lynn Chancer and Michael Jacobson
Cross-listed with Sociology.