MA Program in Women’s and Gender Studies
Women’s Studies Certificate Program
WGS 71001/WSCP 81001 – Feminist Texts and Theories
GC: MON, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, Prof. Natalie Havlin
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, 11:45PM-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.
CROSS-LISTED ELECTIVE COURSES
WSCP 81000 – Urban Revolutions
GC: WED, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Ida Susser
Cross-listed with Anthropology
EARTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE
WSCP 81000 – Geography and Gender/Sexuality and Space
GC: WED, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, Prof. Cindi Katz
Cross-listed with Earth and Environmental Science
This course will address questions of space, place, and nature in relation to gender and sexuality from a variety of theoretical frameworks. A broad range of topics will be considered such as the sedimentations of gender and sexuality in built form, work environments, play environments, “discrimination by design,” the making of queer space-times, public-private space, performance and spatiality, domestic architectures, embodied geographies, global/intimate geographies, ecofeminisms and feminist approaches to nature, and the hidden and invisible geographies all around us. We will critically engage readings from the humanities, social sciences, and environmental design disciplines concerning the social construction of space, the production of nature, and the making of place in everyday life.
WSCP 81000 – Racial, Religious, and Sexual Queerness in Medieval Literature
GC: THURS, 11:45AM-1:45PM, 2 or 4 credits, Prof. Steven Kruger
Cross-listed with English
Medieval religious difference often involves constructions that, in modernity, might be thought of as more strictly racial. When the Muslim Sultan in the Middle English King of Tars converts to Christianity, his black skin becomes white. And boundaries between religious-racial communities are often policed through the categories of gender and sexuality. Canon law prohibits intermarriage, and it insists that Christian families not employ Jewish or Muslim nursemaids. From at least the thirteenth century on, Jewish and Christian masculinities are sharply differentiated from each other, with (for instance) a myth of Jewish male menstruation and/or anal bleeding being one strong way in which Christian and Jewish bodies are kept ideologically separate. “Sodomy,” too, is often strongly associated with racial-religious others—Mongols, Jews, Muslims, heretics.
In this course, our readings will focus on how racial, religious, gender, and sexual differences—and their intersections—are represented in (mostly) English texts of the Middle Ages. Readings will be drawn from a wide range of writers and works—for example, Marie de France, Chaucer, Gower, Lydgate, Henryson, Christine de Pisan, Malory, The King of Tars, The Croxton Play of the Sacrament, Mandeville’s Travels. Alongside such primary texts, we will read queer, postcolonial, and critical race theory, and recent medievalist work that explicitly takes up such theory in its analysis of medieval culture. And we will read at least one post-medieval text (Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida? Octavia Butler’s science fiction? Ishiguro’s the Buried Giant?), to consider how the medieval constructions we have been analyzing are taken up and modified in later literature.
Students will present orally as part of the seminar structure. Those taking the course for 4 credits will pursue a semester-long writing project. First-year students in the English program will have the opportunity to use the writing project to work on one element of their first-examination portfolios.
WSCP 81000 – Feminism and Globalization
GC: TUES, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 2 or 4 credits, Prof. Sonali Perera
Cross-listed with English
WSCP 81000 – The Nation and its Others: France and Frenchness in the Age of Louis XIV
GC: TUES, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 2; 3(for WGS); 4 credits, Prof. Domna Stanton
Cross-listed with French (Taught in English)
This course will begin by questioning the view that the nation is born after l789. We will consider a set of criteria for nationhood and examine the efforts of Louis XIV and his ministers to transform France into a nation state with one monarch, one law and one faith; a centralized political and cultural structure; physical boundaries/borders, and a dominating linguistic idiom.
However, our principal focus will be the idea that a nation forges an inside by creating an outside, that is, by excluding a set of groups or people. To be sure, that enterprise is doomed to fail since the outside (the other) invariably mixes with or constitutes the necessary supplement to the inside, contrary to proclaimed ideology. Moreover, in late 17th-century France, even insiders, such as members of the noblesse d’épée, felt marginalized in an absolutistic monarchy, and invoked the idea of the nation over and against tyrannical Louis XIV.
The seminar will be devoted to considering five different others: the others within – a religious other (Jews); the gendered other (women); a sexual other (the sodomite) in a nation of reputedly virile Franks. The two others outside we will study are the oriental/Ottoman Turk; and the African slave transported to the French Caribbean.
Readings will include work on the nation by Anderson, Foucault and Balibar; on the early modern nation by Hampton, Bell, Sahlins and Yardeni; historical documents, such as Salic Law and the Black Code; and primary readings by Corneille, Molière, Louis XIV, Perrault, Picard, Racine, Saint Simon; Prideaux, Baudier and Tavernier on the Ottomans; Dufour, du Tertre, and Labat on slaves; and relevant critical texts.
Over and beyond readings and class participation, work for the course will include a presentation in class on a primary text. Those taking the course for 4 credits will also produce a 25-page research paper on some aspect of early-modern nationhood and othering to be determined in consultation with the instructor. For those taking the course for 3 credits, the paper will be no longer than 10-13 pp. Those taking the course for two credits will prepare a written version of the presentation they do in class (5-7 pp.). All students will take the final exam.
For any questions, please contact Domna Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
WSCP 81000 – Psychoanalysis and Politics: History and Theory
GC: TUES, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, Prof. Dagmar Herzog
Cross-listed with History
This is a course in intellectual history and theory; but it is also, and above all, a course in the history of ideas about human selfhood, motivation, and behavior – and the endless mystery of the relationships between fantasy and reality. The course arcs from Freud’s and his contemporaries’ writings in the 1890s-1930s through WW2, Cold War and decolonization to the post-postmodern present. Themes explored include: trauma, aggression, anxiety, destruction, and prejudice; obsession, love, desire, pleasure, attachment, dependency; models of selfhood (conflict vs. deficit vs. chaos), compulsion, neurosis, perversion, narcissism, psychosis; therapy, including neutrality, interpretation, holding, transference, and countertransference; and the myriad relationships of psychoanalysis to politics. Most of the texts focus on Europe and the U.S., but we will explore as well examples from the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.
Our aim is not only to acquire a deepened understanding of the interactions between individual subjectivities, social conditions, and ideological formations (and to consider how psychoanalysis-inspired commentators have theorized these interactions), but to inquire into whether and, if so, how the mechanisms of these interactions may perhaps themselves have changed over time (and this will require situating the assigned texts contextually, but also often reading them against their own grain).
Requirements include careful reading of assigned materials and active and informed participation in class discussions; one final paper on a psychoanalysis-related topic relevant to the student’s dissertation or related intellectual development. The final week is reserved for student presentations to the class; drafts will be circulated ahead of time; students are expected to provide helpful written responses to their peers.
WSCP 81000 – Black Women in Slavery and Freedom
GC: WED, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Tanisha Ford
Cross-listed with History
This course will introduce students to key works, major debates, and recent developments in the field of black women’s history. Some of the first texts were published in the mid-1980s, making it a relatively nascent field that has seen exponential growth over the past few decades. Scholars have developed frameworks, theories, and methods to center black women in American histories wherein their narratives are typically omitted and/or distorted. Using “freedom” as our guiding analytical term, we will also read texts from non-historians, allowing us to explore the intersections of black women’s history, feminist studies, and queer studies—particularly “queer of color critique.” The course will devote considerable attention to black feminist practices of archiving. Students can expect to lead discussions; produce short critical book reviews; and submit a longer review essay, theoretical essay, or methodological essay as a final paper.
WSCP 81000 – Violence in Islamic History
GC: WED, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Anna Akasoy
Cross-listed with History
In this course, we will consider a wide range of examples of violence in Islamic history, primarily in premodern times. Our main focus will be on religious dimensions of violence. Throughout the class, we will be discussing a range of methodological issues such as violence as an analytical concept and violence as an ethical challenge for historians. Recent public debates and much scholarship concentrate on religiously validated public violence in Islamic contexts, especially the ‘inter-state’ violence of conquests and wars. Such violence is widely associated with the concept of jihad and sometimes described as ‘holy war’. While we will be exploring these high-profile subjects, this class will expand its perspective on violence by considering cases that unfold in the context of war, but are not part of combat. We will be discussing enslavement, especially with regard to its gendered dimension. While some enslaved men became soldiers and took on a new role in the exercise of violence, women often became concubines and were subjected to sexual violence. Furthermore, we will be discussing public violence in the context of riots, executions and public corporeal punishments such as flogging. A second set of topics is derived from what may be considered the private sphere. In this context, we will mostly be looking at Islamic law and the way legal scholars understood and approached domestic violence. Apart from violence against wives we will be considering violence against enslaved individuals in private households. To expand our discussion of Islamic law, we will be considering other examples of interpersonal violence, in particular homicide. While most of our material will be textual, a small number of visual sources will be discussed as well, especially with regard to an aestheticization of violence. Depending on student interest, other cases of violence such as violence against the self and violence against non-human animals can be taken into account as well. This course is suitable for students without prior knowledge of Islamic history.
WSCP 81000 – Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies
GC: MON, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, enrollment limit 6, Prof. James Wilson
Cross-listed with MALS
In Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us Kate Bornstein writes, “The first question we usually ask new parents is: ‘Is it a boy or a girl?’” Bornstein recommends the response, “We don’t know; it hasn’t told us yet.” This course explores the ways in which gender and sexuality are pronounced, embodied, and negotiated within specific historical, cultural, and theoretical contexts. Through a close reading of interdisciplinary, foundational, and recent scholarship the class will examine and theorize the ways in which categories of gender and sexuality inform and shape our understanding of the world. Investigating the intersections and collisions of gender and sexuality with race, class, ability, nationality, ethnicity, and age, the class will consider societal and institutional systems of power, privilege, oppression, and marginalization. A sampling of the writers will include, but is in no way limited to, Sara Ahmed, Judith Butler, Simone de Beauvoir, Eli Clare, Patricia Hill Collins, Angela Y. Davis, John D’Emilo, Michel Foucault, Jack Halberstam, bell hooks, Luce Irigaray, Audre Lorde, José Estaban Muñoz, Jasbir Puar, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Dean Spade. Course requirements include an oral presentation with class discussion facilitation; two 4-6 page response papers based on course topics and readings; and a 15-20 page, staged researched essay related to current developments in gender and sexuality studies as they pertain to the student’s own academic and/or professional pursuits.
WSCP 81000 – Women, Work, and Public Policy
GC: TUES, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Janet Gornick
Cross-listed with Political Science
This course will provide an overview of key issues affecting women in the contemporary workplace in the United States and other high-income countries. We will begin with an overview of women’s position in the labor market. Here we will take a multidimensional approach to capturing gender inequality at work, covering gender gaps in employment rates, in working time, in occupation, and in earnings. We will assess growing class inequalities among women, which have led to polarization in the labor market, especially between women with more and less education. We will consider divisions by, e.g., race, ethnicity, nativity, and sexuality. We will analyze the ways in which public policies have addressed these concerns, and evaluate their impacts.
The course also examines the effects on women workers of persistent inequalities in divisions of labor within households. Despite the enormous increase in women’s employment rates during the past half century, women continue to carry out the bulk of unpaid work in their homes. Altering these inequalities has proven even more challenging than transforming the structures that shape paid work. We will consider recent research on the effects of “work-family reconciliation policies”– that is, public policies aimed at supporting women (and men) as they balance the responsibilities of paid work and family care. The key question now under consideration is whether some of these policies – e.g., paid family leave, rights to part-time work, and flexible scheduling – create new forms of gender inequality. Students will complete weekly reaction papers and a semester-long research project.
WSCP 81000 – The American Presidency
GC: THURS, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Ruth O’Brien
Cross-listed with Political Science
Divided into four sections, the seminar first reviews a diverse array of methods and approaches to study the American presidency. Second, it underscores the leadership dilemma of how the president is the only national leader in the United States, at home and abroad, and what this means in “political time.” Third, it explores how the president’s relationship with different state, local, and national institutions, as well as their leaders and the public officials operating these institutions, has waxed and waned in modern and contemporary political time.
Fourth, this seminar raises the leadership dilemma in terms of masculinity (e.g. power, intimidation, force, and authority. Does Trump practice “New Nationalism” in his policies that advance xenophobia, racism, white supremacy, sexism, misogyny, nativism and ablism making explicit all the repressive “isms” that were embedded in liberty and empire, or what Alex Rana calls “the two faces”? Would the U.S. be better served to work with two or more presidents who identify as a woman or uses a non-masculine leadership styles balancing legitimacy and authority? (Often the first woman leader is either patriarchal in thinking or masculine in leadership style and/or cannot support women and children overtly.) Remember the supposedly post-racial Obama presidency.
WSCP 81000 – African Politics
GC: WED, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, Prof. Zachariah Mampilly
Cross-listed with Political Science
Studying the politics of the second largest continent, one divided into 54 sovereign nations and containing over 1.3 billion people, can seem like an impossible task. Yet there are important intellectual commonalities, political trends and historical connections that make the study of “African Politics” not only coherent, but also urgent and essential. In this seminar, we will not attempt to approach the study of the continent chronologically nor will we attempt to sketch a comprehensive picture of political life across Africa. Instead, the seminar is divided thematically focusing on the major debates that have defined African politics since the end of the colonial period and into the current era. A partial list of themes this seminar will cover include: colonialism and its legacies, ethnicity, gender, climate change, political violence, development, political economy, social movements and Africa’s role in the international order. The readings are selected to cover all the major regions of Africa drawing together both classic readings that have endured as well as the latest research from scholars across disciplines and from around the world.
WSCP 81000 – Critical Methods
GC: MON, 2:00PM-4:00PM, 3 credits, enrollment limit 5, Prof. Michelle Fine
Cross-listed with Psychology
We will explore, through the history and contemporary enactments of postcolonial and critical psychology, the buried history of methods/epistemologies/praxis that draw from more liberatory social inquiry within the social sciences/social movements. Students will read history of critical psychology, and interdisciplinary texts, and will contribute to the critical methods archive that is being developed within critical psychology at the GC. This will be a chance to explore the history and transnational examples of critical methods, with visits from our faculty and activist/artivist researchers (e.g. critical statistics, narrative, listening guide, embodied, womanist, post colonial, critical PAR, ethnography, social media analysis, as well as visual methods) and historic excavation of methods erased/silenced in the canon, and those just emerging (mapping, performance, digital) in the interdisciplinary membranes of critical research.
WSCP 81000 – Food, Culture, and Society
GC: WED, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Barbara Katz Rothman
Cross-listed with Sociology
WSCP 81000 – Capitalism and Crisis
GC: TUES, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Roslyn Bologh
Cross-listed with Sociology
WSCP 81000 – Gender and Violence
GC: MON, 6:30PM-8:30PM, 3 credits, Prof. Jayne Mooney
Cross-listed with Sociology
This course explores the relationship between gender, crime and the criminal justice system. It focuses on feminist historical, sociological and socio-legal scholarship to examine the ways in which gender affects patterns of offending, victimization, and imprisonment. It critically engages with the intersections between gender, race, class and sexuality and analyzes how these impact on the treatment of women, as victims, survivors and offenders. It provides an overview of the historical neglect of women’s contributions to sociological and criminological theory.
Cultural representations of masculinity and femininity are considered throughout. Debates are explored on the construction of masculinit(ies) in contemporary society, and recent work on transfeminism and non-binary gender identities. Specific topics to be covered include: violence against women, fear of crime, sex work, war, gangs, serial killing, imprisonment, immigration and feminist research methods.
WSCP 81000 – (De)Constructing Black Girlhoods
GC: TUES, 4:15PM-6:15PM, 3 credits, Prof. Sherry Deckman
Cross-listed with Urban Education
This course will examine the shifting constructions of Black girlhood(s) and the emerging field of Black girlhood studies, including theories derived from critical race and Black feminisms, methods, and analytical approaches to the study of Black girlhood. Further, the class will interrogate Black girlhood as a political category of identity and symbol of agency, addressing such topics as foundations of the field, utility of the categories of “girl” and “woman” and representation of Black girlhood in academic literature and popular culture. As such, we will consider the multiplicity of the Black girlhoods as embodied and experience through, for example, gender, sexuality, and geography. This course will aim to think through and embody theories and practices—emancipatory, humanizing, radical acts—as produced by Black girls, artists, and scholars. Class members will apply their theoretical understandings to final projects in which they either propose a research design informed by Black girlhood studies or conduct preliminary analysis of data drawing on related theories.