Fall 2014 Courses

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GWS 1011. The Quiet Revolution: Women, Work, and Family in the Twentieth Century.
Explores the revolutionary changes in fertility, marriage, divorce, educational attainment and employment affecting all aspects of women’s lives that occurred over the course of the twentieth century (and onto today). From Lillian Gilbreth (the mother in the book, Cheaper by the Dozen, who was one of the first working female engineers holding a PhD) to Rosie the Riveter; from June Cleaver to Murphy Brown; from “Opting Out” to “Leaning In,” these changes are all around us. Focuses mainly on women in developed countries. Students are not required to have any prior knowledge of economics.
GWS 1012. Literature of Adolescent Sexuality.
Adolescents may be too young and vulnerable to withstand life under adult rules, but too smart and full of emotion to stand the rules of childhood. The result can be chaos, passion, drama—especially in expressions of sexuality. In this First Year Writing Seminar we will examine artistic representations of adolescent sexual life during and after the great shift in sexual norms of the 1960s. Creative work—novels, short stories, narrative nonfiction, and films—will be our primary source material, with scholarly readings supporting our study. Students will write both analytic papers and creative prose.
GWS 1030. Women and the Blues.
An in-depth interdisciplinary examination of historical, social, and cultural contexts of women and blues music of the twentieth century. Focuses on the lives, careers, and social realities of female African American blues singers such as Bessie Smith and Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey and their contributions at the forefront of blues development. Also looks at the influence of blues oral tradition on song lyrics and vocal techniques, from the psychedelic blues of Janis Joplin to women performing jazz, from a socio-cultural perspective. No musical performance background is expected. Course involves both analytical writing and creative projects.
GWS 1033. Sexuality and Imperialism: Race and Gender in Colonial Asia.
Examines how East and West clashed over competing notions about sexuality, gender relations, and family structures. In colonial societies such as British-India, French Indochina (Vietnam) and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia), institutions like polygamy, the harem, temple prostitution, widow burning, and child marriage were shocking to civil servants and settlers from Europe. White-skinned Europeans felt surrounded by alien cultures because of their subjects' skin color as well as their peculiar, even abhorrent, sexual practices. Viewing Asian cultures as inferior bolstered a Western sense of racial superiority and vindicated Europeans' so-called natural right to occupy and rule large territories in South and Southeast Asia. By exploring nineteenth and early twentieth-century ethnographic accounts, travel literature, scientific texts on racial hierarchies, and colonial novels -- in addition to analyzing several films set in colonial India, Vietnam and Indonesia -- students in this seminar will explore the evolving power relationships between European settlers and the native inhabitants of colonial Asia.
GWS 1101. Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies.
An interdisciplinary introduction to the issues, perspectives, and findings of the new scholarship that examines the role of gender in the construction of knowledge. Explores what happens when women become the subjects of study; what is learned about women; what is learned about gender; and how disciplinary knowledge itself is changed.
GWS 2201. Feminist Theory.
The history of women’s studies and its transformation into gender studies and feminist theory has always included a tension between creating “woman,” and political and theoretical challenges to that unity. Examines that tension in two dimensions: the development of critical perspectives on gender and power relations both within existing fields of knowledge, and within the continuous evolution of feminist discourse itself.
GWS 2203. Nation, Religion, and Gender in Indian Epics.
Studies the Indian state-sponsored televised serials of two great Indian epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and examines their overwhelming popularity among the general public. The aim is to explore issues surrounding the concept of Indian nationhood and its interrelation with the Hindu religion and the position of women in Indian society. Readings include scholarly translations and retellings of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata; selected episodes of the televised epics will be viewed followed by engagement with the public debate through published online media and other sources. One-half credit.
GWS 2204. Families: A Comparative Perspective.
Examines families in different societies. Issues addressed include definition and concept of the “family”; different types of family systems; the interaction of family change and other social, economic, and political change; the relationships between families and other social institutions; the role of gender and age in family relationships; and sources and outcomes of stability, conflict, and dissolution within families.
GWS 2207. Black Women, Politics, Music, and the Divine.
Seminar. Examines the convergence of politics and spirituality in the musical work of contemporary Black women singer-songwriters in the United States. Analyzes material that interrogates and articulates the intersections of gender, race, class, and sexuality, generated across a range of religious and spiritual terrains with African diasporic/Black Atlantic spiritual moorings, including Christianity, Islam, and Yoruba. Focuses on material that reveals a womanist (Black feminist) perspective by considering the ways resistant identities shape and are shaped by artistic production. Employs an interdisciplinary approach by incorporating ethnomusicology, anthropology, literature, history, and performance and social theory. Explores the work of Shirley Caesar, the Clark Sisters, Me’shell Ndegeocello, Abby Lincoln, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Dianne Reeves, among others.
GWS 2220. Gender and Sexuality in Classical Antiquity.
Explores male and female sexuality and gender roles in the ancient Greek and Roman world. What did it mean to be male or female? To what extent were gender roles negotiable? How did gender — and expectations based on gender—shape behavior? How did sexuality influence public life and culture? Using literary, documentary, and artistic evidence, the course examines the biological, social, religious, legal, and political principles that shaped the construction of male and female identities and considers the extent to which gender served as a fundamental organizational principle of ancient society. Also considers how Greek and Roman concepts of sexuality and gender have influenced our own contemporary views of male and female roles. All readings are done in translation. Note: This course is offered as part of the curriculum in Gay and Lesbian Studies.
GWS 2223. Cultural Interpretations of Medicine.
Explores a series of topics in health studies from the perspectives of the humanities and social sciences: medical ethics, the development and use of reproductive technologies, relationships between doctors and patients, disability, public health, and the experience of illness. Encourages reflection about these topics through ethnographies, monographs, novels, plays, poetry, and visual arts, such as Barker’s Regeneration, Squiers’ The Body at Risk: Photography of Disorder, Illness, and Healing, Kafka’s Metamorphosis, Bosk’s Forgive and Remember, and Alvord’s The Scalpel and the Silver Bear.
GWS 2248. Family and Community in American History, 1600–1900.
Examines the social, economic, and cultural history of American families from 1600 to 1900, and the changing relationship between families and their kinship networks, communities, and the larger society. Topics include gender relationships; racial, ethnic, cultural, and class variations in family and community ideals, structures, and functions; the purpose and expectations of marriage; philosophies of child-rearing; organization of work and leisure time; and the effects of industrialization, urbanization, immigration, and social and geographic mobility on patterns of family life and community organization.
GWS 2253. Constructions of the Body.
Explores the body as a reflection and construction of language, a source of metaphor, and a political and social “space.” Considers historical and cross-cultural studies about men’s and women’s bodies, sexuality, gender, and power. Throughout, draws from and compares theories of the body in sociology, women’s studies, and gay and lesbian studies.
GWS 2256. Gender, Body, and Religion.
A significant portion of religious texts and practices is devoted to the disciplining and gendering of bodies. Examines these disciplines including ascetic practices, dietary restrictions, sexual and purity regulations, and boundary maintenance between human and divine, public and private, and clergy and lay. Topics include desire and hunger, abortion, women-led religious movements, the power of submission, and the related intersections of race and class. Materials are drawn from Christianity, Judaism, Neopaganism, Voudou, and Buddhism.
GWS 2402. Victorian Race and Empire.
Examines Victorian constructions of racial difference and imperial relationships in literary texts ranging from the 1830s to the fin de siècle. Of central concern will be issues of representation and racialized identity; fantasies about nationhood and colonialism; narratives of “adventure” at home and abroad; and images of gender and sexuality. Literary criticism central to discussions. Authors may include C. Brontë, Conrad, Doyle, Du Maurier, Haggard, Kipling, Marsh, and F. A. Steel.
GWS 2510. Soviet Worker Bees, Revolution, and Red Love in Russian Film.
This interdisciplinary examination of Russian culture surveys the development of literary and visual arts from the 1900s through 2010s. It focuses on the themes of the individual vis-à-vis society and on gender politics using literary and cinematic texts. Topics include “the woman question” in Russia, scientific utopias, eternal revolution, individual freedom versus collectivism, conflict between the intelligentsia and the common man, the “new Soviet woman,” nationalism, the thaw, stagnation of the 1970s, sexual liberation, and the search for post-Soviet identity. Exploring the evolution of literary genres (short story and novella) and film techniques in relation to socio-political and cultural developments, we will pay particular attention to questions of the interrelationship between arts, audience and critic, and the politics of form. Weekly film viewings.