Courses in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies
Frequently Taught Courses Include:
Introduction to Feminist Theory (WGSS 212)
This course explores the theoretical and methodological questions of contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and theoretical orientations. Our interdisciplinary reading will focus on significant works and perspectives in feminist theory from the humanities and social sciences, and apply these theories to contemporary issues. Given the range of theories, we will not be able to cover them all but instead touch on many. We will discuss why we study “theory” and explore the relation between feminist theory and political practice. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, essentialism/social construction, and the construction of difference, among others. This course also aims to think through the ways in which these issues intersect with intersections between social and cultural identities, including, but not limited to, sex, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, class, and ability.
Feminist & Queer Methodologies (WGSS 350)
This course examines two intersecting feminist and queer research methodologies. Our discussion and analysis will concentrate on interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches to conducting queer feminist research. To do intersectional work, then, requires that we not only be attentive to issues of gender and/or sexuality but to look at the ways other discourses and identities shape the issues, policies, normative identities and people we wish to study. These approaches to research emerge from an identity-based perspective (often understood as fluid or conditional) placing emphasis on overlapping markers that intersect to produce subjectivity and inequality —gender, class, sexuality, race, caste, nationality, development, religion, indignity and dis/ability, among others. This course is designed to challenge students to queer dominant narratives to seek alternatives ways of knowing. The aim is that students emerge from this class with a set of queer and feminist methods, whose methodology they can defend and deploy in a final research proposal and future research. Through critical navigations of, cultural, political, and social texts, this course is positioned to set up, and seek answers to, the following questions: Who or what constitutes a feminist and/or queer method? What relationship do these methods bear on the contemporary moment? How and in what ways do scholars and activists do feminist and/or queer research? As well as who is affected (both constructively and violently) by such methods?
Feminist Popular Culture (WGSS 450)
This course considers how popular culture provides us with the scripts to create and practice femininities, masculinities, and sexualities, and how these practices are infused with race and class. We will examine the ways in which popular culture, broadly defined, helps to shape our cultural ideas about intersectional gender* differences. Through a variety of theoretical perspectives (but primarily through feminist cultural studies) we will explore representations of gendered, raced, and classed identities in popular culture to gain a better understanding of how a range of media construct, maintain, and challenge gender and sexuality norms. Given the enormous body of this scholarship, I have chosen to limit the readings to popular culture within a US context. While we will consider some historical examples, to ignite class discussion, the class is largely made up of readings that consider relatively contemporary examples of popular culture. We will examine the tremendous influence that popular culture—in the form of music, films, television, print media, politics, and communication technologies—has on our identities, perceptions, values, and everyday lives. The goal is to learn a different way of “seeing” popular culture and our relationship to it. We will investigate questions such as: How do culture industries reinforce domination? How do marginalized groups use popular culture to subvert existing social hierarchies? **For the purposes of this course I am defining gender as a set of culturally (not biologically) constructed behaviors that are deemed appropriate for the constitution of men and women. I will frequently use the terms masculine and feminine, not to refer to individual men or women, but rather to refer to cultural ideals for the performance of gender roles. In doing so, I encourage you to understand gender is not fixed but is contextual, fluid and deeply intertwined the politics of history, race, and class.