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Course Descriptions (2022-23)

FALL 2022 | WINTER 2023 | SPRING 2023 | SUMMER 2023 

Fall 2022

GNDR_ST 101-6-20: Intersectionality & Coalitional Politics

What does it mean to describe race, gender, sexuality, and class as "intersecting" identities or categories? What new forms of knowledge and ways of knowing, political tools and ways of doing politics does this insight make possible? And how can we use these to make sense of and respond to the urgencies of the present moment? In this seminar we will focus on "intersectionality" as a mode of feminist critical inquiry and activist practice (or "critical praxis") forged by Black feminists. As Patricia Hill Collins explains, "The term intersectionality references the critical insight that race, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, ability, and age operate not as unitary, mutually exclusive entities, but as reciprocally constructing phenomena that in turn shape complex social inequalities." Together we will read foundational texts by Collins and other Black feminist scholars and activists to understand and explore this critical insight and the coalitional politics that an intersectional analysis both demands and makes possible. We will pair these readings with collective research into both past and present projects that engage this form of Black feminist "critical praxis" to respond to complex social inequalities, including Black Lives Matter, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective.

GNDR_ST 220-0-20: Sexual Subjects: Introduction to Sexuality Studies

This interdisciplinary introductory lecture/discussion course surveys the sprawling topics of sex, sexuality, and sexuality studies. It is one of two courses intended as introductions to the Gender and Sexuality Studies major. In addition to considering the multiple ways in which sexuality is simultaneously a somatic fact, a locus of identity; a site of regulation, contestation, and sociability—and, of course, an arena of pleasure—explicit attention will also be paid to the work of Northwestern scholars in different disciplines (history, sociology, anthropology, literature…) and the ways they formulate and attempt to answer questions about sexuality. Major questions will include: what makes a body male or female, homosexual or heterosexual, “normal” or “deviant” and how have the answers to those questions changed over time? Is the history of sexuality one of increasing liberation? How is the policing of sexual behavior related to the (re)production of other social categories such as race, gender, and adolescence?

GNDR_ST 231-0-20: Race & Gender in the Americas: Latin American & Caribbean Cultures

This course examines historical and cultural constructions of race and gender in Latin America and the Caribbean. This class will explore intersections of race and gender via case studies of diverse communities and countries in the region through both historical and contemporary perspectives. Students will learn how racial and gender identities are constructed and interpreted in the Americas and the ways these identities have shaped Latin American and Caribbean cultures, politics and societies. The course will situate race, gender, class and sexuality amongst social, cultural, economic and political transformations in the region and the comparative dimensions of these processes in order to illustrate the diversity and complexity of the region’s history and development. This course will explore broad patterns, changes, and continuities in the history of race, gender, and class in Latin America through an analysis of various topics such as the conquest, colonization, slavery, independence struggles, nation-building, imperialism, neo-colonialism, Revolution, violence, social movements, and inter-American relations. This course will provide both anthropological and interdisciplinary perspectives about the intersection of race and gender, and the impact of their interaction in developing a nuanced appreciation of history and culture in Latin America and the Caribbean.

GNDR_ST 235-0-20: Beyond the Binary

This introductory course explores the boundaries and binaries of gender, sexuality, race, and disability. This course will analyze approaches to understanding gender norms and identity categories, as well as consider experiences and contestations beyond these binaries. Particularly through reading trans, non-binary, and genderqueer histories, experiences, and politics, this class will consider the possibilities and problems of categorizing “the beyond.” We will discuss shifting conceptualizations of “normal” as it pertains to identity and embodiment, and what is assumed to defy this “normal” as embedded in the intersecting histories and legacies of race, class, sexuality, nationality, and ability. For instance, what is the relationship between race and gender that specifically shapes and forms the boundaries of gender in the United States? What possibilities and realities exist beyond the binaries of straight/gay, Black/white, abled/disabled, citizen/non-citizen? How does power in social, cultural, and political arenas impact these discourses? This course aims to recognize and understand these contested histories through the lens of our current moment.

GNDR_ST 331-0-20: Work & Occupations: Focus on Gender

 The gender division of labor is a key organizing principle in all known societies, but it takes a fascinating array of forms. In industrialized and post-industrial societies, women have increasingly taken up paid employment and moved into formerly-masculine fields, driven by demand for women workers as the economy shifts toward the service sector, and more recently by feminist movements. Yet women are still doing the majority of caring and household labor, while men's take-up of traditionally feminine caring labor has been far more limited. Moreover, the sex segregation of occupations and substantial gendered earnings gaps remain. Meanwhile, much of the work formerly done by housewives has been "outsourced" to paid service workers, many of whom migrate from global South to global North to take up this work. Scholars debate about whether and how these arrangements will change, and whether they may be influenced by political initiatives, either top-down (e.g., affirmative action to recruit women to STEM fields) or bottom-up (e.g., cultural and media campaigns to validate new norms). In this course, we will investigate the ways in which work - paid and unpaid, in families and in places of employment - is organized by gender and other forms of power, difference and inequality, such as race, class and migration/citizenship status. We will examine family divisions of labor across diverse households: how do men and women divide domestic work and care for children or others needing care? Where does non-familial provision come into play? What are the consequences for outcomes in paid employment and in terms of the distribution of time, respect, and power? We will learn about the development of the modern economy and occupational sex segregation, as well as how different kinds of men, women and others are treated at work. Finally, we will consider the role of government policy in sustaining or changing these arrangements.

GNDR_ST 331-0-21: Political Sociology: Gender, Power, Politics

 This class will investigate how gender shapes politics and policy, and how these in turn shape gender, in the United States and other countries, situated in global context. Gender is conceptualized as a set of relations, identities and cultural schema, always constituted with other dimensions of power, difference and inequality (e.g., race, class, sexuality, religion, citizenship status). We will analyze the gendered character of citizenship, political participation and representation, social rights and economic rights. We aim to understand gendered politics and policy from both "top down" and "bottom up" perspectives. What do states do, via institutions of political participation and representation, citizenship rights and policies, to shape gender relations? How do gender relations influence the nature of policy and citizenship? How has feminism emerged as a radical challenge to the androcentrism and restricted character of the democratic public sphere? And how has anti-feminism come to be a significant dimension of politics? We expand on conventional conceptions of political participation and citizenship rights to include the grassroots democratic activism that gave birth to modern women's movements. We explore how women's political efforts have given rise to the creation of alternative visions of democracy, social provision and economic participation, as well as reshaping formal politics and policies. And, finally, we will take advantage of the fact that we are in the middle of an election to examine some of the gendered aspects of the political landscape in the contemporary United States. The course readings feature different types of materials – original documents, scholarly books and articles, a textbook, policy reports, popular non-fiction work on aspects of gender, policy, politics and society. These are supplemented by films and online resources.

GNDR_ST 332-0-21: Race/Gender/Sex & Science: Making Identities and Differences

What is the scientific status of our ideas about race? How are medical and legal ideas invoked in determinations about people’s gender identities? Overall, how do developments in the life sciences affect our understandings of who we are, how we differ, and how social inequalities are created, perpetuated, and challenged? This seminar explores how scientific claims and technological developments help transform cultural understandings of race, gender, and sexuality. Conversely, we will consider how cultural beliefs about race, gender, and sexuality influence scientific knowledge and medical practice. We will take up a series of controversies from the recent past and present to explore the dynamic interplay between expert findings, social identities, and political arguments.

GNDR_ST 340-0-20: Gender, Sexuality, & the Law

This course offers an introduction to the relationship between gender, sexuality, and law in the United States, both historically and currently. We'll look at legal categories of gender and sexuality that have governed (and, often, continue to govern) the household (including sex, marriage, divorce, reproductive rights, and custody), the economy (including employment, property, and credit), and the political sphere (including voting, jury service, and citizenship). We will also explore how feminist and queer activists have resisted legally produced inequalities and how their efforts have created enduring social change.

GNDR_ST 341-0-20: Trans* Related Medical Surgeries in Thailand

This course is situated at the intersection of theoretical, cultural, medical, and commercial online discourses concerning the burgeoning Gender Affirmation-related surgeries presented online and conducted in Thailand. Using Gender, Queer, Trans, Asian American, and Digital Humanities Theories, we will discuss the cross-cultural intersections, dialogues, refusals, and adaptions when thinking about medical travel to Thailand for gender/sex related surgeries. We will examine Thai cultural/historical conceptions of sex and gender, debates concerning bodies and diagnoses, and changes in presentations of sex/gender related surgeries offered online. We will also explore how digital archives are created and managed. Investigating transcripts of live interviews, medical discourses, and an archive of web images offering GAS surgeries produced by Thais for non-Thais will serve as axes for investigating this topic.

GNDR_ST 371-0-20: Lesbian Representation in Popular Culture

This class will examine lesbian representation in film and television over the last four decades. “Representation” is a tricky word in politics and media: queer communities, communities of color, and disabled communities (and those categories overlap in important ways) have pushed for more representation in film, television, the music industry, and publishing. Lesbian women have long complained of the community’s invisibility. At the same time, minoritized communities must grapple with the fact that simple representation can be a mixed bag. If the primary goal is visibility, is all representation good representation? Are lesbian villains, or lesbians who are narratively punished, still politically useful? Does the inclusion of a lesbian character (or lesbian characters) “count” if no one involved in the production of the object was themselves a lesbian? This course will explore these questions and more, discussing theoretical readings from cultural studies alongside our primary films, television, music, and print media. We will consider the difficult and derogatory tropes that are part and parcel of lesbian representation in the media, but we will engage most intensively with narratives that have attempted to expand the narrative potential of queer female life and to affirm lesbian identities—with complex results.

GNDR_ST 372-0-20: Sound, Sexuality, and Space

This is a course in queer urban sound studies focused on Chicago. My objective is to train students to use music and aural experience as a means of analysing queer city life. This course will introduce students upon methods sound studies, ethnomusicology, affect theory, queer studies, urban studies, and the critical geography of race. In addition to reading and regular writing assignments, students will engage in ethnographic work in Chicago throughout the quarter.

Chicago will be our main field site, however we will take a comparative approach and bring in other cities in the global south and north as points of reference. Topics may include the Chicago House scene, drag culture, the South Side’s configuration a racialized and eroticized space, the development of noise codes to constrain queer domestic life, the role of music as erotic force in the clubs of Boystown, musical performances in bath houses, and the opera house as a site of gay male desire and community. All of these spaces offer ways to think of the importance of sound and music in the production of queer affect and urban sociability.

GNDR_ST 374-0-20: Imagining the Internet: Fiction, Film, and Theory

Much recent fiction, film and theory are concerned with representing the internet and the World Wide Web. Sometimes cyberspace is depicted as a continuation of previous media such as television, cinema or telephone, but often it is envisioned as a new frontier. This course will examine the ways in which virtual media appears in cultural discourses. We consider how technological objects and tools participate in shaping elements of our culture that may appear natural, logical, or timeless. Our guiding questions will include the following: In what ways are these narratives shaping collective perceptions of the internet? How have virtual technologies challenged experiences of language, gender, community and identity? We will focus on social networking, gaming, artificial intelligence, and literary and filmic representations of these. Following a Cultural Studies model for inquiry, this course will be project-based and experiential. Your attendance and participation are mandatory. No experience needed, only a willingness to take risks and share work.

GNDR_ST 382-0-20: Queer Latinx Cultures: Aesthetics, Archives, and Performance

This course is organized around the reading of books and journals exploring the interconnectedness of cultures, aesthetics, and archives. The course considers how our understandings of cultures are based on the racialization of minoritized communities. We start by an acknowledgment that Latinx sexualities are complex and not fixed. We will read texts from queer and trans scholars in Latinx studies as well as engage with visual culture, performances, archives, and music. Throughout we will explore a variety of cultures such as Drag Balls, Tea Parties, Queer Punks, Queer Femmes, Art, and Pop-Culture. Students will become familiar with important scholarship in the growing field of Latinx queer studies and will develop a stronger critical analytic on how race, class, sexuality, and gender inform our understanding in the current political climate.

GNDR_ST 390-0-20: Witches, Bots, and Trolls: Misinformation in Society

This course surveys the social scientific study of misinformation in society. We will query the past to learn about how misinformation has evolved over time as a sociocultural feature of human societies. We will interrogate the present to examine how misinformation figures in the defining political, social, and economic problems of our time. And we will imagine the implications of misinformation for the future and explore our agency in shaping that future. We will draw on case studies, documentaries, and anthropological and social scientific literature on rumor and gossip, conspiracy theories, post-truth politics, deradicalization, and social media to explore topics and concepts such as "fake news," digital populism, algorithmic bias, weaponized disinformation, the "infodemic," deep fakes, and more. Case studies may include COVID-19 and climate change denialism, political conspiracy theories from the French Revolution to the Red Scare to Pizzagate, troll farms and other tactics of information warfare, and the role of misinformation in current controversies over "gender ideology," trans rights, and critical race theory.


GNDR_ST 390-0-21: Viruses & Viral Media

What are viruses? Are they living or dead? How does news media affect their influence on the world? And why do we say news "goes viral?" Designed for Medill and non-Medill students alike, Viruses and Viral Media will study how viruses intersect with race, sexuality, disability, economics and the news media. Historically and contemporarily, the course will look at how actual viruses and infectious diseases (such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Hepatitis C, influenza and SARS-CoV-2) have been covered in the global press. We will consider how certain groups of humans have been depicted as viruses themselves, such as how Jewish/disabled/queer/Roma people were described by the German and US press circa WW II; how African Americans were described in the US press circa Jim Crow; and how Muslim, Mexican and migrant people are described in press and social media now. We will also consider how and why popular news "goes viral." Students will work in research groups to study viruses and virality in the news throughout the term.

GNDR_ST 396-0-20:  Senior Capstone in Gender & Sexuality Studies

This capstone course will allow advanced Gender & Sexuality Studies majors to apply a wide range of discipline-specific methods, studies, and thought traditions to a series of movies and television shows that premiered during the years that course participants pursued their degrees in GSS. The abilities to amplify, complicate, or contest popular narratives with historical context, empirical data, intersectional nuance, and conceptual rigor, and to express those positions in clear, persuasive writing, are valuable skills that a degree in Gender & Sexuality Studies make possible. So is the ability to hold meaningful, challenging, but mutually supportive conversation across the broad spectrum of subfields that our discipline encompasses.

GNDR_ST 401-0-20:  Graduate Colloquium

The Gender and Sexuality Studies Graduate Colloquium is an interactive, participatory forum for graduate students in the GSS cluster and certificate programs. Activities include the circulation and discussion of work-in-progress and a workshop for pre-professional activities, meetings with faculty in the program, presentations by recent fellowship recipients, and review of important publications by visiting scholars.

GNDR_ST 490-0-20: Sociology of Sexuality

This graduate seminar asks the following questions: What do we learn about society by studying sexuality? What do we learn about sexuality by studying society? We will focus on sociological approaches to studying sexuality and link sexuality studies to broader sociological questions about culture, social interaction, social inequality, globalization, social movements, science, health, and public policy. We will explore various theoretical and methodological approaches that have been used in sociological studies of sexuality—including those that guide sexuality-related analyses of meanings and identities, practices and behaviors, politics, power, relationships, population movement, collective identities and social movements, and morality and social control.

GNDR_ST 490-0-21: Philosophy of Protest

What does it mean to engage in activism and acts of protest? In this seminar we will study philosophical elucidations of protest actions and protest movements through critical race theory, feminist theory, queer theory, and communication theory. Special attention will be given to the role of the body and performativity in protest, the role of political art in activism, and the role of emotions and affective communication in protest actions and protest movements. Our readings and discussions will cover protest movements such as Black Lives Matter, Queer Nation, and global feminist movements (Me Too, Ni Una Menos, etc.). Authors will include Judith Butler, Iris Marion Young, Candice Delmas, and Juliet Hooker, among others.

GNDR_ST 490-0-22: Sexual Knowledges: Science, Archives, Traces

Sexuality studies has flourished in recent decades amidst the multiplicities of desires, identities, and bodies. As loci of meaning-making, hierarchical differentiation, and political struggles, as well as the space of transgressive imagination and alternative subjectivities, sexuality studies has never been neutral. This course focuses on the scholarly debates over the practices and politics of sexual knowledges across historical moments, locations, and projects. We will analyze how this knowledge was (and is) produced, what counts as knowledge, who gets recognized as an “expert” (and why), and who collects and curates. Our work will especially highlight the dynamic relations between story-telling, assembling, documentation, and interpretation. In doing so, we critically examine the multiple meanings of archives, their origins, and uses. Equally, we problematize the silences and so-called ephemera? Readings will include works on sexuality and bio-politics, classic works in sexology, and ethnographies. The course will also consider film and other media as well as digital archives. Finally, I hope to arrange Zoom conversations with archivists, collections curators and investigators on how they navigate collections as well as how they have assembled their research.

GNDR_ST 490-0-23: Queer Love and Loss

The dynamics of love and loss have long been animating forces in queer of color critique, queer theory, and trans studies. This course explores the thematics of love and loss in queer and trans art and writing, engaging with key debates about pleasure, death, and sex; melancholia and reparation; desire, love, being-with, and grief. Paying particular attention to queer of color, feminist, and trans approaches to love and loss, and drawing from intellectual traditions that include psychoanalysis and performance studies, authors and artists studied may include: C. Riley Snorton, Christina Sharpe, José Esteban Muñoz, Amber Musser, Lauren Berlant, Micha Cardenas, Felix González-Torres, Yoko Ono, Leo Bersani, Hoang Tan Nguyen, Nao Bustamante, Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein, Juana Maria Rodríguez, Gertrude Stein, Jean LaPlanche, Paul Preciado, Avgi Saketopoulou, David Eng, Shinhee Han, Jennifer Doyle, Darieck Scott, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Marlon Riggs, Keijaun Thomas, Joan Riviere, and Omiseke Nitasha Tinsley. This course is open to graduate students only.

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