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Course Descriptions (2022-23)

FALL 2022 | WINTER 2023 | SPRING 2023 | SUMMER 2023 

Fall 2022

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 332-0-22: Asian American Disability Politics

In the introduction to 2013’s Amerasia Journal on “The State of Illness and Disability Studies in Asian America,” James Kyung-Jin Lee asks, “What would it mean for Asian American Studies to imagine its central subject, its imagined body, as a disabled or ill one?” Following this question, this course centers historical and contemporary writing and cultural productions—such as memoirs, essays, poetry, zines, blogs, visual and performance art—by Asian/Americans living with illness and disability. We will use this to explore potential topics such as: the model minority discourse and sickness; queer, feminist, Asian Americanist approaches to care and cure; crip theory/activism; eugenics and racial capitalism; disability and COVID-19; Roe v. Wade; and current issues in disability justice movement.

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 382-0-21

This course invites students to explore feminist speculative fiction as a site for social justice advocacy. Students will read classic feminist and afrofuturist science fiction as they prepare their own original short stories for publication. Drawing heavily on the work of feminist afrofuturist Octavia Butler, students will engage imaginative narratives that allow them to think through solutions to the problems of our time. Students will explore the genre elements of short stories and speculative fiction, ultimately integrating these lessons into their own short stories. This is a writing and reading intensive class.

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 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.

Winter 2023

GNDR_ST 101-6-20: Sick Girls and Hardy Heroines 

Ill women are scattered across the pages of literature, from swooning ladies in sentimental novels to cancer patients in popular fiction. Illness acts as narrative momentum, as a metaphor for social “ills,” and as a signifier of tragic virtue in an individual character. Focusing on the 18th and 19th centuries, this class will examine how the tropes of illness in popular literature pertains to our broader cultural assumptions about illness, health, and gender. How do traits associated with femininity resemble literary representations of illness, and vice-versa? How might we locate or analyze femininity in representations of ill men? How do these tropes change over time? What happens if health, rather than illness, becomes a primary marker of virtue? And what does all of this mean for us today? How has the construction of ill femininity been bound up in whiteness, and how has this contributed to systemic and medical racism? What is the relationship between the representation of ill femininity and contemporary “wellness culture”—or even contemporary feminism?

GNDR_ST 101-6-21: Introduction to Queer Indigenous Studies

How have colonization processes shaped our current understandings of gender and sexuality? In what ways are contemporary identities such as queer and trans* expansive yet reductive to approach the experiences of Indigenous and Native people across time? This course is an introduction to the study of Indigenous ways of knowing of gender and sexuality in the Americas with a focus on the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Two-Spirit (LGBTQ2) individuals. By introducing and relying on concepts such as settler colonialism, decoloniality and coloniality, performativity, and indigeneity, we will build an Indigenous-centered understanding of gender and sexual non-normativity. As we move across several communities and geographical spaces, students will engage first-person accounts, films, short literary texts, performance and art pieces, and theoretical works. This course thoroughly focuses on a handful of representative case studies that will invite students to explore new ones on their own for their final projects. Overall, students will develop writing skills and strategies to read theory in the humanities while expanding their knowledge on gender and sexual minorities beyond western ideas. This course assumes no prior knowledge on gender and sexuality studies or Indigenous studies and offers strong foundation for further study in these fields of knowledge.

GNDR_ST 234-0-20: Language & Gender

An exploration of the role that gender plays in the language of and about men and women, focusing on gendered speech as part of social practice in local communities. Topics include identity categories and labels, gender-based slurs and reclaimed epithets (e.g. "bitch" and "slut"), gender vs. sex vs. sexuality, the contested notion of ‘political correctness’, sexist/misogynist language, and the role of linguistic prescriptivism.

GNDR_ST 250-0-20: Race, Gender, & Sexuality in Science & Anti-Science

Is race “real”? Do men and women have different brains? Is sexuality a choice (and should that matter)? This course examines the way these and other questions have been taken up in scientific discourse and how, in turn, scientific discourse has become a battleground in political disputes over trans rights, gender equality, and racial justice in the United States and beyond. We will approach race, gender, and sexuality as biosocial constructs, exploring their roles in debates about the relationship between biology and society, nature and culture, human similarity and difference, and knowledge and politics. Course modules will: contextualize how cultural understandings of human difference have shaped—and still impact--the development of Western science; examine contemporary scientific questions related to sex, gender, race, & sexuality, genetic diversity, medicine, technology, and the role of science in contemporary politics; explore how social inequalities can become embodied and produce biological effects; and interrogate the contemporary politicization and instrumentalization of scientific discourses related to race, gender, and sexuality, including by White supremacist, anti-trans, and anti-feminist movements.

GNDR_ST 321-0-21: US Women’s History, 1865-Present

This course explores the history of women in the United States from 1865 to the present. Adopting an intersectional approach, we will examine women’s changing roles as wage earners, mothers, and activists. We will also explore how prevailing ideas about race, gender, work, and the family shaped women’s lives, in both the public and private arenas.

GNDR_ST 321-0-22: Pleasure in the Archives 

"I find myself increasingly insisting on the importance of history, not because things were better (or worse) in an earlier time but because, as cocreators of collective memory, we’re all doing it one way and another, and it matters how we tell the story."—Finn Enke, “Collective Memory and the Transfeminist 1970s” TSQ (2018)

In a recent article, historian Finn Enke points out that “1970s feminism has entered collective memory as an exclusionary thing, distinct from the experiences, labor, and critiques by feminists of color, trans and queer people of the same era” but challenges us to reconsider “feminism’s deeply questioning, queer, coalitional and anti-imperialist past,” or risk missing “some ways that feminist, lesbian, and queer of color and trans activists grappled hard to develop critical insights and knowledges that move us today.” Much recent scholarship on this period has taken up Enke’s challenge including histories that document the anti-imperialist and coalitional politics of the “gay and lesbian left” (Lavender and Red, 2016), explore “the long history of transfeminist activism” (TSQ Special Issue: Trans/Feminisms, 2016), recuperate the critical contributions of Black feminist organizations in “broadening the scope of the women’s movement” (Living for the Revolution: Black Feminist Organizations, 1968-1980, 2005), and chronicle “activism by, for, and about incarcerated domestic violence survivors, criminalized rape resisters, and dissident women prisoners in 1970s and early 1980s” (All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing and the Feminist Fight to End Violence, 2018).

GNDR_ST 331-0-20: Sociology of Gender

This course is an opportunity for students to critically examine what is often a taken-for-granted aspect of social life: gender. This course will involve learning about gender as well as applying gender theory. We will study a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of gender, with particular focus on ethnomethodological, post-structural, macro-institutional, and intersectional approaches to the topic. By the end of the term, students will be able to 1) describe and compare theoretical anchors for the study of gender and 2) in writing, demonstrate mastery of two theoretical approaches to gender and apply one theory to a topic of their choosing. Prior course experience in gender/sexuality studies (by way of taking Gender & Society or other course work) is strongly advised.

GNDR_ST 341-0-21: Feminist, Queer, Crip: South Korea and Its Discontents

This course examines contemporary discussions on the topics of gender, sexuality, and disability in South Korea. The past decade has seen an explosion of popular interest in feminism in South Korea. Along with this were competing debates on social and economic inequalities and overlooked sites of intersectional violence. Students will explore how queer and crip frameworks trouble and deepen feminist debates and situate these frameworks in relation to Korea’s history of militarism, war, and migration. Course materials include scholarship on feminist, queer, and crip theories beyond the Korean context, novel and short stories, TV show, news articles, and films.

No prior knowledge of the Korean language or culture is necessary. Course assignments include an individual presentation, a group creative writing project, and a final research paper. Student participation, discussion, and peer collaboration are important aspects of this course, and all students will be encouraged to speak in class.

GNDR_ST 341-0-22: Transnational Perspectives on Gender & Sexuality

Since the 1980s, third wave feminists have critiqued fundamental assumptions of second-wave feminism and worked to incorporate perspectives and voices outside the "West." In more recent decades, a similar movement has happened among queer and trans theorists. In this course, we will engage this work, much of which has been published in the past decade and a half. Course readings, which will survey scholarship on gender/sexuality in many regions of the world, will draw our attention to the ways in which gender/sexuality are implicated in capitalist, imperial and post-colonial projects as well as how gender and sexuality operate outside the "West," both in practice and identity. Finally, we will consider the possibilities and limitations for studying gender/sexuality beyond our own societies. Critical approaches to gender and sexuality challenge conventional "born this way" narratives about gender and sexual identities as innate. This course will raise questions that will make us uncomfortable and, hopefully, transform our understandings of our own gendered and sexual identities and practices.

GNDR_ST 341-0-23: Queer Worldbuilding: Sexuality and Space in Global Perspective

Traditional ways of representing the world around us are steeped in heteronormative assumptions and practices. How might we re-imagine or represent the world around us in a queer way? This class explores what makes a queer space "queer" and why these spaces are so elusive and poorly represented within traditional maps. Drawing from literatures including queer and Black geographies, Black feminism, and phenomenology, we will examine queer mapping projects from scholars, artists, and activists around the world who have re-envisioned what a map can depict—erasing borders, marking queer communities or imagining new ones, and disrupting heteronormativity to actively re-invent queer worlds. Course participants will also regularly engage in their own creative mapping projects.

GNDR_ST 350-4-2: Participatory Research in Queer Studies

Participatory research methods have been key to queer studies since its inception. The use of methodologies like oral history, ethnography and participant observation reflects the lack of written sources on the queer past, but also the political objectives of many researchers – to empower their participants, challenge normativity, and often pursue social change. In this class, we will examine some of the approaches to participatory research, and explore how participatory research might be different in the specific context of queer studies. How is the relationship between researcher and participant altered when both are LGBTQ+ (or assumed to be)? How might queer theory pose a challenge to the activist objectives of participatory research, and vice versa?

The central focus of your writing requirements will be your own research paper, on a topic of your choice, putting the participatory research methods we have learned about into practice. We will work on this step by step throughout the quarter, with consistent feedback and support to enable you to become independent researchers. The ability to conduct independent research is an extremely valuable skill, enabling you to develop as scholars and engage directly with the topics and questions we will be covering.

GNDR_ST 351-0-20: Gender, Sexuality, & the Carceral State

This course explores the rise of the carceral state in the United States with particular attention to ethnographic, sociolegal, feminist, queer, and transgender theoretical approaches to the study of prisons. The course centers on girls, women, and LGBT people’s experiences with systems of punishment, surveillance, and control. In addition, students will learn how feminist and queer activists have responded to institutions of policing and mass incarceration; investigate how they have understood prison reform, prison abolition, and transformative justice; and consider the political, ethical, and methodological concerns that policing, and mass incarceration raise.

GNDR_ST 352-0-20: Intro to Foucault: Power, Sex, and Knowledge

The course offers a foundational competency in the main concepts and texts of Michel Foucault, the most broadly influential late-twentieth-century French philosopher. We will foreground the aspects of Foucault’s approach that have most impacted inquiry and critique in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. We will give special attention to the fields of gender and sexuality studies, and Black studies as contexts of uptake, criticism, and revision of Foucauldian concepts. Thematically, the course will focus on Foucault’s writings on sexuality, madness, health, prisons, delinquency, families, power, biopolitics, surveillance, selfhood and individuality, knowledge, and truth. Conceptually, we’ll debate and apply core Foucauldian concepts such as:  archaeology and genealogy; discipline and biopower, the productivity and plurality of power; normalization and its dependence on “abnormality;” the conditions under which freedom is also a form of “subjection”; the carceral society, the possibilities of social resistance and transformation; the historical a priori; and epistemic rupture.   We’ll critically assess the contribution of Foucault’s major works (focusing on History of Madness, Discipline and Punish, and History of Sexuality). The course is reading intensive- students will read  a) weekly excerpts by Foucault; b) their own choice of one work by Foucault as the basis of their final paper (a number of options are extensively discussed in class), and c) at least one extra chapter or article by a contemporary critic (many options are provided). Canvas will be the forum for weekly contributions to class debate- your critical responses to Foucault and each other are encouraged. The course is open to both undergraduates and graduates —  discussion sections are offered for graduate students after the Thursday class each week (with Penelope Deutscher) and for undergraduates on Fridays (with Micol Bez).

GNDR_ST 353-0-21: Deportation Law & Politics

The course reviews the history and theory of citizenship and deportation policies. Students will learn about deportation and "transportation" laws in colonial-era Britain and the colonies, as well as United States deportation laws from 1776 through the present. There will be some lecture but most of the class time will be used to discuss the readings and train students in how to conduct original legal research using databases with case law, Congressional hearings, and federal regulations, as well as immigration law enforcement statistical information. Two weeks will be devoted to citizenship and deportation policies outside the United States. For the final paper, students will be asked to compare a policy from before 1996 with a deportation policy after 1996. Students must attend at least three hours of immigration court hearings in downtown Chicago before the fourth week of the quarter. No exceptions. This can be accomplished in one visit. (The court is easily accessible by public transportation.)

GNDR_ST 361-0-22: Science Fiction & Social Justice

This course will examine major utopian and dystopian texts in relation to social justice issues in the twentieth and twenty-first century, while following the stories of artists, organizers, and communities that have used speculative world-building to imagine livable, sustainable futures. We will focus on how feminist, anarchist, LGBTQ, and Afrofuturist art and activism have contributed to a substantial critical discourse on the intersections of science, technology, ecology, war, race, gender, sexuality, health, and ability. We will further examine how artists and activists have understood religion as both impediment and partner to social justice work, while alternatively embracing, subverting, and defying religious authority. We will attend to how religious myths and imagery are sampled and remixed by science fiction authors to plot an alternative course for world history.

GNDR_ST 361-0-23: Pride, Prejudice, and the Passions: Jane Austen and Ugly Feelings

Jane Austen’s beloved classic novels are often characterized as sweeping romances—but are they? Sense and Sensibility notoriously pairs its fanciful young heroine with a solemn middle-aged man she admires, but perhaps does not love; Mansfield Park ends with a peaceable marriage between two cousins who received more exciting proposals elsewhere; and even the heroine of Pride and Prejudice—that seeming romance par excellence—only begins to consider the hero as a romantic possibility after seeing his extensive estate. Readers of Jane Austen, know that love—be it affection, admiration, or desire—is never not a complicated emotion. In this class, we will read Austen’s works with an eye to investigating how she uses narrative to capture the richness of what were known in the 18th century as “the passions.” How do we recognize what we are feeling, and how are these feelings shared—between individuals, or in prose? We will particularly consider Austen’s gift for portraying what the critic Sianne Ngai deems “ugly feelings,” messy, negative affects like envy, irritation, disgust, and numbness that prove critical to Austen’s sharp social commentary. While this class will particularly focus on reading Austen’s six novels, as well as some of her juvenilia and her unfinished novel, Sanditon, we will also turn to selections by her contemporaries—including Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Collier, Phillis Wheatley, and Joanna Baillie—as well as recent film adaptations of her works to further contextualize Austen’s view of the passions in light of the period’s revolutionary discourse around gender, race, and class.

GNDR_ST 361-0-24: American Girlhood

What does it mean to be an American Girl? The phrase itself has spawned a lucrative line of dolls and other merchandise, but long before the rise of American Girl dolls, authors used the figure of the ‘girl’ to make claims about the imagined future of the nation. What kinds of ideas about race, gender, sexuality, and class underpin these fantasies about who the American girl is? How does literature about the ‘American girl’ further white, colonial ideas of nation building or protest against these norms? In this class, we will study key texts about American girlhood from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to examine how the figure of the girl is deployed as a figure making and remaking claims about the nation. Beginning with Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie, we will move to contesting visions of girlhood from Black and Indigenous authors, including Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl and Zitkala-Ša’s American Indian Stories. We will pair these texts alongside critical readings from scholars in childhood studies.

GNDR_ST 372-0-20: Black Women on the Musical Stage

This course engages the performances of Black women on the US musical stage from 1900 to 1970, focusing on singer-actresses and their vocal sound. Under the capacious vaudeville tent or proscenium arch of musical theatre belting, how did the blues shouter’s sound influence the Broadway belter’s technique? How were these sounds carried forward by Black torch singers and character actresses, nightclub vocalists, television variety performers and Black Broadway glamour girls? Drawing on the work of scholars Shane Vogel and Daphne Brooks, we will read performers’ autobiographies as performance theory and understand Black women singers as skillful arrangers of sound–voice teachers whose varied “singing lessons” function as vibrant scenarios for performance analysis. Our studies will take seriously what Sissieretta Jones, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Pearl Bailey, Juanita Hall, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll, Leslie Uggams, and Eartha Kitt have had to say and teach about singing on the musical stage.

GNDR_ST 381-0-20: Queer Theory

This course will introduce you to Queer Theory and theories of sexuality, emphasizing the practice of reading theory from a variety of textual sources as well as conceiving of sexualities US, medical, international, and transnational contexts. We will trace the development of both the term queer and the history of queer theory, beginning with foundational essays by queer theorists by Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Michael Warner and Lauren Berlant. We will then read both canonical essays by a variety of queer theorists and essays questioning the politics of a Queer Theory canon and how that might politically occlude relevant voices and non-binary participants such as trans and BIPOC populations. These theoretical texts are placed in dialogue analyzing several contemporary fiction and film. Seminar discussions require synchronous participation. They query how queer theory formulates racial, class and national identities in relation to sexuality, and how it might offer politics beyond those based on identity. Most readings are done on a shared platform (Hypothesis) so the class annotates, comments, and replies to each other on both daily readings, midterm essay, and seminar paper.

GNDR_ST 382-0-20: Queer & Trans of Color Genealogies

This course offers an interdisciplinary examination of queer, trans, and nonbinary of color politics, poetics, and cultural productions. Drawing from the overlapping—at times contentious—intellectual frameworks, activist analytics, and genealogies of “queer and trans of color critique,” we will interrogate how writers, artists, activists, and performers have labored to enact life worlds in the face of interlocking systems of oppression, such as racial capitalism, cisheteropatriarchy, ableism, and transphobia. Students will have the chance to engage the Chicago area as a site of queer and trans of color worldmaking and activism aimed at imagining a more just and equitable world.

GNDR_ST 382-0-21: Mothers & Reproductive Justice

The role of the mother appears as a “universal” and given category. But who is allowed to be a mother? This course highlights discourses of motherhood that emerge out of women of color feminisms and literary works from the 1980s to the present. I challenge students to read motherhood as a heterogeneous, generative, and at times contradictory relational subject position that allows women of color to challenge white feminism and reclaim their children, both biological and non-biological, from the State that seeks to rupture their relationship. Students will ponder the following questions: how do women of color feminisms complicate and challenge white feminism’s concepts of motherhood and its intersection with race, gender, and sexuality? How do labor and care shape the position of the mother? How do literary writers extend and interrogate motherhood as a productive locus to care for others? Each week, the students will read a canonical literary text paired with a theoretical text. For their final assignment, students have the choice to produce a critical or creative work that engages with either or both the literary and theoretical works we have read.

HISTORY 393: History of Abortion in the United States

This intensive seminar will look at how women in the past terminated pregnancies, the drive to restrict or outlaw abortion in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the relationship between abortion regulation and other questions of constitutional “privacy,” the reproductive rights and reproductive justice movements that emerged in the twentieth century, Roe v. Wade and other major Supreme Court decisions, the legalization of abortion and its consequences, and the anti-abortion movement of the 1970s and later. 

Instructor permission required. To obtain permission, write Professor Kate Masur:

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 490-0-21: Queer Theory

The central concerns of this graduate seminar are to familiarize students with critical issues, methods, and practices of Queer Theory. Our readings include foundational/early texts naming and/or refusing the topic/discipline itself as well as the way in which the practices of "reading queerly" occur in not only what we recognize as theory, but also fiction and film. We will examine and discuss critiques of the Queer Theory canons and work together to create a more relevant, inclusive lineage that takes into account BIPOC voices, feminisms, critical race theory, Trans* theory, diasporic, and transnational texts that supplement the too often white, US-centric field of inquiry. Students will be expected to read carefully and critically, interrogate and analyze the complex intersections of sexualities through cultural and sociopolitical analysis that incorporate gender, race, economic and access disparities, and other dimensions reflecting contemporary queer concerns broadly conceived.

GNDR_ST 490-0-22: Silvia Federici: Feminist Politics of the Commons

As a scholar and activist, Silvia Federici interprets Marxism from a feminist point of view, shifting the focus of social critique from production to reproduction. She has led struggles against privatization and the enclosure of lands and social relations with a specific focus on the commons. In Nigeria, where she taught for several years in the mid 1980s, she witnessed firsthand the destruction of communal property through the colonial intervention of the World Bank and the IMF. For her, as a result, the feminist project cannot concern itself exclusively with sexual discrimination, neglecting other political questions. This graduate seminar explores Federici’s understanding of feminism as a history of struggles embedded in other struggles, in constant dialogue with Marxism, antiracism, and environmental politics. We will assess Federici’s criticisms of Marx, Negri, Foucault, Butler, and Haraway while considering her proximity to Vandana Shiva's theory and practice of the commons. Seminar participants are encouraged to find a way to use Federici’s work in their own research projects while exploring anew what Veronica Gago calls “feminist potential.” Keywords: Commons, enclosure, housework, affective labor, the body, ecofeminism, international feminist solidarity.

GNDR_ST 490-0-23: Feminist Theory & the Study of Religion

This course aims to put feminist theory and religious studies into conversation with each other in order to examine the resulting intersections, points of mutual illumination, and aporias. The course will investigate the history of feminist approaches to religious studies as well as new directions in current scholarship including black feminist and womanist theologies, goddess feminism, postcolonial and transnational feminisms, and secular and post-secular feminisms. We will consider the following questions: What does it mean to apply a gender studies lens to the study of religion? How do feminist conceptions of "liberation" reinforce or reject religious conceptions of "liberation"? How does taking religion seriously transform feminist theory? And how does taking feminist theory seriously transform research practices, subjects, archives, and methods in religious studies? In thinking through these topics, we will (re)read some feminist classics as well as focus on a selection of significant recent works important for students of feminist theory and religious studies. This course seeks to move beyond prevalent assumptions of Judeo-Christian normativity in its analysis of feminist contributions to the study of religion. It pays particular attention to feminist approaches to the study of Asian religions, but with flexibility to highlight other geographic/thematic areas of interest to graduate students enrolled in the course.

Spring 2023

GNDR_ST 231-0-20: Beyond Porn: Sexuality, Health, and Pleasure

Threesomes. Vibrators. Butt plugs. Multiple orgasms. You may have seen them in pornography, but have you ever wanted to study and talk about sex, and specifically, how to have a satisfying sex life? Many people look to pornography not just for entertainment, but also for education about what satisfying sexual encounters look like. Unfortunately, much of what people learn from pornography doesn’t lead them to healthy and satisfying sexual encounters and relationships. This lecture class seeks to go beyond many presumptions about sex and pleasure from pornography and popular culture, in order to equip students with information that can lead to more satisfying and healthy sexual experiences. Topics covered will include: physiological and biological sex; gender; sexual orientation; sexual variety; sexual pleasure; sexual dysfunctions; intimacy and effective communication; sexually transmitted infections; contraception, pregnancy, and childbirth; sexuality through the lifespan; sexual violence and coercion; as well as content driven specifically by students’ specific interests and questions as relates to sexuality, health and pleasure. The course also takes a cross-cultural and historical perspective, exploring how past and present perceptions about sex and gender affect prominent attitudes and presumptions about human sexuality and health in different contexts.

GNDR_ST 233-0-20: Gender, Politics, and Philosophy 

This class introduces students to a variety of philosophical problems concerning gender and politics. Together, we’ll read classic and contemporary texts that examine questions such as: what is gender -- and how, if it all, does it relate to or differ from sex? What does it really mean to be a woman or a man -- and are these categories we’r e born into or categories that we become or inhabit through living in a particular way under specific conditions? Human history all the way up to the present seems to be rife with asymmetrical relations of power that relegate those marked out as women to a subordinate position -- what explains this? What would it mean to over turn this state of affairs -- and which strategies are most likely to accomplish this task? And to what extent is it possible to grapple with all of the above questions -- questions of gender, sex and sexuality -- without also, at the very same time, thinking about how they relate to questions of class and race? Readings will include selections from Simone de Beauvoir, Iris Marion Young, Sandra Bartky, bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Judith Butler, Talia Bettcher, and others.

GNDR_ST 324-0-20: US Gay & Lesbian History

This course explores the history of homosexuality as a legible social and cultural category; of lgbt individuals and communities as self-aware social and political actors; and of lgbt/anti-lgbt politics as arenas in which modern Americans have debated fundamental questions about human rights, personal autonomy, and citizenship. We will map the frameworks within which individuals have sought out, enjoyed, and understood sexual activity with others of the same sex; trace the growth of gay and lesbian communities over the course of the twentieth century; and survey the dramatic shifts and turns from the emergence of an organized gay and lesbian political movement to the traumas of the AIDS epidemic and the increasingly bitter fights over lgbtq citizenship and personhood of the last few decades. 

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