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Course Descriptions (2023-24)

FALL 2023 | WINTER 2024 | SPRING 2024 | SUMMER 2024

Fall 2023

GNDR_ST 101-7-1: Coalitional Politics & Case studies from Chicago and beyond: archiving the past for the present

"In this seminar, we explore several 1970s-era projects in Chicago and beyond that exemplify a coalitional feminist politics and consider the usefulness of this history in an increasingly polarized present. We will read histories of this period and memoirs by movement participants, but our focus will be on engaging in collective archival research and, ultimately curating collections of (8-10) documents that aid us in recuperating these instances of successful coalition building across anti-war, women’s and gay liberation, and black power/ethnic nationalist movements, as well as the intersectional politics that informed these collaborative projects. The seminar will meet in Special Collections and will introduce students to the practice of archival research as well as the remarkable range of archival materials housed in Special Collections, which might form the basis for research projects during your four years at Northwestern. Our final class project will be to collectively curate an exhibition of our findings that will be exhibited in the Main Library at the end of Spring Quarter. Over the course of the quarter, we may host a class visitor and, if covid protocols allow, go on a field trip to the Chicago Women’s Health Center (established in 1975 and still going strong!) to explore current coalitions and projects that build on this legacy.


Cases: Anti-Vietnam war movement; Gay and lesbian/feminist liberation movements in Chicago and at Northwestern; Chicago’s first “Rainbow Coalition” (which included the Black Panther Party, the Young Lords, and Young Patriots and Rising Up Angry); Chicago’s free clinic movement; and reproductive rights/justice projects in Chicago."

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 230-0-20: Traditions in Feminist Thought

This course is a rigorous introduction to feminism's multiple intellectual and political traditions and genealogies within and outside the US at different historical junctures. The course emphasizes the rich debates that have been staged within feminism as feminists have labored to imagine other worlds in a variety of media and contexts. Our task is to understand how these varied feminist traditions have interrogated the same sites -- marriage and family, sexuality, reproduction, the nation and the state, work, liberation, and feminism itself - in radically different ways. Why are these the key areas that feminist theorists have focused on across time and cultural divides? How have feminists around the world imagined these spaces as both sites of oppression and potential venues for freedom?

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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 321-0-20: Female Pleasure: Feminism & the Sexological Tradition

In this course we will read key sexological texts, each of which articulates a position on female pleasure as part of a more comprehensive theory of female (& male) sexualities, including work by Havelock Ellis (1890s-1920s), Sigmund Freud (1905-1930s), Alfred Kinsey (1953) Masters & Johnson (1966), Shere Hite (1976) and the Berman sisters (2000s). We will read these alongside contemporaneous feminist statements, position papers, and manifestos that articulate (or link) female pleasure to explicitly feminist political positions and liberation projects, such as Emma Goldman’s treatises on ‘free love’ (1911), Anne Koedt’s “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm” (1970), and Rubin’s “Thinking Sex” (1984). Our goal will be threefold. We will work to distinguish between multiple theories on the ‘nature’ of female pleasure and the assumptions about gender and sexuality that inform each. Feminist statements on female pleasure will aid us in assessing the political stakes and effects of contemporaneous scientific theories of female sexuality as we consider how particular conceptions of “good sex” get hitched to visions of “liberation.” We will consider these positions on female pleasure in their historical context in relation to several trajectories: the durability of some formulations and the relative evanescence of others, the unsettled rapport between sexological and feminist projects, and ongoing debates over the “nature” of sexuality itself.

GNDR_ST 321-0-21: Medieval Sexuality

Christian theorists were convinced that human sexuality underwent an irreversible debasement as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve. Their negative assessment has remained with us until the present day. This course will grapple with the both the origins of this negative bequest as well as some of the anomalies of the medieval tradition. For example, despite the insistence that heterosexuality was ordained by God, the disparagement of physicality and women led to the institutionalization of clerical celibacy in the West. This, in turn, fostered a gay subculture. Likewise, despite the theoretical insistence on a separation between the sexes that was even present in the afterlife, these same theorists not only praised “virile women,” but occasionally celebrated cross-dressing in female saints! This course will examine the institutions and ideas that dominated the construction of gender in the Middle Ages. It will also lend insight into not one, but many, “sexualities.”

GNDR_ST 331-0-22: Political Sociology: Gender & Politics

This class will investigate how gender shapes politics and policy, and how these in turn shape gender, primarily in the United States. I aim also to provide comparative and 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. We examine some of the gendered aspects of the political landscape in the contemporary United States, with class input on which issues to explore. 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 an society. These are supplemented by films and online resources.

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

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 meanings of race, gender, and sexuality. Conversely, we will consider how cultural beliefs about race, gender, and sexuality influence scientific knowledge and medical practice. By studying controversies, we will explore the dynamic interplay among expert findings, social identities, and political arguments.

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 Trans-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 361-0-20: Feminist, Queer, Crip: South Korea & 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 legislations, as well as debates on gender identity, everyday experiences of discrimination, and overlooked sites of intersectional violence. As the scholar Alison Kafer has poignantly shown, thinking through the entanglements of feminist, queer, and disability concerns is important to rethinking exclusionary claims and their attendant problems. 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. Student participation, discussion, and peer collaboration are important aspects of this course, and all students will be encouraged to speak in class.

Img Credit: still from "Planet of Snail" (2011)

GNDR_ST 361-0-21: 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 girl is deployed as a figure making and remaking claims about the nation. We will read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie–texts which fantasize about being universal texts of American girlhood while in reality putting forth a vision of whiteness–against contesting visions of girlhood found in texts such as Harriet Wilson’s Our Nig, the first novel published by an African-American woman, and Zitkala-Ša’s American Indian Stories. We will pair these texts alongside critical readings from scholars in childhood studies.

Texts: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (ISBN: 9780140390698), Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (ISBN: 9780064400022), Our Nig by Harriet Wilson (ISBN: 0143105760), American Indian Stories by Zitkala-Ša (ISBN: 0142437093), How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (ISBN: 9781565129757), and Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (ISBN: 0241433983).

GNDR_ST 372-0-20: Women Rock

An examination of the roles of women in rock music from the inception of the genre through today, framed by changing social expectations for women and increasing acceptance of diversity among performers and consumers. Students will read scholarship in music, gender theory, and social sciences, and will conduct research in online archives as well as engage critically with music, video, and film.

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 such as Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Michael Warner and Lauren Berlant. We will 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. Using Cultural Studies methodologies, we will analyze several works of fiction and film as theoretical productions.

GNDR_ST 382-0-20: AfroFeministFutures

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, election, and climate change denialism; political conspiracy theories from the French Revolution to QAnon; troll farms and other tactics of information warfare; and the role of misinformation in current controversies over sexual & racial politics.

GNDR_ST 390-0-21: Sex and the American Empire: Journalism and Frames of War

This course will be an intensive study in understanding the relationship between American journalism and the U.S. military in creating an American empire. By focusing on how the U.S. military has segregated service members by race, sexuality, gender and gender identity—and on how on U.S. media has covered the military—students will study how identity roles have been formed by both the military and the media in American society. Readings will include primary sources, works of journalism, and scholarship. Topics covered will include the histories of LGBTQ rights; “pinkwashing” and “homonationalism”; “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”; racial segregation; the development of the condom; access to birth control; government management of HIV/AIDS; subjectivity/objectivity; critical theory; critical race theory; transgender studies; and, essentialism. In groups, students will study coverage of a single contemporary story in the news. The course is intended for journalism majors and non-majors alike, and will be centered on helping both analyze news media critically in order to better understand how race, gender, sexuality and American identity are constructed.

GNDR_ST 390-0-22: 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 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 490-0-21: Cults, Communes, and Congregations

This course invites graduate students to consider the differences and similarities between cults, communes, and congregations through an exploration of multiple media. Through podcasts, documentaries, films, and more we will explore the borders between high control group types, taking special care to consider the communication strategies specific to each. Students will develop a mock high control group with principles and values, developing communication strategies for the proliferation of their groups’ ideas. Students will present their high control groups to a virtual audience at the end of the term.

GNDR_ST 490-0-22: The Archive, Performance, and Queer Method

The ephemeral, itinerant nature of queer and minoritarian performance raises significant questions regarding research methods: How does one study an aesthetic form that is always slipping away from grasp? How does (and should) one research performance cultures and communities that have been excluded from, or actively avoid capture within, institutional and imperial archives? Does performance stand opposed to and against the archive and/or in what ways do archives perform? With visits to archives (NU Special Collections and the Leather Archives and Museum in Chicago) and other institutional holdings (the Block Museum), this course will train students in experimental approaches to, and critiques of, method. Authors studied may include Lisa Lowe, Diana Taylor, Saidiya Hartman, Jodi Byrd, José Esteban Muñoz, Alexandra Vazquez, Daphne Brooks, Tavia Nyong’o, D. Soyini Madison, and Jennifer Doyle.

GNDR_ST 490-0-23: Queer Pleasure & Politics

This course focuses on queer politics and personhood as differently articulated and practiced across diverse cultural contexts. Focusing on how a range of pleasures, desires, intimacies, attachments, and practices of care present an outside to cis-heteronormativity, the course examines the ways that queerness challenges colonial, national, and capitalist projects. Specifically, we focus on ethnographic and historiographic works that push the boundaries of queer theory, exploring the blurred lines between what constitutes LGBTQIA+ activism and de-colonial practices of living otherwise to cis-heteronormativity.

GNDR_ST 490-0-24: Reading Gender Otherwise: Indigenous Movements and Literature in “Latin America”

This course draws from queer and trans Indigenous feminist frameworks to interrogate gender as a social structure that mobilizes all forms of sociopolitical oppression. Through them, we will consider the role that literature plays in Abiayala (Guna Language meaning "the Americas" [literally, "continent of plenitude and maturity]") as a gendered form of resistance. Topics will vary and may include indigenous cosmovision and coloniality; hegemony, ontology and ethnogenesis; as well as identity politics, indigenous resistance and revitalization, among others.

 

Winter 2024

 

GNDR_ST 101-8: Sex and Cults; Gender, Power and Sex in US New Religious Movements

NXIVM and sex trafficking. Warren Jeffs, FLDS, and polygamy. Child and sexual abuse at Waco and Jonestown. Scientology and sex audits. Free love among the Oneidas. The Shakers’ total abstinence. Interracial marriage and the International Peace Missions Movement. Sex positivity and Neo-Paganism. What is it about cults and sex?! This course will examine the complicated and often fraught relationship among what scholars call New Religious Movements (NRM) and sex in the United States. We will ask and answer questions including: What are new religious movements? Are they dangerous? Is “cult” a bad word? Why is sex, in all its varieties, so important to these NRMs? Are these attitudes and practices atypical, or part and parcel of the broader religious landscape in the United States? What role has the media and popular culture played in our understandings of sex and religion? We will explore these questions through case studies of a number of New Religious Movememts. Course materials will include primary and secondary source readings; podcasts; film, tv, and news media; and other forms of pop culture. Class will be a combination of lecture and discussion, and students will be required to complete analytical and creative writing assignments as well as a short oral presentation..

GNDR_ST 231-1 / PERF_ST 250 : Topics in Performance Studies: Queer Performance Lab

In this studio-focused class, students will produce their own performance work informed by the concepts and work of contemporary queer performance artists studied throughout the course. Drawing on the punk, DIY traditions of queer art making like that of artists Keioui Keijaun Thomas, Young Joon Kwak, Patty Chang, and Nao Bustamante, students will learn to witness, critique, and create work informed by their own expanding ideas on queerness, performance, and art. For this class, students will be challenged to produce new and conceptually rich performance-based work in response to ideas discussed in session and the student’s own research and developing practice.

GNDR_ST 231-2 / JWSH_ST 279: We're Here, We're Queer: Queer Narratives in Israeli Literature and Culture

The corpus of Hebrew prose works and Israeli cultural representations that focus on LGBT characters and queer life stories is on the rise. Such texts and films are no longer inherently considered completely marginal, despite not yet being a major part of the Israeli culture and the literary canon. This course presents a broad examination of LGBT/queer Hebrew literature and culture. Throughout the course, we will explore Hebrew prose works and Israeli films that engage with LGBT/queer identities and topics, and examine questions and themes, such as "coming out of the closet," "queer identity," "the lesbian continuum," "heteronormativity/ homonormativity," and the queer notion of "no future." The literary texts will be accompanied by relevant theoretical texts. No previous knowledge of Hebrew, Israel, or Judaism is required! All the Hebrew texts will be read in translation, and all the films will be accompanied by English subtitles.

GNDR_ST 234 / LING 223: 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 / ANTHRO 290: Race, Gender, Sexuality, and the Politics of 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: Making Sense of the “Second Wave” of Feminism in/for the Present 

As we grapple with the urgencies of the present, what are the politics (and promise) of telling more complex and nuanced stories of activism and social change? In recent years, the "second wave" of feminism (1968-1980) has increasingly been conflated with "white, middle-class feminism" and critiqued as an exclusionary form of feminist politics in contrast to the more intersectional feminist politics of the "third" and "fourth" waves of feminism. Numerous historians of the period have challenged us to reconsider this claim, which elides "feminism's deeply questioning, queer, coalitional and anti-imperialist past" and risks 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" (Enke 2018). In this course, we will begin by exploring which projects, groups, and concerns have come to define the "second wave" (and subsequent “waves”) of feminism in the United States in our collective memory. We then turn to recent histories of the "second wave,” coupled with oral histories from movement participants, that challenge us to reconsider what counts as "feminist politics" during this period. For example, histories that focus on the formation of broad-based coalitions across and between liberation movements around issues of economic justice, reproductive rights, and the right to "self-defense" against both interpersonal and state violence during this period, challenge us to expand our conception of feminist activism. In the process, they require us to incorporate the "critical insights and knowledges" of labor and welfare rights activists, sex workers and gay liberationists, Black, Chicana, Puerto Rican and Indigenous liberation movement members as central to the feminist politics of the period. Guided student research into ongoing/current feminist projects (e.g. SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Chicago Abortion Fund, Survived&Punished, Critical Resistance, Sylvia Rivera Law Project) aid us in identifying the legacies of this historical period in feminist activism in 2023. 

GNDR_ST 331 / SOCIOL 356-0: Sociology of Gender and Sexuality

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 how problems are identified and theories are developed. We will spend time examining several emergent cases of gender theorization -- childhood gender and sexuality panics, bathroom surveillance, and the intersex experience, among others. 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, apply gender theory to original ethnographic data. Prior course experience in gender studies (by way of taking Gender & Society or other course work) is strongly advised.

GNDR_ST 332: Health Activism

How do conceptions of “health” relate to ideological assumptions about gender, race, class, and sexuality? In this course, we will explore this question through a close examination of a range of activist movements that have attempted to challenge contemporaneous conceptions of health and models of disease. Case studies will include the 19th century birth control and eugenics movements, 1970s-era women’s health movement(s) and Black Panther Party "survival (pending revolution) programs", ACT UP and AIDS activism, reproductive rights/justice movement activism, breast cancer and environmental activism, mental health activism in the era of psychopharmacology, and recent/ongoing "mutual aid" projects. In each case, we will consider how activists frame the problem, the tactics they use to mobilize a diverse group of social actors around the problem, and their success in creating a social movement that challenges contemporary medical models and the ideological assumptions that inform them. The course also introduces students to recent interdisciplinary scholarship on social movements.

GNDR_ST 341 / SOCIOL 375: Transnational 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 361 / ENGLISH 385: Writing Gay Men’s Lives

Everywhere you look, queer sexuality and queer lives are in the news, and not always in a good way. On the one hand, people of all kinds are finding the courage and the power to come out and live their authentic lives. On the other, book bans targeting LGBTQIA+ titles have gained momentum. Back on the first hand, we’re living in a time of unparalleled visibility for LGBTQIA+ people in media of all kinds and on screens large and small. On the other, gender-affirming care for trans people has come under attack in states across the country.

Things are complicated. We can’t solve these problems in a single quarter. But what we will do in “Writing Gay Men’s Lives” is gain a historical understanding about how “we” came to be where “we” are today. (As we will see, it’s a complicated and changing “we.”). What is the long background to these anti-gay and anti-trans initiatives? How can a look back at history help us to understand the progress we have made?

We’ll consider writings from the last 150 years on a range of topics, including the HIV pandemic (AIDS as “a gay disease” and as the disease of gayness); the 1950’s and 1960’s (periods often seen, respectively, as those of normative heterosexuality, and of the sexual revolution); early twentieth-century characterizations of gender “inversion”; and nineteenth-century versions of male-male amorous attachments, especially in the writings of gay poet Walt Whitman. We’ll study the terms in which “gay men” have written about themselves in diaries, novels, letters, poetry, and journals, as well as how they have been written about in various discourses of power—legal, medical, sociological, and theological—in the 130+ years since the word “homosexual” first appeared in English. We’ll look at movies and TV to see the ways in which popular media has depicted gay people. We’ll finish the quarter with an understanding of what is old and what is new about where LGBTQIA+ people are today. And in that way we’ll be better able to formulate ways to bring about the necessary change.

GNDR_ST 372 / PERF_ST 319: Queer and Trans of Color Critique

What are the foundational objects, questions, and debates within queer of color critique? How do queer of color critique, performance, and activism interface? This course offers an in-depth exploration of the emerging field of queer of color critique, emphasizing close, critical reading of scholarly and artistic texts—especially novels, performance art, music, and films. We will trace the development of the term “queer of color critique” and the history of queer of color theory, foregrounding its emergence within and indebtedness to foundational black feminist texts theorizing interlocking oppressions, intersectionality, and the racialized sexual regulation of black social formations. For example, we will read essays, manifestos, and poems by The Combahee River Collective, Barbara Smith, and Audre Lorde. We will then read canonical essays by a variety of queer of color theorists, among them José Esteban Muñoz, Roderick Ferguson, Fatima El-Tayeb, and Jasbir Puar and use these essays as frameworks for analyzing several artistic works, including Drag Performances by Vaginal Creme Davis, Toni Morrison’s Sula, Stand-up Comedy by Margaret Cho, Dee Rees’ Pariah, and Performance Art by Nicki Minaj. Ultimately, the course considers how queer of color performance and critique interface with and interanimate one another, challenging canonical discourses of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the process.

GNDR_ST 374: Imagining the Internet

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 381: 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 such as Eve Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Michael Warner and Lauren Berlant. We will 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. Using Cultural Studies methodologies, we will analyze several works of fiction and film as theoretical productions.

GNDR_ST 382: Powerful & Dangerous: The Life, Times, and Theory of Audre Lorde

This course will explore the life, words, and work of the extraordinary “Black Lesbian Feminist Mother Warrior Poet,” Audre Lorde. One of the most important figures in Black Feminism, Lorde’s work continues to influence feminist activism and scholarship today. She teaches us that poetry is the “skeleton architecture of our lives,” that the erotic is a source of female power, “that the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house,” and that “our silence will not protect us.” But what does all that mean? Over the course of the quarter, we will engage with Lorde as a lens for thinking through some of the foundational questions in Women’s, Feminist, and Gender Studies. We will ask – and start to answer – the following questions: What is theory? (i.e. Can it be poetry?) What is a scholarly text? Does form matter? How does Audre Lorde’s work push on the boundaries of how feminists and feminist studies conceptualizes theory? What is identity? (i.e. Are identity and the erotic related?) Is it concrete or fluid? Can we have more than one identity? If so, how do we negotiate those different identities? Why does Lorde call herself a “Black Lesbian Feminist Mother Warrior Poet”? What does it mean to use these descriptors alongside one another? Does it change their meanings? What is activism? (i.e. How do we dismantle the master’s house?) How does Lorde change the ways we might think about activist work in the world and in our own lives?

GNDR_ST 390-0-20: Indigenous Rebellion Through Literature

How do Indigenous, Indian and Native collectives interact with literature? What role does literature play in political action? After considering the ethics and best practices of researching Indigenous literature, we will explore texts of the so-called Caste War, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation [EZLN], the Pan Maya Movement, and/or the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities in Ecuador [CONAIE].

GNDR_ST 390-0-21: Queer Forms in South Asia

Is there a particular form—of representation/of politics/of language—specific to queer desire? Or does queerness emerge precisely in those moments when forms (or genres) start to break down? These two questions will guide us in our exploration of queerness, gender, and sexuality in the South Asian subcontinent across the modern, colonial, and postcolonial period. Focusing on a particular geographical site—the typical domain of an “area studies” department—will allow us to see how desire and gender are mediated through “the convoluted densities of geopolitics” (Anjali Arondekar and Geeta Patel). Rather than simply affirming the existence of queer and trans* lives in South Asia, we will follow how histories of empire, caste, religion, and nation organize and hierarchize sexualities and gendered bodies. We will then attend to processes of translation and specificities of medium in reading how particular social and cultural forms stage everyday desire, pleasure, and violence. This course will go through nineteenth century Urdu poetry, twentieth century progressive short stories, contemporary Indian and Pakistani documentaries and cinema, music videos, as well as novels. Traversing these forms will help us enquire to what extent is “queer” a helpful category of analysis for understanding the myriad modes of non-heteronormative desire in South Asia.

GNDR_ ST 390-0-22: Beyond the "Helpless Muslims" Trope: Islam, Gender, and Sexuality in the Contemporary World

Do Muslim women, queer Muslims, and transgender Muslims need savings? How does the “West” portray Muslim women and queer and transgender Muslims? Is the headscarf oppressive or emancipatory? Can a Muslim be religiously devout and embrace queerness at the same time? This undergraduate seminar introduces students to the relationships between Islam, gender, and sexuality in the contemporary world. Given the nature of the discussion, this course is interdisciplinary at heart—at the very least, we will engage with scholarships in gender and sexuality studies, Islamic studies, Islamic feminism, queer Islamic studies, and the anthropology of Islam. Throughout different cross-cutting themes, we will discuss: (1) how Islamic texts portray gender and sexual diversity; (2) how the “West” and liberal traditions imagine gender and sexual minority within the Muslim population—including, but not limited to, women, queer, and transgender individuals; and (3) how Muslim women, queer Muslims, and transgender Muslims have lived through the constructed incompatibility between Islam and gender and sexual diversity. This course aims to deterritorialize discussions on Islam, gender, and sexuality by not only looking at Middle Eastern and North African contexts but also reading through the various renditions and expressions of Islam, gender, and sexuality in Southeast Asia, Europe, South Asia, and the Americas. Given that this is an advanced undergraduate seminar, a basic understanding of Islam is expected.

GNDR_ST 390-0-23 / BLK_ST 334: Gender & Black Masculinity

This course will take as its focus not only discussing (cisgender) black men but, more rigorously, interrogating gender as a racialized regime and masculinity itself as a subtle form of violence. Students will be invited to think about race and gender as co-constitutive (rather than simply and innocently intersectional), and about what might be possible after the interrogation—and possibly dismantling—of masculinity even when affixed to blackness. Overall, our aim in this course is to establish a robust understanding of gender, of racialized gender, of blackness, and of masculinity as a gendered and racialized mode of imposed existence. To examine these topics, we will explore the writing of scholars and activists and novelists, documentaries on manhood, black feminist critiques of masculinity, and transgender perspectives on gender.

GNDR_ST 490-0-20 / HIST_405-0-26: Sexual Knowledges: Science, Archives, and Traces

Sexuality studies have 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 have 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 490-0-21 / ENGLISH 481-0-20: Queer Theory and Cinema

“Queer theory” and “New Queer Cinema” were two neologisms born of the same early-1990s moment in Anglophone academia and public film culture. Both saw themselves as extending but also complicating the intellectual, aesthetic, and ideological parameters of prior formations like “gay and lesbian studies” or “LGBT film.” These new and spreading discourses stoked each other's productive advances, as scholars developed new axioms by reference to the movies, and filmmakers rooted styles and images in changing notions of gender performativity and counter-historiography. Still, queer theory and queer cinema faced similar skepticisms: did their ornate language and conceptual novelty endow dissident sexualities with newfound political and cultural stature, or did they retreat too far from popular accessibility and ongoing public emergencies? Was the lack of fixed definitions, communal appeals, uniting goals, or shared aesthetic practices a boon or a harm in sustaining a long-term movement of art, action, or thought? And how many thinkers, writers, artists, scholars, and activists were erased or marginalized by a “queer turn” that purported to elevate them? 

This class honors but also decenters this peak period in the reclaiming of “queer.” We will recover scholarly and cinematic trends that laid fertile grounds for that work and will also track subsequent trajectories and debates around “queer” in the way we perform readings, perceive bodies, record histories, spin narratives, form alliances, enter archives, and orient ourselves in space and time. Diversities of race, gender identity, nation, class, and political project will inflect our understandings of “queer” and even challenge the presumed primacy of sexuality as its key referent. Meanwhile, participants will develop skills of close-reading films and engage nimbly with the overarching claims but also the nuances, anomalies, and paradoxes in the scholarship we read. 

* Please note that this course satisfies the Queer Theory requirement for the Graduate Certificate in GSS.

GNDR_ST 490-0-22 / BLK_ST 402: Theorizing Black Genders & Sexualities

In this course, we will not be talking, simply or exclusively, about black women, or black queer (often meaning “gay or lesbian”) people, or black transgender people; we will not be talking, simply or exclusively, about “masculinity” and “femininity” or “sex” as a regime of reproductive coercion sutured to certain anatomical interpretations. This course will be one that concerns, indeed, black genders and sexualities; black genders, which might be to say gender’s fracture and interrogation; black sexualities, which might be to say a questioning of where sexuality is or might be or cannot be located. This course is, in short, the onset—a continued onset—of a reckoning with what genders and sexualities are and mean, in the context of blackness and outside of or adjacent to that context, and how we might undermine, critique, interrogate, depart from, move within, or imagine outside of entirely these categorizations that are ultimately, as this course will show, regimes of whiteness, normativity, and hegemony.

GNDR_ST 490-0-23 / SPANPORT 450-0-2 : Gender in Colonial Spanish America

From the early representations of land as gendered in the chronicles of Christopher Columbus, to the gender crossings of a trans nun who became a conquistador in Peru, this course will consider the central role gender played in the colonization attempts of Latin America through the crónica or chronicle genre. We will also explore important African, Indigenous and Mestiza/o perspectives through archival material, images, codices, and other primary source material. Emphasis will be placed on the shifting terrain of defining the gender binary and its relation to race and class in the emergent concept of “América.” A reading knowledge of Spanish is recommended for this course, but not required. This course will be taught in English.

GNDR_ST 490-0-24 / POLI_SCI 468-0-1: Problems in Democratic Theory

This course will re-visit debates in selected texts of political theory for purposes of elucidating insights relevant to theorizing competing meanings and objectives of democracy.  We will focus on texts that speak in particular to democratic theorists’ aspirations for equality and the rule of law in the context of particularist solidarities, especially those of family, nation, and race.  Readings and class meetings will highlight for discussion tensions between attachments to a seemingly given, ontological community and intuitions about justice and the healthy politeia.  Selected texts by Plato, Immanuel Kant, G.W.F. Hegel, W.E.B. Du Bois, Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, and Jurgen Habermas will be read in conversation  with works by Seyla Benhabib, Lauren Berlant, Wendy Brown, Sam Chambers, Glen Coulthard, Nathan DuFord, Lois Harder, Bonnie Honig, Engin Isin, Audra Simpson, Lester Spence, and others.  Themes highlighted will include competing conceptions of family, violence, inequality, and political membership, with special attention to (queer) engagements with questions of sovereignty, intergenerational attachments, and the politics of recognition, including reparations.


The objective is for students to identify tensions among democratic theories as they speak to solidarities of citizenship grounded in the rule of law, and to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of competing political values and priorities.


Students will be evaluated based on short weekly responses, a presentation, and a final paper.

ANTHRO 390 / 490: Sexing the Middle East: Gender and Sexuality in the Making of a Region 

Are gender and sexuality useful categories of analysis in contemporary Middle East? What sexual assumptions underpin studies of the Middle East? And what kind of a Middle East grounds gender and sexuality studies in the region? This course engages with queer studies and critical race and feminist scholarship in anthropology, history, and sociology to probe these questions. In this course, we will attend to the formation of “gender” and “sexuality” as categories of sociocultural analysis, surveying the major shifts within the intellectual history of gender and sexuality studies, while interrogating the ways in which race, class, and nationality complicate studies of gender and sexuality and of mobility alike. In other words, if one major question that animates the course is what intersectional studies of mobility have to contribute to historical and anthropological studies of gender and sexuality in the Middle East, the other is what kind of new analytical ground studies of gender and sexuality could open up in sociocultural analysis of mobility, migration and transnationalism across the Middle East and Southwest Asia. 

HISTORY 200: Global Queer Activism 

Queens. Inverts. Sapphists. Hijra. Uranians. Abatoni. Friends of Dorothy. Many of the terms used to describe gender and sexual minorities in the past and around the world might be unrecognizable to us today – but they have all shaped current understandings of sex, gender and identity. In this course students will explore queer histories in a global context to understand the people and experiences behind the categories. Instead of a chronological approach, or looking at countries in isolation, we will focus on the most hotly-debated topics in gender history and queer history: how have identity categories developed over time and in different contexts? How have gender and sexual minorities fought for liberation, and how have these efforts informed movements around the world today?

Assignments for this course will be based on class attendance and participation, three short written papers and a final project. The short papers will align with the main course units, with prompts that draw on each of the major “debates” in queer history. For the final project, students will be able to choose between a traditional essay and an alternative format, such as a podcast or a museum exhibit.

 

Spring 2024

GNDR_ST 101-8-1: Purity and Pleasure: Sexuality and American Religions

This course will examine the complicated and fraught relationship between religion and sexuality in the United States. We know that American culture often seems both offended by and obsessed with sex, and that the U.S. prides itself on individual freedoms while simultaneously policing the bodies, identities, and practices of its inhabitants. Is it all religion’s fault? We will explore the diverse – and often contradictory – teachings, practices, and attitudes regarding sexuality in a variety of historical and contemporary American religious traditions / groups. Topics may include: abortion and contraception, activism, BDSM, bodies, celibacy, creativity, feminism, gender and sexual identities, liberation, marriage, masculinity, masturbation, pleasure, politics, polyamory, pornography, purity culture, queerness, race, rape culture, and sexual violence (among others). Students will engage with ethnographies, feminist / gender / queer / religious theory, historical documents, film / tv / news media, podcasts, and other pop culture sources. Classes will be a primarily discussion-based and students will be required to complete analytical and creative writing assignments.

GNDR_ST 101-8-2: Women's Health Movements 1970s-Present

The 1970s U.S. Women’s Health Movement demanded everything from safe birth control on demand to an end to for-profit healthcare. Some participants formed research collectives and published D-I-Y guides to medical knowledge such as the Boston Women's Health Collective's "Women and Their Bodies" or Carol Downer's "A New View of a Woman's Body." Some movement members established battered women's shelters, underground abortion referral services, and feminist health clinics. Others formed local committees and national networks, such as the Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA) and the National Women's Health Network (NWHN), with the goal of transforming contemporary medical protocols and scientific research agendas. Because many of these local and national groups are still in existence, original movement goals continue to define the parameters of a "women's health" agenda in the present moment. On the other hand, the Women's Health Movement was (and is) a heterogeneous movement. Then, as now, groups with competing ideas about the healthcare needs of women as a group identified as part of same movement. Thus, an examination of historical and current debates over "women's health" is also a means of assessing several distinct, often competing, paradigms of health and disease. Moreover, how we articulate a "women's health agenda" depends on our (often taken-for-granted) ideas about gender, sexuality, and embodiment itself.

GNDR_ST 221/GBL_HLTH 221: Beyond Porn: Sexuality, Health & Pleasure

Threesomes. Squirting. 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 isn’t actually about pornography. It goes beyond many presumptions about sex and pleasure depicted in pornography and popular culture, in order to equip students with information that can lead to more satisfying and healthy sexual experiences across their lifespan, regardless of how they identify, or who or what they like. The course also familiarizes students with a wide spectrum of human identities, practices, and attitudes towards sex and sexuality. Topics covered include: physiological and biological sex; gender; sexual orientation; homophobia and heterosexism; navigating sexual risks in a sex-positive way; sexual health disparities; sexual desire, arousal, and response; solitary sex & sex with others; sex toys; unconventional sexual practices; intimacy and effective communication; sexuality & aging; sexuality, disability & intimacy; sexual problems and solutions; sexual pleasure as part of sexual health; sexual harassment and violence; selling sex; and yes, a brief unit on problematics and possibilities in pornography.

GNDR_ST 233/PHIL 221/COMP_LIT 205: Intro. to Feminist Philosophy

This course is an introduction to philosophical problems concerning a gender and politics. What is gender and what is its relation to sex and sexuality? What is gender injustice and why is it wrong? What are the causes of gender injustice and how could we overcome it? And what is the relation of feminist theory to lived experience and to political action? We will read and critically discuss both historical and contemporary texts addressing these questions.

GNDR_ST 321-0-20/HISTORY 340: Gender, War, and Revolution In the 20th Century

Catastrophic events in the twentieth century (two world wars, the Russian Revolution, world economic depression, the Nazi counter-revolution and Holocaust, and threat of nuclear war) set into clear relief key terms we hear bantered in the news today. What does fascism mean? What is socialism? Is capitalism inherently democratic? Through the lens of gender and sexuality studies, these regimes take on an extraordinary clarity, differentiating along distinct family and gender ideals, sexual freedom, reproductive rights, and personal expressions. Most importantly, these rival regimes developed dynamically in relation to each other and as responses to the crisis of total war. During World War One, military strategy and technology blurred the boundaries between war zones and home fronts. Not only did civilian populations become military targets, but the strains of war also exposed them to food shortages, fuel rationing, forced evacuations, and violent death. At the same time, disillusioned soldiers and veterans saw their war experiences through the threat of gender inversions. During the war, women had been mobilized to do men=s work. In the 1920s and >30s, the "new woman" of the century B building on the beginnings of legal equality and the vote B enjoyed greater economic, political, intellectual, and sexual freedoms than their nineteenth century grandmothers and great-grandmothers. If conventional warfare was defined by (and reinforced) traditional notions of heterosexuality, did the disruption of those norms mean emancipation for women? Did wars invite utopian hopes for alternate gender and sexual alignments and identities? Through novels, memoirs, primary documents, films, and propaganda art, we study the individual and collective biographies of people who struggled and thrived through these changes. Despite the much-touted return to happy domesticity after the half century of total war and revolutions, could the genie of sexual malcontent be ever fully re-contained?

GNDR_ST 321-0-21/HISTORY 395: A Woman's Work is Never Done: Gender and Labor in U.S. History

This is an historical research seminar in which students will complete a 25-30 page research paper using primary (historical) and secondary sources. The course will begin with common readings about women and labor in US history, and then students will identify, research, and write about topics of their own choosing. In our readings, we will focus on issues of race, class, and sexuality in the history of women's labor, considering not only conventional paid work but also reproductive labor and unpaid housework.

GNDR_ST 324/HISTORY 324: US Gay & Lesbian History

This course explores the history of homosexuality as a legible social and cultural category; of lgbtq individuals and communities as self-aware social and political actors; and of lgbtq/anti-lgbtq 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.

GNDR_ST 327/LING 327: Language & Sexuality

This course will explore the ways in which language is used to construct, negotiate, present, and/or conceal the sexual identity/ies and orientation/s of its speakers. The approach to the course will be primarily linguistic; we will investigate various aspects of language as used by members of various sexual identies, focusing on the language of and about gay men and lesbians. Among the topics to be covered will be “reclaimed epithets” (e.g. "dyke" and "queer"), gender vs. sexuality vs. sex, coming-out stories as gay genre, the sexual lexicon, cross-cultural sexual diversity, and the general role of language in creating, reifying, and reproducing sexual categories, identities, and intimacy.

GNDR_ST 331/SOCIOL 223: Masculinities & Society

Gender studies have traditionally focused on women. Yet critical work on men and masculinities show us how people of all genders are constrained by gender expectations and assumptions. Furthermore, studies of masculinities shed light on practical questions like, why do men die earlier than women? And, why are men more likely to commit mass shootings? In recent years, the public spotlight has cast light on savory and unsavory aspects of masculinity; think about the rise of the term “toxic masculinity,” the #MeToo movement, the 2019 viral Gillette advertisement, and blogs commenting on the behavior of men on the reality show The Bachelorette. In this course, we will go beyond banal statements like “men are trash” to critically ask, What role does masculinity play in social life? How is masculinity produced, and are there different ways to be masculine? This course provides students with an intensive introduction to the foundational theory and research in the field of masculinities studies. We will use an intersectional lens to study the ways in which the concept and lived experience of masculinity are shaped by economic, social, cultural, and political forces. As we study the institutions that socialize people into gender, we will examine how the gendered social order influences the way people of all genders perform masculinity as well as the ways men perceive themselves, people of other genders, and social situations. Verbally and in writing, students will develop an argument about the way contemporary masculinity is constructed and performed.

GNDR_ST 332-0-21: Reproductive Health/Politics/Justice

As feminist scholar Michelle Murphy points out, “reproduction is not self-evidently a capacity located in sexed bodies”; it is instead a site (or formation) that joins, “cells, protocols, bodies, nations, capital, economics, freedom, and affect as much as sex and women into its sprawl.” Thus, she reminds us, “how we constitute reproduction shapes how it can be imagined, altered and politicized.” In this seminar we will explore the changing contours of “reproductive politics” from the 1960s to the present (or from the period immediately pre-Roe v Wade through the recent 2022 decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization) through an in-depth investigation of a range of projects and organizations that conceptually reimagine what we mean by “reproduction,” the scope and content of “reproductive politics,” and the kinds of demands that can be made in the name of reproductive health, rights, freedom and justice. Course Assignments: Research Assignments: Each student will research a key piece of recent legislation, contemporaneous news coverage of a key event, and select 2-3 primary source documents working with pre-selected materials in NU Special Collections to contribute to a Fall Quarter 2024 exhibition.

GNDR_ST 332-0-22/SOCIOL 376: Gender, Health, and Medicine 

In this course, we will examine the way gender organizes health and medicine, as well as how the medical system and health practices create and organize gender. Using interdisciplinary research with a focus on sociological studies, we will interrogate the social, institutional, and biological links between gender and health. We will discuss health inequalities between women, men, and trans* people from different race, ethnic, and class backgrounds, using sociological research to understand why these inequalities and forms of difference emerge and are sustained. We will explore how modern Western medicine views male and female bodies and defines their health and illnesses accordingly. Students will complete two short research projects over the term in which they use different data sources (interviews and media content) to examine gendered perceptions of health, health behaviors, help-seeking behaviors, and experiences with medical institutions.

GNDR_ST 341: Universal Trans Rights and Medical Practices

This course is situated at the intersection of theoretical, cultural, and medical discourses concerning trans* rights and bodies in several national contexts. Of particular interest will be the notion of universal trans rights, as recently articulated in UN Documents arguing that trans rights are human rights, against the backdrop of Gender Affirmation Surgery (GAS) as it is presented in medical literature, advertised on the world wide web, and practiced both domestically and via the international medical tourism industry. Using “Trans” theories: transgender, transnational, translation, spatio/temporal transitions, we will discuss the intersections, dialogues, refusals, and adoptions when thinking about the language of human rights and medical intervention. We will examine cultural/historical conceptions of sex and genders as well as debates concerning bodies and diagnosis that took place during the drafting of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) and International WPATH Standards of Care, among others. Comparative cultural studies, medical discourses, and an archive of web images offering Trans-related surgeries in both Western and, specifically, Thai contexts will serve as axes for investigating this topic.

GNDR_ST 350/HISTORY 395: Queer Oral History 

“Oral histories are particularly vital to gay history, since written records of our past rarely exist or have been destroyed”, wrote the San Francisco Gay History Project in 1979. The belief that oral history interviews are the primary way to overcome archival erasure has shaped feminist, radical and LGBT history projects. However, the advent of queer theory has called some of these assumptions into question. How far does oral history privilege the voices of those who are “out”, visible and confident? How is the relationship between interviewer and interviewee altered when both parties are LGBTQ (or assumed to be)? Finally, how can historians build a complex picture of the past when we are reliant on those who are willing to speak? This class provides a unique opportunity to unpack queer theory through the practical methodologies of conducting and analyzing your own interview projects. We will work on this step by step throughout the term, with consistent feedback and support to enable you to become an independent researcher.

GNDR_ST 351/LEGAL_ST 383: Gender, Sexuality and 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 361: Queering Girlhood

From Barbie to bows, 2023 was in many ways the year of girlhood’s return. But is girlhood really so monolithic as TikTok makes it out to be? Where does girlhood get messy or monstrous, gross or gay? Who gets to be a girl, and whose bodies are forgotten in our popular narratives about girlhood? In this course, we will explore queer representations of girlhood in 20th and 21st century Anglo-American literature, cinema, and television. Our readings will ask us to consider girlhood as a contradictory set of experiences that can happen to people of all genders. We will ask what girlhood feels like to children who are all too often excluded from or only partially imagined within it, as well as for children who desire a girlhood that rejects them or reject the girlhood that is thrust upon them. To structure our questions, we will devote significant time to analyzing Kathryn Bond Stockton’s "The Queer Child, or Growing Sideways in the Twentieth Century" (2009). We’ll learn what it means to understand, stretch, and interrogate a major piece of queer theory through literature and art. Finally, we’ll think about a cast of characters that emerge—to various degrees—in our renditions of the many places where queerness meets girlhood, including but not limited to the kid killer, the lesbian child, the tomboy, the femboy, the black femme, and the toxic (and maybe homoerotic) best friend. Core texts will include Shirley Jackson’s "Hangsaman" (1951), Toni Morrison’s "Sula" (1973), Kassi Lemmons’ "Eve’s Bayou" (1997), and episodes of Showtime’s "Yellowjackets" (2021—), with possible additions from Cassius Adair, Lucy Dacus, Jack Halberstam, Kara Keeling, Carmen Maria Machado, Barbara Smith, and Jenny Zhang, among others.

GNDR_362/ENGLISH 312: The Drama of Homosexuality

Our focus will be the homosexuality in drama, and the drama of homosexuality, in Anglo-American theatre and culture, from Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare through _Angels in America_. This course surveys that drama, but it also thinks theoretically about homosexuality's "drama"--that is, the connections the culture has made (at least at certain moments, at least in certain contexts) between male homosexuality and the category of "the dramatic." The course examines the emergence of "homosexual" and "gay" as historical categories and analyzes the connection between these categories and theatrically related terms such as: "flamboyance," "the closet," "outing," “gender trouble," "drag," "playing," "camp," "acts," "identities," "identification," and "performativity." We will also be interested in the identificatory connections between gay men and particular theatrical genres and figures such as opera, the musical, and the diva. 

GNDR_374: Imagining the Internet

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. We will look examine films predicting the internet, cyberpunk fiction predating the www, and early websites from many sources. In addition, this quarter we will consider various generative AI programs, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. 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? 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 380/BLK_ST 381: Black Feminisms in a Francophone context. From World War II to contemporary period

What is the meaning of “Black Feminism” out of its US experience and initial theorization? How did women of African descent in continental France, the Caribbean (Haiti, Guadeloupe, Martinique), the Indian Ocean (La Réunion, Mayotte and the Comoros) and Africa (Senegal, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo), whose cultures and political experiences were – at least partly – impacted by French colonial legacy, forge their critiques of patriarchy, colonialism and imperialism, racism? How did they also develop their own imagination of social justice, autonomy, and emancipation? Based on a wide range of materials and references driven from social sciences scholarship, but also from literature and cinema, the course aims to introduce undergraduate students to a non-US centered and a transnational perspective on black feminisms. The historical period covered will span from 1945-1946 to the contemporary era without intending to be exhaustive. Depending on the needs of very specific topics addressed in the class, some comparative insights with the Caribbean and/or English-speaking Africa might be included. The pedagogical and intellectual stake of the course is twofold. First, it calls students to reflect on the varying ways in which the very notion of “blackness” (which has no rigorous equivalent in French), and norms of gender and sexuality make sense or not in specific cultural, historical, but also religious and linguistic contexts. Second, the exploration of those different experiences and expressions of black feminisms and/or womanisms is an invitation to critically approach marginalized or "subjugated knowledges" and black feminist theory.

GNDR_ST 382: Race, Gender, and Sexuality: Contemporary Philosophical Issues

The goal of this class is to introduce students to contemporary issues in the philosophy of race, gender, and sexuality. In the first three weeks the class will consider philosophical questions about intersectionality. What is intersectionality? How should we theorize about the complexities of identity categories that overlap? In the next section of the course, we will focus on epistemological issues regarding knowledge and ignorance. For example, how might one’s race, gender or sexuality enhance or undermine one’s opportunities to acquire knowledge? Are there some social positions that place one in a better position to know some facts about the world? Then, in the final few weeks of the course, we will turn to the philosophy of language. We’ll focus on slurs and other forms of toxic speech, evaluating how they can harm groups based on their race, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. This course is meant to introduce students to ongoing debates regarding gender, race, and sexuality and how we might use the tools given to us by philosophy to think about them critically.

GNDR_ST 390-0-21: Feminism and Social Change

This course pairs contemporary feminist thought with local community-based organizing to better understand how theory and praxis inform one another. Thanks to the generous support of the Kreeger Wolf Fund, Feminism and Social Change will feature guest speakers from the Chicago area. Students will learn a variety of ways to engage in change-making and engage in unique end of quarter final projects designed to fuel their own activism. Classes will meet at the Women's Center.

GNDR_ST 390-0-22: Indigenous Testimonios in Translation

The Latin American testimonio, or testimonial, genre is a gendered and contested site of knowledge production. Typically representative of Indigenous women and other disenfranchised peoples during times of great political oppression, testimonios have been understood in conflicting ways—some scholars claim that testimonios are uniquely able to challenge authoritarianism, yet others assert that they are unable to represent the “true” experience of oppression. In this course, we will unsettle and problematize the testimonio genre and its myriad interpretations through representative examples such as those of Rigoberta Menchú and Domitila Barrios de Chúngara. Each testimonio will be contextualized via the sociohistorical context within which each testimonio was produced. Topics may include colonial, nineteenth-century, and/or contemporary testimonios.

GNDR_ST 390-0-23: Before the Binary: Archaeologies of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality

Since the latter half of the 20th century, Queer and Feminist scholars have shown how binary identity systems (male/female; man/woman; straight/gay; cis/trans) constrain and erase variability in the ways people experience and relate to themselves/others as gendered and sexed beings. But what possibilities exist outside this binary system, and how did people understand sex, gender, and sexuality before it was established? In this course, we will explore archaeological and anthropological case studies that investigate what genders, sexes, and sexualities have been made possible by cultural groups throughout human history.

Students will learn about queer and feminist approaches to the study of identity and bodies through archaeological case studies. From Venus Figurines depicting voluptuous bodies in Neolithic Europe, sex acts depicted by the Moche Sex pots of Peru, to Ancient Maya rulers collecting blood from tongues and penises for ritual practices, this class will explore the vastly different ways issues of sex, gender, and sexuality have been understood by people around the globe.

Beyond learning about the past, we will question and engage with the possibilities and problems that arise when identity categories defined by specific cultural and temporal contexts are utilized or appropriated to interpret bodies shaped by another. Here, students will learn how to analyze the contexts that make expressions of sex and gender meaningful and be asked to communicate these insights in written and oral formats.

GNDR_ST 397-0-1/AF_AM_ST 380/ENGLISH 383: Black Feminist Theory

This course begins not from the premise, necessarily, of an intellectual and political genealogy of black women. Though also not to the exclusion of this. But rather, this course is one that thinks black feminist—not black “women’s”—theory and theorizing; this course chronicles the ways that the political, intellectual, ethical, and social resound radically and progressively and names that resonance—and all its vibrations and textures—black feminist theory. Thus, we will, of course, be reading a variety of black women along the jagged gendered spectrum between and beyond “cis” and “trans,” but more specifically we will, in this course, be tracing the ways radical politics and ethics arise in such a way as to interrogate the established parameters of race and gender normativity, of our social world. To do this, we will be reading the work of people like bell hooks and Patricia Hill Collins, Toni Morrison and Toni Cade Bambara, Jennifer Nash and Hortense Spillers, and more.

GNDR_ST 397-0-2/LATINO 393: Latinx Feminisms 

This course examines the diverse layers and heterogenous experiences of Latinas in the United States across space and time. Epistemologically we will question and discuss central concepts of what constitutes Latinidad in its multiple forms. We will interrogate the complex identities of Latina lives amidst intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and other social dimensions (age, education, language, and citizenship). We will trace the dynamic historical transformations, legacies of colonialism/imperialism and ongoing oppressions that shape Latina life, as well as investigate how these women define, understand and critique their respective struggles/ activism from their specific cultural and social locations. This course will provide an overview of the intellectual/theoretical interventions of Latina/Chicana feminist thought to highlight how it breaks from, links, and intersects with mainstream modes of feminism, civil rights movements and other social mobilizations. It will offer a nuanced analysis of empowerment and self-determination, to consider how Latina feminists have made important historical, academic, cultural, and political contributions to inspire change and activism in innovative ways. Working within an interdisciplinary framework deeply rooted in Latina lived experiences, we will examine various themes such as work, masculinity, family, migration, violence, representation etc, via nonfiction, fiction, poetry, film, art, theatre, music, and personal/collective testimonios.

GNDR_ST 490-0-20/AF_AM_ST 480: Toni Morrison

This course will be an intensive examination of the significant contributions made to American and global arts and letters by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. We will consider her contributions through her roles as editor, author, and public scholar. As an editor, Morrison single-handedly ensured the publication of trailblazing Black American writers. Morrison the author created a canon that centers on and celebrates the complexities of Black American life—particularly the lives of Black women. As a public scholar Morrison scrutinized the ways in which the American/Western literary canon often fails to acknowledge and include the important cultural contributions of African-descended literary artists. We will utilize Morrison’s fiction, critical theory, lectures, and interviews to survey how she grappled with the constitution of blackness as it relates to the modern conception of humanity. One of the primary questions we will consider throughout the quarter is: How does Morrison’s work generate a sense of individual and collective identity that extends beyond the scope of race, gender, class, and culture?

GNDR_ST 490-0-21/SOCIOL 476: Sociology of Immigration

This graduate seminar will survey the recent sociological literature on immigration. We will focus on a range of topics that include: the social construction of immigrants and “expats,” as well as the tension between these two categories; the shifts in immigration flows, both in terms of South-North and South-South migration; the structural factors that propel and hinder transnational migration; the entrenchment of international borders in the era of globalization; the shifting understandings of immigrant incorporation in host societies, including in relation to theories of assimilation and acculturation; the emergence of transnationalism as a framework for understanding the links that immigrants maintain with their home countries; and the effects of shifting immigration policies. We will link transnational migration to a wide range of related sociological issues, including economics, geopolitics, culture, religion, crime, gender, sexuality, and social stratification and inequality.

GNDR_ST 490-0-23/SPANPORT 480: Locating Gender in Indianismo and Indigenismo

In this course, we will consider representative examples of the literary and political traditions known as Indianismo and Indigenismo, both of which were popular in Latin America's nineteenth and twentieth century, respectively. In the first half of the course, we will investigate the colonial origins of indigenismo as well as the relationship between Indianismo during Independence and the nineteenth century. In the final half of the course, we will interrogate twentieth century and contemporary indigenista expression in policy, literature, and/or film. Special emphasis will be placed on the politics of gender in the representation of indigeneity within these texts. Please contact instructor if you do not possess reading knowledge in Spanish. This course will be taught in English.

GNDR_ST 490-0-24/BLK_ST 480-0-22: Afrofeminists. Black Women challenging colorblindness in Europe

"Afrofeminism" is the label forged by a new generation of Afrodescendant women (mostly in their twenties and early thirties), born in Europe (often non-English-speaking), to define their black feminism in order to not only affirm their multiple African heritages while they live in Europe, but also to distinguish themselves from US Black Feminism. This triple gesture – linguistic, political and cultural – calls for taking seriously the original formation and expressions of Black feminisms in diasporic and global contexts. It also implies to analyze the enduring consequences of colonialism of former European empires on the very soil of their metropoles through an intersectional perspective. This course will therefore pay particular attention to the historical and social conditions of the emergence of black feminist struggles against patriarchy, racist minoritization and social inequality in a social and political context of white hegemony, where systemic racism is generally considered as "a notion imported from the United States”. The reflections and readings will more specifically focus on France, a European country which is paradigmatic of institutionalized race denial. Formerly a slave-owning colonial empire still marked by massive immigration of workers from Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean in the 1960s, France still maintains ambiguous political and economic ties with these territories, while it actively excludes any reference to race from its official legislation as it has made colorblindness the bedrock of its national republican ideology.