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Course Descriptions (2021-22)

FALL 2021 | WINTER 2022 | SPRING 2022 | SUMMER 2022 

Fall 2021

GNDR_ST 101-6-20: To Paint Their Lives

This seminar will focus on how women, across cultures and time, represent their lives through various media and means, from visual art to literary engagements to graphic media, from movies and photography to music and social media. Our interdisciplinary investigation of (mostly non-Western) women's autobiographical practices, past and present, will allow us to work closely with primary sources (in English translation, if necessary), and with pertinent theoretical work in the fields of gender, sexuality, feminist theory, and queer studies.

The authors we will engage include Sarashina, Artemisia Gentileschi, Li Qingchao, Lady Hyegyong, Orgyan Chokyi, Zora Neale Hurston, Charlotte Salomon, Theresa H. K. Cha, Rigoberta Menchu’, Trinh Minh-ha, Audre Lorde, Marjane Satrapi, Keum Suk Gendry-Kim and Thi Buy, among others. When possible and meaningful, we will set their autobiographical practices against the grain of male representations of women's lives, and in dialogue with our own autobiographical gestures and utterances.

GNDR_ST 101-6-21: Intersectionality & Coalitional Politics

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

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

This course is an introduction to the kinds of questions and hypotheses around which the interdisciplinary field of sexuality studies has coalesced over the past thirty or so. Topics include the history of sexuality as a social category, the ways sexuality intersects with other important social categories such as race and class, the ways individuals from different social groups understand and experience their sexuality, and the ways different social movements have organized around or in response to demands for sexual liberation or exploration.

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?

GNDR_ST 321-0-20: Paris Noir in the Twentieth Century

In 1924, when the African-American poet Langston Hughes arrived in Paris, hungry with only seven dollars in his pocket, he ran up the Champs Elysées in the snow, thrilled to see the Arc de Triomphe in the distance. In Montmartre where he eventually found a job as a busboy and occasional bouncer, he consoled Ada “Bricktop” Smith, the singer and dancer from New York who owned of the most popular jazz club in the neighborhood and for whose attention Cole Porter and F. Scott Fitzgerald competed. Soon, Josephine Baker (originally from St. Louis, Missouri) would shock and delight audiences with her Revue Nègre to become the most celebrated entertainer in Paris. While state-side, newspapers dubbed this community, the “Harlem Renaissance Overseas,” Black and Brown artists, intellectuals, students, journalists and other sojourners from the United States encountered another “exotic” in Paris: their own counter-parts from the Caribbean and Africa. Out of this engagement, a multi-lingual diasporic identity developed within a new internationalism. It birthed the Nègritude movement and fostered an anti-colonial nationalist opposition that would lead de-colonization struggles in the 1950s and ‘60s. This seminar invites students to explore this extraordinary flowering of artistic and political expression. Over the quarter, we will study the Afro-diasporic poetry, novels, painting, photography, film, music, and dance of the period as well as the political, philosophical, and social commentaries of the era. After a broad overview, including developments in French and Parisian history in the 1920s and ‘30s, students will select (with the guidance of the instructor) an area to research and write a 10 to 12 page essay based on the array of primary sources collected by the instructor. Reading knowledge of French is not required. The course will especially highlight the contribution of women. In addition to 395 credit for History majors, the course is open for 350 registration for students in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Students from all disciplines are welcome.

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

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 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 and women are treated at work. Finally, we will consider the role of government policy in sustaining or changing these arrangements.

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 332-0-20: Health Activism

Issues of health and disease have been inextricably entangled with politics this last year. Scientific recommendations, public health mandates, and the role of institutions from the CDC and the FDA to the WHO have been subject to heated debate and partisan politics. Meanwhile, the pandemic has made newly visible and further exacerbated ongoing health disparities within the U.S. and globally. Simultaneously, demands for “healing justice” (Black Lives Matter), the “freedom to thrive” (BYP 100) and the “right to live” (Poor People’s Campaign) articulate a politics that reconceptualize “health” and “healing” as urgent liberation projects, building on a tradition of radical health activism in the U.S. since the 1960s. To make sense of this moment, we examine this tradition of radical health activism, which often targeted these same institutions in their efforts to transform healthcare in the U.S., to eliminate ongoing health disparities, and to challenge the contemporaneous ideological assumptions about gender, sexuality, race, and class that inform (and are often used to justify) these disparities. We begin with AIDS activist Sarah Shulman’s recent political history of ACT UP, Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993 (2021), which also functions as a primer for how to build a health activist social movement able to respond to pandemic conditions, and pair this with Shulman’s ACT UP Oral History Project and online collections of archival materials from ACT UP actions. Importantly, both Shulman and the AIDS activists she interviews attribute the success of ACT UP to members’ use of tactics and strategies they learned as participants in earlier forms of health activism--in establishing community health centers and free clinics during the Civil Rights Movement, in Black Panther Party “survival programs,” in setting up underground abortion services pre-Roe v Wade and in the broader feminist health and reproductive rights movements, and in defense campaigns to secure the rights of those incarcerated in prisons and mental health institutions. In our second unit, we explore each of these earlier movements, beginning with participants’ accounts collected in the ACT UP Oral History Project, and then through recent histories of each movement and related online archival collections and collections of activist ephemera from each housed in Northwestern’s Special Collections. In our third unit, we make use of this history of radical health activism to explore the politics of the present and to examine current movements that build on and carry forward these legacies.

GNDR_ST 340-0-20: Gender, Sexuality, and 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 352-0-20: Intro to Foucault: Power, Sex, & Knowledge

This course introduces one of the most influential late-twentieth-century French philosophers, Michel Foucault, and his  ongoing importance for contemporary studies in philosophy, critical theory, gender and sexuality studies, and critical race studies. The primary texts studied are: History of Madness, Discipline and Punish, and History of Sexuality, volume one. It explains Foucault’s development, throughout his work, of fundamental Foucauldian concepts such as : otherness, the historical a priori, epistemic conditions and epistemic rupture, discourse,  archaeology discipline, normativity,  biopolitics, power-knowledge, resistance, and genealogy, many of which have become central to inquiry and critique in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The course provides a transition to advanced studies in these areas. It does  assume prior knowledge, and is the opportunity for a more  systematic engagement with Foucault’s overall work, for those who have encountered this thinker  briefly in other courses. 

Thematically,  the course will consider Foucault’s writings on madness, the medical gaze, prisons and related disciplinary institutions, the association between sexuality and  truth, and Foucault’s critique of a number of modern understandings of freedom, selfhood, knowledge, and resistance.

The course is reading intensive. In addition to weekly excerpts, you should plan to read  your choice of one of Foucault's major texts throughout the quarter, and to reflect on your choice of one line of contemporary criticism (or modification) of Foucault from a range of suggested fields that include gender and sexualities studies and critical race studies.

The course is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. In fall ’21 we  are able to offer a  dedicated graduate discussion section (Wed 8 pm).

GNDR_ST 353-0-20: Deportation Law and 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 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 372-0-21: Black Feminist Performance

In this course we will examine a multitude of performances investigating the complexities of Black feminisms. Considering the intersections of gender expression, class, sexuality, and ethnicity, we will reflect on how feminism has been defined and contested by Black women, non-binary, and gender queer artists. Over the course of the quarter, we will also delve into our own performance making practices and consider how performance can be used as a tool to clarify and embody theory. Questions we will consider include: What have been the defining characteristics of Black feminist performance throughout history? How is performance uniquely situated to articulate the evolving concerns of Black feminism?

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 ( so the class annotates, comments, and replies to each other on both daily readings, midterm essay, and seminar paper.

GNDR_ST 390-0-20: 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 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. We will pursue those high levels of writing and conversation through our studies of scripted feature films (Atlantics, The Favourite, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Us), nonfiction documentaries (Boys State, Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops, Seahorse, Time), and limited series (I May Destroy You, Mrs. America).

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 405-0-20: Advanced Feminist Theory

This seminar’s aim is to introduce students from a variety of disciplines to a range of later (post-Beauvoir) c20th and c21st book chapters, articles, and essays in feminist theory and politics. Our challenge is to gain understanding of feminist theory (and practice) not as series of progressive “waves” (much less an undifferentiated monolithic entity) but as a multifaceted academic field of continuous debate animated by contemporary problems of gender, race, sexuality, class, power, oppression, exclusion, exploitation, action, violence, sovereignty, and relations of rule within and beyond what Gayle Rubin famously called the “sex/gender system.” The seminar will politicize these problems and stage encounters through the reading and interpretation of selected authors and texts, provisionally organized according to the following approaches and genres: (1) feminist historical materialist critiques of capitalism, global capital, sexual and racial division of labor, relations of (re)production; (2) standpoint feminisms (Black, white, of color) multiple voices, subjugated knowledges, experience and consciousness, coalition building; (3) theorizing intersectionality; Black feminist critique of interlocking oppressions; racialized and gendered structures of power, politics of identity; (4) “dominance” (radical) feminism, male violence against women, female sexuality as gender oppression, masculine domination as a social system; (5) postmodern critiques of gendered subjectivity; feminism and queer theory, heteronormativity, politics of performativity, beyond-the-binary; (6) feminist new materialisms, bodies that “matter,” biopower, posthuman ontologies of becoming; (7) feminist postcolonial criticism, alterity of the subaltern, decoloniality of gender, decentering Europe and the (feminist) West; (8) feminist political theory, sexual violence and gendered sovereignty of the “postcolonial” state, the sexed citizen and the heteropatriarchal nation; (9) feminist politics, world-building, solidarity, resistance, subversion, forms of freedom. Readings include works by S Ahmed, N Alarcon, K Barad, E Barkley Brown, W Brown, J Butler, B Cooper, K Crenshaw, P Hill Collins, N Fraser, S Federici, H Hartmann, N Hartsock, KI Jackson, L Irigaray, M Lugones, C MacKinnon, B Mendoza, B Martin, U Narayan, T Reynolds, J Rose, G Rubin, C Sandoval, J Scott, A Simpson, H Spillers, G Spivak, B Theobald, E Wingrove, M Wittig, L Zerilli.

GNDR_ST 490-0-20: 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 evolution of sociological immigration theories; the social construction of immigrants and "expats," as well as the tension between these two categories; the social construction of refugees and asylum seekers; 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; the emergence of transnationalism as a framework for understanding the links that immigrants maintain with their home countries; and the effects of shifting attitudes on immigration policies. We will link transnational migration to a wide range of related sociological issues, including gender, sexuality, race, economics, nationalism, nativism, culture, religion, crime, and social stratification and inequality.

Winter 2022


GNDR_ST 101-6-20: Imagining the Internet: Fiction, Film & 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. There will be writing assignments in multiple formats.


GNDR_ST 231-0-20: Contemporary Women Filmmakers

This course comprises a survey of 21st-century films directed, written, and/or produced by female- and femme-identified creators in and beyond the US, including case studies of distinguished artists who have sustained rich and varied bodies of work. Refusing such monolithic ideas as a “female gaze,” we will consider the narrative, aesthetic, and thematic specificities of each film we study and how these nuances enrich conversations about gender, race, class, power, and point of view that unfold within and around each text. As a necessary foundation for watching, discussing, and writing persuasively about film, course participants will learn and practice important terms and techniques related to images, edits, and sounds in cinema and how they crucially shape and complicate story—sometimes even opposing what the dialogue and plot points appear to suggest. Assigned films are likely to include Atlantics (Senegal, 2019), Ava (Iran, 2017), The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (Canada, 2019), Hustlers (USA, 2019), Middle of Nowhere (USA, 2012), Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France, 2019), The Power of the Dog (New Zealand, 2021), and Zola (USA, 2020).

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 321-0-20: 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).  

Our goal in this seminar is to engage and contribute to this larger project through our own collective archival research. Our seminar, co-taught by NU archivist Jason Nargis, will be held in Special Collections and a portion of each class will be devoted to working with archival materials. Course readings will include selections from these recent dissident histories of 1970s feminism. Together we will examine how they make use of new archives, reading strategies and research methods to offer a more nuanced account of second-wave feminism and practice using these research strategies through in-class assignments with (pre-selected) archival materials. Our final class project will be to collectively curate our findings in two forms—an exhibition in the Main Library and as a StoryMap. This seminar will introduce students to the practice of archival research as well as to the remarkable range of archival materials from this period housed in Special Collections at NU and will also include two lab sessions in the Media and Design Studio. 

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 332-0-20: Black Feminist Health Science Studies

Black feminist health science studies is a critical intervention into a number of intersecting arenas of scholarship and activism, including feminist health studies, contemporary medical curriculum reform conversations and feminist technoscience studies. We argue towards a theory of Black feminist health science studies that builds on social justice science, which has as its focus the health and well-being of marginalized groups. Students will engage feminist science theories that range from explorations of the linguistic metaphors of the immune system, the medicalization of race, to critiques of the sexual binary. We will use contemporary as well as historical moments to investigate the evolution of “scientific truth” and its impact on the U.S. cultural landscape.

GNDR_ST 332-0-22: 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 341-0-20: A Writing of Their Own: Chinese Woman Writers Between Empire and Modernity

This course focuses on women writers from the end of the Qing dynasty through the Republican period, to conclude with the late twentieth century. We will read the work of authors like Xiao Hong, Zhang Ailing, Ding Ling, Wang Anyi, Can Xue, Guo Xiaoluo, Hong Ying, among others, and, drawing from a variety of disciplinary approaches, we will explore the fraught relationship between gender, sexuality, literature, and identity.

We will first engage the rise of female professional authors between the fall of the Qing and the Republican period, to then turn to the political turn in authors during the rise of the CCP; lastly, we will move on to late twentieth and early twenty-first century female-authored fiction in the Sinophone and beyond. In addition to primary sources, we will integrate theoretical work in the field of gender and sexuality studies, feminist studies, and queer theory, as well as Chinese cinema and culture. Previous knowledge of Chinese literature and culture, though helpful, is not required. We will spend a great deal of time reading primary sources (in English translation, and in Chinese, for those who are able to), so the only real requisite for this is to love reading fiction.

GNDR_ST 353-0-20: Queer Criminality & Political Transgression

This course addresses the political potentials of criminality within queer life by considering historical and contemporary acts of queer transgression as “criminal.” We will draw from literature that underscores the criminalization of queer life, particularly the hyper-criminalization of queer communities of color, but this course will also move beyond mechanisms of criminalization by asking critical questions about queer illegalism and its capacity to destabilize an existing political world. Reading within historical studies of criminality in the social sciences, specifically anthropology and political science, we will consider queer criminality as a departure from other interpretations of crime as - for instance - pathological, symptomatic, opportunistic, reactionary, constructed, or in collusion with “legitimate” political and economic orders. While still attending to these themes through keys texts in the study of crime, this course reflects on how conceptualizations of political transgression and crime have been historically transformed and renewed through queer thought and approaches, particularly through figures such as the deviant, the outlaw, or the rebel. We will discuss these figures within theorizations of broader political transgression, such as social movements, uprisings, and revolutions.

GNDR_ST 361-0-20: Early Modern Sexualities

This course explores the history of sex and sexualities -- in all their variety -- in English Renaissance literature and culture. Before the homo/hetero divide, before what Michel Foucault calls as "the implantation of the perverse," before genders in their modern forms, what were the routes, locations, effects, and politics of sex and desire? To what extent can we discuss "sexuality" in relation to "identity" in the pre-modern era? To address these complex questions, and to begin to ask new ones, we will concentrate on a range of exemplary literary and historical texts from around 1600 in England. We will be interested to explore both the multiple forms and functions of desire, eroticism, sex, asexuality, gender, gender-identification, etc. in this culture, as well as the terms, methods, and theories we now use to read the sexual past. We will gain fluency in the seemingly familiar but simultaneously foreign languages of early modern identities and desires: sodomy, tribadism, friendship, marriage; bodies, their parts, and their pleasures. We will interrogate sex/gender's intersections with such categories as race, religion, social class, and nation, and we will think through some new scholarship on trans* identities in early modern culture.

GNDR_ST 361-0-21: Illness and Femininity: Fictions and Facts

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. From the 19th century to the present, this class will examine how the tropes of illness in popular literature pertains to our broader cultural assumptions about illness and gender. How do traits associated with femininity resemble literary representations of illness, and vice-versa? How have these associations changed over time? 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”? How might we locate or analyze femininity in representations of ill men? What about mental illness? Our readings will be split between popular representations of illness in novels and writings by ill authors, and we will consider how literary tropes are or are not reappropriated by the latter. -- Readings Include: Anonymous, The Woman of Colour (1808); Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813); Katherine Anne Porter, Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939); Octavia Butler, Parable of the Sower (1993); David Chariandy, Soucouyant (2007). We will also read personal essays, poetry, portions of memoirs, or short stories by authors including Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Eula Biss, Anne Anlin Cheng, Suleika Jaouad, Audre Lorde, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Michelle Zauner.

GNDR_ST 372-0-21: Composer Topics: John Cage

This course explores the music, writing, and collaborations of John Cage (1912-1992) through archival materials held in Northwestern University Library's Special Collections. It will introduce students to the rich historical documentation held on site as well as develop students' skills using archival material. The course will focus largely on John Cage's collaborations with other musicians and artists including Merce Cunningham, David Tudor, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Morton Feldman, and Charlotte Moorman. The class will meet in Deering Library 200 and is limited to 15 students. All students must be familiar with music notation.

GNDR_ST 373-0-20: Women in Chinese Cinema, 1922-2022

The focus of this course is mainland Chinese films about women and by women in twentieth and twenty-first century cinematic horizons. We will address the issue of women as actresses, as celebrities, and as objects, as well as subjects of representations through the intersectional lenses of gender, sexuality, politics, status, and material culture. Our course will be chronologically arranged, and we will screen well-known and lesser-known films, directed by male and female auteurs, in order to explore the dynamics and potentials for representations of women and female figures, such as goddesses, downtrodden proletarians, sex-workers, actresses, heroines, iconoclastic revolutionaries, and filial daughters. In addition to primary sources, we will integrate theoretical work in the field of gender and sexuality studies, feminist studies, and queer theory, as well as Chinese cinema and culture. Previous knowledge of Chinese culture and/or gender and sexuality studies, though helpful, is not required.

GNDR_ST 374-0-20: Imagining the Internet: Fiction, Film & 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: Sex Work in Asian America

From karaoke bars to military bases, from local dungeons to worldwide webcams, from sites of grassroots organization to spaces of neoliberal legislation, between international borders and across electronically mediated networks, how are these institutions, spaces, subjects, and normalized practices interconnected through a web of power, control, and profit and how have Asian Americans navigated and negotiated these terrains?

Students will read an array of texts written by and/or relating to Asian/American sex workers, including: historical and contemporary legislation, selections from ethnographic studies of sex work in Asia and the United States, as well as first-hand accounts of Asian/American sex workers who make a living by teaching/practicing BDSM, shooting mainstream and internet pornography, supplying consensual sexual services, organizing for sex worker rights and the decriminalization of sex work, and more. Students should be prepared to engage with texts, films, and speakers covering a spectrum of experiences/intensities emerging from this course’s capacious approach to the concept of “sex work.”

GNDR_ST 397-0-20: Feminist Theory

Feminists theorize a changing world as we seek to reshape it. If, as Arundhati Roy has written, the pandemic is a portal between one world and the next, what do we carry with us to fight for the world to come? This class examines the “classic” works of feminist theory and their political interventions in light of our solidarity with the social justice vision of #BlackLivesMatter, a movement named and launched by Black women. We will reconsider foundational questions of feminist theorizing: 1. How has intersectionality challenged who and what is a woman? 2. Who makes knowledge and for whom? 3. Futurism and utopias. 4. In creating a queer affirming, trans uplifting community, welcoming to all gender expressions and all sexual identities, regardless of economic status, age, ability or disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location, #BLM philosophy affirms that protest is expansive and loving. Importantly, what do we learn from restorative justice as a healing practice in the struggles against anti-Black state-sanctioned and vigilante violence? How do we re-center feminisms within the long genealogy of freedom, abolitionism(s), and world-making?

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.

The colloquium meets every other week on 1/3, 1/17, 1/31, 2/14, and 2/28.

GNDR_ST 490-0-20: Early Modern Sexualities

How can we practice the history and analysis of sexuality in early modern Europe? Is sexuality best described by a continuity of models, or alterity and historical difference? To what extent can we discuss “sexuality” in relation to “identity” in the pre-modern era? To address these complex questions, and to begin to ask new ones, we will concentrate on a range of exemplary literary and historical texts from around 1600 in England. We will be interested to explore both the multiple forms and functions of desire, eroticism, sex, gender, etc., in this culture, as well as the terms, methods, and theories we now use to read the sexual past. We will be particularly interested in gaining fluency in the languages of early modern identities and desires: sodomy, tribadism, friendship, marriage; bodies, their parts, and their pleasures. We will centrally engage recent critical controversies in the field over the utility of historicism in sexuality studies. We will interrogate sex/gender's intersections with categories such as race, religion, social class, and nation, and we will engage the emerging scholarship in early modern trans* studies.


GNDR_ST 490-0-21: Political Theories of Membership

Why do all political societies use birth (jus sanguinis or jus soli) as the paradigmatic decision rule for membership? What are the implications of this decision rule for attachments of nationality, ethnicity, race, and religion? What is the intellectual history of "the nation" and the claims that it is modern? Is the nation an inherently toxic form of membership that produces unjustified exclusions at best and genocide at worst? Or is there a form of national belonging that cultivates empathy and mutual care among economically and otherwise unequal members, such that the nation may and should be preserved but should be isolated from its adverse effects?

Spring 2022

GNDR_ST 101-6-20: 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 will also 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 321-0-21: Gender, War, and Revolution in the 20th Century

"War is men's business, not ladies'," so we are told in "Gone with the Wind." 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) demolished long standing myths that men go forth and fight in order to protect their women and children, who remain passive and secure at home. In the twentieth century, 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 - building on the beginnings of legal equality and the vote - 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 masculinity and femininity, did the disruption of those norms mean emancipation for women? Did the war open up utopian hopes for all forms of alternate gender and sexual alignments? Ultimately, was a traditional gendered social order restored after the half century of total war and revolutions? Despite the much touted return to happy domesticity, could the genie of sexual malcontent be ever fully re-contained?

GNDR_ST 324-0-20: US Gay and 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.

GNDR_ST 331-0-20: Heterosexualities: Past, Present & Future

How and when did the identities that we know today as “straight” or “heterosexual” come into existence? And how have those identities differed across time and space? Drawing on the academic literature and representations in film and other popular media, we will examine the “invention of heterosexuality” and its transformation and diversification over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries. By paying attention to multiple definitions of heterosexuality—including those that coexist within a single historical moment and location—we will problematize the notion that heterosexuality can be simply conceived as a single, unitary sexual identity. Among other topics, we will discuss the increasingly blurring boundaries between heterosexuality and other sexual identities; heteroflexibility, sexual fluidity, and other challenges to conventional definitions of heterosexuality; the power associated with heterosexuality, masculinity, and femininity; the effects of sexual inequality; contemporary problems and issues, including hookup culture and definitions of sexual consent; and imagined futures of the notions of sexual identity and sexual orientation.

GNDR_ST 332-0-20: Feminism and Social Change: Disability Justice

Why should we consider disability justice as a central principle of contemporary feminist thought? As disability studies increasingly ground feminist work, new depths of understanding around embodiment, freedom, and human dignity develop from and return to social justice action globally, nationally, and here in the Chicago region. Students in this course will study disability justice as feminist practice in conversation with Chicago-based thinkers and organizers.

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 in the U.S. from the 1960s to the present by examining 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. We begin with the ‘culture wars’ of the 1980s and the emergence of a reproductive politics (newly) figured in terms of “pro-life vs. pro-choice” and interrogate the extent to which this rendering continues to shape how we think about “reproduction” in the present. We then turn to the pre-history of this moment to explore the very different terms, demands and imaginaries that shaped the reproductive politics of 1970s-era liberation projects committed to “reproductive freedom” (e.g. feminist “self-help clinics”; Black Panther Party “community survival programs”; the free clinic movement; etc.). In the final unit, we investigate how the analyses and demands of a resurgent Reproductive Justice Movement led by women of color reconceptualizes and expands the terrain of reproductive politics to include demands for racial, economic and environmental justice as prerequisites for exercising the right to have or not to have children and to parent the children we do have. In addition to course materials, our collective research into this topic will include 1-2 weeks of (guided) archival research in Deering Library’s Special Collections &/or University Archives.

GNDR_ST 332-0-24: Race/Gender/Sex & Science: Making Identities and Differences

How do scientific claims and technological developments help transform cultural understandings of race, gender, and sexuality? Conversely, how do cultural beliefs about race, gender, and sexuality influence scientific knowledge and medical practice? This class 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 341-0-20: Feminist, Queer, Crip: South Korea and Its Discontents

This course examines gender, sexuality, and disability in contemporary 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. From the Gangnam station murder to the #Me Too movement, South Korean cultural industry’s rise into the global stage through K-Pop has coincided with intense debates at home and abroad about the experience of gendered citizenship and various forms of marginalization. As the scholar Alison Kafer has poignantly shown, thinking through the entanglement of feminist, queer, and disability concerns is important to rethinking exclusionary claims and their attendant problems. Students will look at some of the major points of debate and events that have ignited the increased interest, engaging literary and popular cultural texts, news articles, and scholarship on feminist, queer, and crip theories. At the same time, these recent debates are not necessarily unique or new. To address such, the course will also consider the broader historical context of militarization, colonialism, and the Korean diaspora that have shaped these debates. No prerequisite knowledge of the Korean language or culture is necessary. As a discussion-based seminar with papers, the course encourages students to hone their critical thinking, speaking, and writing skills.

GNDR_ST 371-0-20: Girlhood in Public Culture

Why girls have figured so centrally in 20th century popular culture; why the concept of girlhood itself has been so widely debated within public culture more generally; how girls themselves have responded to public representations of girlhood.

GNDR_ST 371-0-21: Cultural History of New Media, Gender, and Race

This seminar course examines the ways that gender and race repeatedly inform the design, marketing, and use of new media and technology in an Anglo American (US and Canada) context. Although we often think of new media as synonymous with the internet and digital technology, this course will navigate the emergence of various new media from the late 19th century through our current era with an emphasis on gender and race. Working chronologically, this course will highlight key technological innovations including the rise of early cinema, television, and computers. From Black owned ‘picture palaces’ in the 1910s to Indigenous women creating VR in the 2010s, this course centers an understanding of women, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC as consistent designers and users of emerging technology. Each week will center around scholarly and primary source materials that illuminate perspectives on how gender and race informed the dynamic relationship between users and technology. This approach will attune students to the lengthy history of new media and technology and the unique and recurrent debates that emerge. It will also offer students the opportunity to study and apply critical gender and racial theory approaches in a media studies context. Class assessment will draw from current approaches in digital humanities. Students will gain practice navigating web based archives for their research and using web based platforms including Slack, Medium, Canva, Soundcloud, and video sharing platforms to present their ideas and research.

GNDR_ST 372-0-20: Composer Topics: Julius Eastman

This course introduces students to the life and work of composer-performer-improvisor Julius Eastman (1940–1990). Eastman's musical practices encompassed a range of styles and genres—classical music, experimentalism, disco, punk, and jazz—and was grounded in the Black radical tradition. The course explores not only Eastman's radical Black aesthetics but explores its intersection with his militant homosexual sensibility. The course will explore his collaborations and confrontations with a range of artists: John Cage, Meredith Monk, Arthur Russell, Kathy Acker, Richard Foreman, Petr Kotik, Bill T. Jones, Jeff Lohn, Tania Leon, Talib Hakim, and others. Some familiarity with music notation would be helpful, but not required.

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: Gender, Race & the Holocaust

The aim of this seminar is to introduce students to the history and historiography of race and gender during the Holocaust. As in many historical contexts, race and gender interacted dynamically and created the particular context of Nazi-occupied Europe, which was a place where Jewish men and women suffered in particular ways, German men and women participated in particular ways, and other racial groups - men and women alike - were targeted, collaborated, resisted and rescued. We will read a variety of texts that explore the influences that shaped the behavior and response of an array of people during the Holocaust. Racism sat directly in the center of the Nazi world view. Once the Nazis got into power, they sought to translate ideology into policy. Still, their racial policies evolved over time, spurred by opportunism, innovation, and war. And too, Jewish men and women responded in ways similar and divergent to the Nazi onslaught. Sexism was also seemingly an important aspect of the Nazi perspective. While they indeed embraced an anti-feminist stance, the Nazis nevertheless sought to incorporate "German" women into the national community and women participated actively in the implementation of Nazi racism.

GNDR_ST 382-0-22: Women of Color Feminist Legacies

This course combines key texts in women of color feminist theory with contemporary literature, film, art, and activism inspired by this field. Course participants will investigate how a coalitional feminist movement that began in the 1980s is relevant to multiracial feminist analysis, artmaking, and activism today. We will ask how women of color feminists in the 1980s challenged existing concepts of race, ethnicity, gender, class, and identity. We will distinguish women of color feminism from Black feminisms and Latinx feminisms, identifying the key solidarities, intimacies, and alliances that undergird the writings in this field. Course participants will also be asked to challenge their understandings of “theory,” examining the rigorous feminist thought at work in contemporary poetry, short stories, film, media, and visual art. Key texts will likely include This Bridge Called My Back, Dictée, Sister Outsider, and Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, as well as essays from Barbara Smith, Barbara Christian, E. Patrick Johnson, Hortense Spillers, Grace Kyungwon Hong, and Treva Ellison. Course media may include poetry by Tiana Clark, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, and Layli Long Soldier, the short film Happy Birthday, Marsha! (2016), an episode of the television show Vida (2020), and guest lecture by a visiting artist, activist, or writer.

GNDR_ST 382-0-23: Race, Sexuality, and Religion in the Americas

This course examines the co-constructed histories of religion, sexuality, and race in the Americas. Drawing upon foundational and newer works in the field, we will explore how the construction of these categories, rooted in biological essentialism, has had immense consequences for the enslaved and her descendants, indigenous peoples, other people of color, and women, queer, transgender, and gender-nonconforming individuals. The historical record shows that individuals born cisgender male and socialized as men, namely white heterosexual men, have historically and contemporaneously dominated and controlled the North Americas and the globe. They have upheld their hegemonic and institutional power by wielding the social constructions of “gender” and “sexuality” to their benefit, often using religion, and specifically white Christianities, biblical fundamentalism, and “religio-racial race making” to regulate sexual bodies gendered and understood as non-white and non-man. This course examines the interconnected histories of race, sexuality and religion in the Americas through the vantage point of African American Studies, and specifically Black Queer Studies, and charts the construction of these categories and how racialized people—both within and beyond religious institutions—have resisted and challenged their centrality.

GNDR_ST 390-0-20: Latinx Feminism

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 390-0-22: Environmental Justice: Feminism, Rhetoric and Policy

To quote activist group, “Extinction Rebellion,” the fire alarm on global warming has been pulled and is ringing at full volume. All scientific data points to the conclusion that decisive and immediate action will be necessary to avoid significant damage to global ecosystems and communities by 2030. This course starts from this sense of urgency and the risk it runs of cuing interventions that, while efficient and effective, entrench existing inequalities. Instead, how can we be mindful of environmental solutions forwarded by marginalized communities? How might changes in global environmental policy also usher in changes in global social justice? In this course, we examine these foundational questions of environmental justice (EJ). While our reading list is catered to feminist environmentalist (FE) thought, the activists, artists, writers, and researchers we discuss tackle their work with varied critical identities. Through class discussions and presentations, students will build skills in understanding and evaluating public policy from EJ and FE lenses. Our close analysis of environmental policies and movements is complemented by foundational readings in EJ and FE history. This culminates in a final project of rhetorical analysis on an environmental policy or movement of the student’s choosing. No expertise is required to succeed in this course; strong participation is essential.

GNDR_ST 390-0-23: Queer Ghosts

Haunted houses, haunting memories, vengeful specters. Often used as metaphors for memory, history, and trauma, ghosts and haunting remain prevalent in works both in and outside the academy. Drawing a wide interdisciplinary net from media and cultural studies, performance studies, queer and trans studies, and sociology, this seminar approaches the issue of “queer ghosts” through these three themes: the ghosts of queer people, the “spirit’ of queerness, and the queerness of spirits. We will be working primarily between 1850 and the present, and focusing on the Anglophone world. In this seminar students will develop an independent research paper or creative project related to course themes. Either individually or in small groups, students will also be responsible for facilitating discussions for one meeting of the course.

GNDR_ST 390-0-24: Critical Trans Studies

What is 'critical' about Critical Trans Studies? In this seminar class, we will explore gender not simply as an aspect of individual identity, but also as a deeply embedded social structure that regulates and criminalizes expansive possibilities of gender identity and expression. Throughout the course, we will explore issues such as knowledge production, in/visibility, police and prison abolition, gender-expansive schooling, and transformative justice. We will engage with and critically discuss texts from the fields of legal studies, K-12 and higher education, sociology, philosophy, race/ethnic studies, and disability studies, with a commitment to centering the experiences and perspectives of trans and non-binary people both inside and outside of the academy. The questions we ask in this course include the following: How is the gender binary deeply woven into the policies and practices of social institutions such as education? How does genderism overlap and interact with other forms of oppression such as racism and ableism? For whom does the new visibility of trans identity benefit, and who does it harm? How can we transform educational contexts to be attuned to gender diversity, particularly as it intersects with issues of race/ethnicity, disability, citizenship, and social class? Seminar discussions will depend upon students who are engaged with the course material and are actively participating.

GNDR_ST 390-0-25: Queer Belonging

In this seminar, we will explore queer forms of belonging, particularly through differing understandings of kinship, intimacy, and what it means to be together. Moving within and beyond queer as a form of selfhood, this course will explicitly consider what queer means in relation to others and as embedded in social worlds. Together, we will engage texts and materials that push back on normative understandings of belonging, especially through contemporary conversations of race, gender, class, and sexuality. Drawing from the literature of anthropology, psychoanalysis, queer theory, critical race theory, feminist studies, and the broader social sciences, we will question and reenvision themes such as the family, reproduction, friendship, monogamy, community, and home. We will consider “queer” in different formations such as self, dyads/other, groups, communities, worlds, and absences; and we will consider queer beloning with different endurances and temporalities such as fleeting intimacies, long-term attachments, and digital encounters.

GNDR_ST 490-0-20: Gender, Power, Politics

This seminar will investigate how gender shapes politics, and how politics in turn shapes gender, with gender conceptualized as a set of relations, identities and cultural schema, co-constituted with other dimensions of power, difference and inequality (e.g., race, class, indigeneity, sexuality, religion, citizenship status). 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, and official categorization to shape gender relations? How do gender relations influence the nature of policy, classification systems, and citizenship? How have movements and counter-movements around the transformation of gender developed, and how have gendered divides influenced politics of all sorts? We expand on conventional conceptions of political participation and citizenship rights to include grassroots democratic activism, the creation of alternative visions of democracy, social provision and economic participation, as well as examining formal politics and policies. We will read and discuss scholars drawing on diverse theoretical and methodological traditions, and we engage with analyses of a variety of contexts across the world (the US, other rich capitalist democracies, postcolonial states and beyond), striving to situate states and political mobilization in global contexts. The course draws on gender and sexuality studies, political science, sociology, history, and anthropology to understand gender, power and politics.

Click here for the syllabus.

GNDR_ST 490-0-21: Theorizing Black Genders and 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 and 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 490-0-22: 19th C. Black Women Writers

This course will explore the autobiographical fictions, slave narratives, serialized tales, memoirs, novels, and poems produced by African American women from the antebellum period through the turn of the twentieth century, and ending with Zora Neale Hurston’s 1927 reflection on the life of the last former slave brought to the United States from Africa in 1862. We will begin the course and introduce these literary accounts with recordings and written transcripts of selected WPA interviews of former slaves by largely white interlocutors working for the Roosevelt Administration. By exploring the variety of writing, from travel and slave narrative and to fiction, this course will consider the forms and content produced by Black women during the nineteenth century and raise questions concerning at least: shifting political and social identities, authorship, proto-Black feminism, and the possibilities and limitations of the Black woman “archive” versus a “canon.”

Course materials will include Mary Prince, The Slave Narrative of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave (1831); Hannah Crafts, The Bondswoman’s Narrative (n.d. 1850s); Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861); Julia Collins, The Curse of Caste; or, The Slave Bride (1865); Elizabeth Keckley, Behind the Scenes; 30 Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (1868); Alice Dunbar Nelson, Confessions of a Lazy Woman (~1903); Pauline Hopkins, Of One Blood (1902-1903); and Zora Neale Hurston, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” (unpub. 1927/2018). Professors Spigner and Stern will also distribute poems written by Black women across the course of the quarter to supplement our discussion of 19th-century Black women’s prose works.

Each seminar participant will be required to give a presentation and lead the class for the first hour of the seminar. Participants will also produce several short, argument-based reflection papers. Final projects will enable students to feature their own research interests in creative installations involving literary texts, historical documents, cinematic or televisual materials and artifacts from the popular culture of the 19th century. Professors Spigner and Stern will consult with all seminar participants on their topics for the final project.

GNDR_ST 490-0-23: Toni Morrison


Summer 2022

GNDR_ST 332-0-1: Contemporary Gender and Medicine

In America, the National Institute of Health (NIH) did not require women to be included in biomedical research until the 1990s. This means that until just thirty years ago, doctors and researchers in the United States knew little about holistic health in non-cisgender male bodies. This course charts the following thirty years of gender-conscious interventions and their effect on the American concept of “health” itself. How has the push to treat chronic pain disorders prevalent in women changed the definition of “pain” in medicine? How has trans* and nonbinary activism for gender-affirming care reshaped doctor-patient relations? These questions and others will be addressed in two ways: First, by studying the history of recent institutional medical culture through a gender studies lens, and second, by tracing the ways that key terms in the field have evolved in these years.