Gender Studies

Director: Nicole Simek, Gender Studies and Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies

Susanne Beechey, Politics

Matthew Bost, Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse

Giramata, Gender Studies

Nina Lerman, History

Lydia McDermott, Rhetoric, Writing, and Public Discourse

Zahi Zalloua, Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies

 

About the Program

How do ideas about gender roles and expectations vary over time and across place? What really is the sexuality spectrum and how can one begin to interpret it both accurately and equitably? Courses in Gender Studies approach questions like these from a range of academic perspectives, including anthropology, history, language and literature, politics, psychology, rhetoric, writing and public discourse, sociology, and visual culture, among others. Through a focus on gender identity, sexuality, and gendered representation as central categories of analysis, Gender Studies enriches students’ understanding of the complexity of human experience. Although many of the field’s lines of argumentation are inspired by feminism, Gender Studies courses take a broad variety of theoretical approaches to topics in women’s studies, men’s studies, and gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender studies. Courses also investigate the entanglements of knowledge, power, privilege, and exclusion, and the important ways that these dynamics influence and are influenced by the experience of gender and sexuality on a personal level and on a broader social scale.

Students are encouraged to work with their advisor to select complementary electives broadening their scope of view and providing training in disciplines of particular interest to them.

Gender Studies intersects with many other fields and pairs well with a range of second majors and minors. Students considering graduate study are strongly advised to pursue study of a second language and to minor in a related discipline.

Programs of Study

Courses

Credits 4

This interdisciplinary course is designed to introduce students, particularly those intending to complete a gender studies major or minor, to questions in which gender is a significant category of analysis. Topics will include the construction of gender identity and sexuality and the relationship of gender to past and present social and cultural institutions, gendered representations in the arts and literature, and feminist and related theoretical approaches to various disciplines. Open to first- and second-year students; others by consent of instructor.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Credits 4

This course explores selected topics in gender studies. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)

This course engages the now widespread liberal activist slogan “check your privilege” so prevalent on U.S. college campuses. What does it mean today to “check” privilege? Is “checking privilege” enough? When consuming the news and educating ourselves in class, whose voices get to be heard? Who aren’t we hearing from? What questions haven’t we raised? How do we listen effectively? Intersectionality as theory and method responds to many of these questions. It posits that various structures of discrimination and privilege (such as sexism, racism, and colonialism among others) intersect, influencing our daily lived experience as well as our social institutions and policies.  This course presents foundational concepts that allow us to understand power through debates in the field of Gender Studies, and a genealogy of intersectionality and its discontents.  The course explores theories and methods based on intersectionality beyond a race/gender pairing, engages critiques of intersectionality, and facilitates a more nuanced understanding of challenges and opportunities surrounding social justice and identity through the lens of intersectional analysis. May be elected as Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies 210.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)

This course provides a critical exploration of masculinity in French and Francophone film and fiction. In examining the politics of gendered and racial representations of masculinity, we ask: What types of desires and actions are associated with certain models of masculinity? How does France’s colonial heritage impact and inform the projection of its own masculinity and that of its formerly colonized others? How do writers, theorists, and filmmakers unsettle the fantasy of French masculinity? This course also takes up masculinity’s vexed relation to femininity, tracking how the ideological production of the latter is often premised on the former’s hegemonic stance. Short papers, oral presentations, and active participation are required. May be elected as Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies 230 or Global Literatures 230.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

In her introduction to The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir states, “A man never begins by presenting himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a man.” Feminists have long taken up the cause of breaking down male privilege rooted in assigning certain, naturalized characteristics to male bodies. But what does it mean to be a man, to be constructed and construed (or not) as masculine? How is masculinity experienced in variable ways across time and space? What are the underpinnings of toxic masculinity and how are dominant ideologies of “appropriate” masculinity challenged?  What do alternative and non-dominant masculinities look like and how and why do they evolve? In addition to using this class to consider what it means to be masculine, we will examine the very emergence of masculinity studies and what the discipline brings to discussions and disruptions of the “masculine.”

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)

This class examines the ways that rhetorical practices and theories rooted in gender and sexuality can and do create, reinforce, adjust and sometimes overcome sex and gender based bias in society. The nature of this bias is addressed as a rhetorical construct that continues to serve as a basis for social, political, and economic conditions of existence for many. In the class, we will critique communication in the media, daily discourse, the law, politics, and in personal experiences. The goal of this examination is to increase awareness of difference and bias in communication based on gender and sexuality, to challenge theoretical assumptions about what constitutes inequity, to analyze the rhetorical practices that constitute gender and sexuality, and to offer new perspectives from which to view gender-based rhetorical practices. May be elected as Rhetoric, Writing and Public Discourse 250.

Distribution Area
Students entering Fall 2024 or later: Power and Equity (PEQ)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 1 Max Credits 4

Discussion and directed reading on a topic of interest to the individual student. The staff must approve the project.

Prerequisites

Consent of instructor.

Credits 4

This course explores selected topics in gender studies. See course schedule for any current offerings.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)

Trauma has attracted critical attention as a limit case through which to explore the nature of selfhood, language, memory and power, and the ethical and political implications of representing violence. Taking contemporary examples of race- and gender-based violence, their intersections, and their specificities as a point of departure, students will examine debates in scholarship and activism over definitions of trauma, its personal and collective impacts, and the social, cultural, and political actions to be taken in its wake.  We will pay particular attention to questions of narrative genre, medium and transmission, as well as the role of commemoration in projects to combat violence.  May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major or minor or the Global Literature minor. May be elected as Global Literatures 320 or Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies 320.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Credits 4

Queer Desires offers students a thorough exploration of historical and contemporary theoretical debates that have shaped the interdisciplinary field of queer studies. Accounting for transformations in the field, this course foregrounds dialogues between queer studies and critical race theory and disability studies and reveals the expansive intent of “queer,” from its constructionist version to its anti-social thesis to the dismantling of the desiring subject and its reparative dimensions. Students will be exposed to projects that use queer theories to understand and resist social inequalities and value representations, particularly at the intersections of race, ethnicity, class, embodiment, age, gender and sexuality. Topics and issues addressed include decolonizing queerness, the relationship between queerness and antinormativity, ableism and the relationship between disability and desire, visibility politics and activism, representations and regulation of sexualities and gender expressions, the consequences of those representations and what values they signify. May be taken for credit toward the Indigeneity, Race, and Ethnicity Studies major or minor.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Credits 4

In this course students will examine the impact of the “affective turn” within gender studies. Affect theory complicates the boundaries between mind and body, stressing how social life—of which gender embodiment is a significant part—is irreducible to cognitive processes alone. It is particularly attentive to the role of emotions and feelings in the formation of gendered subjectivities. Affect—such as joy, pride, shame, and anger—exceeds the disciplining powers of consciousness and representation, pointing (back) to the body, to a reality that is viscerally felt. We will read and critically discuss some of the most important contributions in “Affect Theory” with an eye for gender and subjectivity formation.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4

This course explores feminism’s critical dialogue with psychoanalysis. We will be drawing on the works of Jacques Lacan and French Feminism—as articulated by its leading representatives Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and Hélène Cixous—as well as those of queer feminists, such as Judith Butler, Lynne Huffer, Jasbir Puar, and Elizabeth Grosz. Particular attention will be given to the psychoanalytic critique of the subject and to questions of gender and sexual difference: Is sexual difference an ontological condition? What role does the unconscious play in the perpetuation of patriarchy? How are women and men interpellated as sexed subjectivities?

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

Sex and gender have been framing, analytical categories throughout the history of anthropology. This course explores why sex and gender are invaluable to understanding the human condition. Yet, “sex” and “gender” are not stagnant categories. Instead, they vary across time, place and researcher. Thus, while considering cross-cultural expressions of sex and gender in the ethnographic record, this course is also designed to examine theoretical developments in the field. May be elected as Anthropology 358.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Social Sciences (SO DIST)
Credits 4
Cross-Listed

This course analyzes articulations of queerness in contemporary Latin American and U.S. Latinx narrative. In the first half of the course we will sample queer narratives from the Caribbean and Latin America, and will conclude by attending to the narrative production of queer Latinxs in the United States. Our work will consist of examining the various narrative techniques that shape understandings of queerness across the continent, while tracing the configurations of race and class, ethnicity and nationality, and immigration and legal status that routinely intersect with queerness. Primary readings may be drawn from authors such as Ricardo Piglia, Pedro Lemebel, Luis Negrón, Rita Indiana, Reinaldo Arenas, Sonia Rivera-Valdés, Achy Obejas, John Rechy, Manuel Muñoz, and Ana Castillo, among others. Evaluation is based on class participation, oral and written assignments, and a final research paper. May be applied to the Narrative/Essay requirement for the Hispanic Studies Major.  Satisfies the 400 level requirement for Hispanic Studies minor. Course is taught in Spanish.  May be elected as Hispanic Studies 426.

Distribution Area
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Cultural Pluralism (CP DIST)
Students entering prior to Fall 2024: Humanities (HU DIST)
Prerequisites

Hispanic Studies 341, 342, 343, or 344; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4

Senior Seminar engages students in sustained discussion of contemporary theoretical and topical issues in gender studies, as well as reflection on students'92 course of study. Coursework includes discussion and assignments related to the daily readings. Class time and assignments will also be devoted to conceptualizing the senior capstone project and carrying out its preparatory groundwork. Required of and limited to senior gender studies majors. Offered fall semester only. Fall degree candidates should plan to take this seminar in a semester preceding completion of the capstone project (not concurrently with their project).

Credits 1 Max Credits 4

Directed study and research on a topic of interest to the individual student. The project must be approved by the staff.

Prerequisites

Consent of instructor.

Credits 4

Execution of a capstone project putting into practice knowledge and skills developed over the course of study. Senior projects are designed in close consultation with faculty and may be completed individually or in collaboration with team partners. Projects will vary in structure according to students’ interests and preparation. They may integrate or complement capstone work in a student’s second major with the approval and supervision of both departments. In all cases, projects will involve original research, a scholar statement, and an oral defense. Projects will be evaluated by the senior project director and two additional faculty committee members. Required of all senior Gender Studies majors.

Prerequisites

Gender Studies 490; or consent of instructor.

Credits 4
Faculty
Staff

Students register for Gender Studies 497, not for Gender Studies 498. The registration will be changed from Gender Studies 497 to 498 for those students who attain honors in Gender Studies. Open only to senior Gender Studies majors.