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Fall 2021 Undergraduate Course Offerings

GSS 1111 07: Stacy Simplican, “First-Year Writing Seminar: Gendered Lives,” MWF 1:50-2:40pm

This course examines how feminist political theorists represent and theorize the meaning, history, and significance of gendered lives. Questions we will explore will include: How have feminist political theorists understood concepts like gender, sex, and sexuality? How do feminist political theorists think about justice, power, freedom, equality, and care? And how does their work influence empirical work in other disciplines? Students will think about the different writing styles of feminist political theory. Significant course time will be dedicated to questions of writing, genre, voice, and peer review of student work.

GSS 1150 01: Allison Hammer, “Sex and Gender in Everyday Life,” TR 11:10am-12:25pm (AXLE: P)

This course is an introduction to the field of gender and sexuality studies, with a particular focus on how the norms of gender, sex, and sexuality are produced and resisted in everyday life. We will interrogate the title of the course itself as a starting point: what kinds of assumptions about the everyday manifest in culture and politics? Do certain spaces and discourses privilege an “everyday” that is white, heterosexual, male, and economically privileged?  To counter this privileging, we will look at many different kinds of “everyday” experiences, including those of BIPOC individuals, people within the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, those who are displaced, undocumented, or unhoused. We will pursue such topics as sex and gender in the media, in health and medicine, and in subcultural discourses. We will pay particular attention to recent feminist movements, the movement for Black lives, and indigenous movements from a transnational perspective. Through reading, viewing and discussion, we will work toward developing critical tools to envision alternative futures.

GSS 1150 02: Allison Hammer, “Sex and Gender in Everyday Life,” TR 12:45-2pm (AXLE: P)

This course is an introduction to the field of gender and sexuality studies, with a particular focus on how the norms of gender, sex, and sexuality are produced and resisted in everyday life. We will interrogate the title of the course itself as a starting point: what kinds of assumptions about the everyday manifest in culture and politics? Do certain spaces and discourses privilege an “everyday” that is white, heterosexual, male, and economically privileged?  To counter this privileging, we will look at many different kinds of “everyday” experiences, including those of BIPOC individuals, people within the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities, those who are displaced, undocumented, or unhoused. We will pursue such topics as sex and gender in the media, in health and medicine, and in subcultural discourses. We will pay particular attention to recent feminist movements, the movement for Black lives, and indigenous movements from a transnational perspective. Through reading, viewing and discussion, we will work toward developing critical tools to envision alternative futures.

GSS 1150W 01: Stacy Simplican, “Sex and Gender in Everyday Life,” MWF 10:20-11:10am (AXLE: P)

Students will develop an introductory understanding of the ways in which gender and sexuality affect our everyday lives. We will explore how privilege and oppression operate differently within and across systems of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, disability, nationality, and body size. The course aims to equip students not only with contemporary knowledge about issues and histories of injustice, but also with the courage and capacity to work towards more equitable places and relationships. Issues examined will include employment, healthcare, family, childrearing, sex work, violence, media, popular culture, social media, and education. The course aims to empower students to write meaningfully in multiple genres, including critical film analysis, life-writing, ethnography, and op-ed pieces. Finally, students are expected to play an active role in promoting a classroom environment that embraces respect, mistakes, accountability, care, compassion, fun, and donuts (as well as gluten-free alternatives).

GSS 1150W 02: Stacy Simplican, “Sex and Gender in Everyday Life,” MWF 11:30am-12:200m (AXLE: P)

Students will develop an introductory understanding of the ways in which gender and sexuality affect our everyday lives. We will explore how privilege and oppression operate differently within and across systems of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, disability, nationality, and body size. The course aims to equip students not only with contemporary knowledge about issues and histories of injustice, but also with the courage and capacity to work towards more equitable places and relationships. Issues examined will include employment, healthcare, family, childrearing, sex work, violence, media, popular culture, social media, and education. The course aims to empower students to write meaningfully in multiple genres, including critical film analysis, life-writing, ethnography, and op-ed pieces. Finally, students are expected to play an active role in promoting a classroom environment that embraces respect, mistakes, accountability, care, compassion, fun, and donuts (as well as gluten-free alternatives).

GSS 1160 01: Kristen Navarro, “Sex and Society,” TR 9:35-10:50am (AXLE: P)

How do sex and sexuality influence our understandings of ourselves, each other, and the worlds we inhabit? In this course, we will consider how sex as a practice, identity, and category structures our everyday lives. We will think about how a host of institutions legal, medical, political, social, cultural are invested in defining what constitutes sex, where it can happen, and between whom it can happen. We will consider how other social markers, such as gender, race, class, ability, religion, national origin, and citizenship status, impact understandings of sex.

GSS 1160 02: Kristen Navarro, “Sex and Society,” TR 11:10am-12:25pm (AXLE: P)

How do sex and sexuality influence our understandings of ourselves, each other, and the worlds we inhabit? In this course, we will consider how sex as a practice, identity, and category structures our everyday lives. We will think about how a host of institutions legal, medical, political, social, cultural are invested in defining what constitutes sex, where it can happen, and between whom it can happen. We will consider how other social markers, such as gender, race, class, ability, religion, national origin, and citizenship status, impact understandings of sex.

GSS 2225 01: Kristen Navarro, “Women in Popular Culture,” TR 12:45-2pm (AXLE: HCA)

The realm of popular media has long been under-studied, with academics tending to reserve their analytic output for the more ‘high-brow’ spheres of literature and the so-called ‘real world.’ The past decade has, however, seen an upsurge of intellectual consideration of the popular: with the rise of hot takes, problematic faves, and the social media thinkpiece, millennials and Gen Z are beginning to take seriously that which they consume for seeming entertainment. In this course, we will ride this emerging wave, turning a critical eye on the sounds, words, and images that pervade our day-to-day life, interrogating the ways in which they reveal the ideological forces shaping our contemporary ‘moment.’

Our focus throughout will be on gender, specifically on the ways women come to be represented (or not represented) in different mediums of popular entertainment. Our central questions will be: how do lyrical, televisual, and cinematic renderings of women subvert and/or reinforce patriarchal ideologies? In what specific ways do intersectional subject identities (including race, class, and sexuality) impact these renderings? Finally, how might we negotiate our enjoyment of the popular with our critical investments in social justice? Through engagement of popular media texts and secondary sources both academic and not, we will work toward the crafting of serious arguments about the ‘low-brow’ and the fun.

HIST 2240 01: Katherine Crawford, “Sex Law,” TR 2:20-3:35pm (History/Social Movements Requirement) (AXLE:INT)

Sex has been highly regulated by law since the beginning of recorded history. While we won’t go back quite that far, we will examine how laws about sex created and were created by gender, class, and race inequalities. We will trance how the treatment of “normal” vs. “deviant” sex, as well as the intense suspicion about sex because of Christianity, became embedded in western and especially American society. Through case law, we will see the development of spaces of sexual tolerance alongside the persistence of repression that informs such contemporary issues as sexual privacy, gay marriage, trans* rights, and reproductive (lack of) freedom.

GSS 2242 01: Kathryn Schwarz, “Women Who Kill,” TR 2:20-3:35pm (AXLE: P)

Western cultural history is shaped by acts of violence. What then does it mean to define violence in gendered terms, and to focus on violent women? Classical writers tell stories about murderous mothers and Amazon warriors; Renaissance writers warn men that their wives could kill them in their beds; Victorian writers accuse ‘hysterical’ women of homicidal tendencies; contemporary novels and films recycle plots about lesbian serial killers; modern political discourse tethers clichés about feminine emotions to the threat of global war. How does the capacity for lethal acts give women access to power? How does a fixation on that capacity license masculine oppression? This course will connect the fascination with deadly women to what might broadly be termed politics: the politics of agency, misogyny, history, identity, and community.

Discussions will range from classical texts to modern novels, films, cultural theories, and new media. Course requirements will include a group presentation, a midterm paper, research projects, thematic meditations, and regular class participation.

GSS 2252 01: Elizabeth Covington, “Sex and Scandals in Literature,” MWF 11:30am-12:20pm (Sex, Sexuality, and Society Requirement) (AXLE: HCA)

This course explores two things: the literary representation of people’s sexual conduct and public responses to these literary representations. To serve the first goal, we will read and analyze a range of texts, paying attention to historical and cultural context, as well as to the literary qualities of the texts themselves. To serve the second goal, we will examine how people have reacted to literature that conflicts with social norms. Through the literature we read, we will discuss topics such as seduction, virginity, and teenage pregnancy; intersectionality in discussions of sex and sexuality; sexual “propriety,” sexual repression, and sexual “deviance”; women’s status and sexual power; marriage and adultery; sexual orientation; and sexual abuse and trauma.

GSS 2262 01: Rebecca Epstein-Levi, “Gender and Ethics,” TR 12:45-2pm (AXLE: P)

What does it mean to live well? How ought one behave toward oneself, one’s fellows, and one’s community? How is one shaped as a moral actor—and what does gender have to do with any of that?

In this course we’ll explore how gender—very loosely, a range of social categories into which systems sort people, in ways that are at least narratively tied to some idea of sexuality and reproductive function—affects questions of ethics—very loosely, the study of how we ought to be in the world.

Our main guide for this adventure is going to be Sara Ahmed’s Living A Feminist Life. Through it, as well as through work by Emilie Townes, Kate Manne, Mara Benjamin, and others, we’re going to explore topics like evil, choice, will, duty, control, and the ways our choices, circumstances, and experiences form us as ethical actors.

GSS 2610 01: Danyelle Valentine, “Womanism in Global Context,” MW 12:40-1:55pm (International/Global Feminism Requirement) (AXLE: INT)

This course introduces students to understandings of critical race feminism that was spear headed by dynamic women. As a class, we will explore such questions as:

  • How was mainstream feminism expressed in opposition to gender oppression within a system if patriarchy?
  • What were the limitations of mainstream white feminists, and how did women of color challenge such essentialism?
  • How did the plight of women of color intersect with their race and gender identities?
  • How did women of color and others deconstruct and reconstruct their lives in the face of multiple forms of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and class?

Using primary documents, historical texts, film, music, along with Critical Race Theory we will explore major social, cultural, economic, political, regional trends, practices, institutions, and developments that shaped and were shaped by black women’s experiences. In turn, black feminism/womanist feminism deploy narrative methodology that demonstrates not only how patriarchy and racism subordinate women of color, but also brings to light how coalition building can helps mobilize people while an intersectional framework fosters a person’s engagement in local, national, and global contexts.

In turn, the course will cover such topics as resistance, meanings of freedom, institutions and organizational activism that emerged through black feminist efforts and women’s liberation, work/labor, cultural expression, religion, racial identity, disability, and sexuality. As we explore the multiple methodologies and ideologies of Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women leaders, organizers, community builders, and citizens –we will listen to a variety of voices and perspectives that help us better understand the complexity and resilience of women of color in response to various obstacles and forms of discrimination.

HIST 2840 01: Katherine Crawford, “Sexuality and Gender in the Western Tradition Since 1700,” TR 3:55-5:10pm (Fulfills the History/Social Movements Requirement) (AXLE:P)

Beginning in the seventeenth century, the modern contours of sexuality took shape in what some have called “the first sexual revolution.” This course analyzes how and why modern ideas about gender, biological sex, and sexual activity came into being. Through primary source readings on such topics as prostitution, venereal disease, LGBTQI+, and the racialization of gender and sexuality, we will explore the historical shape of contemporary beliefs, practices, and prejudices.