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Spring 2022 Undergraduate Course Offerings

GSS 1150 01: Allison Hammer, “Sex and Gender in Everyday Life,” TR 11am-12:15pm (AXLE: P)

This course will introduce you to the discipline of gender and sexuality studies while encouraging you to think critically about our contemporary moment, both in the United States and transnationally. We will explore together how recent developments, such as COVID-19 and movements for social justice, highlight existing inequalities across the globe. Through a variety of discussion formats and assignments, this course will provide you with an exciting space to pursue emergent questions through an intersectional lens. The course will include the following topics related to inequality: gender, race, and healthcare; gender and the economy; gender and migration; Black Lives Matter; literature, music, and filmmaking by and about BIPOC histories and contemporary experiences.

GSS 1150 02: Allison Hammer, “Sex and Gender in Everyday Life,” TR 2:45pm-4pm (AXLE: P)

This course will introduce you to the discipline of gender and sexuality studies while encouraging you to think critically about our contemporary moment, both in the United States and transnationally. We will explore together how recent developments, such as COVID-19 and movements for social justice, highlight existing inequalities across the globe. Through a variety of discussion formats and assignments, this course will provide you with an exciting space to pursue emergent questions through an intersectional lens. The course will include the following topics related to inequality: gender, race, and healthcare; gender and the economy; gender and migration; Black Lives Matter; literature, music, and filmmaking by and about BIPOC histories and contemporary experiences.

GSS 1150 03: Kristen Navarro, “Sex and Gender in Everyday Life,” MWF 10:10am-11am (AXLE: P)

This course is about sex, sexuality, and gender. Centrally, we will be interrogating what these terms mean, and how they might mean differently for different people in different contexts. Through our readings and discussions, we will consider how issues of sex and gender come to be impacted by their intersections with race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, and disability, both historically and contemporarily.

GSS 1160 01: Stacy Simplican, “Sex and Society,” TR 9:30am-10:45am (AXLE: P)

This class examines the changing meanings and cultural significance of sex, gender, and sexuality. Questions we will examine will include: What is sex? How do we learn about it? How is sex represented in the media? How has the meaning of sex and sexuality changed over time? And how does the meaning of sex change based on race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, region, age, and disability? Students should be aware that this class has a sustained focus on sexual violence, with particular attention to sexual assault on college campuses and beyond. We’ll examine how feminist scholars and activists have aimed to end gender-based sexual violence. Finally, this class is about sex research: how do researchers ethically conduct research about sex and sexuality? What are contemporary researchers asking about sexuality and sex? And where will research move tomorrow?

GSS 1160 02: Stacy Simplican, “Sex and Society,” TR 11am-12:15pm (AXLE: P)

This class examines the changing meanings and cultural significance of sex, gender, and sexuality. Questions we will examine will include: What is sex? How do we learn about it? How is sex represented in the media? How has the meaning of sex and sexuality changed over time? And how does the meaning of sex change based on race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, region, age, and disability? Students should be aware that this class has a sustained focus on sexual violence, with particular attention to sexual assault on college campuses and beyond. We’ll examine how feminist scholars and activists have aimed to end gender-based sexual violence. Finally, this class is about sex research: how do researchers ethically conduct research about sex and sexuality? What are contemporary researchers asking about sexuality and sex? And where will research move tomorrow?

GSS 1160 03: Danyelle Valentine, “Sex and Society,” MWF 1:25pm-2:15pm (AXLE: P)

This course introduces students to understandings of sexuality informs our personal, societal, and cultural views of the world around us. As a class, will explore such questions as:

  • How are sex and gender socially constructed and variable?
  • How do sexual practices, identities, and structures impact our daily lives?
  • In what specific ways do social, medical, legal and cultural institutions function to codify and normalize our understanding of sex and sexual expression?

The chief objective of this class is to engage in collaborative, student-centered dialogue and analytical writing in an exploration of how categories of race, class, gender, ability, disability, nationality and citizenship status intersect and shaped by structures of inequality that in turn inform our understandings of sex.

GSS 2234 01: Rebecca Epstein-Levi, “Women in Judaism,” TR 2:45pm-4pm (International/Global Feminism Requirement) (AXLE: P)

This course will explore the ways women and Jewish text, thought, and practice have shaped each other over the course of Jewish history. We’ll examine, among other things, the variety of ways Biblical and rabbinic texts constructed women and gender more broadly, the voices of Jewish women and gender minorities at various points in time, and the ways Jewish feminists have shaped and reshaped the theological, ritual, and ethical boundaries of their traditions.

GSS 2267 01: Cara Tuttle-Bell, “Seminar on Gender and Violence,” TR 2:45pm-4pm 

In this course, we will examine the prevalence, conditions, and responses to gender-based violence, including consideration of its disproportionate impact across identities.  Together, we will consider the complexity of these types of harm and work to identify and evaluate potential solutions, while examining harassment and violence on an individual, institutional, and societal level, interrogating the “personal as political,” and exposing power structures that shape our communities.

GSS 2610 01: Danyelle Valentine, “Womanism in Global Context,” MWF 2:30pm-3:20pm (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.

GSS 2613 01: Kristen Navarro, “Compulsory Couplehood,” MWF 1:25pm-2:15pm (Sex, Sexuality, and Society Requirement)

On June 26th, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made history by ruling that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, famously declaring, “Love wins.” In this class, we will call into question who that victory belongs to and who is left out of it. How is “love” here defined, and what violences might its limitations inflict on those not so happily coupled?

Through theoretical/nonfiction readings and an engagement of popular culture and visual media, we will interrogate the prevalence of an idea of love that is always romantic, always monogamous, and always ends (or should end) in marriage. We will begin by considering the institution of marriage as a structuring societal force, as well as the proximate ideologies that fuel its centrality. We will move on to consider the stigma of singledom in all its gendered implications, and end by thinking through what non-normative (and perhaps non-compulsory) possibilities for love and bonding exist.

GSS 3201 01: Stacy Simplican, “Women and Gender in Transnational Context,” TR 2:45pm-4pm (International/Global Feminism Requirement)

This course will focus on topics related to reproductive justice through a transnational lens. The organization SisterSong defines reproductive justice as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” We will explore how transnational gender-based organizations have aimed to advance these human rights both globally and locally. As part of the course, students will explore critically the transnational turn in the U.S. university and gender studies more specifically. Students will examine ethnographic research on topics related to care work, sex work, and reproductive justice.

GSS 3250W 01: Rory Dicker, “Contemporary Women’s Movements,” TR 9:30am-10:45am (History/Social Movements Requirement)

Many people interested in contemporary feminisms don’t know much about feminist history, so this course begins by discussing the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. This background is particularly important for a study of contemporary feminism, which is often defined in distinction to real or imagined concepts of second wave feminism. To establish some frameworks, we’ll read A Strange Stirring, in which Stephanie Coontz outlines reactions to Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, a book that some argue precipitated the second wave of the women’s movement. We’ll then explore some important primary sources from the 1960s and 1970s along with a memoir by Susan Brownmiller. Afterward, we’ll move to a study of This Bridge Called My Back, one of the key texts that helped articulate feminism’s “race problem” and highlighted the concerns of women of color. After this look at history, we’ll spend the last part of the term examining current feminist theory and its activism.

GSS 3305 01: Allison Hammer, “Gender and Sexuality in Times of Pandemic,” TR 4:15pm-5:30pm (History/Social Movements Requirement)

The twenty-first century continues to reveal the critical connections between science, medicine, and society. In fact, over time, science and medicine have become integral to the social construction of race, gender and identity, interconnected with nationalisms, economic growth and natural risks; sex, death and illness. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that one of the most powerful forces in human history and one of the most forbidding challenges to gender and sexual justice, and to civilization itself, is infectious disease. Science and medicine affect politics, markets and cultures as never before. This course will provide opportunities to analyze the historical and literary contexts of disease, pandemic, and epidemic. This context will help us to acquire the intellectual tools to make sense of the world we live in today. Historical and literary research will be undertaken with the aim of grasping the intersections of sex, sexuality and gender during times of dis-ease. We will ask critical questions about how sex, sexuality, and gender are expressed, regulated and resisted during these crises. Our subjects will be catastrophic illnesses: bubonic plague, 1918 Flu, AIDS, COVID-19, and those related to climate change.

GSS 3307 01: Shatema Threadcraft, “Racial Justice,” TR 11am-12:15pm (History/Social Movements Requirement)

This course introduces students to major contemporary racial justice debates. It also considers how theories of racial justice might better include the concerns of women of color as well as queer, trans and differently abled persons of color. Throughout the course we will examine questions such as: What constitutes racial injustice? How is gender implicated in said injustice? What, if anything, do blacks and other people of color owe to one another? Should political possibility and pragmatism bound thinking regarding corrective racial justice?

Objectives of the course include ensuring students are able to identify how race, racism and pathways to racial justice have been articulated. Students should also leave the course with an understanding of how intersectional feminist thinkers and queer theorists challenge how we think about what will constitute racial justice. The course aims to help students become critical readers, able to discern contemporary racial issues and racial bias in discourse and practice.

There are no prerequisites for this course.

GSS 3405 01: Shatema Threadcraft, “Mass Incarceration and Abolition Feminism,” TR 1:15pm-2:30pm (History/Social Movements Requirement)

Although feminists have been among the most prominent theorists and activists in the cause of prison abolition, the body that is understood to be at the center of the phenomenon that we call mass incarceration is male. This class aims to de-center the male body. This class will examine the theorists who have expounded on the concept of prison abolition, study the sexual assault to prison pipeline that has led to black women being the fasted growing population in US prisons, the effects of carceral gendering, which began in Jim Crow modernity, on black women’s lives, the economic, psychological and physiological costs of the emotional labor women provide to men in prison, as well as the nexus of interpersonal and state violence in black women’s lives. An important theme of the course will be understanding how Kimberle Crenshaw’s concept of intersectionality helps to illuminate the particular power formation that is the carceral regime.

GSS 3891 01: Kathryn Schwarz, “Gender, Murder, War: Detective Fiction From 1920-1960,” MW 2:30pm-3:45pm (History/Social Movements Requirement; Sex, Sexuality, and Society Requirement)

The ‘Golden Age’ of detective fiction usually refers to mysteries written in the 1920s and 1930s, although the time span can expand in both directions. Definitions of the form cite its classic ‘whodunnit’ formats, its ‘body in the library’ settings, its socially privileged characters, and its elaborate plots and clues. We even catch glimpses of gender in these definitions, with their interest in the emergence of the ‘spinster sleuth’. But what about war?

Written across the decades that span World War I and World War II, detective fiction offers particular angles on a destabilized social world. Women take on roles that challenge orthodox femininity; men inhabit more variable, volatile conditions of masculinity. And murder, as an individuated act, stands in an odd relation to the wholesale slaughter of military combat. War raises questions that range from the fragility of social status to the precarity of embodied personhood, from the viability of gendered norms to the value of any single life.

This course focuses on a subset of mysteries from the period, in which awareness of war shapes the connections between gender and violence. We’ll look at this complicated nexus of gender, murder, and war through the lens of what might broadly be termed politics: the politics of agency, history, identity, and community. Course requirements include a group presentation, independent research projects, and regular class participation.

GSS 4950 01: Katie Crawford, “Capstone Colloquium,” W 3:30pm-6pm

GSS 4960 01: Kristen Navarro, “Senior Seminar,” W 3:30pm-6pm

This course is the capstone course for the Gender and Sexuality Studies major and minor. We will build on the coursework you have done in GSS and explore cutting edge GSS theory and praxis. Ultimately, this course is intended to provide you with the tools to help you discern your goals for your life after Vanderbilt. While we will read many theoretical texts, the focus of the class is on practical application of the things you have learned during your undergraduate career.