Introduction to Gender Studies
This is an interdisciplinary course that surveys critical issues examined by scholars in the field of women’s and gender studies. In this course, students are introduced to key concepts and theories, which can be used as lenses to think critically about the world around them, their own positionality, and the diversity of lived experiences in different social, historical, cultural, and global moments.
Major focal points to be covered over the course of the semester are: social construction theory and aspects of identity, such as gender, race, class, age, sexuality, ability, and religion; analysis of systems of privilege and discrimination; the historicization of institutions and institutional power; popular culture and representation; intersectionality; heteronormativity; and reproductive justice. While the history of feminism will not be covered in its totality in this course, key moments in that history will be important in framing some of these concepts.
Students will be required to do close readings and screenings of both primary and secondary sources, learn interdisciplinary approaches to research and methods, and demonstrate the application of new knowledge.
Studies in US Literature: Contemporary Writing by Women of Color
This course explores the contemporary experiences of women of color in the US. We will consider an array of narrative forms—plays, short stories, novels, and comics—to address how women choose to tell their stories as well as narrative elements such as point-of-view, style, structure, and voice to examine how women are impacted by, and respond to, their sociopolitical circumstances from the mid-twentieth century to the present. Although the focus of this course will be fiction written by women of color, we will also review autobiographies and critical works to reveal how colonialism, classism, heterosexism, and racism intersect. We will address works by women who came to the US in myriad ways, be they indigenous, descendants of enslaved peoples, or first-generation, to broaden the scope of both the “American” and “female” experiences. Students will practice analytical skills through weekly reading responses and engage in an extended critical investigation through a final project.
Representative readings: The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros; Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat; A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry; The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings; A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid; The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado; Shuri: The Search for Black Panther by Nnedi Okorafor and Vita Ayala; Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko; The Gangster We Are All Looking For by lê thị diễm thúy