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.
The South and Sexuality
The US South has long been considered a site of deviance that displays national anxieties about class, gender, race, and sexuality. In this course, we will ask how “the South” has been constructed as non-normative in the national imaginary, paying particular attention to representations of sexualities and genders that have been used to delineate the civilized and savage, grotesque and ideal, obscure and canonical. By analyzing the ways in which the US South is constructed through depictions of sexuality, particularly those presented as marginal, perverse, excessive, or criminal, we will examine the roles of southern spaces and culture in shaping sexualities and queer communities, both regional and national. This course will survey major shifts in the discourses and theoretical underpinnings of sexuality studies through mediums including comics, film, and literature, moving from circulations of queer “open secrets” in the 1940s and 50s to the activist momentum of the 1960s and 1970s and concluding with current intersectional interrogations of sexuality and gender in dialogue with other identities, such as ability, class, race, and rurality. Students will complete close readings and screenings across a variety of primary and secondary sources, explore interdisciplinary methodology, and demonstrate the application of new knowledge through reading/viewing responses, group discussion, quizzes, and a final presentation or paper. This course is cross-listed with the Department of Southern Studies.
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.