Critters: Intro to Critical Animal Studies
Some scientists contend that the Earth has entered a new geological age in which human actions and effects are the dominant force shaping the planet, a so-called “anthropocene.” Such a planet offers diminishing possibilities for other creatures to live beyond the influence of Homo sapiens. How do animals fit into human societies when human society is now so inescapable? Do animals still exert agency and shape how we live? And how can humans maintain ethical relationships to nonhuman critters? Can we share landscapes and ecosystems, much less an entire planet? This course explores these questions, surveying different approaches to the critical study of animals from the humanities as well as the natural, environmental, and social sciences. We will pursue these questions through scientific papers, philosophical essays, literature, films, and experiential learning activities. Part of the What Now? network of first-year seminars.
Gender and Everyday Life
GSF 101S Gateway Course
What is gender? How does it impact your everyday life? Designed to introduce students to the study of gender, sexuality, and feminism, this course will explore these questions by focusing on settings in which gender shapes how we live, work, consume, see ourselves, forge identities, relate to others, navigate institutions, and make ethical decisions. Students' reflections on their own experiences and understanding of gender will be a consistent theme. How does gender define the social spaces we move through and inhabit? How does gender structure the various social institutions that shape our lives? In every part of the course, gender will be connected to race, sexuality, class, and nation.
What is sexuality and what is its power in the current world? What do we desire and why do we desire it? What is the relationship between love and desire, or love and sex? If we wanted to change our sexuality, could we? These questions, and others, are often on the tips of tongues. This course surveys a variety of methodological and theoretical approaches to these questions. Drawing from literature, anthropology, biology and medicine, sociology, history, and feminist and queer theory, we will investigate the role that sexuality plays in structuring identity, gender and race, everyday life, popular culture, and national and geopolitical controversies. In addition to scholarly readings, students will draw from popular media and their own experiences to explore topics that include: the politics of sexual identities; representations of sexuality in media and film; pornography and erotica; technologies of pleasure; reproductive rights; erotic labor; sexual violence; sexuality, state violence, and mass incarceration; and the geopolitics of sexuality.
Sexuality and the Law
This course will introduce students to legal and ethical issues at the intersection of law, gender and sexuality. The course will use interpretive methods used in jurisprudence, as well as conceptual tools developed by feminist, critical race and queer theoreticians to explore such issues as the criminalization of gay sex, the equal protection of all persons regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and the role of the state in resolving perceived conflicts between that right to equal protection and the right to religious freedom. The course will take a cross-cultural / multi-jurisdictional comparative approach to these issues.
Gender and Media
This seminar critically analyzes media and communication landscapes. We address a wide range of media innovations and their histories, unpacking them through the insights offered by feminist, queer, and intersectional analytical tools. Subjects will include radio and broadcasting histories, print media, ethics in journalism, visual culture, fandom and celebrity, social media, and digital activism. How can Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies offer inspiring and thought-provoking inquiry into the workings of power, the politics of representation, and the development of the analog and digital media? What roles do media spaces play in our everyday lives? How do our politics and self-understandings inform and reflect burgeoning platforms? This course will consider these questions in terms of US media cultures and its interconnected global frameworks.
Masculinities and Global Politics
This survey course examines gun lovers, racists, Red Pill misogynists, sports fans, and fraternity brothers. It considers policing, militarism, and masculine desires, fragilities and fears. Each student is trained to conduct oral interviews with three male-identifying persons from different generations and completes a final paper based on this research.
Food, Farming, and Feminism
This course aims to alter our “angle of entry” into debates around agriculture, nature, care, and consumption through feminist inquiry. If the public conversation around food politics is mainly one of consumerist individualism, how might intersectional, ecofeminist, queer, and posthumanist theory shape a vibrant new approach to food?
Intro to Transgender Studies
This course offers a rigorous introduction to the fast-moving field of trans studies, which has exceptional historical and contemporary significance. More than a marginal discipline, trans studies cuts to core preoccupations that animate the humanities and social sciences: namely, questions of subjectivity and objectivity, meaning-and-world-making, and even time. We will engage with a body of work that meditates on (and often destabilizes) categories of sex, gender, sexuality, ability, race, and power. Students are encouraged to challenge—and be challenged by—the set material.
What happens when we press record? In this course, students will create podcasts and reconsider the media that we encounter every day. We will listen to many unique and thought-provoking podcasts and examine how podcasts serve as a space of dialogue and public feminist thought. Simultaneously, we will approach the podcast industry with a critical lens and use feminist, queer, and intersectional frameworks to study how the larger media industry perpetuates racism, sexism, and narrow ideas of masculinity. We situate podcasts within longer histories of broadcast media and radio, and draw on key thinkers in media studies, queer studies, and oral history. Come be a beginner! Learn skills in audio production, interview techniques, scriptwriting, and more!
Money, Sex, Power
Feminist research on gender dynamics in markets, economies, and capitalism. Includes empirical studies (e.g., historical, cross-cultural, and sociological research) and theoretical approaches to political-economic critique. Covered topics may include the gender, racial and transnational divisions of labor, the relation between work and family, waged household labor, sex work, sweatshop labor.
Gender and Popular Culture
This course explores how ideas about gender, race, and feminism appear in popular culture. Why is popular culture such a vital place for seeing, hearing, and thinking about feminism's struggle for greater equity?
Politics of Sexuality
When is sex political? Can sex spark a revolution? Why does the state police some kinds of sex but encourage other kinds? This course examines how, when, and why sex and sexuality become matters of political controversy. Among the topics covered will be sex laws and policing, LGBTQ activism and civil rights, and sex work.
This interdisciplinary survey of Queer Theory begins with a historical survey of bodies deemed non-normative in the West. Centering on the major debates that have come to shape contemporary Queer Theory, the course is anchored by E. Patrick Johnson’s question, "What is the utility of queer theory on the front lines, in the trenches, on the street, or anyplace where the racialized and sexualized body is beaten, starved, fired, cursed— indeed, where the body is the site of trauma?” The course takes as a given that race, gender, geography, disability, class and other forms of social difference fundamentally shape one's experience of sexuality, and that theory alone is not best way to understand the experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and gender non-conforming people. The course relies on a variety of scholarship, but also centers artist expression as well as popular culture to explore the contemporary shape of Queer Theory and the queer lives on which that theory is based in contexts within the West as well as Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa.
The Feminist 1970's
The field of Gender Studies (née Women's Studies) is now 50 years old, emerging out of that extraordinary period of the late 1960s and early 1970s, including anti-war, Civil Rights and Black Power, and anti-poverty politics. This course considers how feminist thought erupted in the political and intellectual energies of the time and led to the emergence of Women's Studies as an intellectual field and institutional presence in the university. Students will engage in original research projects on this era, which may involve oral histories, archival research, or textual interpretations. Among possible outcomes for student work are websites, an exhibit, or podcasts. The course includes instruction in methods and reflection on historical understanding. It is open to advanced undergraduates or graduate students from any program interested in the 1970s (or long 1960s), radical thought, the university, or feminism.
The Palestine Seminar
The seminar explores new directions in Palestinian studies from multiple disciplines. It foregrounds the work of scholars and creatives (writers, filmmakers, artists) from Palestine and its diaspora. The seminar is historically and theoretically oriented using a transnational feminist lens and includes substantial gender and sexuality content. Consent of instructor required for enrollment.
Foundations in Feminist Theory
This course is a rigorous introduction to the varied traditions, approaches, and preoccupations that constitute feminist theory. Each week will be organized around a keyword (e.g. care, archive, university, night/life, reproduction), and we will read a body of feminist thought that thinks with (and sometimes against) that keyword. Students will also participate in the annual Feminist Theory Workshop.