GSF Studies Fall 2022 Courses



Sloth in a tree looking at the viewer

First Year Seminar:  Critters-Intro. to Animal Studies

GSF 89S.03 
Gabriel Rosenberg

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.


abstract painting of people morning at a loved ones death bed, Yellow, orange Green, Black

Feminist Ethics

GSF 367S 
Kathy Rudy

This course examines the politics and ethics around dying. What does dying mean to the hospital, caregivers, doctors and nurses, the state, your family, and many other institutions and people at the end of life? How is death configured different in different religions, regions, and times? Where did we come up with all these rules and are the really working? What does a good death look like?


Three old photos each with a woman pictured

Special Topic:  Fabricating Race: Art, Clothing, Resistance

GSF 390S.01
Kimberly Lamm 

Examines a tradition in which Black American artists and writers make clothing a primary theme of their work.  Moving among photographic, painted, and literary portrayals by and of Black Americans to explore fashion and clothing as aesthetic practices of everyday life that defy racism’s flattening and objectifying effects and affirm—often covertly—the value of Black Americans’ lives. Pays particular attention to artwork that explores the multiple resonances of “fabrication”—working with materials, making and fictionalizing—to reveal and reconfigure the psychic consequences of living within the eye of white dominance.


Two Asian people out at a night club

Race Gender & Sexuality 

GSF 364S 
Anna Storti

What is solidarity?  How do we live and love across difference?  This course explores Asian, Black, Latinx, and Native affinities, focusing on the contributions of minoritarian artists.  We engage film, historical archives, and contemporary activism.  Readings span Gender, Sexuality, and Ethnic Studies


Rapper Megan Thee Stasllion singing in front of a blue and green abstract painting illustration

Hot Girl Meg 

GSF 390S.04
Nikki Lane

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s critically acclaimed 2020 debut album Good News was one of the highest charting rap albums by a woman in the past decade. Her single “Thot Shit” earned the young rapper her first Grammy. This course provides a survey of the history of women in hip-hop and examines contemporary debates about gender within hip-hop. Using Megan’s body of work--music, lyrics, images, and video--as a set of "texts," students are challenged to critically engage with issues that these texts present including representations of black femininity/masculinity in hip-hop, black sexual politics, and the racialized and gendered experiences of life in the US south. 


Black background with Two profiled transparent white heads showing brain facing each other and words around them "Biology, Nature, Nurture, Society"

Sex/Gender: Nature/Nuture

GSF 278
Ara Wilson

Debates about sexuality, sex, and gender extend well beyond the walls of the academy or the science laboratory to be found in living room conversations, policy discussions, religious sermons, and popular culture.  These debates hinge on radically different ideas about the relative effects of biological forces vs. social forces, or nature vs. nurture.  This course will explore how nature/nurture emerged as a scientific and popular debate, giving time to both “sides” of the debate and presenting perspectives from biological and brain sciences as well as social-construction theories.  It will also look at new developments in science and cultural fields that are reconsidering how biology and environments interact.  The course will also debate how sex and sexuality is formed through the interplay of genetic information, hormones, material bodies, and social environments and reflect on the implications of these new directions for law, policy, and popular understandings concerning sex. 


African American women, shaved head, arms up behind her head portrait

Public Life of Black Feminism

GSF 390S.02
Jennifer Nash

This course is focused on the public life of black feminisms, and on the public intellectual work of black feminists.  While some of our assigned readings have circulated inside of the academy, many continue to live, thrive, and sell outside of the academy, animating discussions on social media, in book groups, among friends, and in Left political circles.  Rather than treating this popular work as a “translation” of academic theory, we will think about how academic feminisms have borrowed from popular work, and about how popular work has been central to the vitality of black feminism.    


African American Mom and Daughter putting on make up

Thinking Gender

GSF 199S 
Kimberly Lamm

Introduction to foundational concepts in feminist thought on sex and gender.     Survey of core concepts in the field of Women's Studies and introduction to the fundamental debates within the history of feminist  thinking.


Spanish Writing in black and red.

Transnational Feminism

GSF 369S
Frances Hasso 

Explore feminist projects and approaches that cross a variety of borders. Under what conditions is solidarity across difference and inequality possible? This seminar examines this and other questions using relevant theories, film, and scholarship. Topics include activism, human rights, development, capitalism, war/militarization, racism, embodiment, and health. Assigned readings and films largely focus on the Global South but situate the Global North within circuits and relationships. The professor guides each student in preparing an original research paper on a relevant topic of interest to the student.


African American woman in a suit with her back to the camera being sworn with a dozen photographers taking her picture.

Women in the Political Process

GSF 225
Rachel Gelfand

This classes focuses on presidential politics since 2008 after which white, tall, and nominally Christian, straight and cisgendered men no longer can assume a total lock on the oval office. The focus in on intersectional analysis of popular culture and the ways that representations (from bumper stickers to TV shows) shape the power relations that people find imaginable, desirable, and doable. Class assignments include analytic essays as well as a creative project (individual or group, such as collectively curating a visual culture exhibit on campus).


Illustration of Cameras on a Pole and human figures with their fists in the air

Digital Feminism

GSF 265S 
Rachel Gelfand

The aim of this course is to critically analyze digital culture from a feminist and gender studies perspective. We will address topics related to digital innovation and its history, unpacking and questioning them through the insights offered by genders studies
analytical tools. Subjects such as the rise of the Silicon Valley, gaming culture, social media, algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, extraction of data applied to biotechnology, macroeconomic development of IT platforms and the impact of technology on ecology will be discussed starting from a current event or debate, to which we will give a historical, ethical, sociological, theoretical, literary or cinematographic perspective.


B & W image of two women and a baby in a city park with others in the background with a sign "Women Demand Day Care"

Money, Sex, Power 

GSF 361 
Kathi Weeks

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.


black and white photo of a women's head and shoulder and her hand on her forehead.  Her face is covered by a clouds superimposed over her face.

Climate, Culture and Identity

GSF 256S 
Saskia Cornes

Our era will be defined by the overwhelming influence of homo sapiens on the planet. Climate change is altering not just human lives and livelihoods, but the very definition of the human.

What role can feminist and queer theory play in helping us to understand these changes to  human identity? What can gender studies contribute to techno-scientific understandings of a global warming? How can we understand and navigate our obligations, if any, to the non-human world? We’ll take on these and many other questions through readings in literature and theory, and experiential learning with the Duke Campus Farm.


B&W Drawing of Three women standing together, the front middle one holding a shotgun

Interdisciplinary Debates

GSF 960S 
Frances Hasso/Anna Krylova

This graduate/postgraduate/faculty seminar will study historically grounded concepts to explore the institutional, material, and cultural relationships between Anglo-American feminist theory and imperialism in its modern historical and contemporary modalities. Research will examine cultural, economic and intellectual imperialism, which is often the focus of feminist and sexual theorization and critique in many parts of the world, as well as leftist movements as sites of anti-imperialist feminist and sexual theorizing and critique. We are also likely to examine a few "cultural" case studies where feminist theory and activism uncomfortably seem to align with imperialism and colonization. All participants in the seminar will be encouraged to contribute concepts, original sources, and readings and graduate students will be required to contribute 8 or 9 weekly responses of 400 to 500 words rather than complete a research paper.