Past Annual Themes

Every year the Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies Program hosts a an exploration organized by a thematic focus. The current theme is Transgender Studies.

Past Annual Themes

2016-17: "Black Feminism," coordinated by Kim Lamm.

Theme year Post-doctoral fellow, Mecca Jamilah Sullivan (U-Mass Amherst), author of Blue Talk and Love (2015).
Graduate seminar: WST 960 BLACK FEMINIST THOUGHT AND PRACTICE – Kimberly Lamm.

This course will engage with the texts that have defined black feminist thought (both in the United States and across the African diaspora) and then highlight their connections to black women’s artistic productions in literature, visual art, and film. An important focus of this course will be on tracing the “black feminist imagination,” which entails analyzing how literary and visual artists have imaginatively translated black women’s histories (in the sense of long arcs and legacies but also quotidian realities) into aesthetic forms and creative practices. Themes we will be pursuing include: the figurations of gender and sexuality within racial domination and violence (with a particular focus on Hortense Spillers’ concept of “ungendering”); the psychic legacies of human commodification and enslavement; race, reproduction, and reproductive labor; imagining and actualizing intra-and inter-subjectivity; the figure of the black girl; visuality, beauty, adornment, and display. Attending to the black feminist imagination in relationship to this constellation of themes will be an opportunity to think historically about the ways in which black women have worked with linguistic and visual materials to create subjective forms that resist domination and expand narrow definitions of race, gender, and sexuality. Work by the following visual and literary artists will be included: Gwendolyn Brooks, Cheryl Clarke, Julie Dash, Zanele Muholi, Harryette Mullen, Wangechi Mutu, M. NourbeSe Philip, Tracey Rose, Lorna Simpson, and Carrie Mae Weems.

2014-15: "Psychoanalysis in an International Frame," coordinated by Ranjana Khana

In our 2014-2015 theme, we came to grips with the world, or perhaps more appropriately, the worlds of psychoanalysis, how it came into formation at a particular moment of empire and of state formation, how it spread, became distinct in its formation, how it erred from its original path but was informed by it, and how we understand those questions through a lens of sexual difference. Reaching back and forward we will address its various functions and foreclosures, its potentialities and its limitations.

2013-14: "Gender and Science"

For the 2013-14 academic year the theme was Gender and Science. The scholarship on gender and science began by arguing that the ideal of dispassionate objectivity masked the ways that social judgments shaped actual scientific practice and by showing how hidden assumptions about gender could be found in seemingly neutral laboratory or theoretical work. Work in the field of feminist science studies has expanded to ask about the interaction of social power in depictions of the natural world and technological applications. These studies range from ethnographic case studies of medical laboratories to philosophical reflections on human/animal relationships.

The linked seminar, WS 960 Feminist Science Studies, hosted a series of guest lectures, including two by next year’s post-doctoral fellows in GSF, Stephanie Clare (Rutgers University) and Martha Kenney  (UC-Santa Cruz), and faculty from Philosophy, cultural anthropology, English, as well as outside speakers. 

2012-13: "Feminism and Freedom," coordinated by Frances Hasso

The theme for 2012-13 is Feminism and Freedom. Professor Frances Hasso will be teaching a graduate/post-graduate seminar on Feminism and Freedom that will be offered in Fall 2012.

We conceived the theme topic in response to the recent uprising in North Africa and West Asia, but are interested in an array of investigations, including how feminism has fought for various forms of freedom, scrutinized its historical emergence, and deployed the term in a variety of discursive contexts. Also relevant are anti-feminist dimensions of freedom projects. The focus will be on transnational, intersectional, and interdisciplinary research and film that take[s]an innovative approach to understanding the social, political, economic, and cultural implications of freedom. We will also host two post-doctoral fellows, working under the rubric of Feminism and Freedom, who will also be participating in the seminar.

Graduate seminar: WST 960. Frances Hasso

2011-12: "The Future of the Feminist 1970s"

We are interested to understand how some of the major interventions of the 1970's--for example, feminist art and film practices, marxist and radical feminism, eco-feminism, lesbian separatism, human and civil rights discourse, cold war divisions and non-aligned movements, and postcolonial internationalism---continue to have an impact on feminist thought, offer important interventions into contemporary questions, or map the futures of feminism.

Graduate seminar: WST 960 1970s Feminism. Jolie Olcott (History) and Ara Wilson (GSF)

Postdocs: Victoria Hesford & Stephanie Gilmore

2010-11: "Animals and the Question of Species," coordinated by Kathy Rudy

The 2010-11 annual theme is Animals and the Question of Species and will revolve around three major points:

  • new theoretical formulations in continental philosophy around the question of human exceptionalism;
  • the human/animal boundary and connection, and the ethics, politics, and advocacy that flow from those; and
  • the role of gender in developing a greater understanding of nonhuman animals.

Graduate seminar: WST 960 Kathy Rudy

2009-10: "Gender and Visual Culture," coordinated by Tina Campt

Graduate seminar: WST 960 Tina Campt 

Postdoc: Kim Lamm & Lindsay Green-Simms

2008-09: "Transnational Sexualities," coordinated by Ara Wilson

Post-doctoral fellows: Elisabeth Engebretsen, Svati Shah
Graduate seminar: WST 960 Transnational Sexuality Studies.
Undergrad course: Introduction to Sexuality Studies
Major Event: Workshop on India, Sexuality & Archives.

This theme year was linked with what was then a program in the study of sexualities which has now been relaunched as a minor.