WGS Course Descriptions
WSGS 202 / THEO 201 (01): Women and Christianity
MWF 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. (E. Vasko)
This course provides a survey of the Old and New Testament views of women and a history of the status of women in the Roman Catholic and Major Protestant traditions with emphasis on the contemporary role and spirituality of women in Christianity. The course will examine attitudes about gender, and perspectives on women as influenced by the Judeo-Christian religious tradition, major Christian theologians, Christian mystics, and women who have made important contributions to the Christian tradition or have been instrumental in transformations that promote the full dignity of women and men. This course fulfills a Theme Area in Social Justice.
WSGS 228 / ENGL 228 (01): Sex, Violence, and Comic Books
MWF 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. (C. Maverick)
One constant throughout the history of the American comic is the interplay of violence and sexuality. Teen romance titles like Archie encode (and sometimes challenge) traditional gender roles, while hypersexualized superheroes solve problems through physical conflict. The conflation of sex and violence in so-called children's comics led to a 1950s Congressional inquiry that shaped the industry for decades. This course aims to explore the sex / violence relationship in texts ranging from mainstream comics like Batman through Alison Bechdel's LBGTQ graphic memoir Fun Home, as well as comics-influenced films and TV shows like Sin City and Marvel's Jessica Jones. Students will be expected to take part in class discussions and will produce two written papers and a group project.
WSGS 235 / CLSX 235 (01): Love and Violence in Roman Poetry
MWF 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. (S. Miller)
This course will introduce students to representations of love and violence in the elegiac, didactic, epistolary, and epic poetry of Augustan poet Ovid. The complicated representations of women as both objects and agents of erotic desire and aggression have led readers to label Ovid a misogynist as well as proto-feminist. Through close readings and discussions of his texts, students will be encouraged to explore issues of sex and gender in the Augustan Age, according to Ovid, and as translated into his poetry. Students will also work to analyze Ovid's poetry on its own terms, giving attention to the relationship between genre and content.
WSGS 306W / ENGL 306W (01): Gender and Drama
TR 3:05 p.m. - 4:20 p.m. (J. Lane)
Meyerhold wrote, "Women should take over men's roles on stage as well as in real life, by acting parts written for male actors. Give me the actresses, and I'll make a Khlestakov and Hamlet of them, a Don Juan or a Chatsky!" In this course we will examine how gender and sexuality have been expressed in Drama and Theater. Using both Literary Theories and Performance Theories, we will investigate how playwrights and performers have altered societal perceptions of gender. We will study the difference between men writing (playing) women's roles, women writing (playing) men's roles, stereotyping, and stock characters. We shall study how the feminist movement started in theater, fostered by some of the art form's greatest playwrights, and the effect those plays had on society and future playwrights. We will also look at the burgeoning Gay Theater in America and its impact on gender. Playwrights examined include Ibsen, Shaw, Hellman, Wilson, Ludlam, Merriam, Ensler, and others. We will also look at the writings of Meyerhold, Grotowski, Stanislawski, Brecht, and other theorists. Fulfills World Literature requirement for English/Education majors.
WSGS 421 / JMA 421 (01): Sex, Myth, and Media
TR 4:30 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. (M. Patterson)
This course will examine the role of mass media in reinforcing or challenging common cultural definitions of masculinity and femininity and power relationships between the sexes. In analyzing various mass media--including print, television, Internet publishing, electronic games, and film--we will apply gender theory and connect these artifacts to their historical moment. Students' own experiences, insights, questions, and ideas are a key part of this course. Throughout the term, we will consider not only what is in terms of gender roles, but also what might be.
WSGS 430W / ENGL 429W (01): Women and the Literary Marketplace
MS 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. (F. Barrett)
This course will consider the changing shape of the U.S. literary marketplace in the nineteenth century, as more and more women begin to publish their work and to define themselves in relation to the profession of authorship. Writing to his publisher in January of 1855, Nathaniel Hawthorne complained about the "damned mob of scribbling women," whose work he felt would negatively impact reception of his own novels and stories. Reading works by both male and female writers, this course will consider what factors led more and more women to begin publishing in this era and how male writers responded to this development. Over the course of the semester, we will consider the following questions: How does the increase in women's participation in the marketplace revise traditional gender roles for men and women? When do women writers endorse traditional roles, and when do they call for change? And how do male writers respond to these developments? We will also consider how women writers contribute to two of the most important reform movements of the nineteenth century, namely abolition and women's rights.
WSGS 453 / PSYC 453 (61) : Psychology of Gender
MW 3:00 p.m. - 4:15 p.m. (R. Gimeno)
The primary aim of this course is to explore the ways in which gender is socially constructed in our historical time period through a variety of power relationships or institutions (e.g., marriage) and cultural artifacts (e.g., media). The psychology of gender then involves how we as individuals experience ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, as consumers of these gender constructions, and the effects these constructions have on us at individual, interpersonal and societal levels. Although the focus of the course is on our daily performances of gender as constitutive of our identity, we will also recognize how our gendered identity is inextricably connected to other identity markers such as race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so forth.
WSGS 485 / PHIL 485 (01): Gender, Nature, Being
MW 12:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (P. Miller)
Is gender natural or not? This is a recent debate among feminists (e.g., Grosz vs. Butler) , even more recently enhanced by contributions from transgender theorists (Schrage & Bettcher), but it has an ancient lineage, beginning with Plato, who used it not only to argue that women should become philosopher-queens, but also to introduce his doctrines of nature and being. This course begins and ends with the recent feminist debate (Fausto-Sterling & Heyes, e.g.), but tries to clarify it through an intervening survey of differing accounts: Greeks (Plato vs. Aristotle), Catholics (Aquinas & George), evolutionary biologists (Darwin & Roughgarden), evolutionary psychologists (Ridley & Buss), philosophers of science (Dupre and Rosenberg), and genealogists of selfhood (Nietzsche & Foucault). One goal will be to answer the questions (Is gender natural?), but a more important goal will be to consider how much is at stake whichever answer one chooses. For above all, this course aims to show that each answer to this question makes commitments to a specific understanding of body and mind, nature and being.
WSGS 203 / THEO 202 (01): Christianity and Violence
TR 1:40 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. (E. Vasko)
Want to make a difference? Tired of just talking about social justice? Interested in psychology, sociology, public policy, education, or health, but still need to take a theology course? The course examines the research, writings, and experiences of women and men in the Christian tradition. Particular attention will be paid to religious justifications for violence and discrimination; and the role that theology and faith communities have played in both condoning and resisting such violence in the US. Theme Area Social Justice.
WSGS 232 / PHIL 232 (01): Philosophy of Sex and Love
MWF 1:00 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. (J. Lambert)
This course explores sex, sexuality, and the relationship between sex and love in terms of intimacy, thinking of bodies as "sexed" rather than simply "gendered". We will be examining philosophical texts both from the ancient and the contemporary time periods. Questions for discussion will include: Is there a necessary connection between love and sex? What does it mean to be a sexed individual? What are the ethics associated with sex and love? Given the flexibility of the contemporary sexual identity and the new wave of gender expression, how are we to continue to assess perversity and what it might encompass? Is the concept of perversity still a valid category of sexual expression? And what is the status of feminist debate over pornographic art? The goal is to have the course progress through a few themes: 'What is Love and how is it expressed?', 'What is sexuality?', 'Is there a connection between Love and Sex?'. What is the relationshop between one's raced and sexed body and one's expression of love and sex?
WSGS 236 / CLSX 236 (01): Greek, Roman, & Medieval Mothers
MWF 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. (S. Miller)
An exploration of the representation of mothers, motherhood, and the maternal body in medical, mythological, and religious literature from ancient Greece to the High Middle Ages.
WSGS 251 / THEO 251 (01): Sexuality, Sex & Morality
TR 10:50 a.m. - 12:05 a.m. (E. Cochran)
An analysis of the nature of sex and sexuality in Christian thought, and of the relevance of these concepts for contemporary moral life.
WSGS 261 / THEO 261 (01): Christian Social Ethics
W 1:40 p.m. - 2:55 p.m. (E. Vasko)
This course will explore the tradition of Roman Catholic Social Teaching and modern social ethics. Issues to be addressed will include Christian interpretations of war and peace, economic justice, race relations, human rights, and ecological ethics. In assessing these issues, we will also consider important contributions from Protestant traditions as well as non-Christian perspectives.
WSGS 369 / SOCI 369 / PJCR 369 (01): Race, Gender & Crime
TR 12:15 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. (A. Popp)
This course examines how different races, genders, and social classes experience crime, both as offenders and victims. Pre-requisite: Any 100 level Sociology course.
WSGS 422 / COMM 422 (01): Communication and Gender
TR 1:40 p.m. - 2:55 p.m. (P. Arneson)
Examines research addressing differences and similarities in male and female communication syles in a variety of contexts, ranging from personal to social to work relationships, with attention given to philosophical and narrative understandings of what it means to be male and female persons.
WSGS 452W / ENGL 452W (01): Modern British and American Poetry
TR 9:25 a.m. - 10:40 p.m. (L. Kinnahan)
What is modernist poetry? In both Britain and America, the early decades of the twentieth century were marked by rapid changes in technology, industry, economics, and communication that separated the new century in decisive ways from the past. American and British poetry written between 1900 and 1950 responded to the sense of a world irreparably changed, celebrating the freedom from outworn traditions to “make it new” while also expressing uncertainty about the uncharted experience of the “modern.” Both in form and subject matter, poetry explored new territory, employing avant-garde techniques and reinventing older forms to break with past restrictions in exciting and varied ways. For many, these “past restrictions” included traditional roles for women and men and outworn assumptions about gender. Challenges to ideas about gender elicited both excitement and trepidation in society at large. How did poets approach gender in the modernist period? How did modernist poets make gender the business of poetry’s explorations of new content and modern forms?
In order to approach these questions, this course will include readings from a broad range of poets to help us establish a working vocabulary and understand central concepts, techniques, and influences shaping modernist poetry. For example, the influence of the modern city, or of visual art, or of war (both WWI and WWII) will be addressed. Within this broader survey, more in-depth study of several poets will focus the course upon how social and poetic conditions shape and reflect ideas about gender in the modernist era. In particular, we take up issues of gender in relation to formations of national, race, and class identity; and relationships between language, form, and social contexts.
WSGS 453 / PSYC 453 (61) : Psychology of Gender
W 6:00 p.m. - 8:40 p.m. (S. Dixit)
The primary aim of this course is to explore the ways in which gender is socially constructed in our historical time period through a variety of power relationships or institutions (e.g., marriage) and cultural artificts (e.g., media). The psychology of gender then involves how we as individuals experience ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, as consumers of these gender constructions, and the effects these constructions have on us at individual, interpersonal and societal levels. Although the focus of the course is on our daily performances of gender as constitutive of our identity, we will also recognize how our gendered identity is inextricably connected to other identity markers such as race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and so forth.
WSGS 202 / AFST 202 / THEO 201: Women and Christianity
TR 10:50 a.m.-12:05 p.m. (E. Vasko)
In this class we will be placing the received wisdom of the Christian religion in conversation with the ways in which it has been interpreted both by the tradition's dominant narrative as well as by women and men who challenge that narrative across generations and cultures. Emphasis will be placed on multicultural perspectives in light of issues and themes that engage feminist theologians, womanist theologians, and scholars from the Circle of Concern African Women Theologians. Some of the topics that will be discussed include: sexual violence, racism, poverty and health, ways of imaging the divine and participating in religious rituals, interpretive and communal authority, and power structures. The goal of this course is to expand our worldview by considering the lives of women in diverse religious communities and to think constructively and creatively about visions and strategies that promote the flourishing of women and all persons. Through this requirement students are assisted in learning how to be informed global citizens and challenged to take responsibility for promoting human dignity.
WSGS 210 / SOCI 210 (01): Sociology of Sex and Gender
TR 12:15 - 1:30 p.m. (S. MacMillen)
This course will explore the domain of sexual identity, the concomitant notion of the social construction of gender, and the concept of deviance. While our point of departure is distinctively sociological, we will attempt to examine the issues in a broader context. Consequently, we will be drawing from diverse fields such as philosophy, cultural anthropology, psychology, literature, and popular culture. The readings will focus on power, addressing the conditions under which the gender system intersects with other factors to create various kinds of power and powerlessness. We will analyze contemporary films for what they can tell us about the popular conceptions of sex and gender identities, relations, and constructions. The readings will also address how people empower themselves, both personally and collectively. We will have numerous guest speakers, and although it will be a standard lecture course, active student participation will be highly encouraged.
WSGS 225 / SOCI 225: Family Systems
TR 10:50 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. (Z. Ahmed)
A study of the family institution and its interaction with other community institutions.
WSGS 280 / ARHY 280: Gender, Vision, and Representation
MWF 12:00 - 12:50 p.m. (A. Mikulinsky)
This course will offer an introduction to considering the manner in which art (encompassing visual and material culture) has participated in the construction, representation, and characterization of femininity and masculinity. Considering both the work of male and female artists, this course will consider the particular concerns of creation, spectatorship, and analysis involved in the construction of gender identities in art.
WSGS 321W / ENGL 323W: Life Writing
MWF 10:00 - 10:50 a.m. (A. Gibson)
In this course we will consider the genre of life writing in theory and in practice. We will consider how writers construct the story of a life or a life experience and how we tell stories about ourselves. How do we use writing to construct our own or other people's identities? How are these stories affected by place and relationships or by gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and/or social status? How true are these stories, and how do we evaluate the relationship between storytelling and truth? We will read excerpts and essays from a range of memoirs and autobiographies, which will likely include those by St. Augustine, Virginia Woolf, Anne Frank, James Baldwin, André Aciman, J.M. Coetzee, M.F.K. Fisher, Anne Fadiman, Ruth Reichl, Maya Angelou, Annie Dillard, Frank McCourt, and Augusten Burroughs. We will also read a few biographical "Profiles" from The New Yorker and watch a film adaptation of a memoir. Your assignments in this class will be both critical and creative. You will keep a portfolio of short writing exercises, including journals, short memoir pieces, and responses to our reading, and you will write one critical essay and one original piece of life writing. We will regularly workshop our writing together in class, and you will have opportunities to revise your writing.
WSGS 453 / PSYC 453 (61): Psychology of Gender
W 6:00 - 8:40 p.m. (S. Dixit)
In this course we will explore what it might mean to be a woman, a man, or something in between or outside of those possibilities. We will consider gender from a variety of vantage points, including those of biology, culture, race, psychoanalysis, psychopathology, and mythology. Goals for the course include rich conversation about the varieties of our gendered world and the further development of our individual perspectives on what it means to be a gendered subjectivity
WSGS 203 / THEO 202: Christianity and Violence (Service Learning)
TR 1:40-2:55 p.m. (E. Vasko)
The course examines the research, writings, and experiences of women and men in the Christian tradition. Particular attention will be paid to religious justifications for violence and discrimination; and the role that theology and faith communities have played in both condoning and resisting such violence in the US. As such, the material for this course sits at the intersection of theology and ethics. One of the primary intellectual challenges of this course is for students to develop an understanding that violence is often culturally constructed, condoned, and sometimes even supported. A good portion of our efforts in the class will be placed on untangling the ways in which race, class, gender, and imperialism work together to perpetrate violence against marginalized persons and communities. Such an investigation necessitates a careful consideration of the dynamics of power and privilege operative in society, which is accompanied by a critical awareness of our own place within the existing racial, economic, gender, and ethnic hierarchy in the United States.
**We will be partnering with the organization Women Against Abusive Relationships during the Spring Semester.
***Note this course also fulfills the SJ theme area requirement
WSGS 207 / ENGL 201 (02): Literature for Children and Young Adults
MWF 10:00-10:50 a.m. (J. McCort)
This course will introduce students to literature written for and read by children and young adults. We will study the history of each genre's development and examine the outstanding characteristics of foundational and popular texts. Throughout the course, students will be asked to engage in critical thinking, analytical reading, and discussion. The reading list will include selections from Grimm's and Andersen's fairy tales, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Briar Rose, Coraline, and The Hunger Games, as well as selections from the Norton Anthology of Children's Literature. We will focus extensively on gender roles, gender politics, and the formation of gendered identities throughout the course of the semester.
WSGS 220W / CLSX 220W: The Ancient Novel
TR 1:40-2:55 p.m. (S. Miller)
An exploration of Greek and Roman novels written between the 1st and 3rd centuries CE. In this course, we examine the features of the genre, its cultural context, and its recurring themes of romance and adventure. We focus largely on representations of love, sex, the body, and physical suffering in order to analyze how Greek and Roman prose fiction fashioned femininity and masculinity, heteroerotic and homoerotic love, pederasty, class, and race. Among the novels we read are: Ephesian Tale (Xenophon of Ephesus), Leucippe and Clitophon (Achilles Tatius), An Ethiopian Romance (Heliodorus), Daphnis and Chloe (Longus), Satyricon (Petronius) and The Golden Ass (Apuleius).
WSGS 364 / HIST 364: History of Sexuality in the United States
TR 12:15-1:30 p.m. (E. Parsons)
This course will explore the history of how people in the United States identified themselves sexually and engaged in sexual behavior from the early nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century. We will focus on representations of sexuality in popular texts ranging from sensational fiction to sermons, from advice manuals to advertisements and twentieth-century sex-ed films. We will consider issues such as the emergence of a gay identity in the late nineteenth century, changes in reproductive technologies, sexual violence, prostitution, male and female body ideals, marriage, courtship and dating culture, and many other related topics.
WSGS 448W / ENGL 449W (02): Black Autobiography
MWF 12:00-12:50 p.m. (K. Glass)
Examining black autobiography from the eighteenth century to the present, this course examines the vibrant tradition of African American storytelling. Students will read slave narratives, as well as post-Emancipation and contemporary works. Tracing the evolution of the autobiographical genre, the course highlights writings by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Maya Angelou, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, President Barak Obama, and many others.
WSGS 453 / PSYC 453: Psychology of Gender
T 6:00-8:40 p.m. (J. Arroyo)
In this course we will explore what it might mean to be a woman, a man, or something in between or outside of those possibilities. We will consider gender from a variety of vantage points, including those of biology, culture, race, psychoanalysis, psychopathology, and mythology. Goals for the course include rich conversation about the varieties of our gendered world and the further development of our individual perspectives on what it means to be a gendered subjectivity.