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WGS Course Descriptions

Fall 2015

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.

Spring 2015

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.