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Course Descriptions for Fall 2014

Women and Christianity: WSGS 202 / THEO 201

TR 10:50 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. (A. Light)

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.

Queer Drama: WSGS 307W / ENGL 306W

TR 3:05 - 4:20 p.m. (J. Lane)

This course will combine textual analysis of plays with a consideration of queer performance practice and production. We will study at what makes a work queer, the audience that the work is aimed at, and the success of queer works from small target audiences to widespread, global recognition. We will look at historical queer authors and how their "straight" works can contain hidden gay messages. We will analyze how the play's structure and form help to deliver its content and what specific production contexts and modes of production (meaning the way performance practices intersect with economic, social, geographical, and political issues) that facilitate the plays success. We will also look at the intersecting vectors of gender/sexuality/race and other complex identity categories, for their implications as overlays on a text's form, structure, content, and address whether we can assume that the identity of the playwright is a sufficient (or even partial) lens through which to ask questions about form, structure, content, address, and modes of production. We'll consider our own biases to help us better pose questions about how identity frames the creation and reception of a performance/play text.
We will study why is it useful to look at theatre and performance through the lens of sexual identity and how the commercial theatre has embraced gay and lesbian work and the class will establish a select history of LGBTQ theatre from the early 20th century through today. We will look at how these works effect modern critical issues (gays in the military, gay marriage, debates over adoption for gay families, and citizenship for queer internationals) in a heteronormative culture.

Jane Austen & Fan Fiction:WSGS 415W / ENGL 415W

TR 12:15 - 1:30 p.m. (S. Howard)

Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice (1813), has more fans today than ever before. We can see this in the many sequels, continuations, and rewritings that are in print, or that occur within online Jane Austen fan fiction communities. Many of these responses to Austen's novel are in novel form and include fantasies (like Steve Hockensmith's Pride and Prejudice and Zombies series) and mysteries (such as P. D. James's Death Comes to Pemberley), as well as below-stairs stories ( Jo Baker's Longbourn) and contemporary romances (Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones series). Online writings tend to be shorter: chapters, letters, diary entries, etc. In this new fiction, Austen's plot and characters are either followed closely or only loosely, and often in order to play out various imagined scenarios, "what-ifs" that Austen's novel may not even have suggested. This course explores the cult of Austen's Pride and Prejudice by examining Austen's novel and some of the fiction written by its fans in order to consider how Austen's novel is used by fans and why it has inspired such an enthusiastic following. Students will do several presentations and write three papers, one on Pride and Prejudice, one on a published sequel or continuation, and one a participation in one of the established online Austen fan fiction communities.

Sex, Myth & Media: WSGS 421 / JMA 421

TR 4:30 - 5:45 (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.

Psychology of Gender: WSGS 453 / PSYC 453

TR 3:05 - 4:20 p.m. (S. Barnard)

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.