Course Descriptions for Spring 2014
Gender in American History: WSGS /HIST 533-01
TR 3:05 - 4:20 p.m. (E. Parsons)
In this course, we will explore how American women's lives, challenges, and opportunities, and social perceptions of appropriate gender roles changed along with the growth of the United States from the colonial era to the present day. Because we are taking such a large period into consideration, the survey will not be comprehensive. Rather, we will focus in on particularly significant historical figures, ideas, and events. Throughout the class, we will be interested in how gender experiences and expectations were mediated by race, class, and region. We will also frequently consider how gender roles and ideals have changed over time; what factors have driven these changes? How much of a role have women themselves had in shaping ideas of "womanhood"?
Masculinity in American Fiction Since the 1950s: WSGS / ENGL 558-61
R 6:00 - 8:40 p.m. (M. Michael)
This course will introduce students to American Fiction since the late 1950s, with an emphasis on issues of masculinity. Texts will be considered individually as well as in relation to their larger cultural, historical, and intellectual contexts. Some critical/theoretical reading will be required. In addition to the focus on masculinity, the course will examine recent American fiction's engagement with difficult issues such as violence, race, ethnicity, class, and gender more broadly as well as the position of the U.S. in the world-issues that are usually intertwined, that have dominated globally at the turn of the twenty-first century, and that have become increasingly visible to Americans since 9/11-and the difficulties fiction faces in engaging such issues in the wake of the questioning of representation and language that has characterized twentieth century fiction. The course is also intended to enhance the students' experience and skills of critical thinking, reading, and writing about literature. Active oral participation will be required: the course will be structured to emphasize engaged intellectual exchange among all participants and thus will take the form of seminar-style discussions.
The class will read selections from scholarly work on masculinity such as Michael Kimmel's Manhood in America and Guyland, R.W. Connell's Masculinities, Tim Edward's Cultures of Masculinity, Susan Jefford's The Remasculinization of America, Susannah Radstone's "The War of the Fathers," as well as fiction such as Jack Kerouac's On the Road (1957), Robert Coover's "The Babysitter" (1969), Tim O'Brien's Going After Cacciato (1975), Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony (1977), Toni Morrison's Beloved (1987), Don DeLillo's Falling Man (2007), Jess Walter's The Financial Lives of Poets (2010)-selection of texts has not been finalized. This course has a 1.5 credit option available: ENGL 658-61.
20th-Century American Women Poets: WSGS / ENGL 571-61
M 6:00 - 8:40 p.m. (L. Kinnahan)
Is the use of gendered categories like "woman poet" still critically important, and if so, why and how? Within historical and theoretical frameworks, this course will seek to understand the critical history of this category and the range of poetics produced over the century by women writers attentive to the gendering of poetry and "the poet" by critics, poets, and general readers. How have American women poets intervened in or responded to both the denigration and the celebration of the "woman" as "poet"? What cultural work is imagined from a gendered standpoint by women writers? How are concepts like subjectivity, identity, creativity, and power imagined and explored within gender-marked poetry by women? How does poetry become a form of social or political expression for women? What experiments in writing do these poets and/or their readers link to gender? How do race, ethnicity, or class register in complex intersections with gender in poetry of the 20th century by women? The course will organize itself around such questions as we read three chronological clusters of poets: 1900-1940; 1940-1980; and 1980- present (moving into the "long 20th century"). We will read certain poets in more depth, and certain poets through shorter selections grouped with other poets, but we will encounter women such as Marianne Moore, Mina Loy, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Lola Ridge, Amy Lowell, Gwendolyn Bennet, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Genevieve Taggard, Muriel Rukeyser, Lorine Niedecker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Linda Hogan, Harryette Mullen, Sandra Cisneros, Kathleen Fraser, and others.
Medieval Women Philosophers: WSGS / PHIL 624
M 5:00 - 7:40 p.m. (M. Harrington)
Unable to write in the style of scholars and priests, women in the Middle Ages produced a discourse that ran both side-by-side and counter to the mainstream of medieval philosophy. We will read some of the most influential of the protagonists in this alternative Middle Ages: Heloise of Argenteuil, Hildegard of Bingen, Herrad of Hohenburg, and Hadewijch of Antwerp.
Course Descriptions for Fall 2013
Sex, Myth, and Media: WSGS 521 / JMA 521
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.
Feminist Theory: WSGS 568 / ENGL 568
This course will introduce students to feminist methodologies and offer students an opportunity to explore how these methodologies might be useful to the reading and analysis of literary texts. The course will begin with a brief historical survey of primarily Anglo-American feminist thought since the Enlightenment and trace various strains or traditions such as cultural, Marxist, Existential, Freudian, and radical feminisms. The early feminist texts will establish the historical and intellectual context within which second wave feminist theory has been produced during the past forty years. Although the course will focus on Anglo-American feminist theory (because of time and availability of texts), some attention will be given to French feminist theory and postcolonial theory since it has had a great impact on all feminist theory. Essays published during the last forty years will be organized around major issues in contemporary feminism. The class' exploration of feminist theory is intended to enhance the students' experience and skills of critical reading and writing about literature. Class meetings will be spent discussing critical/theoretical essays, seminar style, and will require active intellectual engagement and exchange among all participants.