Course Descriptions for Spring 2014
Women and Christianity: Sex, Sin, and Salvation: WSGS 202 / THEO 201
TR 10:50 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. (E. Vasko)
This course offers an introduction to the contemporary research, writings, and experiences of Christian women and men in the area of feminist theology and gender studies. Particular attention will be paid to religious justifications for gender based violence and discrimination; and the role that faith communities have played in both condoning and resisting such violence in the US and abroad.
A main goal of this course is for students to develop an understanding that violence is often culturally constructed, condoned, and sometimes even supported. As such, a good portion of our efforts in the class will be placed on untangling the ways in which race, class, and gender work together to perpetrate violence against women.
Demons, Angels, Sinners, Saints: WSGS / CLSX 234
TR 1:40 - 2:55 p.m. (S. Miller)
This course examines the representations of sanctity and sin in medieval texts, and focuses specifically on the ways in which models of corporeality, sex, and gender shape notions of holiness and hellishness. In this period, the boundaries between divine inspiration, visionary experience, religious passion, demon possession, madness, and symptoms deriving from gynecological ailments were not clearly delineated. The female soul and body often became the domains where these phenomena were discerned and contested.
Students will consider how medieval writers conceptualized the mystical experiences, martyrdoms, and illnesses of women; how male-authored and female-authored texts constructed these phenomena; and how textual genres and the discursive systems germane to those genres shaped representations of female spiritual and physiological experience.
Among the female authors we will visit are Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim (selected plays), Hildegard of Bingen (her visionary work, Scivias, and her medical treatise, Causes and Cures), Julian of Norwich (Showings), Margery Kempe (The Book), and the gynecological writings attributed to Trotula. Male-authored texts will include selections from Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend, saints' vitae written by Thomas of Cantimpré and Jacques of Vitry (e.g. the lives of Marie d'Oignies and Christina the Astonishing), excerpts from the quasi-medical text, The Secrets of Women, and the treatise on witches, Malleus Maleficarum.
Students will read and present to their classmates a selection of relevant secondary literature. Among those scholars whose work will be used are Caroline Walker Bynum, Joan Cadden, Rudolph Bell, Diane Purkiss, Nancy Caciola, Dyan Elliott, Barbara Newman, and Walter Simon.
Women Playwrights: WSGS / ENGL 304
MWF 12:00 - 12:50 p.m. (L. Engel)
In 1660 King Charles II re-opened the London theatres and ushered in a new era of theatrical creativity, talent, and innovation on the British Stage. In addition to the appearance of the first English actresses, female playwrights emerged as a leading force in the theatrical world. Tracing the legacy of these pioneering playwrights this course investigates the history of women writing for the stage from the eighteenth-century to the present. Through their work, these authors re-imagined issues of gender, politics, family, class, marriage, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, fashion, and motherhood. We will also focus on how plays by women have shaped current theatrical history, modes of performance, and feminist literary methodologies. We will read plays, see plays, and discuss plays with an emphasis on the relationship between text and performance. We will investigate issues of gender alongside questions of race, nationality, ethnicity, class, and sexuality. Authors may include: Aphra Behn, Hannah Cowley, Frances Burney, Anna Cora Mowatt, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, Beth Henley, Wendy Wasserstein, Caryl Churchill, Marsha Norman, Anna Deveare Smith, Paula Vogel, Lisa Loomer, Suzan Lori Parks and others. Assignments will include several response papers (2 pages), a short essay (5-7 pages), presentations, and a final project/paper to be developed during the course of the semester.
Gender in American History: WSGS/HIST 433W-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"?
Psychology of Gender: WSGS/PSYC 453-01
MWF 10:00 - 10:50 a.m. (A. Larson)
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, philosophy 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 subject.
Course Descriptions for Fall 2013
The Bad Girls of Fiction: WSGS 201 / ENGL 204
Murder, chaos, and mayhem litter the texts we will study in this class. Over the course of the semester we will look at the figure of the bad girl in novels, short stories, and films. Our discussions will center on what these figures can tell us about cultural expectations, definitions of normality, and audience expectations. When do these figures cross the line from amusing to threatening? What can they teach us about courage, carelessness, and creativity? What themes, images, tropes, and conventions appear, reappear, mutate, and fixate in the texts we will study? These will be the questions that will fuel our discussions this fall.
Women and Christianity: WSGS 202 / THEO 201
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.
Love and Violence in Roman Poetry: WSGS 235 / CLSX 235
This course will introduce students to representations of love and violence in the elegiac, didactic, epistolary, and epic poetry of the 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 a 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.
Race, Gender, and Crime: WSGS 369 / SOCI 369
This course examines how different races, genders, and social classes experience crime, both as offenders and victims. Prerequisite: Any 100-level Sociology course.
Sex, Myth, and Media: WSGS 421 / JMA 421
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.
Inside and Outside the Bluestocking Circle: Exploring 18th Century Women's Writings and Literary Support Systems: WSGS 451W / ENGL 450W-01
Senior Seminar, Engish majors only
There is no question that women writers such as Elizabeth Montagu, Hannah More, Frances Burney, and Elizabeth Carter benefitted both personally and professionally from their involvement in the literary salon of the time, referred to as the blue stocking circle, but not all women writing and publishing in the 18th century were invited into or wished to join or were able to participate in such a group. Literary women outside the blue stocking group, including such writers as Charlotte Lennox, Frances Brooke, and Charlotte Smith, for example, managed successful careers with the help of other kinds of support and often under financial, geographic, or familial constraints that made belonging to the London-centered, upper class blue stockings impractical or undesirable. This course explores the nature of the blue stocking circle as it evolved over the course of the second half of the 18th century, and examines how it either worked as a support system or was bypassed for other kinds of literary support systems, including the male dominated literary and dramatic circles headed by Samuel Johnson, Samuel Richardson, and David Garrick. We will read poems, novels, essays, and plays by women inside and outside the blue stocking circle, as well as study their lives and times, in an attempt to understand the relation between the writer, her work, and the literary context in which she wrote.
Requirements include presentations on the lives and works of these writers, presentation of critical articles, class participation, a short paper, a long paper, and an exam.
Psychology of Gender: WSGS 453 / PSYC 453
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.