Classes - Spring 2013
by the MIT Women's and Gender Studies Program
WGS.S10 - Special Subject in Women's and Gender Studies - Reproductive Politics in the U.S. (NEW COURSE!)
3-0-9, HASS-Elective, Lecture: M 1-4
In 1873, Congress passed a law criminalizing information about contraception as obscene. In our own time, Congress and many state legislatures are debating whether to cut off all government funding to Planned Parenthood. Why is women's ability to control pregnancy and birth still so controversial? This class explores the significance of struggles over reproductive rights in the United States, now and over the course of the 20th century, highlighting the ways that class, race, and sexuality affect women's experiences of reproduction and the role of the state in shaping those experiences. We will examine political conflicts over the right to be a mother, especially for disadvantaged women, as well as the right to decide whether to become a mother. Topics include the legacy of compulsory sterilization, the regulation of birth control and abortion, the reproductive rights of women in prison, and the global marketplace in reproductive services. Readings draw from many disciplines and include primary sources such as court opinions.
WGS.101 - Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.
3-0-9, HASS Humanities, CI-H, HASS-D, Category 4, Lecture: MW 3-4:30
Drawing on multiple disciplines - such as literature, history, economics, psychology, philosophy, political science, anthropology, media studies and the arts - to examine cultural assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality. This class will introduce the student to several different frameworks for thinking about sex and gender, among other social categories - like race and class - across a variety of social and cultural contexts. We will consider the ways that gender functions in the arts, humanities, and social sciences, and how it interacts with race and class in the media and in the concrete reality of women's and men's lives. The class will focus on in-class discussions of the readings and on their application to the U.S. and beyond.
WGS.115 - Gender and Technology (NEW COURSE!)
3-0-9, HASS Humanities, HASS-Elective, Lecture:T EVE (7-10PM)
This course will investigate the relevance of gender, race, class and sexuality to technology, as well as considering the ways in which technology itself is implicated in the production of these same identity categories. Examining the contemporary and historical use of technology, the development of new technologies, and the cultural representation of technology, we will consider a wide range of questions, including: What role have women played in the development of technology, and how has technological change affected the roles of women and ideas of gender? How does technology offer possibilities for new social relations and how should we evaluate these possibilities? What are the social implications of technology and how it is understood and deployed in different cultural contexts? What is the relationship of embodiment to technology? Topics discussed may include medical technologies (reproductive, cosmetic and sex reassignment surgery, prosthetics, ultrasound), genetics and questions of identity, gaming and avatars, cyborgs and robotics, household technologies, technology in the workplace, telephone and mobile technology, technology in the developing world, globalization and militarization, and/or social networking.
WGS.170/21A.101J - Identity & Difference
3-0-9, HASS Social Sciences, HASS-Elective, CI-H, Lecture: MW EVE (7-8:30PM)
Subject examines several theoretical perspectives on human identity and focuses on processes of creating categories of acceptable and deviant identities; how identities are formed, how behaviors are labeled, and how people enter deviant roles and worlds; and responses to differences and strategies for coping with these responses. Subject material describes how identity and difference are inescapably linked. Enrollment limited.
WGS.225/21A.242J/STS.046J - The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender
3-0-9, HASS Social Sciences, HASS Elective, Prereq: None, Lecture: TR 9-10:30
Examines the role of science and medicine in the origins and evolution of the concepts of race, sex, and gender from the seventeenth century to the present. We analyze biological, medical, and anthropological, studies and how they intersect with historical, social, political, and cultural ideas about racial, sexual, and gender difference.
A. Sur and S. Helmreich
WGS.228/9.75J - The Psychology of Gender and Race
3-0-9 HASS Social Sciences, HASS-Elective, Lecture: R EVE (7-10PM)
Examines evidence (and lack thereof) regarding when and how an individual's thoughts, feelings, and actions are affected by gender and race. Topics include: gender and racial factors in identity development; stereotype formation and stereotype threat; gender and race related issues in achievement; gender and racial similarities and differences across the lifespan. In the Spring semester, topics also include gender and ethnocultural aspects of violence and trauma across cultures.
WGS.231/21W.742J - Writing About Race
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.
3-0-9, HASS Humanities, HASS-D, Category 2, CI-H, Prereq: None, Lecture: TR 11-12:30
In this course, we will read different forms of nonfiction writing to investigate the concept of race, both as a lived experience and as a socially constructed form of identity. Over the course of the semester, we will read and discuss journalistic writing/reportage, science writing, personal essays, memoirs, blogs, documentary media, graphic texts, and forms of writing that blur the distinctions between nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. We will explore the ways in which nonfiction writers approach issues of history, memory, community, language, biology and technology, paying close attention to the complex interconnections between race, gender, class, sexuality, and citizenship. What are the possibilities and limitations of nonfiction as a genre? How do we think about issues such as truth, authenticity, fact, evidence, imagination, and invention when reading and writing nonfiction?
WGS.233/21F.325 - New Culture of Gender: Queer France
3-0-9, HASS Humanities, HASS-Elective, Prereq: One intermediate subject in French, Lecture: R EVE 7-10 PM
The course addresses the question of contemporary queer identities and representations in France and their place in current French discourse. Who are the new queer authors? What are the main concerns of this new generation? The class will first introduce students to the main classical references of queer subcultures from Proust and Vivien to Hocquenghem and Wittig. We will then study the new debates on postcolonial and globalized lesbian, gay and trans identities exploring essays songs, movies, and novels. Among the authors studied: Didier Eribon, Anne Garréta, Abdellah Taïa, Anne Scott, Nina Bouraoui, etc. Taught in French. B. Perreau
WGS.272J/21A.445 - Slavery and Human Trafficking in the 21st Century (NEW COURSE!)
3-0-9, HASS Social Sciences, HASS-Elective, Prereq: None, Lecture: MW 3-4:30
Explores the issue of human trafficking for forced labour and sexual slavery, focusing on its representation in recent scholarly accounts and advocacy as well as in other media. Ethnographic and fictional readings along with media analysis help to develop a contextualized and comparative understanding of the phenomena in both past and present contexts. Examines the wide range of factors and agents that enable these practices, such as technology, cultural practices, social and economic conditions, and the role of governments and international organizations. Discusses the analytical, moral and methodological questions of researching, writing, and representing trafficking and slavery.