Academics



Classes - Fall 2011

Fall Classes in the fields of Women's & Gender Studies
by the MIT Program in Women's and Gender Studies
Questions: wgs@mit.edu

WGS.101 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Undergrad (Fall, Spring) HASS Humanities, Communication-Intensive, Category 4
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: MW 1-2:30 (5-233)

This course draws 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.
A. Walsh

WGS.109 Women & Global Activism in Media & Politics

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Humanities, Communications-Intensive, Category 4
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 3-5 (2-147)

Through the study of novels, films, art, and critical essays, we consider how women redefine the notion of community, nation, and development internationally. We explore traditional values, social change, gender roles, identity formation, migration flows, globalization and development, popular culture and urban life, cyber-culture, activism, and human rights. We will consider the following questions: What is the relevance of western feminist critical thinking for Third-World literature or cinema? Is feminism western? How have Third-World Women been addressing and defining women's issues on their own terms?
A. Sur

WGS.110 Sexual and Gender Identities

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: T EVE 7-10 PM (14E-310)

Introduces scholarly debates about sexual identities, gender identities and expressions, and sexual orientation and its representation in various media. Topics may include lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) sexual identities as well as their histories in Western and non-Western cultures; queer theory and theories of identity; the origins of social movements for equality; issues of race and diversity within LGBT communities; questions of visibility and media representation; and the politics of sexual orientation in contemporary American institutions. Materials include secondary readings in history, philosophy and cultural theory as well as novels and plays, films and television programs, community studies, oral histories, and legal cases.
K. Surkan

WGS.111 Gender and Media Studies

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: W 2-5 (4-253)

Examines representations of race, gender, and sexual identity in the media. Considers issues of authorship, spectatorship, and the ways in which various media (film, television, print journalism, advertising) enable, facilitate, and challenge these social constructions in society. Studies the impact of new media and digital media through analysis of gendered and racialized language and embodiment online in blogs and vlogs, avatars, and in the construction of cyberidentities. Provides introduction to feminist approaches to media studies by drawing from work in feminist film theory, cultural studies, gender and politics, and cyberfeminism.
K. Surkan

WGS.140/21L.504 Race and Identity in American Literature (New!)

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: MW 3:30-5 (1-132)

As racial identities become more mobile and fluid in a global culture, narratives in which questions of race organize the story have become increasingly sophisticated and varied. Traditionally sites for both social commentary and literary innovation, such American forms as Native American folklore, slave narratives, immigration stories, and passing novels have rapidly evolved in recent decades. Beginning with samples of these earlier forms, we will move to and focus on such contemporary authors as Leslie Marmon Silko, Gish Jen, Philip Roth, Sherman Alexie, Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Toni Morrison. Students will keep literary journals and practice writing critical and research essays.
W. Kelley

WGS.172/21A.232 Rethinking the Family, Sex and Gender

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Social Sciences, HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 11-12:30 (16-220)

Through investigating cross-cultural case studies, this course introduces students to the anthropological study of the social institutions and symbolic meanings of family, household, gender, and sexuality. We will explore the myriad of forms that families and households take and evaluate their social, emotional, and economic dynamics. In particular, we will analyze how people's expectations for, and experiences of, family life are rooted in or challenged by particular conceptions of gender and sexuality. What does it mean and entail to be a "man" or a "woman" - as well as a "good" father, mother, husband, wife, son, daughter, in-law, grandparent, etc. - in different cultural, religious, and political contexts?
H. Paxson

WGS.225/21A.242/STS.046 The Science of Race, Sex, and Gender

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 9:30-11 (16-220)

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.233/21F.325 New Culture of Gender: Queer France (New!)

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Prereq: One intermediate subject in French
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: R EVE (7-10 PM) (14N-313)

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.235/21F.044/21L.044 Classics of Chinese Literature in Translation (New!)

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 11-12:30 (14N-217)

This subject is an introduction to the Classics of traditional Chinese literature and (through the literature) to the three great philosophies of Confucianism, Buddhism, and Daoism. The selections from the great works we will read in this class will serve as a window onto traditional Chinese culture. A substantial part of this subject will be dedicated to examining various aspects of Chinese gender ideology, and gender roles in traditional Chinese society. We will examine marriage, the family structure and the ideal of filial piety, the tensions between romance versus duty, images of women and men in literature (including courtesans, grandmothers, scholars, warriors, women warriors, etc.), homoeroticism, gender in Buddhism and cultural changes wrought by the rise in female literacy during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Works of literature may include The Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West (Monkey), The Peony Pavilion, The Western Chamber, and Dream of the Red Chamber. All literature read in translation, no background required. Taught in English.
E. Teng

WGS.276/21A.350/STS.086 Cultures of Computing

Undergrad (Fall) HASS Social Sciences, HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: M 1-4 (16-220)

Examines computers anthropologically, as artifacts revealing the social orders and cultural practices that create them. Classic texts in computer science are read along with cultural analyses of computing history and contemporary configurations. Explores the history of automata, automation and capitalist manufacturing; cybernetics and WWII operations research; artificial intelligence and gendered subjectivity; robots, cyborgs, and artificial life; commodification, and creation of the personal computer; the growth of the Internet as a military, academic, and commercial project; hackers and gamers; technobodies and virtual sociality.
S. Helmreich

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