Classes - Spring 2009
Special Topics in Women's Studies Seminar -
Identity, Sexuality and Gender in Contemporary Caribbean Literature
This course will center on Anglophone, Hispanophone, and Francophone Caribbean literature and films which expressly engage in conversations that challenge the entrenched ideologies of "compulsory" heterosexuality, sexism, racism, and homophobia. Readings and films will both explore and present possibilities for broader, more inclusive theoretical and political readings of gender, sexuality, and power (and abuses of power) in Caribbean contexts. The course will consider the ways in which cultural/historical memory, language, national origin and occasional physical displacement (i.e., migration or political exile) contribute to the construction and complications of Caribbean and Caribbean diasporic identities, as we analyze how those identities are further complicated by politicized configurations of gender, class, race, and sexuality. Class discussions will closely examine the relationships between languages, (self-namings, the shapings of diaspora, and the regional impact -- and occasional subversion -- of patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, and heterosexism. Authors to be studied include Dionne Brand, Reinaldo Arenas, Audre Lorde, Gisčle Pineau, Wesley Crichlow, Michelle Cliff, and Makeda Silvera. Films by Isaac Julien, Michelle Parkerson, Nestor Almendros, and others.
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. Integrates analysis of current events through student presentations, aiming to increase awareness of contemporary and historical experiences of women, and of the ways sex and gender interact with race, class, nationality, and other social identities. Students are introduced to recent scholarship on gender and its implications for traditional disciplines. K. Surkan
An interdisciplinary subject that examines questions of feminism, international women's issues, and globalization through the study of novels, films, critical essays, painting and music. Considers how women redefine the notions of community and nation, how development affects their lives, and how access to the internet and to the production industry impacts women's lives. Primary topics of interest include transformations of traditional values, social change, gender role distribution, identity formation, migration flows, globalization and development, popular culture, urban life, cyber-culture, activism, and human rights. Enrollment limited to 25 when Writing Tutor is assigned to the class. Otherwise, 18.
SP.417/24.912J/21A.114J/21L.008J/21M.630J/21W.741J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies
HASS-D, Category 4, CI-H
Interdisciplinary survey that explores the experiences of people of African descent through the overlapping approaches of history, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, linguistics, and creative writing. Connects the experiences of African-Americans and of other American minorities, focusing on social, political, and cultural histories, and on linguistic patterns. Includes lectures, discussions, workshops, and required field trips that involve minimal cost to students.
M. DeGraff, E. James, H. Lee
Explores some of the forces and mechanisms through which stereotypes are built and perpetuated. In particular, examines stereotypes associated with Asian women in colonial, nationalist, state-authoritarian, and global/diasporic narratives about gender and power. Students read ethnography, fiction, and history, and view films to examine the politics and circumstances that create and perpetuate the representation of Asian women as dragon ladies, lotus blossoms, despotic tyrants, desexualized servants, and docile subordinates. Students are introduced to debates about Orientalism, gender, and power.
This course will explore the rich diversity of women's voices and experiences as reflected in writings and films from Chile, China, Haiti, India, Iran, Japan, Korea and Zimbabwe. Through close readings, class discussions and research projects related to each text, we will explore not only the unique, individual voice of the writer, but also the cultural, social and political contexts which inform these narratives. We will also examine the roles that gender, familial ties and nationality play in shaping the values of the writers and the characters of such works as Marjane Sartrapi's graphic novel Persepolis, Edwidge Danticat's The Farming of Bones, Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things, Banana Yoshimoto's Kitchen, and Marie Myung-Ok Lee's Somebody's Daughter. Taught in English.
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.
Meets with 21L.715 when the topic has content consistent with the requirements for Women's Studies subjects. Provides close case study examinations of specific media or media configurations and the larger social, cultural, economic, political, or technological contexts within which they operate. Topics organized around recurring themes in media history, specific genres or movements, specific media, or specific historical moments. Previously taught cross-listed topics include Gendered Genres: Horror and Maternal Melodramas, Girl Culture in Japan, and Exploring Children's Culture. 2007-2008 Topic: Popular Readerships. Enrollment limited to 12.
Alienation, overcrowding, sensory overload, homelessness, criminality, violence, loneliness, sprawl, blight... How have the realities of modern city living influenced literature's formal and thematic techniques? How useful is it to think of literature as its own kind of "map" of urban space? Are cities too grand, heterogeneous and shifting to be captured by writers? In this seminar we will seek answers to these questions in key city writing (by Joyce, Eliot, Woolf, Martin Amis, Sam Selvon, Rohinton Mistry, Monica Ali), and in foundational theoretical works that endeavor to understand the culture of cities (by Friedrich Engels, Georg Lukács, Fredric Jameson, David Harvey, Saskia Sassen).
What does the Genesis story of creation and temptation tell us about gender, about heterosexuality, and about the origins of evil? What is the nature of God, and how can we account for that nature in a cosmos where evil exists? When is rebellion justified, and when is authority legitimate? These are some of the key questions that engaged the poet John Milton, and that continue to engage readers of his work. In 1667, Milton published what he intended both as the crowning achievement of a poetic career and a justification of God's ways to man: an epic poem which retold and reimagined the Biblical story of creation, temptation, and original sin. Even in a hostile political climate, Paradise Lost was almost immediately recognized as a classic, and one fate of a classic is to be rewritten, both by admirers and by antagonists. Modern readers have continued to contend with both Milton's text and its sources.
In this class, we will read Paradise Lost alongside works of 20th century fantasy and science fiction which rethink both Milton's text and its source: Perelandra and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis) and the trilogy His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman). As well as glancing at selections from Milton's own writings on divorce and freedom of the press, we will also engage with a variety of modern critical perspectives on Milton (C.S. Lewis, Stanley Fish, Patricia Parker, William Kerrigan, and others) and on Genesis (Elaine Pagels, Mary Nyquist). Enrollment limited to 12.
For students with experience in writing essays and nonfiction prose. Focuses on negotiating and representing identities grounded in gender, race, class, nationality, and sexuality in prose that is expository, exploratory, investigative, persuasive, lyrical, or incantatory. Authors include James Baldwin, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Audre Lorde, Richard Rodriguez, Alice Walker, John Edgar Wideman, Diana Hume George, bell hooks, Margaret Atwood, Patricia J. Williams, and others. Designed to help students build upon their strengths as writers and to expand their repertoire of styles and approaches in essay writing.
SP.591/21M.670 Traditions in American Concert Dance: Gender and Autobiography
HASS-D, Category 3, CI-H
Explores forms, content, and contexts of world traditions in dance that played a crucial role in shaping American concert dance with attention to issues of gender and autobiography. Explores artistic lives of dance artists Katherine Dunham, Alvin Ailey, Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine as American dance innovators. Lectures and discussions analyze these artists' works, taking into consideration historical and political contexts. Viewing assignments and attendance of Boston-area dance performances help students identify visual, musical, and kinesthetic underpinnings of choreographic structure.
Analyzes theories of gender and politics, especially ideologies of gender and their construction; definitions of public and private spheres; gender issues in citizenship, the development of the welfare state, experiences of war and revolution, class formation, and the politics of sexuality. Graduate students are expected to pursue the subject in greater depth through reading and individual research.
Explores men's and women's labor time as it is allocated between market and home-production, as well as their differentiated access to the consumption of goods and leisure. Another major theme involves the reproductive strategies of women, both in conjunction with, and in opposition to, their families. Examines how an ideal of the domestic sphere arose in early modern western Europe, and addresses the extent to which it limited the economic position of women. Analyzes how this ideal has been challenged, and with what success in the post-industrial period. Focuses on western Europe since the Middle Ages and on the United States, but also examines how these issues have played themselves out in non-Western cultures. Students are expected to complete a substantial seminar paper on a relevant topic of their own choosing, as well as contribute to the discussion of a common set of readings.
An examination of the problem of mass violence and oppression in the contemporary world, and of the concept of human rights as a defense against such abuse. Explores questions of cultural relativism, race, gender and ethnicity. Examines case studies from war crimes tribunals, truth commissions, anti-terrorist policies and other judicial attempts to redress state-sponsored wrongs. Considers whether the human rights framework effectively promotes the rule of law in modern societies. Students debate moral positions and address ideas of moral relativism. Enrollment limited.
E. C. James
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; cognition and emotion; stereotypes; physical and mental health, sexuality, close relationships, and work. Enrollment limited to 25.