Academics



Classes - Spring 2012

Spring 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

HASS Humanities, CI-H, HASS-D, Category 4
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.
Units: 3-0-9
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.
A. Walsh

WGS.115 Gender and Technology (New Course!)

HASS Humanities, HASS-E
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 1-2:30

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.
K. Surkan

WGS.141J/21F.002J, 21L.522J International Women's Voices

HASS Humanities, HASS-D, Category 1, CI-H
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 3-4:30

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 the cultural, social and political contexts which inform these narratives, with an emphasis on the roles that gender, familial ties and nationality play in shaping the underlying values 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.
M. Resnick

WGS.142 Narrative and Identity: Writing and Film by Contemporary Women of Color

HASS Humanities, HASS-Elective
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 3-4:30

Explores the diverse voices and experiences reflected in writing and film by and about women of color. Examines the roles that culture, community, and kinship play in the development of the writer's individual voice, and compares the similarities and differences of the writer experience across texts and genres. Discussion and assignments, including an independent research presentation, consider the social and political contexts that inform each work, with an emphasis on gender, race, and economic status. Includes works by a variety of novelists, poets, and filmmakers.
S. E. King

WGS.170/21A.218J Identity & Difference

HASS Social Sciences, HASS-E, CI-H
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: MW EVE 7-8:30

This course explores how identities, whether of individuals or groups, are produced, maintained, and transformed. Students will be introduced to various theoretical perspectives that deal with identity formation, including constructions of "the normal." We will explore the utility of these perspectives for understanding identity components such as gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, language, social class, and bodily difference. By semester's end students will understand better how an individual can be at once cause and consequence of society, a unique agent of social action and also a social product.
J. Jackson

WGS.190J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies

HASS Arts + Humanities, CI-H, HASS-D, Category 4
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture:TR 1-2:30

Interdisciplinary survey of people of African descent that draws on 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.
A. Braithwaite, M. DeGraff

WGS.220 Women and Gender in the Middle East and North Africa

HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: W 2-5

Provides an overview of key issues and themes in the study of women and gender relations in the Middle East and North Africa. Includes readings from a variety of disciplines, e.g., history, anthropology, sociology, literature, religious studies, and media studies. Addresses themes such as the relationship between the concepts of nation and gender; women's citizenship; Middle Eastern women's activism and the involvement of their 'Western sisters' to this movement; gendered interpretations of the Qur'an and the example of the Prophet Muhammad; and the three H's of Orientalism (hijab, harem, and hamam).
L. Eckmekcioglu

WGS.221 Women in the Developing World
HASS Social Sciences, HASS Elective
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 9:30-11

Study of women and gender in the developing world. Interdisciplinary approaches highlight relationships between gender and public policy, economics, art, education, health care, and scientific research. difference.
A. Sur

WGS.228/9.75J The Psychology of Gender and Race

HASS Social Sciences, HASS Elective
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: R EVE 7-10 PM

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.
C. Kapungu

WGS.231/21W.742J Writing About Race
You must enter the HASS-D lottery to take this subject.

HASS Humanities, HASS-D, Category 2, CI-H
Prereq: None
Units: 3-0-9
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?
K. Ragusa

WGS.234J/21F.068 The Invention of French Theory: A History of Transatlantic Intellectual Life since 1945

HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: T EVE 7-10PM

Examines post-WWII French theory. Discusses how theorists such as Lacan, Cixous, Derrida, and Debord were perceived in France and the US. Explores transatlantic intellectual debates since 1989 and the "new" French theory. Topics include: communism, decolonization, neo-liberalism, gender and mass media. Taught in English.
B. Perreau

WGS.237/21F.069/21H.153 Race and Gender in Asian America

HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: MW 2-3:30

This introductory course will examine Asian American culture as a site of anti-racist and anti-imperialist American social formation. We will focus on the study of culture produced by Asian immigrants and Asian Americans, as expressions of the histories of groups immigrating from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Novels, short stories, poetry, and films will be our media for studying cultural representations of race, class, gender and sexuality. We will contextualize our understanding of culture with history readings about immigration and anti-Asian movements in the U.S., the U.S. wars in Asia, and the empowering struggles of Asian Americans to claim their place in the U.S.
C. Vo

WGS.240/21L.473J Jane Austen

HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Prereq: One subject in Literature
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: TR 1-2:30

We will study the full range of Jane Austen's work, reading not just her novels, but her earlier juvenilia, several unfinished fragments, and her wonderful letters to her sister Cassandra. This great writer's work will be examined in relation to both biography and history. We will learn to analyze Austen's characteristic style and techniques, thereby gaining an enhanced appreciation of her writing - its intelligence, its wit, its themes - and of the times that produced it.
R. Perry

WGS.270J/21A.225 Violence, Human Rights, and Justice

HASS Social Sciences, HASS Elective
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: M 1-4

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.
E. C. James

WGS.301/17.007J/17.006/24.237 Feminist Thought

HASS Humanities, HASS Elective
Units: 3-0-9
Lecture: T EVE 7-10PM

In this course we will examine the development of feminist theory over time. Some subjects we will examine in detail include suffrage and equality; radical feminism; psychoanalysis and feminism; theories of power; sexuality and gender; embodied knowledge; pornography; identities and global feminism; militarism; and the welfare state. Throughout the course we will analyze different ways of looking at power and political culture in modern societies, issues of race and class, poverty and welfare, sexuality and morality.
K. Surkan

21W.745 Advanced Essay Workshop

HASS Humanities, HASS-E, CI-H, may be taken for credit as a WGS subject
Units: 3-0-9
Prereq: Permission of instructor
Lecture: T EVE 7-10PM

The course is designed to help you build upon your strengths as a writer and to expand your repertoire of styles and approaches in essay writing. Our focus will be negotiating and representing identities grounded in gender, race, class, nationality, sexuality, and other categories of identity, either our own or others’, in prose that is expository, exploratory, investigative, persuasive, lyrical, or incantatory. We will read nonfiction prose works by a wide array of writers who have used language to negotiate and represent aspects of identity and the ways the different determinants of identity intersect, compete, and cooperate. How does writing of the sort we will read and discuss - writing that is simultaneously personal and political, representing the self as it scrutinizes culture - address and affect the world of lived experience? This will be a question we will sustain as we move through the semester and as each of you writes your way across the private/public divide.
R. Faery

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