Introduction

Introduction

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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Professors Basu†, Karkazis, and Martin; Associate Professors Manion, Polk*, and Shandilya† (Chair Spring 2022); Assistant Professor Peralta.

Professor Bumiller (Political Science) will chair in Fall 2021.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

THE MAJOR

Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies in an interdisciplinary exploration of feminist and queer thought in a variety of global and historical contexts. Our faculty specialize in literature, history, anthropology, film, and politics.

SWAGS alum have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields including education, music, consulting, medical research, art education, development, public radio, and non-profit management.

REQUIRED COURSES

Students interested in a SWAGS major need to complete a total of nine courses, three of which are core courses. The three core courses are SWAG 100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender, SWAG 200 Feminist Theory, and SWAG 400 Contemporary Debates.

Our three core courses are typically offered once a year: SWAG 100 is usually offered in the fall semester and SWAG 200 is usually offered in the spring semester. SWAG 400 is offered once a year in the fall or the spring depending on faculty leave schedules and other department needs.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, the SWAGS Department will accept SWAG-160 / POSC-160 Sexualities in International Relations (Fall 2021) or SWAG-163 / HIST-163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture (January 2022) in place of the SWAG-100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender requirement for the major.

SWAG 100 introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

SWAG 200 investigates contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It focuses on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment, and the nation.

SWAG 400 is a research seminar, which culminates in a final research paper. The topic of this course will vary from year to year. Students who have taken this seminar in the past may take it again if the topic is different.

The remaining six electives required to complete the major may be chosen from courses offered by the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Department or from the list of related courses.

ELECTIVES

We offer a wide variety of elective courses in a variety of disciplines. Elective offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.

*Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses and assume no prior knowledge of the subject.

*Courses numbered in the 200s are typically more demanding, but will still tend to be introductory in nature. Some knowledge of women, gender or sexuality is helpful but not usually required.

*Courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are seminar classes which delve deeply into a particular subject area. These courses generally have smaller enrollments. Some include a research component. Some faculty expect students to have already taken two or more courses on women, gender or sexuality.

*If you have a topic or set of interests that you would like to study, which is not covered in a course currently offered at Amherst College, you could look into the possibility of taking a Special Topics course.

*Please check a course’s description for its particular prerequisites.

RECOMMENDED PATHWAY

We recommend that you complete SWAG 100 and SWAG 200 by the end of your sophomore year. SWAG 400 can be taken during your junior or senior year. If you are thinking of doing an honors thesis in SWAGS, then it would be helpful to take SWAG 400 during your junior year as the research component is good preparation for thesis work. Electives can be distributed evenly over your semesters; most of the time you would only need to take one SWAGS course per semester.

EXTERNAL COURSES

An external course is any course that is NOT cross-listed in the Amherst College SWAGS Department, nor listed as a related course, at the time of the student’s enrollment in the course.

External courses, such as courses outside our department and at other colleges and universities, including study away programs, that address sexuality, women and/or gender, may be counted toward the major. A student who wishes to count an external course towards their SWAGS major must consult with their SWAGS advisor and provide their advisor with a course description and syllabus of the external course. If a current syllabus is not available, a syllabus from a previous iteration of the course will suffice. At the advisor’s discretion, the advisor may also ask the student to provide copies of the student’s assignments from the external course (e.g. research paper, essay, final project etc.). If at least 50% or more of the external course addresses women, gender or sexuality, then the advisor can approve the course counting towards the student’s SWAGS major. Copies of all documents should be shared with the ADC to update the department’s records.

Starting with students entering in Fall 2015, up to 3 of the 9 courses that are required for the major may be taken outside the SWAGS Department.

DOUBLE MAJORING

Courses counting towards the SWAGS major may NOT be counted towards another major.

COURSES TAKEN PASS/FAIL

Students should petition the chair of the SWAGS department if they wish to count an FGO or Pass/Fail course towards the major. In the petition the student should explain why they took the course pass/fail and why they are unable to take another course for a grade to fulfill the SWAGS major requirements. A student may take no more than one course FGO (or Pass/Fail) towards the major.

For courses taken in Spring 2020, the SWAGS Department will accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Senior majors not writing theses in SWAGS will satisfy the comprehensive requirement for the major by 1) Assembling a portfolio consisting of three papers written in courses for the SWAGS major. One of your submissions can be a work of poetry, fiction, video, film, art or photography, as long as you include a written analysis of the project. 2) Writing a five-page reflective essay that explains why you have selected these three papers, explores their key themes, and describes the evolution of your thinking about women, gender, and sexuality 3) Discussing your portfolio and reflective essay with members of the SWAGS Department.

The portfolio and its accompanying essay are to be submitted by Monday, April 11, 2022.

WRITING A SWAGS HONORS THESIS

SWAGS theses often cross disciplinary boundaries.  We are a “studies” department because the significance, impact, and construction of gender and sexuality have multiple origins. Our SWAGS honors students have worked on a wide range of topics including reproductive rights, “sex” and “gender” in healthcare, Jewish gender and deviance, masculinity and disability in literature, feminism and Protestantism, and trans activism.

To earn Latin Honors in SWAGS, in addition to the nine courses required for the major, students must write a thesis. Starting with students entering in Fall 2019, students will generally receive credit for one course each semester. SWAGS honors students should take SWAG 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). 

THESIS PROPOSAL

The SWAGS Department will hold an info session in late February for any students who are considering writing a SWAGS thesis. This session is targeted at juniors, but open to all students.

All majors who are considering theses should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the Department can serve as an advisor. A student's choice of thesis topic should be guided by the expertise and interests of our faculty. We have compiled a list of topics on our website that our faculty would welcome advising. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst College or in the Five Colleges may serve on thesis committees.  Junior SWAGS majors who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and/or while abroad.

Prospective thesis writers must use the online form to submit a proposal to the department by Monday, April 18, 2022.

FUNDING

Students often use the summer prior to their senior year to get a head start on their thesis research. Students who wish to dedicate 6 to 8 weeks of their summer to thesis research should consider applying for a summer research fellowship: the Rose Olver Student Research Fund or the Gregory S. Call Summer Student Research Program.

To support all of our thesis writers, the SWAGS Department will reimburse SWAGS thesis writers up to $200 each from department funds for expenses related to their research. All expenses must be approved by the SWAGS Department. Receipts must be provided.

REGISTERING FOR SENIOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

The SWAGS Department will inform students by the end of the semester whether or not their thesis proposal has been approved. Because students may not register for thesis courses until the proposal has been accepted by the department, we suggest that they pre-register for four courses.  They can drop one of them if the department approves the proposal.

Continuation of the thesis course into a second semester is not automatic. Thesis writers must submit at least two draft chapters (to the advisor and the SWAGS Department) by the third Monday in January. The department will inform them whether they have been accepted for a second semester of the thesis program.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

Seniors must submit three copies of their theses, one to their thesis advisor and the others to the SWAGS Department, by the second Monday in April. The thesis should not exceed 100 typed double-spaced pages of text.

Students will participate in an oral discussion with members of the thesis committee.

The final corrected thesis, in bound and electronic form, should be submitted both to the Registrar's Office and the SWAGS Department by TBD.

Detailed guidelines about thesis format and the submission process are included on the Registrar's website.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Students should consider submitting final theses for the Rose Olver Prize and the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize.

 

100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Omitted 2021-22. The Department. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

(Offered as CLAS 111 and SWAG 110) Since its invention in Athens, tragic drama has focused upward on the great or mighty as they fall but also outward on the disempowered as they are for once given public voice: women, slaves, and barbarians. The cosmic forces of fate and the gods play out along social fault lines with conflicting viewpoints. We look to a “hero,” but, changing his mask, a Greek actor could go from god to wife to peasant. This multiplicity complicates itself in modern stagings and films as they cast actors with specific gender and racial identities. Female actors now have indisputable claim on the once-male roles of Antigone, Cassandra, Medea, and Electra, as they do on Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. The dialects of tragic performance are multiple: translationese, Shakespeare, and Spanglish.

In this course we look at the performance of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare in their historical context, as well as at adaptations in film and dance. We also consider remakings of the myths within modern realities, including Antigone in Ferguson; Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (Oedipus); and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada (Medea)Electricidad (Electra), and Oedipus El Rey. For the bodies of comedy, we’ll look at Spike Lee’s recasting of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in Chi Raq.  

The course aims to give students independent command of influential plays, as well as insight into the aesthetics and politics of putting contemporary bodies into classic roles. We consider and apply core concepts relating to the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. 

Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123) We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did folklore and myth develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two take-home, open book tests with time and word limits.

Three class hours per week. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

138 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

145 The Modern World

(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145)  This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

155 Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?

(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TR] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 35 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

(Offered as HIST 163 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. January term. Online-only. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Feminist Theory

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206)  This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.

 GOALS FOR LEARNING

  • Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
  • Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;
  • Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:

1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;

2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.

 No prerequisites. Uncapped.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

(Offered as SWAG 209, ANTH 209, and SOCI 207) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

225 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(Offered as HIST 226 [EU/TC/P], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.

Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Boucher.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2019

228 Feminist Approaches to COVID-19

(Offered as SWAG 228, ANTH 228, HIST 228 [US/TR/TS] and SOCI 228) Taking an interdisciplinary approach to COVID, including approaches from ethnic studies, history, gender studies, bioethics, and more, this course will critically examine and understand our current global health crisis. Themes that we will be exploring include vaccine access, vaccine hesitancy, necropolitics, and racial inequality such as the rise of Asian/Asian American violence and health disparities.

Spring semester. Limited to 30 students. Professors Karkazis and Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/P/C], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

234 Dissecting the Music Video: Dance, Image, and Representation

(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.

Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

236 Queer Migrant Imaginaries

(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition.  Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. 

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of mass incarceration. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS/C] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 38 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

275 Her Story Is: Feminist Approaches to Theater and Performance

(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

(Offered as REL 276 and SWAG 276) Girls playing the bear. Sacred virgins buried alive. Women starving themselves for God. How does each of these occurrences fit within the religious experiences of ancient women? What, if anything, can they tell us about women’s lives? This course explores these and related questions by considering the place of women within the religious frameworks of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. We will examine evidence for women’s religious practices from literary, material, and legal sources, as well as the intersection of religious polemic and discourses about gender. We will also discuss the challenges of reconstructing women’s lives and practices. To do this, we will utilize insights from various disciplines, including religious studies, sociology, gender studies, history, archaeology, and literary studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism.  Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer Theory and Practice

This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

(Offered as ENGL 316 and SWAG 316) “From whence comes my help?” “From where does your strength come?” The psalmist and Adrienne Rich ask these questions, which we will face while we read coming-of-age narratives that fit in a genre known by its German name, the Bildungsroman. These novels go beyond the pilgrimage out of adolescence, and into explicit representation of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual growth experienced in unison with sexual development, awakenings, thrills, mishaps, and marriage. We will pay attention to how we immerse ourselves into the condition of those who grow on the page; not to “identify” with the characters, but to accompany them. From our immersive accompaniment we will re-emerge–intentionally–to write about how we progress, digress, regress, and grow some more. As we read we will explore many terms and theoretical concerns: Erik Erickson on life stages; Donald Winnicott on holding environment and object relation; Jacques Lacan on mirrors and interminability of desire; Silvan Tomkins on affects and nuclear scripts; Shoshana Feldman on re-reading, un-learning, en-gendering, and–again–desire.

Readings will likely include: Plato, Phaedrus; Susan Choi, Trust Exercise; Lazarillo de Tormes; Teresa de Avila, Interior Castle; John Woolman, The Journal; Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook; Richard Powers, The Overstory.

Omitted 2021-22. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

331 The Postcolonial Novel: Gender, Race and Empire

(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

Offered as POSC 349 (Analytic Seminar) and SWAG 349) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

 Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

365 Reading the Romance

(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

372 Indigenous Feminisms

(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

380 Women of Color and the Emergence of U.S. Third World Feminist Left

(Offered as HIST 380 [US/TE/TR/TS], AMST 380 and SWAG 380) This research seminar investigates the history of Asian American women and other women of color solidarities and activisms in the emergence of the U.S. Third World Feminist Left during the 1960s and 1970s. This movement saw ending imperialism and colonialism as a necessary part of their fight against racism, sexism, and capitalism in the United States and beyond and drew inspiration from Third World feminism and decolonization activities.  Third World feminism posits that women's activisms in the Third World do not originate from the ideologies of the First World and specifically centers Third World women's radicalism in their local/national contexts and struggles.  Organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) in New York City, which grew out of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brought together Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian American women in the socialist fight to end imperialism, sexism, capitalism, and racism.  The images of revolutionary Third World women engaged in anti-colonial struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, especially during the Vietnam War era, inspired U.S.-based feminists of color and helped them embrace leftist Third World solidarity politics.  Utilizing the rich archival sources found in the Sophia Smith Collection (TWWA records, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum papers) as well as the Triple Jeopardy newspapers found in the Marshall I. Bloom papers at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, students will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to produce a substantial research project.

Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

381 Global Transgender Histories

(Offered as HIST 381 [TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 381). This seminar will explore the histories of transgender identities, activism, and communities around the world. Some questions to be engaged include: What concepts have been used to understand gender variant, expansive, and nonconforming people throughout history? How have war, violence, and legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and exploitation shaped the terms and conditions by which people of transgender experience and expression understood themselves and were perceived by others? How have transgender people advocated for self-determination, legal rights, and medical care? How has the transgender rights movement intersected with the civil, disability, women’s, and the LGBTQ rights movements? Students will work with primary sources such as newspaper accounts, legal codes, medical journals, religious texts, memoirs, and manifestos as well as pathbreaking historic studies of transgender people in China, England, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and the United States.

One class meeting per week. Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

430 Renaissance Bodies

(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC/TR], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

440 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Dropped. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Recommended: One course in gender/sexuality or anthropology. Open to junior and seniors;  sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

Related Courses

About Amherst College

About Amherst College

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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Professors Basu†, Karkazis, and Martin; Associate Professors Manion, Polk*, and Shandilya† (Chair Spring 2022); Assistant Professor Peralta.

Professor Bumiller (Political Science) will chair in Fall 2021.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

THE MAJOR

Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies in an interdisciplinary exploration of feminist and queer thought in a variety of global and historical contexts. Our faculty specialize in literature, history, anthropology, film, and politics.

SWAGS alum have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields including education, music, consulting, medical research, art education, development, public radio, and non-profit management.

REQUIRED COURSES

Students interested in a SWAGS major need to complete a total of nine courses, three of which are core courses. The three core courses are SWAG 100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender, SWAG 200 Feminist Theory, and SWAG 400 Contemporary Debates.

Our three core courses are typically offered once a year: SWAG 100 is usually offered in the fall semester and SWAG 200 is usually offered in the spring semester. SWAG 400 is offered once a year in the fall or the spring depending on faculty leave schedules and other department needs.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, the SWAGS Department will accept SWAG-160 / POSC-160 Sexualities in International Relations (Fall 2021) or SWAG-163 / HIST-163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture (January 2022) in place of the SWAG-100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender requirement for the major.

SWAG 100 introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

SWAG 200 investigates contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It focuses on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment, and the nation.

SWAG 400 is a research seminar, which culminates in a final research paper. The topic of this course will vary from year to year. Students who have taken this seminar in the past may take it again if the topic is different.

The remaining six electives required to complete the major may be chosen from courses offered by the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Department or from the list of related courses.

ELECTIVES

We offer a wide variety of elective courses in a variety of disciplines. Elective offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.

*Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses and assume no prior knowledge of the subject.

*Courses numbered in the 200s are typically more demanding, but will still tend to be introductory in nature. Some knowledge of women, gender or sexuality is helpful but not usually required.

*Courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are seminar classes which delve deeply into a particular subject area. These courses generally have smaller enrollments. Some include a research component. Some faculty expect students to have already taken two or more courses on women, gender or sexuality.

*If you have a topic or set of interests that you would like to study, which is not covered in a course currently offered at Amherst College, you could look into the possibility of taking a Special Topics course.

*Please check a course’s description for its particular prerequisites.

RECOMMENDED PATHWAY

We recommend that you complete SWAG 100 and SWAG 200 by the end of your sophomore year. SWAG 400 can be taken during your junior or senior year. If you are thinking of doing an honors thesis in SWAGS, then it would be helpful to take SWAG 400 during your junior year as the research component is good preparation for thesis work. Electives can be distributed evenly over your semesters; most of the time you would only need to take one SWAGS course per semester.

EXTERNAL COURSES

An external course is any course that is NOT cross-listed in the Amherst College SWAGS Department, nor listed as a related course, at the time of the student’s enrollment in the course.

External courses, such as courses outside our department and at other colleges and universities, including study away programs, that address sexuality, women and/or gender, may be counted toward the major. A student who wishes to count an external course towards their SWAGS major must consult with their SWAGS advisor and provide their advisor with a course description and syllabus of the external course. If a current syllabus is not available, a syllabus from a previous iteration of the course will suffice. At the advisor’s discretion, the advisor may also ask the student to provide copies of the student’s assignments from the external course (e.g. research paper, essay, final project etc.). If at least 50% or more of the external course addresses women, gender or sexuality, then the advisor can approve the course counting towards the student’s SWAGS major. Copies of all documents should be shared with the ADC to update the department’s records.

Starting with students entering in Fall 2015, up to 3 of the 9 courses that are required for the major may be taken outside the SWAGS Department.

DOUBLE MAJORING

Courses counting towards the SWAGS major may NOT be counted towards another major.

COURSES TAKEN PASS/FAIL

Students should petition the chair of the SWAGS department if they wish to count an FGO or Pass/Fail course towards the major. In the petition the student should explain why they took the course pass/fail and why they are unable to take another course for a grade to fulfill the SWAGS major requirements. A student may take no more than one course FGO (or Pass/Fail) towards the major.

For courses taken in Spring 2020, the SWAGS Department will accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Senior majors not writing theses in SWAGS will satisfy the comprehensive requirement for the major by 1) Assembling a portfolio consisting of three papers written in courses for the SWAGS major. One of your submissions can be a work of poetry, fiction, video, film, art or photography, as long as you include a written analysis of the project. 2) Writing a five-page reflective essay that explains why you have selected these three papers, explores their key themes, and describes the evolution of your thinking about women, gender, and sexuality 3) Discussing your portfolio and reflective essay with members of the SWAGS Department.

The portfolio and its accompanying essay are to be submitted by Monday, April 11, 2022.

WRITING A SWAGS HONORS THESIS

SWAGS theses often cross disciplinary boundaries.  We are a “studies” department because the significance, impact, and construction of gender and sexuality have multiple origins. Our SWAGS honors students have worked on a wide range of topics including reproductive rights, “sex” and “gender” in healthcare, Jewish gender and deviance, masculinity and disability in literature, feminism and Protestantism, and trans activism.

To earn Latin Honors in SWAGS, in addition to the nine courses required for the major, students must write a thesis. Starting with students entering in Fall 2019, students will generally receive credit for one course each semester. SWAGS honors students should take SWAG 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). 

THESIS PROPOSAL

The SWAGS Department will hold an info session in late February for any students who are considering writing a SWAGS thesis. This session is targeted at juniors, but open to all students.

All majors who are considering theses should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the Department can serve as an advisor. A student's choice of thesis topic should be guided by the expertise and interests of our faculty. We have compiled a list of topics on our website that our faculty would welcome advising. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst College or in the Five Colleges may serve on thesis committees.  Junior SWAGS majors who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and/or while abroad.

Prospective thesis writers must use the online form to submit a proposal to the department by Monday, April 18, 2022.

FUNDING

Students often use the summer prior to their senior year to get a head start on their thesis research. Students who wish to dedicate 6 to 8 weeks of their summer to thesis research should consider applying for a summer research fellowship: the Rose Olver Student Research Fund or the Gregory S. Call Summer Student Research Program.

To support all of our thesis writers, the SWAGS Department will reimburse SWAGS thesis writers up to $200 each from department funds for expenses related to their research. All expenses must be approved by the SWAGS Department. Receipts must be provided.

REGISTERING FOR SENIOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

The SWAGS Department will inform students by the end of the semester whether or not their thesis proposal has been approved. Because students may not register for thesis courses until the proposal has been accepted by the department, we suggest that they pre-register for four courses.  They can drop one of them if the department approves the proposal.

Continuation of the thesis course into a second semester is not automatic. Thesis writers must submit at least two draft chapters (to the advisor and the SWAGS Department) by the third Monday in January. The department will inform them whether they have been accepted for a second semester of the thesis program.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

Seniors must submit three copies of their theses, one to their thesis advisor and the others to the SWAGS Department, by the second Monday in April. The thesis should not exceed 100 typed double-spaced pages of text.

Students will participate in an oral discussion with members of the thesis committee.

The final corrected thesis, in bound and electronic form, should be submitted both to the Registrar's Office and the SWAGS Department by TBD.

Detailed guidelines about thesis format and the submission process are included on the Registrar's website.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Students should consider submitting final theses for the Rose Olver Prize and the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize.

 

100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Omitted 2021-22. The Department. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

(Offered as CLAS 111 and SWAG 110) Since its invention in Athens, tragic drama has focused upward on the great or mighty as they fall but also outward on the disempowered as they are for once given public voice: women, slaves, and barbarians. The cosmic forces of fate and the gods play out along social fault lines with conflicting viewpoints. We look to a “hero,” but, changing his mask, a Greek actor could go from god to wife to peasant. This multiplicity complicates itself in modern stagings and films as they cast actors with specific gender and racial identities. Female actors now have indisputable claim on the once-male roles of Antigone, Cassandra, Medea, and Electra, as they do on Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. The dialects of tragic performance are multiple: translationese, Shakespeare, and Spanglish.

In this course we look at the performance of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare in their historical context, as well as at adaptations in film and dance. We also consider remakings of the myths within modern realities, including Antigone in Ferguson; Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (Oedipus); and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada (Medea)Electricidad (Electra), and Oedipus El Rey. For the bodies of comedy, we’ll look at Spike Lee’s recasting of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in Chi Raq.  

The course aims to give students independent command of influential plays, as well as insight into the aesthetics and politics of putting contemporary bodies into classic roles. We consider and apply core concepts relating to the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. 

Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123) We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did folklore and myth develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two take-home, open book tests with time and word limits.

Three class hours per week. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

138 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

145 The Modern World

(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145)  This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

155 Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?

(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TR] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 35 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

(Offered as HIST 163 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. January term. Online-only. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Feminist Theory

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206)  This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.

 GOALS FOR LEARNING

  • Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
  • Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;
  • Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:

1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;

2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.

 No prerequisites. Uncapped.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

(Offered as SWAG 209, ANTH 209, and SOCI 207) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

225 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(Offered as HIST 226 [EU/TC/P], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.

Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Boucher.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2019

228 Feminist Approaches to COVID-19

(Offered as SWAG 228, ANTH 228, HIST 228 [US/TR/TS] and SOCI 228) Taking an interdisciplinary approach to COVID, including approaches from ethnic studies, history, gender studies, bioethics, and more, this course will critically examine and understand our current global health crisis. Themes that we will be exploring include vaccine access, vaccine hesitancy, necropolitics, and racial inequality such as the rise of Asian/Asian American violence and health disparities.

Spring semester. Limited to 30 students. Professors Karkazis and Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/P/C], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

234 Dissecting the Music Video: Dance, Image, and Representation

(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.

Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

236 Queer Migrant Imaginaries

(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition.  Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. 

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of mass incarceration. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS/C] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 38 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

275 Her Story Is: Feminist Approaches to Theater and Performance

(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

(Offered as REL 276 and SWAG 276) Girls playing the bear. Sacred virgins buried alive. Women starving themselves for God. How does each of these occurrences fit within the religious experiences of ancient women? What, if anything, can they tell us about women’s lives? This course explores these and related questions by considering the place of women within the religious frameworks of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. We will examine evidence for women’s religious practices from literary, material, and legal sources, as well as the intersection of religious polemic and discourses about gender. We will also discuss the challenges of reconstructing women’s lives and practices. To do this, we will utilize insights from various disciplines, including religious studies, sociology, gender studies, history, archaeology, and literary studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism.  Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer Theory and Practice

This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

(Offered as ENGL 316 and SWAG 316) “From whence comes my help?” “From where does your strength come?” The psalmist and Adrienne Rich ask these questions, which we will face while we read coming-of-age narratives that fit in a genre known by its German name, the Bildungsroman. These novels go beyond the pilgrimage out of adolescence, and into explicit representation of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual growth experienced in unison with sexual development, awakenings, thrills, mishaps, and marriage. We will pay attention to how we immerse ourselves into the condition of those who grow on the page; not to “identify” with the characters, but to accompany them. From our immersive accompaniment we will re-emerge–intentionally–to write about how we progress, digress, regress, and grow some more. As we read we will explore many terms and theoretical concerns: Erik Erickson on life stages; Donald Winnicott on holding environment and object relation; Jacques Lacan on mirrors and interminability of desire; Silvan Tomkins on affects and nuclear scripts; Shoshana Feldman on re-reading, un-learning, en-gendering, and–again–desire.

Readings will likely include: Plato, Phaedrus; Susan Choi, Trust Exercise; Lazarillo de Tormes; Teresa de Avila, Interior Castle; John Woolman, The Journal; Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook; Richard Powers, The Overstory.

Omitted 2021-22. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

331 The Postcolonial Novel: Gender, Race and Empire

(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

Offered as POSC 349 (Analytic Seminar) and SWAG 349) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

 Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

365 Reading the Romance

(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

372 Indigenous Feminisms

(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

380 Women of Color and the Emergence of U.S. Third World Feminist Left

(Offered as HIST 380 [US/TE/TR/TS], AMST 380 and SWAG 380) This research seminar investigates the history of Asian American women and other women of color solidarities and activisms in the emergence of the U.S. Third World Feminist Left during the 1960s and 1970s. This movement saw ending imperialism and colonialism as a necessary part of their fight against racism, sexism, and capitalism in the United States and beyond and drew inspiration from Third World feminism and decolonization activities.  Third World feminism posits that women's activisms in the Third World do not originate from the ideologies of the First World and specifically centers Third World women's radicalism in their local/national contexts and struggles.  Organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) in New York City, which grew out of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brought together Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian American women in the socialist fight to end imperialism, sexism, capitalism, and racism.  The images of revolutionary Third World women engaged in anti-colonial struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, especially during the Vietnam War era, inspired U.S.-based feminists of color and helped them embrace leftist Third World solidarity politics.  Utilizing the rich archival sources found in the Sophia Smith Collection (TWWA records, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum papers) as well as the Triple Jeopardy newspapers found in the Marshall I. Bloom papers at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, students will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to produce a substantial research project.

Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

381 Global Transgender Histories

(Offered as HIST 381 [TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 381). This seminar will explore the histories of transgender identities, activism, and communities around the world. Some questions to be engaged include: What concepts have been used to understand gender variant, expansive, and nonconforming people throughout history? How have war, violence, and legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and exploitation shaped the terms and conditions by which people of transgender experience and expression understood themselves and were perceived by others? How have transgender people advocated for self-determination, legal rights, and medical care? How has the transgender rights movement intersected with the civil, disability, women’s, and the LGBTQ rights movements? Students will work with primary sources such as newspaper accounts, legal codes, medical journals, religious texts, memoirs, and manifestos as well as pathbreaking historic studies of transgender people in China, England, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and the United States.

One class meeting per week. Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

430 Renaissance Bodies

(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC/TR], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

440 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Dropped. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Recommended: One course in gender/sexuality or anthropology. Open to junior and seniors;  sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Professors Basu†, Karkazis, and Martin; Associate Professors Manion, Polk*, and Shandilya† (Chair Spring 2022); Assistant Professor Peralta.

Professor Bumiller (Political Science) will chair in Fall 2021.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

THE MAJOR

Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies in an interdisciplinary exploration of feminist and queer thought in a variety of global and historical contexts. Our faculty specialize in literature, history, anthropology, film, and politics.

SWAGS alum have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields including education, music, consulting, medical research, art education, development, public radio, and non-profit management.

REQUIRED COURSES

Students interested in a SWAGS major need to complete a total of nine courses, three of which are core courses. The three core courses are SWAG 100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender, SWAG 200 Feminist Theory, and SWAG 400 Contemporary Debates.

Our three core courses are typically offered once a year: SWAG 100 is usually offered in the fall semester and SWAG 200 is usually offered in the spring semester. SWAG 400 is offered once a year in the fall or the spring depending on faculty leave schedules and other department needs.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, the SWAGS Department will accept SWAG-160 / POSC-160 Sexualities in International Relations (Fall 2021) or SWAG-163 / HIST-163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture (January 2022) in place of the SWAG-100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender requirement for the major.

SWAG 100 introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

SWAG 200 investigates contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It focuses on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment, and the nation.

SWAG 400 is a research seminar, which culminates in a final research paper. The topic of this course will vary from year to year. Students who have taken this seminar in the past may take it again if the topic is different.

The remaining six electives required to complete the major may be chosen from courses offered by the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Department or from the list of related courses.

ELECTIVES

We offer a wide variety of elective courses in a variety of disciplines. Elective offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.

*Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses and assume no prior knowledge of the subject.

*Courses numbered in the 200s are typically more demanding, but will still tend to be introductory in nature. Some knowledge of women, gender or sexuality is helpful but not usually required.

*Courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are seminar classes which delve deeply into a particular subject area. These courses generally have smaller enrollments. Some include a research component. Some faculty expect students to have already taken two or more courses on women, gender or sexuality.

*If you have a topic or set of interests that you would like to study, which is not covered in a course currently offered at Amherst College, you could look into the possibility of taking a Special Topics course.

*Please check a course’s description for its particular prerequisites.

RECOMMENDED PATHWAY

We recommend that you complete SWAG 100 and SWAG 200 by the end of your sophomore year. SWAG 400 can be taken during your junior or senior year. If you are thinking of doing an honors thesis in SWAGS, then it would be helpful to take SWAG 400 during your junior year as the research component is good preparation for thesis work. Electives can be distributed evenly over your semesters; most of the time you would only need to take one SWAGS course per semester.

EXTERNAL COURSES

An external course is any course that is NOT cross-listed in the Amherst College SWAGS Department, nor listed as a related course, at the time of the student’s enrollment in the course.

External courses, such as courses outside our department and at other colleges and universities, including study away programs, that address sexuality, women and/or gender, may be counted toward the major. A student who wishes to count an external course towards their SWAGS major must consult with their SWAGS advisor and provide their advisor with a course description and syllabus of the external course. If a current syllabus is not available, a syllabus from a previous iteration of the course will suffice. At the advisor’s discretion, the advisor may also ask the student to provide copies of the student’s assignments from the external course (e.g. research paper, essay, final project etc.). If at least 50% or more of the external course addresses women, gender or sexuality, then the advisor can approve the course counting towards the student’s SWAGS major. Copies of all documents should be shared with the ADC to update the department’s records.

Starting with students entering in Fall 2015, up to 3 of the 9 courses that are required for the major may be taken outside the SWAGS Department.

DOUBLE MAJORING

Courses counting towards the SWAGS major may NOT be counted towards another major.

COURSES TAKEN PASS/FAIL

Students should petition the chair of the SWAGS department if they wish to count an FGO or Pass/Fail course towards the major. In the petition the student should explain why they took the course pass/fail and why they are unable to take another course for a grade to fulfill the SWAGS major requirements. A student may take no more than one course FGO (or Pass/Fail) towards the major.

For courses taken in Spring 2020, the SWAGS Department will accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Senior majors not writing theses in SWAGS will satisfy the comprehensive requirement for the major by 1) Assembling a portfolio consisting of three papers written in courses for the SWAGS major. One of your submissions can be a work of poetry, fiction, video, film, art or photography, as long as you include a written analysis of the project. 2) Writing a five-page reflective essay that explains why you have selected these three papers, explores their key themes, and describes the evolution of your thinking about women, gender, and sexuality 3) Discussing your portfolio and reflective essay with members of the SWAGS Department.

The portfolio and its accompanying essay are to be submitted by Monday, April 11, 2022.

WRITING A SWAGS HONORS THESIS

SWAGS theses often cross disciplinary boundaries.  We are a “studies” department because the significance, impact, and construction of gender and sexuality have multiple origins. Our SWAGS honors students have worked on a wide range of topics including reproductive rights, “sex” and “gender” in healthcare, Jewish gender and deviance, masculinity and disability in literature, feminism and Protestantism, and trans activism.

To earn Latin Honors in SWAGS, in addition to the nine courses required for the major, students must write a thesis. Starting with students entering in Fall 2019, students will generally receive credit for one course each semester. SWAGS honors students should take SWAG 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). 

THESIS PROPOSAL

The SWAGS Department will hold an info session in late February for any students who are considering writing a SWAGS thesis. This session is targeted at juniors, but open to all students.

All majors who are considering theses should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the Department can serve as an advisor. A student's choice of thesis topic should be guided by the expertise and interests of our faculty. We have compiled a list of topics on our website that our faculty would welcome advising. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst College or in the Five Colleges may serve on thesis committees.  Junior SWAGS majors who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and/or while abroad.

Prospective thesis writers must use the online form to submit a proposal to the department by Monday, April 18, 2022.

FUNDING

Students often use the summer prior to their senior year to get a head start on their thesis research. Students who wish to dedicate 6 to 8 weeks of their summer to thesis research should consider applying for a summer research fellowship: the Rose Olver Student Research Fund or the Gregory S. Call Summer Student Research Program.

To support all of our thesis writers, the SWAGS Department will reimburse SWAGS thesis writers up to $200 each from department funds for expenses related to their research. All expenses must be approved by the SWAGS Department. Receipts must be provided.

REGISTERING FOR SENIOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

The SWAGS Department will inform students by the end of the semester whether or not their thesis proposal has been approved. Because students may not register for thesis courses until the proposal has been accepted by the department, we suggest that they pre-register for four courses.  They can drop one of them if the department approves the proposal.

Continuation of the thesis course into a second semester is not automatic. Thesis writers must submit at least two draft chapters (to the advisor and the SWAGS Department) by the third Monday in January. The department will inform them whether they have been accepted for a second semester of the thesis program.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

Seniors must submit three copies of their theses, one to their thesis advisor and the others to the SWAGS Department, by the second Monday in April. The thesis should not exceed 100 typed double-spaced pages of text.

Students will participate in an oral discussion with members of the thesis committee.

The final corrected thesis, in bound and electronic form, should be submitted both to the Registrar's Office and the SWAGS Department by TBD.

Detailed guidelines about thesis format and the submission process are included on the Registrar's website.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Students should consider submitting final theses for the Rose Olver Prize and the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize.

 

100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Omitted 2021-22. The Department. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

(Offered as CLAS 111 and SWAG 110) Since its invention in Athens, tragic drama has focused upward on the great or mighty as they fall but also outward on the disempowered as they are for once given public voice: women, slaves, and barbarians. The cosmic forces of fate and the gods play out along social fault lines with conflicting viewpoints. We look to a “hero,” but, changing his mask, a Greek actor could go from god to wife to peasant. This multiplicity complicates itself in modern stagings and films as they cast actors with specific gender and racial identities. Female actors now have indisputable claim on the once-male roles of Antigone, Cassandra, Medea, and Electra, as they do on Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. The dialects of tragic performance are multiple: translationese, Shakespeare, and Spanglish.

In this course we look at the performance of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare in their historical context, as well as at adaptations in film and dance. We also consider remakings of the myths within modern realities, including Antigone in Ferguson; Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (Oedipus); and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada (Medea)Electricidad (Electra), and Oedipus El Rey. For the bodies of comedy, we’ll look at Spike Lee’s recasting of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in Chi Raq.  

The course aims to give students independent command of influential plays, as well as insight into the aesthetics and politics of putting contemporary bodies into classic roles. We consider and apply core concepts relating to the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. 

Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123) We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did folklore and myth develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two take-home, open book tests with time and word limits.

Three class hours per week. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

138 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

145 The Modern World

(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145)  This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

155 Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?

(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TR] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 35 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

(Offered as HIST 163 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. January term. Online-only. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Feminist Theory

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206)  This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.

 GOALS FOR LEARNING

  • Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
  • Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;
  • Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:

1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;

2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.

 No prerequisites. Uncapped.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

(Offered as SWAG 209, ANTH 209, and SOCI 207) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

225 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(Offered as HIST 226 [EU/TC/P], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.

Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Boucher.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2019

228 Feminist Approaches to COVID-19

(Offered as SWAG 228, ANTH 228, HIST 228 [US/TR/TS] and SOCI 228) Taking an interdisciplinary approach to COVID, including approaches from ethnic studies, history, gender studies, bioethics, and more, this course will critically examine and understand our current global health crisis. Themes that we will be exploring include vaccine access, vaccine hesitancy, necropolitics, and racial inequality such as the rise of Asian/Asian American violence and health disparities.

Spring semester. Limited to 30 students. Professors Karkazis and Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/P/C], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

234 Dissecting the Music Video: Dance, Image, and Representation

(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.

Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

236 Queer Migrant Imaginaries

(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition.  Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. 

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of mass incarceration. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS/C] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 38 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

275 Her Story Is: Feminist Approaches to Theater and Performance

(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

(Offered as REL 276 and SWAG 276) Girls playing the bear. Sacred virgins buried alive. Women starving themselves for God. How does each of these occurrences fit within the religious experiences of ancient women? What, if anything, can they tell us about women’s lives? This course explores these and related questions by considering the place of women within the religious frameworks of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. We will examine evidence for women’s religious practices from literary, material, and legal sources, as well as the intersection of religious polemic and discourses about gender. We will also discuss the challenges of reconstructing women’s lives and practices. To do this, we will utilize insights from various disciplines, including religious studies, sociology, gender studies, history, archaeology, and literary studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism.  Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer Theory and Practice

This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

(Offered as ENGL 316 and SWAG 316) “From whence comes my help?” “From where does your strength come?” The psalmist and Adrienne Rich ask these questions, which we will face while we read coming-of-age narratives that fit in a genre known by its German name, the Bildungsroman. These novels go beyond the pilgrimage out of adolescence, and into explicit representation of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual growth experienced in unison with sexual development, awakenings, thrills, mishaps, and marriage. We will pay attention to how we immerse ourselves into the condition of those who grow on the page; not to “identify” with the characters, but to accompany them. From our immersive accompaniment we will re-emerge–intentionally–to write about how we progress, digress, regress, and grow some more. As we read we will explore many terms and theoretical concerns: Erik Erickson on life stages; Donald Winnicott on holding environment and object relation; Jacques Lacan on mirrors and interminability of desire; Silvan Tomkins on affects and nuclear scripts; Shoshana Feldman on re-reading, un-learning, en-gendering, and–again–desire.

Readings will likely include: Plato, Phaedrus; Susan Choi, Trust Exercise; Lazarillo de Tormes; Teresa de Avila, Interior Castle; John Woolman, The Journal; Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook; Richard Powers, The Overstory.

Omitted 2021-22. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

331 The Postcolonial Novel: Gender, Race and Empire

(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

Offered as POSC 349 (Analytic Seminar) and SWAG 349) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

 Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

365 Reading the Romance

(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

372 Indigenous Feminisms

(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

380 Women of Color and the Emergence of U.S. Third World Feminist Left

(Offered as HIST 380 [US/TE/TR/TS], AMST 380 and SWAG 380) This research seminar investigates the history of Asian American women and other women of color solidarities and activisms in the emergence of the U.S. Third World Feminist Left during the 1960s and 1970s. This movement saw ending imperialism and colonialism as a necessary part of their fight against racism, sexism, and capitalism in the United States and beyond and drew inspiration from Third World feminism and decolonization activities.  Third World feminism posits that women's activisms in the Third World do not originate from the ideologies of the First World and specifically centers Third World women's radicalism in their local/national contexts and struggles.  Organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) in New York City, which grew out of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brought together Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian American women in the socialist fight to end imperialism, sexism, capitalism, and racism.  The images of revolutionary Third World women engaged in anti-colonial struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, especially during the Vietnam War era, inspired U.S.-based feminists of color and helped them embrace leftist Third World solidarity politics.  Utilizing the rich archival sources found in the Sophia Smith Collection (TWWA records, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum papers) as well as the Triple Jeopardy newspapers found in the Marshall I. Bloom papers at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, students will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to produce a substantial research project.

Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

381 Global Transgender Histories

(Offered as HIST 381 [TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 381). This seminar will explore the histories of transgender identities, activism, and communities around the world. Some questions to be engaged include: What concepts have been used to understand gender variant, expansive, and nonconforming people throughout history? How have war, violence, and legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and exploitation shaped the terms and conditions by which people of transgender experience and expression understood themselves and were perceived by others? How have transgender people advocated for self-determination, legal rights, and medical care? How has the transgender rights movement intersected with the civil, disability, women’s, and the LGBTQ rights movements? Students will work with primary sources such as newspaper accounts, legal codes, medical journals, religious texts, memoirs, and manifestos as well as pathbreaking historic studies of transgender people in China, England, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and the United States.

One class meeting per week. Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

430 Renaissance Bodies

(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC/TR], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

440 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Dropped. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Recommended: One course in gender/sexuality or anthropology. Open to junior and seniors;  sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Professors Basu†, Karkazis, and Martin; Associate Professors Manion, Polk*, and Shandilya† (Chair Spring 2022); Assistant Professor Peralta.

Professor Bumiller (Political Science) will chair in Fall 2021.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

THE MAJOR

Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies in an interdisciplinary exploration of feminist and queer thought in a variety of global and historical contexts. Our faculty specialize in literature, history, anthropology, film, and politics.

SWAGS alum have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields including education, music, consulting, medical research, art education, development, public radio, and non-profit management.

REQUIRED COURSES

Students interested in a SWAGS major need to complete a total of nine courses, three of which are core courses. The three core courses are SWAG 100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender, SWAG 200 Feminist Theory, and SWAG 400 Contemporary Debates.

Our three core courses are typically offered once a year: SWAG 100 is usually offered in the fall semester and SWAG 200 is usually offered in the spring semester. SWAG 400 is offered once a year in the fall or the spring depending on faculty leave schedules and other department needs.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, the SWAGS Department will accept SWAG-160 / POSC-160 Sexualities in International Relations (Fall 2021) or SWAG-163 / HIST-163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture (January 2022) in place of the SWAG-100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender requirement for the major.

SWAG 100 introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

SWAG 200 investigates contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It focuses on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment, and the nation.

SWAG 400 is a research seminar, which culminates in a final research paper. The topic of this course will vary from year to year. Students who have taken this seminar in the past may take it again if the topic is different.

The remaining six electives required to complete the major may be chosen from courses offered by the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Department or from the list of related courses.

ELECTIVES

We offer a wide variety of elective courses in a variety of disciplines. Elective offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.

*Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses and assume no prior knowledge of the subject.

*Courses numbered in the 200s are typically more demanding, but will still tend to be introductory in nature. Some knowledge of women, gender or sexuality is helpful but not usually required.

*Courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are seminar classes which delve deeply into a particular subject area. These courses generally have smaller enrollments. Some include a research component. Some faculty expect students to have already taken two or more courses on women, gender or sexuality.

*If you have a topic or set of interests that you would like to study, which is not covered in a course currently offered at Amherst College, you could look into the possibility of taking a Special Topics course.

*Please check a course’s description for its particular prerequisites.

RECOMMENDED PATHWAY

We recommend that you complete SWAG 100 and SWAG 200 by the end of your sophomore year. SWAG 400 can be taken during your junior or senior year. If you are thinking of doing an honors thesis in SWAGS, then it would be helpful to take SWAG 400 during your junior year as the research component is good preparation for thesis work. Electives can be distributed evenly over your semesters; most of the time you would only need to take one SWAGS course per semester.

EXTERNAL COURSES

An external course is any course that is NOT cross-listed in the Amherst College SWAGS Department, nor listed as a related course, at the time of the student’s enrollment in the course.

External courses, such as courses outside our department and at other colleges and universities, including study away programs, that address sexuality, women and/or gender, may be counted toward the major. A student who wishes to count an external course towards their SWAGS major must consult with their SWAGS advisor and provide their advisor with a course description and syllabus of the external course. If a current syllabus is not available, a syllabus from a previous iteration of the course will suffice. At the advisor’s discretion, the advisor may also ask the student to provide copies of the student’s assignments from the external course (e.g. research paper, essay, final project etc.). If at least 50% or more of the external course addresses women, gender or sexuality, then the advisor can approve the course counting towards the student’s SWAGS major. Copies of all documents should be shared with the ADC to update the department’s records.

Starting with students entering in Fall 2015, up to 3 of the 9 courses that are required for the major may be taken outside the SWAGS Department.

DOUBLE MAJORING

Courses counting towards the SWAGS major may NOT be counted towards another major.

COURSES TAKEN PASS/FAIL

Students should petition the chair of the SWAGS department if they wish to count an FGO or Pass/Fail course towards the major. In the petition the student should explain why they took the course pass/fail and why they are unable to take another course for a grade to fulfill the SWAGS major requirements. A student may take no more than one course FGO (or Pass/Fail) towards the major.

For courses taken in Spring 2020, the SWAGS Department will accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Senior majors not writing theses in SWAGS will satisfy the comprehensive requirement for the major by 1) Assembling a portfolio consisting of three papers written in courses for the SWAGS major. One of your submissions can be a work of poetry, fiction, video, film, art or photography, as long as you include a written analysis of the project. 2) Writing a five-page reflective essay that explains why you have selected these three papers, explores their key themes, and describes the evolution of your thinking about women, gender, and sexuality 3) Discussing your portfolio and reflective essay with members of the SWAGS Department.

The portfolio and its accompanying essay are to be submitted by Monday, April 11, 2022.

WRITING A SWAGS HONORS THESIS

SWAGS theses often cross disciplinary boundaries.  We are a “studies” department because the significance, impact, and construction of gender and sexuality have multiple origins. Our SWAGS honors students have worked on a wide range of topics including reproductive rights, “sex” and “gender” in healthcare, Jewish gender and deviance, masculinity and disability in literature, feminism and Protestantism, and trans activism.

To earn Latin Honors in SWAGS, in addition to the nine courses required for the major, students must write a thesis. Starting with students entering in Fall 2019, students will generally receive credit for one course each semester. SWAGS honors students should take SWAG 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). 

THESIS PROPOSAL

The SWAGS Department will hold an info session in late February for any students who are considering writing a SWAGS thesis. This session is targeted at juniors, but open to all students.

All majors who are considering theses should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the Department can serve as an advisor. A student's choice of thesis topic should be guided by the expertise and interests of our faculty. We have compiled a list of topics on our website that our faculty would welcome advising. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst College or in the Five Colleges may serve on thesis committees.  Junior SWAGS majors who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and/or while abroad.

Prospective thesis writers must use the online form to submit a proposal to the department by Monday, April 18, 2022.

FUNDING

Students often use the summer prior to their senior year to get a head start on their thesis research. Students who wish to dedicate 6 to 8 weeks of their summer to thesis research should consider applying for a summer research fellowship: the Rose Olver Student Research Fund or the Gregory S. Call Summer Student Research Program.

To support all of our thesis writers, the SWAGS Department will reimburse SWAGS thesis writers up to $200 each from department funds for expenses related to their research. All expenses must be approved by the SWAGS Department. Receipts must be provided.

REGISTERING FOR SENIOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

The SWAGS Department will inform students by the end of the semester whether or not their thesis proposal has been approved. Because students may not register for thesis courses until the proposal has been accepted by the department, we suggest that they pre-register for four courses.  They can drop one of them if the department approves the proposal.

Continuation of the thesis course into a second semester is not automatic. Thesis writers must submit at least two draft chapters (to the advisor and the SWAGS Department) by the third Monday in January. The department will inform them whether they have been accepted for a second semester of the thesis program.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

Seniors must submit three copies of their theses, one to their thesis advisor and the others to the SWAGS Department, by the second Monday in April. The thesis should not exceed 100 typed double-spaced pages of text.

Students will participate in an oral discussion with members of the thesis committee.

The final corrected thesis, in bound and electronic form, should be submitted both to the Registrar's Office and the SWAGS Department by TBD.

Detailed guidelines about thesis format and the submission process are included on the Registrar's website.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Students should consider submitting final theses for the Rose Olver Prize and the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize.

 

100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Omitted 2021-22. The Department. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

(Offered as CLAS 111 and SWAG 110) Since its invention in Athens, tragic drama has focused upward on the great or mighty as they fall but also outward on the disempowered as they are for once given public voice: women, slaves, and barbarians. The cosmic forces of fate and the gods play out along social fault lines with conflicting viewpoints. We look to a “hero,” but, changing his mask, a Greek actor could go from god to wife to peasant. This multiplicity complicates itself in modern stagings and films as they cast actors with specific gender and racial identities. Female actors now have indisputable claim on the once-male roles of Antigone, Cassandra, Medea, and Electra, as they do on Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. The dialects of tragic performance are multiple: translationese, Shakespeare, and Spanglish.

In this course we look at the performance of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare in their historical context, as well as at adaptations in film and dance. We also consider remakings of the myths within modern realities, including Antigone in Ferguson; Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (Oedipus); and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada (Medea)Electricidad (Electra), and Oedipus El Rey. For the bodies of comedy, we’ll look at Spike Lee’s recasting of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in Chi Raq.  

The course aims to give students independent command of influential plays, as well as insight into the aesthetics and politics of putting contemporary bodies into classic roles. We consider and apply core concepts relating to the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. 

Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123) We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did folklore and myth develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two take-home, open book tests with time and word limits.

Three class hours per week. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

138 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

145 The Modern World

(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145)  This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

155 Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?

(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TR] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 35 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

(Offered as HIST 163 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. January term. Online-only. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Feminist Theory

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206)  This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.

 GOALS FOR LEARNING

  • Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
  • Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;
  • Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:

1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;

2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.

 No prerequisites. Uncapped.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

(Offered as SWAG 209, ANTH 209, and SOCI 207) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

225 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(Offered as HIST 226 [EU/TC/P], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.

Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Boucher.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2019

228 Feminist Approaches to COVID-19

(Offered as SWAG 228, ANTH 228, HIST 228 [US/TR/TS] and SOCI 228) Taking an interdisciplinary approach to COVID, including approaches from ethnic studies, history, gender studies, bioethics, and more, this course will critically examine and understand our current global health crisis. Themes that we will be exploring include vaccine access, vaccine hesitancy, necropolitics, and racial inequality such as the rise of Asian/Asian American violence and health disparities.

Spring semester. Limited to 30 students. Professors Karkazis and Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/P/C], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

234 Dissecting the Music Video: Dance, Image, and Representation

(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.

Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

236 Queer Migrant Imaginaries

(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition.  Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. 

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of mass incarceration. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS/C] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 38 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

275 Her Story Is: Feminist Approaches to Theater and Performance

(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

(Offered as REL 276 and SWAG 276) Girls playing the bear. Sacred virgins buried alive. Women starving themselves for God. How does each of these occurrences fit within the religious experiences of ancient women? What, if anything, can they tell us about women’s lives? This course explores these and related questions by considering the place of women within the religious frameworks of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. We will examine evidence for women’s religious practices from literary, material, and legal sources, as well as the intersection of religious polemic and discourses about gender. We will also discuss the challenges of reconstructing women’s lives and practices. To do this, we will utilize insights from various disciplines, including religious studies, sociology, gender studies, history, archaeology, and literary studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism.  Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer Theory and Practice

This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

(Offered as ENGL 316 and SWAG 316) “From whence comes my help?” “From where does your strength come?” The psalmist and Adrienne Rich ask these questions, which we will face while we read coming-of-age narratives that fit in a genre known by its German name, the Bildungsroman. These novels go beyond the pilgrimage out of adolescence, and into explicit representation of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual growth experienced in unison with sexual development, awakenings, thrills, mishaps, and marriage. We will pay attention to how we immerse ourselves into the condition of those who grow on the page; not to “identify” with the characters, but to accompany them. From our immersive accompaniment we will re-emerge–intentionally–to write about how we progress, digress, regress, and grow some more. As we read we will explore many terms and theoretical concerns: Erik Erickson on life stages; Donald Winnicott on holding environment and object relation; Jacques Lacan on mirrors and interminability of desire; Silvan Tomkins on affects and nuclear scripts; Shoshana Feldman on re-reading, un-learning, en-gendering, and–again–desire.

Readings will likely include: Plato, Phaedrus; Susan Choi, Trust Exercise; Lazarillo de Tormes; Teresa de Avila, Interior Castle; John Woolman, The Journal; Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook; Richard Powers, The Overstory.

Omitted 2021-22. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

331 The Postcolonial Novel: Gender, Race and Empire

(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

Offered as POSC 349 (Analytic Seminar) and SWAG 349) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

 Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

365 Reading the Romance

(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

372 Indigenous Feminisms

(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

380 Women of Color and the Emergence of U.S. Third World Feminist Left

(Offered as HIST 380 [US/TE/TR/TS], AMST 380 and SWAG 380) This research seminar investigates the history of Asian American women and other women of color solidarities and activisms in the emergence of the U.S. Third World Feminist Left during the 1960s and 1970s. This movement saw ending imperialism and colonialism as a necessary part of their fight against racism, sexism, and capitalism in the United States and beyond and drew inspiration from Third World feminism and decolonization activities.  Third World feminism posits that women's activisms in the Third World do not originate from the ideologies of the First World and specifically centers Third World women's radicalism in their local/national contexts and struggles.  Organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) in New York City, which grew out of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brought together Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian American women in the socialist fight to end imperialism, sexism, capitalism, and racism.  The images of revolutionary Third World women engaged in anti-colonial struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, especially during the Vietnam War era, inspired U.S.-based feminists of color and helped them embrace leftist Third World solidarity politics.  Utilizing the rich archival sources found in the Sophia Smith Collection (TWWA records, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum papers) as well as the Triple Jeopardy newspapers found in the Marshall I. Bloom papers at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, students will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to produce a substantial research project.

Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

381 Global Transgender Histories

(Offered as HIST 381 [TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 381). This seminar will explore the histories of transgender identities, activism, and communities around the world. Some questions to be engaged include: What concepts have been used to understand gender variant, expansive, and nonconforming people throughout history? How have war, violence, and legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and exploitation shaped the terms and conditions by which people of transgender experience and expression understood themselves and were perceived by others? How have transgender people advocated for self-determination, legal rights, and medical care? How has the transgender rights movement intersected with the civil, disability, women’s, and the LGBTQ rights movements? Students will work with primary sources such as newspaper accounts, legal codes, medical journals, religious texts, memoirs, and manifestos as well as pathbreaking historic studies of transgender people in China, England, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and the United States.

One class meeting per week. Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

430 Renaissance Bodies

(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC/TR], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

440 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Dropped. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Recommended: One course in gender/sexuality or anthropology. Open to junior and seniors;  sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses

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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Professors Basu†, Karkazis, and Martin; Associate Professors Manion, Polk*, and Shandilya† (Chair Spring 2022); Assistant Professor Peralta.

Professor Bumiller (Political Science) will chair in Fall 2021.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

THE MAJOR

Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies in an interdisciplinary exploration of feminist and queer thought in a variety of global and historical contexts. Our faculty specialize in literature, history, anthropology, film, and politics.

SWAGS alum have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields including education, music, consulting, medical research, art education, development, public radio, and non-profit management.

REQUIRED COURSES

Students interested in a SWAGS major need to complete a total of nine courses, three of which are core courses. The three core courses are SWAG 100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender, SWAG 200 Feminist Theory, and SWAG 400 Contemporary Debates.

Our three core courses are typically offered once a year: SWAG 100 is usually offered in the fall semester and SWAG 200 is usually offered in the spring semester. SWAG 400 is offered once a year in the fall or the spring depending on faculty leave schedules and other department needs.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, the SWAGS Department will accept SWAG-160 / POSC-160 Sexualities in International Relations (Fall 2021) or SWAG-163 / HIST-163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture (January 2022) in place of the SWAG-100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender requirement for the major.

SWAG 100 introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

SWAG 200 investigates contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It focuses on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment, and the nation.

SWAG 400 is a research seminar, which culminates in a final research paper. The topic of this course will vary from year to year. Students who have taken this seminar in the past may take it again if the topic is different.

The remaining six electives required to complete the major may be chosen from courses offered by the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Department or from the list of related courses.

ELECTIVES

We offer a wide variety of elective courses in a variety of disciplines. Elective offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.

*Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses and assume no prior knowledge of the subject.

*Courses numbered in the 200s are typically more demanding, but will still tend to be introductory in nature. Some knowledge of women, gender or sexuality is helpful but not usually required.

*Courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are seminar classes which delve deeply into a particular subject area. These courses generally have smaller enrollments. Some include a research component. Some faculty expect students to have already taken two or more courses on women, gender or sexuality.

*If you have a topic or set of interests that you would like to study, which is not covered in a course currently offered at Amherst College, you could look into the possibility of taking a Special Topics course.

*Please check a course’s description for its particular prerequisites.

RECOMMENDED PATHWAY

We recommend that you complete SWAG 100 and SWAG 200 by the end of your sophomore year. SWAG 400 can be taken during your junior or senior year. If you are thinking of doing an honors thesis in SWAGS, then it would be helpful to take SWAG 400 during your junior year as the research component is good preparation for thesis work. Electives can be distributed evenly over your semesters; most of the time you would only need to take one SWAGS course per semester.

EXTERNAL COURSES

An external course is any course that is NOT cross-listed in the Amherst College SWAGS Department, nor listed as a related course, at the time of the student’s enrollment in the course.

External courses, such as courses outside our department and at other colleges and universities, including study away programs, that address sexuality, women and/or gender, may be counted toward the major. A student who wishes to count an external course towards their SWAGS major must consult with their SWAGS advisor and provide their advisor with a course description and syllabus of the external course. If a current syllabus is not available, a syllabus from a previous iteration of the course will suffice. At the advisor’s discretion, the advisor may also ask the student to provide copies of the student’s assignments from the external course (e.g. research paper, essay, final project etc.). If at least 50% or more of the external course addresses women, gender or sexuality, then the advisor can approve the course counting towards the student’s SWAGS major. Copies of all documents should be shared with the ADC to update the department’s records.

Starting with students entering in Fall 2015, up to 3 of the 9 courses that are required for the major may be taken outside the SWAGS Department.

DOUBLE MAJORING

Courses counting towards the SWAGS major may NOT be counted towards another major.

COURSES TAKEN PASS/FAIL

Students should petition the chair of the SWAGS department if they wish to count an FGO or Pass/Fail course towards the major. In the petition the student should explain why they took the course pass/fail and why they are unable to take another course for a grade to fulfill the SWAGS major requirements. A student may take no more than one course FGO (or Pass/Fail) towards the major.

For courses taken in Spring 2020, the SWAGS Department will accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Senior majors not writing theses in SWAGS will satisfy the comprehensive requirement for the major by 1) Assembling a portfolio consisting of three papers written in courses for the SWAGS major. One of your submissions can be a work of poetry, fiction, video, film, art or photography, as long as you include a written analysis of the project. 2) Writing a five-page reflective essay that explains why you have selected these three papers, explores their key themes, and describes the evolution of your thinking about women, gender, and sexuality 3) Discussing your portfolio and reflective essay with members of the SWAGS Department.

The portfolio and its accompanying essay are to be submitted by Monday, April 11, 2022.

WRITING A SWAGS HONORS THESIS

SWAGS theses often cross disciplinary boundaries.  We are a “studies” department because the significance, impact, and construction of gender and sexuality have multiple origins. Our SWAGS honors students have worked on a wide range of topics including reproductive rights, “sex” and “gender” in healthcare, Jewish gender and deviance, masculinity and disability in literature, feminism and Protestantism, and trans activism.

To earn Latin Honors in SWAGS, in addition to the nine courses required for the major, students must write a thesis. Starting with students entering in Fall 2019, students will generally receive credit for one course each semester. SWAGS honors students should take SWAG 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). 

THESIS PROPOSAL

The SWAGS Department will hold an info session in late February for any students who are considering writing a SWAGS thesis. This session is targeted at juniors, but open to all students.

All majors who are considering theses should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the Department can serve as an advisor. A student's choice of thesis topic should be guided by the expertise and interests of our faculty. We have compiled a list of topics on our website that our faculty would welcome advising. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst College or in the Five Colleges may serve on thesis committees.  Junior SWAGS majors who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and/or while abroad.

Prospective thesis writers must use the online form to submit a proposal to the department by Monday, April 18, 2022.

FUNDING

Students often use the summer prior to their senior year to get a head start on their thesis research. Students who wish to dedicate 6 to 8 weeks of their summer to thesis research should consider applying for a summer research fellowship: the Rose Olver Student Research Fund or the Gregory S. Call Summer Student Research Program.

To support all of our thesis writers, the SWAGS Department will reimburse SWAGS thesis writers up to $200 each from department funds for expenses related to their research. All expenses must be approved by the SWAGS Department. Receipts must be provided.

REGISTERING FOR SENIOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

The SWAGS Department will inform students by the end of the semester whether or not their thesis proposal has been approved. Because students may not register for thesis courses until the proposal has been accepted by the department, we suggest that they pre-register for four courses.  They can drop one of them if the department approves the proposal.

Continuation of the thesis course into a second semester is not automatic. Thesis writers must submit at least two draft chapters (to the advisor and the SWAGS Department) by the third Monday in January. The department will inform them whether they have been accepted for a second semester of the thesis program.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

Seniors must submit three copies of their theses, one to their thesis advisor and the others to the SWAGS Department, by the second Monday in April. The thesis should not exceed 100 typed double-spaced pages of text.

Students will participate in an oral discussion with members of the thesis committee.

The final corrected thesis, in bound and electronic form, should be submitted both to the Registrar's Office and the SWAGS Department by TBD.

Detailed guidelines about thesis format and the submission process are included on the Registrar's website.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Students should consider submitting final theses for the Rose Olver Prize and the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize.

 

100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Omitted 2021-22. The Department. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

(Offered as CLAS 111 and SWAG 110) Since its invention in Athens, tragic drama has focused upward on the great or mighty as they fall but also outward on the disempowered as they are for once given public voice: women, slaves, and barbarians. The cosmic forces of fate and the gods play out along social fault lines with conflicting viewpoints. We look to a “hero,” but, changing his mask, a Greek actor could go from god to wife to peasant. This multiplicity complicates itself in modern stagings and films as they cast actors with specific gender and racial identities. Female actors now have indisputable claim on the once-male roles of Antigone, Cassandra, Medea, and Electra, as they do on Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. The dialects of tragic performance are multiple: translationese, Shakespeare, and Spanglish.

In this course we look at the performance of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare in their historical context, as well as at adaptations in film and dance. We also consider remakings of the myths within modern realities, including Antigone in Ferguson; Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (Oedipus); and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada (Medea)Electricidad (Electra), and Oedipus El Rey. For the bodies of comedy, we’ll look at Spike Lee’s recasting of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in Chi Raq.  

The course aims to give students independent command of influential plays, as well as insight into the aesthetics and politics of putting contemporary bodies into classic roles. We consider and apply core concepts relating to the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. 

Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123) We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did folklore and myth develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two take-home, open book tests with time and word limits.

Three class hours per week. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

138 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

145 The Modern World

(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145)  This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

155 Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?

(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TR] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 35 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

(Offered as HIST 163 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. January term. Online-only. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Feminist Theory

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206)  This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.

 GOALS FOR LEARNING

  • Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
  • Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;
  • Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:

1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;

2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.

 No prerequisites. Uncapped.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

(Offered as SWAG 209, ANTH 209, and SOCI 207) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

225 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(Offered as HIST 226 [EU/TC/P], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.

Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Boucher.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2019

228 Feminist Approaches to COVID-19

(Offered as SWAG 228, ANTH 228, HIST 228 [US/TR/TS] and SOCI 228) Taking an interdisciplinary approach to COVID, including approaches from ethnic studies, history, gender studies, bioethics, and more, this course will critically examine and understand our current global health crisis. Themes that we will be exploring include vaccine access, vaccine hesitancy, necropolitics, and racial inequality such as the rise of Asian/Asian American violence and health disparities.

Spring semester. Limited to 30 students. Professors Karkazis and Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/P/C], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

234 Dissecting the Music Video: Dance, Image, and Representation

(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.

Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

236 Queer Migrant Imaginaries

(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition.  Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. 

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of mass incarceration. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS/C] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 38 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

275 Her Story Is: Feminist Approaches to Theater and Performance

(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

(Offered as REL 276 and SWAG 276) Girls playing the bear. Sacred virgins buried alive. Women starving themselves for God. How does each of these occurrences fit within the religious experiences of ancient women? What, if anything, can they tell us about women’s lives? This course explores these and related questions by considering the place of women within the religious frameworks of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. We will examine evidence for women’s religious practices from literary, material, and legal sources, as well as the intersection of religious polemic and discourses about gender. We will also discuss the challenges of reconstructing women’s lives and practices. To do this, we will utilize insights from various disciplines, including religious studies, sociology, gender studies, history, archaeology, and literary studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism.  Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer Theory and Practice

This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

(Offered as ENGL 316 and SWAG 316) “From whence comes my help?” “From where does your strength come?” The psalmist and Adrienne Rich ask these questions, which we will face while we read coming-of-age narratives that fit in a genre known by its German name, the Bildungsroman. These novels go beyond the pilgrimage out of adolescence, and into explicit representation of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual growth experienced in unison with sexual development, awakenings, thrills, mishaps, and marriage. We will pay attention to how we immerse ourselves into the condition of those who grow on the page; not to “identify” with the characters, but to accompany them. From our immersive accompaniment we will re-emerge–intentionally–to write about how we progress, digress, regress, and grow some more. As we read we will explore many terms and theoretical concerns: Erik Erickson on life stages; Donald Winnicott on holding environment and object relation; Jacques Lacan on mirrors and interminability of desire; Silvan Tomkins on affects and nuclear scripts; Shoshana Feldman on re-reading, un-learning, en-gendering, and–again–desire.

Readings will likely include: Plato, Phaedrus; Susan Choi, Trust Exercise; Lazarillo de Tormes; Teresa de Avila, Interior Castle; John Woolman, The Journal; Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook; Richard Powers, The Overstory.

Omitted 2021-22. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

331 The Postcolonial Novel: Gender, Race and Empire

(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

Offered as POSC 349 (Analytic Seminar) and SWAG 349) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

 Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

365 Reading the Romance

(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

372 Indigenous Feminisms

(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

380 Women of Color and the Emergence of U.S. Third World Feminist Left

(Offered as HIST 380 [US/TE/TR/TS], AMST 380 and SWAG 380) This research seminar investigates the history of Asian American women and other women of color solidarities and activisms in the emergence of the U.S. Third World Feminist Left during the 1960s and 1970s. This movement saw ending imperialism and colonialism as a necessary part of their fight against racism, sexism, and capitalism in the United States and beyond and drew inspiration from Third World feminism and decolonization activities.  Third World feminism posits that women's activisms in the Third World do not originate from the ideologies of the First World and specifically centers Third World women's radicalism in their local/national contexts and struggles.  Organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) in New York City, which grew out of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brought together Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian American women in the socialist fight to end imperialism, sexism, capitalism, and racism.  The images of revolutionary Third World women engaged in anti-colonial struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, especially during the Vietnam War era, inspired U.S.-based feminists of color and helped them embrace leftist Third World solidarity politics.  Utilizing the rich archival sources found in the Sophia Smith Collection (TWWA records, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum papers) as well as the Triple Jeopardy newspapers found in the Marshall I. Bloom papers at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, students will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to produce a substantial research project.

Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

381 Global Transgender Histories

(Offered as HIST 381 [TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 381). This seminar will explore the histories of transgender identities, activism, and communities around the world. Some questions to be engaged include: What concepts have been used to understand gender variant, expansive, and nonconforming people throughout history? How have war, violence, and legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and exploitation shaped the terms and conditions by which people of transgender experience and expression understood themselves and were perceived by others? How have transgender people advocated for self-determination, legal rights, and medical care? How has the transgender rights movement intersected with the civil, disability, women’s, and the LGBTQ rights movements? Students will work with primary sources such as newspaper accounts, legal codes, medical journals, religious texts, memoirs, and manifestos as well as pathbreaking historic studies of transgender people in China, England, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and the United States.

One class meeting per week. Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

430 Renaissance Bodies

(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC/TR], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

440 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Dropped. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Recommended: One course in gender/sexuality or anthropology. Open to junior and seniors;  sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Professors Basu†, Karkazis, and Martin; Associate Professors Manion, Polk*, and Shandilya† (Chair Spring 2022); Assistant Professor Peralta.

Professor Bumiller (Political Science) will chair in Fall 2021.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

THE MAJOR

Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies in an interdisciplinary exploration of feminist and queer thought in a variety of global and historical contexts. Our faculty specialize in literature, history, anthropology, film, and politics.

SWAGS alum have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields including education, music, consulting, medical research, art education, development, public radio, and non-profit management.

REQUIRED COURSES

Students interested in a SWAGS major need to complete a total of nine courses, three of which are core courses. The three core courses are SWAG 100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender, SWAG 200 Feminist Theory, and SWAG 400 Contemporary Debates.

Our three core courses are typically offered once a year: SWAG 100 is usually offered in the fall semester and SWAG 200 is usually offered in the spring semester. SWAG 400 is offered once a year in the fall or the spring depending on faculty leave schedules and other department needs.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, the SWAGS Department will accept SWAG-160 / POSC-160 Sexualities in International Relations (Fall 2021) or SWAG-163 / HIST-163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture (January 2022) in place of the SWAG-100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender requirement for the major.

SWAG 100 introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

SWAG 200 investigates contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It focuses on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment, and the nation.

SWAG 400 is a research seminar, which culminates in a final research paper. The topic of this course will vary from year to year. Students who have taken this seminar in the past may take it again if the topic is different.

The remaining six electives required to complete the major may be chosen from courses offered by the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Department or from the list of related courses.

ELECTIVES

We offer a wide variety of elective courses in a variety of disciplines. Elective offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.

*Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses and assume no prior knowledge of the subject.

*Courses numbered in the 200s are typically more demanding, but will still tend to be introductory in nature. Some knowledge of women, gender or sexuality is helpful but not usually required.

*Courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are seminar classes which delve deeply into a particular subject area. These courses generally have smaller enrollments. Some include a research component. Some faculty expect students to have already taken two or more courses on women, gender or sexuality.

*If you have a topic or set of interests that you would like to study, which is not covered in a course currently offered at Amherst College, you could look into the possibility of taking a Special Topics course.

*Please check a course’s description for its particular prerequisites.

RECOMMENDED PATHWAY

We recommend that you complete SWAG 100 and SWAG 200 by the end of your sophomore year. SWAG 400 can be taken during your junior or senior year. If you are thinking of doing an honors thesis in SWAGS, then it would be helpful to take SWAG 400 during your junior year as the research component is good preparation for thesis work. Electives can be distributed evenly over your semesters; most of the time you would only need to take one SWAGS course per semester.

EXTERNAL COURSES

An external course is any course that is NOT cross-listed in the Amherst College SWAGS Department, nor listed as a related course, at the time of the student’s enrollment in the course.

External courses, such as courses outside our department and at other colleges and universities, including study away programs, that address sexuality, women and/or gender, may be counted toward the major. A student who wishes to count an external course towards their SWAGS major must consult with their SWAGS advisor and provide their advisor with a course description and syllabus of the external course. If a current syllabus is not available, a syllabus from a previous iteration of the course will suffice. At the advisor’s discretion, the advisor may also ask the student to provide copies of the student’s assignments from the external course (e.g. research paper, essay, final project etc.). If at least 50% or more of the external course addresses women, gender or sexuality, then the advisor can approve the course counting towards the student’s SWAGS major. Copies of all documents should be shared with the ADC to update the department’s records.

Starting with students entering in Fall 2015, up to 3 of the 9 courses that are required for the major may be taken outside the SWAGS Department.

DOUBLE MAJORING

Courses counting towards the SWAGS major may NOT be counted towards another major.

COURSES TAKEN PASS/FAIL

Students should petition the chair of the SWAGS department if they wish to count an FGO or Pass/Fail course towards the major. In the petition the student should explain why they took the course pass/fail and why they are unable to take another course for a grade to fulfill the SWAGS major requirements. A student may take no more than one course FGO (or Pass/Fail) towards the major.

For courses taken in Spring 2020, the SWAGS Department will accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Senior majors not writing theses in SWAGS will satisfy the comprehensive requirement for the major by 1) Assembling a portfolio consisting of three papers written in courses for the SWAGS major. One of your submissions can be a work of poetry, fiction, video, film, art or photography, as long as you include a written analysis of the project. 2) Writing a five-page reflective essay that explains why you have selected these three papers, explores their key themes, and describes the evolution of your thinking about women, gender, and sexuality 3) Discussing your portfolio and reflective essay with members of the SWAGS Department.

The portfolio and its accompanying essay are to be submitted by Monday, April 11, 2022.

WRITING A SWAGS HONORS THESIS

SWAGS theses often cross disciplinary boundaries.  We are a “studies” department because the significance, impact, and construction of gender and sexuality have multiple origins. Our SWAGS honors students have worked on a wide range of topics including reproductive rights, “sex” and “gender” in healthcare, Jewish gender and deviance, masculinity and disability in literature, feminism and Protestantism, and trans activism.

To earn Latin Honors in SWAGS, in addition to the nine courses required for the major, students must write a thesis. Starting with students entering in Fall 2019, students will generally receive credit for one course each semester. SWAGS honors students should take SWAG 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). 

THESIS PROPOSAL

The SWAGS Department will hold an info session in late February for any students who are considering writing a SWAGS thesis. This session is targeted at juniors, but open to all students.

All majors who are considering theses should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the Department can serve as an advisor. A student's choice of thesis topic should be guided by the expertise and interests of our faculty. We have compiled a list of topics on our website that our faculty would welcome advising. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst College or in the Five Colleges may serve on thesis committees.  Junior SWAGS majors who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and/or while abroad.

Prospective thesis writers must use the online form to submit a proposal to the department by Monday, April 18, 2022.

FUNDING

Students often use the summer prior to their senior year to get a head start on their thesis research. Students who wish to dedicate 6 to 8 weeks of their summer to thesis research should consider applying for a summer research fellowship: the Rose Olver Student Research Fund or the Gregory S. Call Summer Student Research Program.

To support all of our thesis writers, the SWAGS Department will reimburse SWAGS thesis writers up to $200 each from department funds for expenses related to their research. All expenses must be approved by the SWAGS Department. Receipts must be provided.

REGISTERING FOR SENIOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

The SWAGS Department will inform students by the end of the semester whether or not their thesis proposal has been approved. Because students may not register for thesis courses until the proposal has been accepted by the department, we suggest that they pre-register for four courses.  They can drop one of them if the department approves the proposal.

Continuation of the thesis course into a second semester is not automatic. Thesis writers must submit at least two draft chapters (to the advisor and the SWAGS Department) by the third Monday in January. The department will inform them whether they have been accepted for a second semester of the thesis program.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

Seniors must submit three copies of their theses, one to their thesis advisor and the others to the SWAGS Department, by the second Monday in April. The thesis should not exceed 100 typed double-spaced pages of text.

Students will participate in an oral discussion with members of the thesis committee.

The final corrected thesis, in bound and electronic form, should be submitted both to the Registrar's Office and the SWAGS Department by TBD.

Detailed guidelines about thesis format and the submission process are included on the Registrar's website.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Students should consider submitting final theses for the Rose Olver Prize and the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize.

 

100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Omitted 2021-22. The Department. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

(Offered as CLAS 111 and SWAG 110) Since its invention in Athens, tragic drama has focused upward on the great or mighty as they fall but also outward on the disempowered as they are for once given public voice: women, slaves, and barbarians. The cosmic forces of fate and the gods play out along social fault lines with conflicting viewpoints. We look to a “hero,” but, changing his mask, a Greek actor could go from god to wife to peasant. This multiplicity complicates itself in modern stagings and films as they cast actors with specific gender and racial identities. Female actors now have indisputable claim on the once-male roles of Antigone, Cassandra, Medea, and Electra, as they do on Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. The dialects of tragic performance are multiple: translationese, Shakespeare, and Spanglish.

In this course we look at the performance of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare in their historical context, as well as at adaptations in film and dance. We also consider remakings of the myths within modern realities, including Antigone in Ferguson; Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (Oedipus); and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada (Medea)Electricidad (Electra), and Oedipus El Rey. For the bodies of comedy, we’ll look at Spike Lee’s recasting of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in Chi Raq.  

The course aims to give students independent command of influential plays, as well as insight into the aesthetics and politics of putting contemporary bodies into classic roles. We consider and apply core concepts relating to the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. 

Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123) We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did folklore and myth develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two take-home, open book tests with time and word limits.

Three class hours per week. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

138 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

145 The Modern World

(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145)  This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

155 Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?

(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TR] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 35 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

(Offered as HIST 163 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. January term. Online-only. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Feminist Theory

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206)  This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.

 GOALS FOR LEARNING

  • Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
  • Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;
  • Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:

1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;

2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.

 No prerequisites. Uncapped.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

(Offered as SWAG 209, ANTH 209, and SOCI 207) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

225 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(Offered as HIST 226 [EU/TC/P], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.

Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Boucher.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2019

228 Feminist Approaches to COVID-19

(Offered as SWAG 228, ANTH 228, HIST 228 [US/TR/TS] and SOCI 228) Taking an interdisciplinary approach to COVID, including approaches from ethnic studies, history, gender studies, bioethics, and more, this course will critically examine and understand our current global health crisis. Themes that we will be exploring include vaccine access, vaccine hesitancy, necropolitics, and racial inequality such as the rise of Asian/Asian American violence and health disparities.

Spring semester. Limited to 30 students. Professors Karkazis and Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/P/C], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

234 Dissecting the Music Video: Dance, Image, and Representation

(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.

Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

236 Queer Migrant Imaginaries

(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition.  Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. 

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of mass incarceration. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS/C] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 38 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

275 Her Story Is: Feminist Approaches to Theater and Performance

(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

(Offered as REL 276 and SWAG 276) Girls playing the bear. Sacred virgins buried alive. Women starving themselves for God. How does each of these occurrences fit within the religious experiences of ancient women? What, if anything, can they tell us about women’s lives? This course explores these and related questions by considering the place of women within the religious frameworks of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. We will examine evidence for women’s religious practices from literary, material, and legal sources, as well as the intersection of religious polemic and discourses about gender. We will also discuss the challenges of reconstructing women’s lives and practices. To do this, we will utilize insights from various disciplines, including religious studies, sociology, gender studies, history, archaeology, and literary studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism.  Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer Theory and Practice

This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

(Offered as ENGL 316 and SWAG 316) “From whence comes my help?” “From where does your strength come?” The psalmist and Adrienne Rich ask these questions, which we will face while we read coming-of-age narratives that fit in a genre known by its German name, the Bildungsroman. These novels go beyond the pilgrimage out of adolescence, and into explicit representation of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual growth experienced in unison with sexual development, awakenings, thrills, mishaps, and marriage. We will pay attention to how we immerse ourselves into the condition of those who grow on the page; not to “identify” with the characters, but to accompany them. From our immersive accompaniment we will re-emerge–intentionally–to write about how we progress, digress, regress, and grow some more. As we read we will explore many terms and theoretical concerns: Erik Erickson on life stages; Donald Winnicott on holding environment and object relation; Jacques Lacan on mirrors and interminability of desire; Silvan Tomkins on affects and nuclear scripts; Shoshana Feldman on re-reading, un-learning, en-gendering, and–again–desire.

Readings will likely include: Plato, Phaedrus; Susan Choi, Trust Exercise; Lazarillo de Tormes; Teresa de Avila, Interior Castle; John Woolman, The Journal; Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook; Richard Powers, The Overstory.

Omitted 2021-22. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

331 The Postcolonial Novel: Gender, Race and Empire

(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

Offered as POSC 349 (Analytic Seminar) and SWAG 349) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

 Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

365 Reading the Romance

(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

372 Indigenous Feminisms

(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

380 Women of Color and the Emergence of U.S. Third World Feminist Left

(Offered as HIST 380 [US/TE/TR/TS], AMST 380 and SWAG 380) This research seminar investigates the history of Asian American women and other women of color solidarities and activisms in the emergence of the U.S. Third World Feminist Left during the 1960s and 1970s. This movement saw ending imperialism and colonialism as a necessary part of their fight against racism, sexism, and capitalism in the United States and beyond and drew inspiration from Third World feminism and decolonization activities.  Third World feminism posits that women's activisms in the Third World do not originate from the ideologies of the First World and specifically centers Third World women's radicalism in their local/national contexts and struggles.  Organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) in New York City, which grew out of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brought together Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian American women in the socialist fight to end imperialism, sexism, capitalism, and racism.  The images of revolutionary Third World women engaged in anti-colonial struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, especially during the Vietnam War era, inspired U.S.-based feminists of color and helped them embrace leftist Third World solidarity politics.  Utilizing the rich archival sources found in the Sophia Smith Collection (TWWA records, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum papers) as well as the Triple Jeopardy newspapers found in the Marshall I. Bloom papers at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, students will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to produce a substantial research project.

Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

381 Global Transgender Histories

(Offered as HIST 381 [TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 381). This seminar will explore the histories of transgender identities, activism, and communities around the world. Some questions to be engaged include: What concepts have been used to understand gender variant, expansive, and nonconforming people throughout history? How have war, violence, and legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and exploitation shaped the terms and conditions by which people of transgender experience and expression understood themselves and were perceived by others? How have transgender people advocated for self-determination, legal rights, and medical care? How has the transgender rights movement intersected with the civil, disability, women’s, and the LGBTQ rights movements? Students will work with primary sources such as newspaper accounts, legal codes, medical journals, religious texts, memoirs, and manifestos as well as pathbreaking historic studies of transgender people in China, England, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and the United States.

One class meeting per week. Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

430 Renaissance Bodies

(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC/TR], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

440 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Dropped. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Recommended: One course in gender/sexuality or anthropology. Open to junior and seniors;  sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies

Professors Basu†, Karkazis, and Martin; Associate Professors Manion, Polk*, and Shandilya† (Chair Spring 2022); Assistant Professor Peralta.

Professor Bumiller (Political Science) will chair in Fall 2021.

*On leave 2021-22. †On leave fall semester 2021-22. ‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

THE MAJOR

Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies in an interdisciplinary exploration of feminist and queer thought in a variety of global and historical contexts. Our faculty specialize in literature, history, anthropology, film, and politics.

SWAGS alum have pursued careers in a wide variety of fields including education, music, consulting, medical research, art education, development, public radio, and non-profit management.

REQUIRED COURSES

Students interested in a SWAGS major need to complete a total of nine courses, three of which are core courses. The three core courses are SWAG 100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender, SWAG 200 Feminist Theory, and SWAG 400 Contemporary Debates.

Our three core courses are typically offered once a year: SWAG 100 is usually offered in the fall semester and SWAG 200 is usually offered in the spring semester. SWAG 400 is offered once a year in the fall or the spring depending on faculty leave schedules and other department needs.

For the 2021-2022 academic year, the SWAGS Department will accept SWAG-160 / POSC-160 Sexualities in International Relations (Fall 2021) or SWAG-163 / HIST-163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture (January 2022) in place of the SWAG-100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender requirement for the major.

SWAG 100 introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

SWAG 200 investigates contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. It focuses on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment, and the nation.

SWAG 400 is a research seminar, which culminates in a final research paper. The topic of this course will vary from year to year. Students who have taken this seminar in the past may take it again if the topic is different.

The remaining six electives required to complete the major may be chosen from courses offered by the Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies Department or from the list of related courses.

ELECTIVES

We offer a wide variety of elective courses in a variety of disciplines. Elective offerings change from year to year depending on the interests of students and faculty.

*Courses numbered in the 100s are introductory courses and assume no prior knowledge of the subject.

*Courses numbered in the 200s are typically more demanding, but will still tend to be introductory in nature. Some knowledge of women, gender or sexuality is helpful but not usually required.

*Courses numbered in the 300s and 400s are seminar classes which delve deeply into a particular subject area. These courses generally have smaller enrollments. Some include a research component. Some faculty expect students to have already taken two or more courses on women, gender or sexuality.

*If you have a topic or set of interests that you would like to study, which is not covered in a course currently offered at Amherst College, you could look into the possibility of taking a Special Topics course.

*Please check a course’s description for its particular prerequisites.

RECOMMENDED PATHWAY

We recommend that you complete SWAG 100 and SWAG 200 by the end of your sophomore year. SWAG 400 can be taken during your junior or senior year. If you are thinking of doing an honors thesis in SWAGS, then it would be helpful to take SWAG 400 during your junior year as the research component is good preparation for thesis work. Electives can be distributed evenly over your semesters; most of the time you would only need to take one SWAGS course per semester.

EXTERNAL COURSES

An external course is any course that is NOT cross-listed in the Amherst College SWAGS Department, nor listed as a related course, at the time of the student’s enrollment in the course.

External courses, such as courses outside our department and at other colleges and universities, including study away programs, that address sexuality, women and/or gender, may be counted toward the major. A student who wishes to count an external course towards their SWAGS major must consult with their SWAGS advisor and provide their advisor with a course description and syllabus of the external course. If a current syllabus is not available, a syllabus from a previous iteration of the course will suffice. At the advisor’s discretion, the advisor may also ask the student to provide copies of the student’s assignments from the external course (e.g. research paper, essay, final project etc.). If at least 50% or more of the external course addresses women, gender or sexuality, then the advisor can approve the course counting towards the student’s SWAGS major. Copies of all documents should be shared with the ADC to update the department’s records.

Starting with students entering in Fall 2015, up to 3 of the 9 courses that are required for the major may be taken outside the SWAGS Department.

DOUBLE MAJORING

Courses counting towards the SWAGS major may NOT be counted towards another major.

COURSES TAKEN PASS/FAIL

Students should petition the chair of the SWAGS department if they wish to count an FGO or Pass/Fail course towards the major. In the petition the student should explain why they took the course pass/fail and why they are unable to take another course for a grade to fulfill the SWAGS major requirements. A student may take no more than one course FGO (or Pass/Fail) towards the major.

For courses taken in Spring 2020, the SWAGS Department will accept courses toward the major for which students have earned a grade of Pass.

COMPREHENSIVE REQUIREMENT

Senior majors not writing theses in SWAGS will satisfy the comprehensive requirement for the major by 1) Assembling a portfolio consisting of three papers written in courses for the SWAGS major. One of your submissions can be a work of poetry, fiction, video, film, art or photography, as long as you include a written analysis of the project. 2) Writing a five-page reflective essay that explains why you have selected these three papers, explores their key themes, and describes the evolution of your thinking about women, gender, and sexuality 3) Discussing your portfolio and reflective essay with members of the SWAGS Department.

The portfolio and its accompanying essay are to be submitted by Monday, April 11, 2022.

WRITING A SWAGS HONORS THESIS

SWAGS theses often cross disciplinary boundaries.  We are a “studies” department because the significance, impact, and construction of gender and sexuality have multiple origins. Our SWAGS honors students have worked on a wide range of topics including reproductive rights, “sex” and “gender” in healthcare, Jewish gender and deviance, masculinity and disability in literature, feminism and Protestantism, and trans activism.

To earn Latin Honors in SWAGS, in addition to the nine courses required for the major, students must write a thesis. Starting with students entering in Fall 2019, students will generally receive credit for one course each semester. SWAGS honors students should take SWAG 498 (fall) and 499 (spring). 

THESIS PROPOSAL

The SWAGS Department will hold an info session in late February for any students who are considering writing a SWAGS thesis. This session is targeted at juniors, but open to all students.

All majors who are considering theses should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the Department can serve as an advisor. A student's choice of thesis topic should be guided by the expertise and interests of our faculty. We have compiled a list of topics on our website that our faculty would welcome advising. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst College or in the Five Colleges may serve on thesis committees.  Junior SWAGS majors who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and/or while abroad.

Prospective thesis writers must use the online form to submit a proposal to the department by Monday, April 18, 2022.

FUNDING

Students often use the summer prior to their senior year to get a head start on their thesis research. Students who wish to dedicate 6 to 8 weeks of their summer to thesis research should consider applying for a summer research fellowship: the Rose Olver Student Research Fund or the Gregory S. Call Summer Student Research Program.

To support all of our thesis writers, the SWAGS Department will reimburse SWAGS thesis writers up to $200 each from department funds for expenses related to their research. All expenses must be approved by the SWAGS Department. Receipts must be provided.

REGISTERING FOR SENIOR DEPARTMENTAL HONORS

The SWAGS Department will inform students by the end of the semester whether or not their thesis proposal has been approved. Because students may not register for thesis courses until the proposal has been accepted by the department, we suggest that they pre-register for four courses.  They can drop one of them if the department approves the proposal.

Continuation of the thesis course into a second semester is not automatic. Thesis writers must submit at least two draft chapters (to the advisor and the SWAGS Department) by the third Monday in January. The department will inform them whether they have been accepted for a second semester of the thesis program.

SUBMITTING YOUR THESIS

Seniors must submit three copies of their theses, one to their thesis advisor and the others to the SWAGS Department, by the second Monday in April. The thesis should not exceed 100 typed double-spaced pages of text.

Students will participate in an oral discussion with members of the thesis committee.

The final corrected thesis, in bound and electronic form, should be submitted both to the Registrar's Office and the SWAGS Department by TBD.

Detailed guidelines about thesis format and the submission process are included on the Registrar's website.

AWARDS AND PRIZES

Students should consider submitting final theses for the Rose Olver Prize and the David Kirp 1965 Stonewall Prize.

 

100 The Cross-Cultural Construction of Gender

This course introduces students to issues involved in the social and historical construction of gender identities and roles from a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary perspective. Topics, which change from year-to-year, have included gender and sexuality; the uses and limits of biology in explaining gender differences; women’s participation in production and reproduction; the intertwining of gender, race, nationality, and class in explaining oppression and resistance; women, men and globalization; and gender and warfare.

Omitted 2021-22. The Department. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020

110 The Bodies of Tragedy

(Offered as CLAS 111 and SWAG 110) Since its invention in Athens, tragic drama has focused upward on the great or mighty as they fall but also outward on the disempowered as they are for once given public voice: women, slaves, and barbarians. The cosmic forces of fate and the gods play out along social fault lines with conflicting viewpoints. We look to a “hero,” but, changing his mask, a Greek actor could go from god to wife to peasant. This multiplicity complicates itself in modern stagings and films as they cast actors with specific gender and racial identities. Female actors now have indisputable claim on the once-male roles of Antigone, Cassandra, Medea, and Electra, as they do on Shakespeare’s Cleopatra. The dialects of tragic performance are multiple: translationese, Shakespeare, and Spanglish.

In this course we look at the performance of plays by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Shakespeare in their historical context, as well as at adaptations in film and dance. We also consider remakings of the myths within modern realities, including Antigone in Ferguson; Rita Dove’s The Darker Face of the Earth (Oedipus); and Luis Alfaro’s Mojada (Medea)Electricidad (Electra), and Oedipus El Rey. For the bodies of comedy, we’ll look at Spike Lee’s recasting of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata in Chi Raq.  

The course aims to give students independent command of influential plays, as well as insight into the aesthetics and politics of putting contemporary bodies into classic roles. We consider and apply core concepts relating to the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. 

Limited to 18 students. January term. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022

123 Greek Civilization

(Offered as CLAS 123 and SWAG 123) We read in English the major authors from Homer in the 8th century BCE to Plato in the 4th century in order to trace the emergence of epic, lyric poetry, tragedy, comedy, history, and philosophy. How did the Greek enlightenment, and through it Western culture, emerge from a few generations of people moving around a rocky archipelago? How did folklore and myth develop into various forms of “rationality”: science, history, and philosophy? What are the implications of male control over public and private life and the written record? What can be inferred about ancient women if they cannot speak for themselves in the texts? How does slavery work in a culture when it is based on capture rather than racial difference? What do we hear when people in bondage are given voice in epic and drama? Other authors include Sappho, Herodotus, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, and Thucydides. The course seeks to develop the skills of close reading and persuasive argumentation.

The requirements are three essays, the first ungraded, as well as two take-home, open book tests with time and word limits.

Three class hours per week. Fall semester. Professor Griffiths.

 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

138 Greek Drama

(Offered as CLAS 138 and SWAG 138) This course addresses the staging of politics and gender in selected plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes, with attention to performance and the modern use of the plays to reconstruct systems of sexuality, gender, class, and ethnicity. We also consider Homer's Iliad as a precursor of tragedy, and the remaking of plays in contemporary film, dance, and theater, including Michael Cacoyannis, Electra and The Trojan Women; Martha Graham, Medea and Night Journey; Pier Paolo Pasolini, Edipo Re Medea; Igor Stravinsky, Oedipus Rex; and Spike Lee, Chi-Raq.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

145 The Modern World

(Offered as ARHA 145, EUST 145, and SWAG 145)  This course will explore the self-conscious invention of modernism in painting, sculpture and architecture, from the visual clarion calls of the French Revolution to the performance art and earthworks of "art now." As we move from Goya, David, Monet and Picasso to Kahlo, Kiefer and beyond, we will be attentive to changing responses toward a historical past or societal present, the stance toward popular and alien cultures, the radical redefinition of all artistic media, changing representations of nature and gender, as well as the larger problem of mythologies and meaning in the modern period. Study of original objects and a range of primary texts (artists’ letters, diaries, manifestos, contemporary criticism) will be enhanced with readings from recent historical and theoretical secondary sources.

Limited to 50 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2011, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

155 Introduction to Dance Studies: What is Performance?

(Offered as THDA 155, BLST 144, and SWAG 155) In this introductory course we will look at dance performance as reflective of culture, gender, race and politics. Class sessions will incorporate viewings of recorded performances and in-depth discussions; attendance at live performances will also be part of the course. Selected readings in gender, critical race and queer theories (among others) will be assigned and used to develop a critical understanding of the relationship between bodies and performance, both on and off stage. Selected readings for this course include Judith Butler, Brenda Dixon Gottschild, and Jose Esteban Munoz, among others. Selected choreographers include Pina Bausch, Merce Cunningham, Faye Driscoll, William Forsythe, and Martha Graham.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-2022.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

162 History of Sexuality in the U.S.

(Offered as HIST 162 [US/TR] and SWAG 162) Sexuality is a product of history and culture. This course will survey sex throughout United States history in relation to the various discourses of power and difference that have given it meaning, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. Topics covered include the legal and social history of marriage, sex education, sexuality and the family during and after slavery, masculinity and the Western frontier, sexology and the invention of homosexuality, the making of urban gay subcultures, feminism and sexual liberation, the politics of abortion, HIV/AIDS, the LGBT rights movement, and the transgender revolution. We will consider the ways in which the study of sexuality creates opportunities to re-think major themes in U.S. social, cultural, and political history, with emphasis on the history of medicine, the history of social change, and the history of the family. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 35 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

163 LGBTQ History in Popular Culture

(Offered as HIST 163 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 163) While LGBTQ people might seem to be everywhere in popular culture today, this course takes such representations as a starting point to examine the past. Do popular representations distort the queer past and if so, to what end? By studying LGBTQ history through primary source materials, students will develop a rich and nuanced historical view of such major issues as the homophile movement, the Stonewall riot and other acts of resistance, the rise of the gay press, lesbian feminism, Harvey Milk, the March on Washington, anti-gay violence and hate crimes, the youth/student movement, HIV/AIDS, ACT-UP, Lawrence v. Texas, same-sex marriage, and the transgender revolution. By juxtaposing historic research with screenings of contemporary television and film, students will reflect on the power and limits of such representations and further consider why real stories of LGBTQ communities and people remain so elusive.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. January term. Online-only. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, January 2022, Spring 2022

200 Feminist Theory

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. We will focus on key issues in feminist theory, such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political economy of gender, the creation of the "queer" as subject, and the construction of masculinity, among others. This course aims also to think through the ways in which these concerns intersect with issues of race, class, the environment and the nation.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: Open to first-year students who have taken SWAG 100 and upper-class students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

203 Women Writers of Africa and the African Diaspora

(Offered as BLST 203 [D], ENGL 216, and SWAG 203) The term “Women Writers” suggests, and perhaps assumes, a particular category. How useful is this term in describing the writers we tend to include under the frame? And further, how useful are the designations "African" and "African Diaspora"? We will begin by critically examining these central questions, and revisit them frequently as we read specific texts and the body of works included in this course. Our readings comprise a range of literary and scholarly works by canonical and more recent female writers from Africa, the Caribbean, and continental America. Framed primarily by Postcolonial Criticism, our explorations will center on how writers treat historical and contemporary issues specifically connected to women’s experiences, as well as other issues, such as globalization, modernity, and sexuality. We will consider the continuities and points of departure between writers, periods, and regions, and explore the significance of the writers’ stylistic choices. Here our emphasis will be on how writers appropriate vernacular and conventional modes of writing.

Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Visiting Prof. C. Bailey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

206 Women and Art in Early Modern Europe

(Offered as ARHA 284, EUST 284, and SWAG 206)  This introductory discussion-based course will examine how prevailing ideas about women and gender shaped visual imagery in Europe from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, and how these images, in turn, presented surprisingly varied pictures of women and their domains. Artists vividly expressed the paradoxical power that women possessed even more than language could. Both admired and feared in their societies, aristocrats, queens, mistresses, saints, witches, heroines, and housewives were all depicted in art in elevated and debased manners, sometimes as eroticized subjects and at other times as powerful, idealized actors—occasionally both at the same time. We will analyze the art and material goods that women paid for and what it communicated about them; women’s homes and the objects they held; the portrayal of women from merchant societies in Italian city-states to aristocratic women in India, of female saints, heroes and rulers, including Elizabeth I of England and Maria de' Medici of France; and the troubling imagery of rape. These different types of art raise questions about biological theories about women; feminine ideals of beauty; what marriage meant in different societies; the relationship between the exercise of political power and gender; women’s expression of transcendent spirituality; and what the portrayal of indigenous and enslaved women in Dutch and Spanish colonies conveyed about race.

 GOALS FOR LEARNING

  • Understand how images are unique forms of expression that help us to understand historical phenomena;
  • Gain an understanding of how historical attitudes about women and by women affect art made about and by women;
  • Develop an analytical ability to examine points of view expressed in texts and art of a historical period other than our own and to distinguish them from another;
  • Learn collaboratively with classmates;
  • Learn how to perform 2 kinds of research:

1) find materials to contribute publicly useful scholarship, by creating or revising Wikipedia entries, which greatly lack material on women;

2) Develop and argue an original thesis in a 10-page research paper.

 No prerequisites. Uncapped.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Courtright.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(Offered as SWAG 207, ASLC 207, and POSC 207) This course will study South Asian women and gender through key texts in film, literature, history and politics. How did colonialism and nationalism challenge the distinctions between the “home” and the “world” and bring about partitions which splintered once shared cultural practices? What consequences did this have for postcolonial politics? How do ethnic conflicts, religious nationalisms and state repression challenge conceptions of home? How have migrations, globalization and diasporas complicated relations between the home and the world?

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2019

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

(Offered as SWAG 209, ANTH 209, and SOCI 207) This seminar uses feminist theory and methods to consider scientific practice and the production of scientific knowledge. We will explore how science reflects and reinforces social relations, positions, and hierarchies as well as whether and how scientific practice and knowledge might be made more accurate and socially beneficial. Central to this course is how assumptions about sex, gender and race have shaped what we have come to know as “true,” “natural,” and “fact.” We will explore interdisciplinary works on three main themes: feminist critiques of objectivity; the structure and meanings of natural variations, especially human differences; and challenges to familiar binaries (nature/culture, human/animal, female/male, etc).

Students who completed SWAG 108/ANTH 211 Feminist Science Studies in Fall 2019/20 will need to consult with Professor Karkazis prior to enrolling.

Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

223 Law, Sex, and Family in the Wider Mediterranean (1300–1800)

(Offered as HIST 223 [EU/ME/TC/TS/C/P] and SWAG 223) 

This course invites students to assume a comparative and intersectional perspective when analyzing differently organized patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean. Our focus will be on women’s access to properties, marriage, divorce, child rearing, and sexuality; our case studies are located in Renaissance Italy, early modern France, Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Mamluk Egypt, Islamic Iberia, and Jewish communities in France and Italy. We will attempt to separate the issue of religious denomination from family history and foreground the question of commensurability in matters relating to gender, sex, and kinship. Topics include: marital gift exchange and divorce in Renaissance Italy and Mamluk Cairo; female resistance to arranged marriages in France and Anatolia; women’s access to power in the Ottoman harem; different forms of slavery in the Mediterranean; the fate of female refugees and converts in the Mediterranean; male and female same-sex desire in Renaissance Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Safavid Iran. Writing assignments will consist of comparative analyses of historical literature. This is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Class discussions and group work.

Fall semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2021

225 Women and War in European History, 1558–1918

(Offered as HIST 226 [EU/TC/P], ARHA 226, EUST 226, and SWAG 225) Although overlooked in military histories until recently, women have long been actively involved in warfare: as combatants, as victims, as workers, and as symbols. This course examines both the changing role of women, and the shifting constructions of “womanhood,” in four major European conflicts: the wars of Elizabeth I in sixteenth-century England, the wars and peace of Marie de Médicis in seventeenth-century France, the French Revolution, and the First World War. Using methodologies drawn from Art History and History, the course seeks to understand the gendered nature of warfare. Why are images of women and the family central to the iconography of war, and how have representations of womanhood shifted according to the aims of particular conflicts? To what extent do women’s experiences of warfare differ from men’s, and can war be considered a source of women’s liberation or oppression? Students will analyze a range of historical images in conjunction with primary source texts from these conflicts and will also develop an original research project related to the course’s themes. Two class meetings per week.

Recommended requisite: A course in Art History or History. Limited to 25 students. Not offered in 2021-22. Professor Boucher.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2019

228 Feminist Approaches to COVID-19

(Offered as SWAG 228, ANTH 228, HIST 228 [US/TR/TS] and SOCI 228) Taking an interdisciplinary approach to COVID, including approaches from ethnic studies, history, gender studies, bioethics, and more, this course will critically examine and understand our current global health crisis. Themes that we will be exploring include vaccine access, vaccine hesitancy, necropolitics, and racial inequality such as the rise of Asian/Asian American violence and health disparities.

Spring semester. Limited to 30 students. Professors Karkazis and Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

229 The Virgin Mary: Image, Cult, Syncretism (ca. 400-1700)

(Offered as HIST 229 [TC/P/C], ARHA 229, RELI 229 and SWAG 229) When, in 431, the Council of Ephesus declared the Virgin Mary to be Theotokos or God-Bearer, she had already been venerated in Egypt since the third century as a re-instantiation of Isis. The syncretism of her cult explains her ubiquitous popularity in medieval Byzantium and the Latin West, but also in early Islamic Syria and colonial Latin America. Her frequent depiction on moveable wooden panels (icons) and mosaics accompanied her early rise to liturgical prominence. By 1200, she rivaled Jesus Christ in religious importance, not only through her role as intercessor, but also as dispenser of divine grace in the form of breastmilk. She was the most active miracle-working saint in all of Christianity. Her frequent depiction on icons, altarpieces and devotional panels accompanies – and, in part, explains – the development of figurative art in the West. In colonial America, the introduction of her cult ended prior religious forms of expression, but also helped them to partially survive in a new context. In this seminar, students will produce a 15-page research paper based on a careful analysis of textual and visual sources as well as pertinent scholarship. Two class meetings per week. This course will be conducted in class but also include remote students via zoom.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

234 Dissecting the Music Video: Dance, Image, and Representation

(Offered as THDA 236 and SWAG 234) This dance history course locates the intersections between dance, music, film, and identity politics by analyzing the cultural phenomenon of the American “music video” from the early 1980s to now. By considering American dance history from 1900 to the present, alongside film analysis work, students will gain an introductory understanding of how the moving body on screen intersects with identity politics related to race, class, sex, sexuality, and gender. Students will explore the course topic through readings on dance, music, film, and critical theory; in-class film viewings of music videos, dance for camera, and other visual media; in-class discussions dissecting critical theory for analysis purposes; and written analysis of film and video.

Omitted 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

235 Black Sexualities

(Offered as BLST 236 [US] and SWAG 235) From the modern era to the contemporary moment, the intersection of race, gender, and class has been especially salient for people of African descent—for men as well as for women. How might the category of sexuality act as an additional optic through which to view and reframe contemporary and historical debates concerning the construction of black identity? In what ways have traditional understandings of masculinity and femininity contributed to an understanding of African American life and culture as invariably heterosexual? How have black lesbian, gay, and transgendered persons effected political change through their theoretical articulations of identity, difference, and power? In this interdisciplinary course, we will address these questions through an examination of the complex roles gender and sexuality play in the lives of people of African descent. Remaining attentive to the ways black people have claimed social and sexual agency in spite of systemic modes of inequality, we will engage with critical race theory, black feminist thought, queer-of-color critique, literature, art, film, “new media” and erotica, as well as scholarship from anthropology, sociology, and history.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

236 Queer Migrant Imaginaries

(Offered as SPAN 243 and SWAG 236) This course explores the political economy of the largely queer and feminized labor that animates capitalism’s global reach. Through close readings of literary and audiovisual texts, we will chart how the migrant laboring body has been produced since the nineteenth century using recurring tropes of queerness, pathology, and dependency. Some of the artists we will discuss include writers Carlos Bulosan, Monique Truong, and Gloria Anzaldúa, and documentary film directors Tomer Heymann (Paper Dolls, 2006), and Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles (Mala Mala, 2014). Conducted in English.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2019

239 Jewish Identity and MeToo: A Study of Women in Judaism

(Offered as RELI 261 and SWAG 239) Ranging from ancient texts to contemporary documentaries, we explore the portrayals and roles of women in Jewish tradition.  Sources include biblical and apocryphal texts; Rabbinic literature; selections from medieval commentaries; letters, diaries, and autobiographies written by Jewish women of various periods and settings; works of fiction; and visual media. An important thread in the course examines contemporary responses to and interpretations of classical sources, as writers and film-makers examine or refashion the tradition in the light of current challenges facing women in Judaism. 

Spring semester. Professor Niditch.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022

240 Women in Architecture

(Offered as ARHA 240, ARCH 240 and SWAG 240) This course begins with an examination of gendered, architectural spaces and how and why they were structured for women in the 19th century in both Britain and America. Looking at primary and secondary sources, students will gain insight into societal norms and how they conditioned architecture generally associated with women, such as houses, asylums, and early women’s colleges. This study will serve as a platform from which to understand the pressures upon women and the pioneers who rejected such norms and pursued architecture as a profession. The latter half of the course will look at the work of early women architects, the hurdles they faced and the examples they set. The course will conclude with a critical examination of women architects practicing today and how they navigate the profession. It is open to non-majors and will introduce interested students to issues surrounding the architectural canon, equity, and the history of gendered spaces in architecture. 
Limited to 25 students.

Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Vickery.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900] and SWAG 243) From Longfellow’s Hiawatha and D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature to Disney’s Pocahontas and more recently Moana to James Cameron’s Avatar, representations of the Indigenous as “Other” have greatly shaped cultural production in America as vehicles for defining the nation and the self. This interdisciplinary course introduces students to the broad field of Native American and Indigenous Studies, by engaging a range of texts from law to policy to history and literature as well as music and aesthetics. Film will also provide grounding for our inquiries. By keeping popular culture, representation, and the nature of historical narratives in mind, we will consider the often mutually constitutive relationship between American identity and Indian identity as we pose the following questions: How have imaginings of a national space and national culture by Americans been shaped by a history marked by conquest and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples? And, how have the myths of conquest become a part of education and popular representations to mask settler colonial policies and practices that seek to “erase in order to replace” the Native? This course also considers how categories like race, class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and religion have defined identities and changed over time with particular regards to specific Native American individuals and tribal nations. Students will be able to design their own final research project. It may focus on either a historically contingent or contemporary issue related to Native American people in the United States that is driven by a researchable question based on working with an Indigenous author’s writings from the Kim-Wait/Pablo Eisenberg (or KWE for short) collection of Native American Literature books in the archives of Amherst College.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019

247 U.S. Carceral Culture

(Offered as HIST 245 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 247) An overview of punishment from the Enlightenment to modern times. Topics include theories of criminality; birth of the penitentiary; growth of carceral culture; role of reform movements; relationship between slavery, abolition, and punishment; rise of criminology, eugenics, and sexology; persistence of poverty among carceral subjects; and the emergence of mass incarceration. Primary sources for consideration include newspaper articles, reform and abolition organizational records, official prison reports, and legal and sociological papers. Secondary readings will be primarily historical with some critical theories of difference and power including critical race theory, feminist theories of intersectionality, queer theory, and contemporary critical prison studies. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Five spaces reserved for Five College students. Not offered 2021-22. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2021

248 Black Mestizx: Gender Variance and Transgender Politics in the Borderlands

(Offered as SPAN 360, BLST 382 [CLA] and SWAG 248) Historically speaking, discourses of mestizaje or racial mixture in Latin America, the Philippines, and the US-Mexican borderlands have implicitly or explicitly used “blackness” as a monolithic signifier connoting a perversity and backwardness to be rehabilitated by civilizational uplift. Students in this course will explore queer and trans texts that challenge this tradition and problematize the connection of the transracial to the transgender. Some of the theorists and authors we will engage include: Cathy Cohen, Fernando Ortiz, CLR James, Sylvia Wynter, Jessica Hagedorn, and Junot Díaz. While some course materials will be in English, the course will be conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2018

252 History of Race, Gender, and Comic Books

(Offered as HIST 252 [US/TE/TR/TS/C] and SWAG 252) What can we learn about MLK and Malcolm X and from Magneto and Professor X? What can we learn about gendered and racialized depictions within comic books? As a catalyst to encourage looking at history from different vantage points, we will put comic books in conversation with the history of race and empire in the United States. Sometimes we will read comic books as primary sources and products of a particular historical moment, and other times we will be reading them as powerful and yet imperfect critiques of imperialism and racial inequality in U.S. history. Besides comic books, this course uses a wide range of material including academic texts, traditional primary source documents, and multi-media sources.

Limited to 38 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

275 Her Story Is: Feminist Approaches to Theater and Performance

(Offered as THDA 275, ENGL 325 and SWAG 275) Western text-based theatre has historically hushed the voices of women and those from marginalized communities. This course will focus on examples of such voices, paying special attention to artists, writers, and thinkers who challenge and deconstruct aesthetics that privilege the male gaze. In dialogue with feminist theories of gender and identity, we will read plays and study works by women and gender non-conforming artists, such as Hildegard von Bingen, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Susan Glaspell, Adrienne Kennedy, Marina Abramovich, and Taylor Mac. Finally, we will also inquire into new forms of gender-inspired “artivism,” such as The Kilroy’s, the Guerilla girls, Pussy Riot, and the #MeToo movement in theatres around the world. During this course, students are expected to pursue an individual writing or performance project that will further explore the concepts discussed. For this purpose, we will study the Theater of the Oppressed methodology as applied by contemporary Latinx feminist theater-makers.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-2022. Visiting Artist Carneiro. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

276 Women and Religion in Greece and Rome

(Offered as REL 276 and SWAG 276) Girls playing the bear. Sacred virgins buried alive. Women starving themselves for God. How does each of these occurrences fit within the religious experiences of ancient women? What, if anything, can they tell us about women’s lives? This course explores these and related questions by considering the place of women within the religious frameworks of the Mediterranean basin from approximately 500 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. We will examine evidence for women’s religious practices from literary, material, and legal sources, as well as the intersection of religious polemic and discourses about gender. We will also discuss the challenges of reconstructing women’s lives and practices. To do this, we will utilize insights from various disciplines, including religious studies, sociology, gender studies, history, archaeology, and literary studies.

Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Falcasantos.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

279 Global Women's Literature

(Offered as SWAG 279, BLST 302, and ENGL 279) What do we mean by “women’s fiction”? How do we understand women’s genres in different national contexts? This course examines topics in feminist thought such as marriage, sexuality, desire and the home in novels written by women writers from South Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will draw on postcolonial literary theory, essays on transnational feminism and historical studies to situate our analyses of these novels. Texts include South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s July's People, Pakistani novelist Bapsi Sidhwa's Cracking India, and Caribbean author Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

294 Black Europe

(Offered as BLST 294 [D], SWAG 294 and EUST 294) This research-based seminar considers the enduring presence of people of African descent in Europe from the nineteenth century to the contemporary moment, a fact that both confounds and extends canonical theories of African diaspora and black internationalism.  Focusing particularly on the histories of black people in Britain, Germany, and France, this course will take an interdisciplinary approach in its study of the African diaspora in Europe. We will examine literature, history, film, art and ephemera, as well as newly available pre-1927 audio recordings from Bear Family Records (http://www.black-europe.com/) in effort to better comprehend the materiality of the black European experience. These inquiries will enable us to comment upon the influence black people continue to have upon Europe today. Reading the central texts in the emerging field of Black European Studies—including African American expatriate memoirs, Afro-German feminist poetry, and black British cultural theory—student work will culminate in an annotated bibliography and a multimedia research project.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

296 Black Women and Reproductive Justice in the African Diaspora

(Offered as AMST 296, BLST 296 [D] and SWAG 296). This course explores the transnational politics of race, gender, sexuality, and health from interdisciplinary perspectives. It engages a range of texts and methodologies that locate the historical and contemporary experiences of Afro-diasporic women and girls in the struggle for embodied freedom, autonomy, and reproductive justice. We will draw on examples from Africa and the African diaspora (U.S., the Caribbean, and Latin America) as we engage the main debates in reproductive justice around key issues: sexual and reproductive health and rights; HIV/AIDS; sexual autonomy and choice; sterilization; police brutality; the right to bear children; abortion. The course will also introduce students to theories about health and illness, embodiment and subjectivity, critical race theory, ethnography, black feminist theory, and postcolonial health science studies. Class field trips to reproductive justice organizations will also provide an experiential component that grounds our inquiries.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Post-Doctoral Fellow Jolly.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022

301 Queer Theory and Practice

This course is an interdisciplinary methods course designed to complement the existing SWAG core sequence. Using theories and approaches from the discipline of performance studies, the explicit mission of the seminar is to acquaint students with the study of LGBT history, politics, and culture while also strengthening student research skills in four overlapping areas: archival research, close-reading, performance analysis, and community engagement-as-activism. Course activities include working in the Amherst College Frost Archives, the production of a performance piece, and structured engagement with contemporary LGBT activism in the Pioneer Valley and the larger world.

Requisite: SWAG 100 or similar Five College intro to gender and sexuality courses. Recommended requisite: SWAG 200, 300, 330, or 353. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020

305 Gender, Migration and Power: Latinos in the Americas

(Offered as AMST 305, SOCI 305 and SWAG 305) In this course we draw from sociology, anthropology, and geography to explore the gendered dynamics and experiences of Latino migration to the United States. We begin by situating gendered patterns of migration in the context of contemporary globalization and relating them to social constructions of gender. Next we look at experiences of settlement, analyzing the role of women’s and men’s networks in the process of migration, especially in terms of employment and survival strategies. We also analyze how specific contexts of reception influence the gender experience of settlement. For example, how does migration to rural areas differ from migration to traditional urban migration hubs, and how does gender influence that difference? We then look at Latino family formation, paying special attention to the experiences of transnational mothers and fathers, those who have left children behind in their home countries in the process of migration. Finally, we explore the relationship between migration and sexuality.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Schmalzbauer.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2018

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

308 Gender, Feminisms, and Education

(Offered as AMST 308, SOCI 308 and SWAG-308) The relationship between girls’ empowerment and education has been and continues to be a key feminist issue. For instance, second wave liberal feminist approaches sought to make schools more equitable through equal access to educational resources for girls and the elimination of gender discrimination. Yet the relationship between gender and schooling remains a complex site of research and policy.

In this course we will examine how various feminist perspectives have defined and addressed the existence of gender inequality in American schools. We will begin by examining theories that address the production of gendered experiences within the context of U.S. schools and classrooms. Utilizing an intersectional approach, we will explore how the production of gender identities in educational contexts is shaped by the realities of our race, class, ethnic, and sexual identities. We will draw on empirical research and theory to analyze pedagogies, policies, and programs that have been developed to address gender inequality and schooling, including those that address fluid notions of gender. Students will complete the course with a complex view of feminism and an understanding of how feminist approaches have shaped the debates within gender and educational reform.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Professor Luschen.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310 Witches, Vampires and Other Monsters

(Offered as ARHA 385, EUST 385, and SWAG 310) Our course will explore how evil was imagined, over cultures, centuries and disciplines. With the greatest possible historical and cultural specificity, we will investigate an array of monstrous creatures and plagues -- their terrifying powers, the explanations for why they came to be, and the strategies for how they could be purged -- as we attempt to articulate the kindred qualities they shared. We will study centuries-old witch burning manuals, and note the striking degree to which dangerous tropes -- about women, about pestilence, about dangerous sexuality, and about differences of all kinds -- have continued to our day. Among the artists to be considered are Velázquez, Goya, Picasso, Dalí, Buñuel, Dreyer, Wilder, Almodóvar, and the community who made the AIDS Quilt.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Not open to first-year students. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

316 Immersive Accompaniment: Reading the Bildungsroman

(Offered as ENGL 316 and SWAG 316) “From whence comes my help?” “From where does your strength come?” The psalmist and Adrienne Rich ask these questions, which we will face while we read coming-of-age narratives that fit in a genre known by its German name, the Bildungsroman. These novels go beyond the pilgrimage out of adolescence, and into explicit representation of intellectual, aesthetic, and spiritual growth experienced in unison with sexual development, awakenings, thrills, mishaps, and marriage. We will pay attention to how we immerse ourselves into the condition of those who grow on the page; not to “identify” with the characters, but to accompany them. From our immersive accompaniment we will re-emerge–intentionally–to write about how we progress, digress, regress, and grow some more. As we read we will explore many terms and theoretical concerns: Erik Erickson on life stages; Donald Winnicott on holding environment and object relation; Jacques Lacan on mirrors and interminability of desire; Silvan Tomkins on affects and nuclear scripts; Shoshana Feldman on re-reading, un-learning, en-gendering, and–again–desire.

Readings will likely include: Plato, Phaedrus; Susan Choi, Trust Exercise; Lazarillo de Tormes; Teresa de Avila, Interior Castle; John Woolman, The Journal; Roland Barthes, A Lover’s Discourse; Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot; Ocean Vuong, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous; Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre; James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook; Richard Powers, The Overstory.

Omitted 2021-22. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

331 The Postcolonial Novel: Gender, Race and Empire

(Offered as SWAG 331 and ENGL 319) What is the novel? How do we know when a work of literature qualifies as a novel? In this course we will study the postcolonial novel which explodes the certainties of the European novel. Written in the aftermath of empire, these novels question race, class, gender and empire in their subject matter and narrative form. We will consider fiction from South Asia, the Caribbean and sub-Saharan Africa. Novels include Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh's The Calcutta Chromosome, Caribbean writer Jamaica Kincaid's Annie John and North African author Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Spring 2020

335 Gender: An Anthropological Perspective

(Offered as ANTH 225 and SWAG 335) This seminar provides an analysis of male-female relationships from a cross-cultural perspective, focusing upon the ways in which cultural factors modify and exaggerate the biological differences between men and women. Consideration will be given to the positions of men and women in the evolution of society, and in different contemporary social, political, and economic systems, including those of the industrialized nations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Gewertz.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

342 Women of Ill Repute: Prostitutes in Nineteenth-Century French Literature

(Offered as FREN 342 and SWAG 342) Prostitutes play a central role in nineteenth-century French fiction, especially of the realistic and naturalistic kind. Both widely available and largely visible in nineteenth-century France, prostitutes inspired many negative stereotypes. But, as the very product of the culture that marginalized her, the prostitute offered an ideal vehicle for writers to criticize the hypocrisy of bourgeois mores. The socially stratified world of prostitutes, ranging from low-ranking sex workers to high-class courtesans, presents a fascinating microcosm of French society as a whole. We will read selections from Honoré de Balzac, Splendeur et misère des courtisanes; Victor Hugo, Les Misérables; and Gustave Flaubert, L’éducation sentimentale; as well as Boule-de-Suif and other stories by Guy de Maupassant; La fille Elisa by Edmond de Goncourt; Nana by Emile Zola; Marthe by Joris-Karl Huysmans; La dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas fils; and extracts from Du côté de chez Swann by Marcel Proust. Additional readings will be drawn from the fields of history (Alain Corbin, Michelle Perrot) and critical theory (Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva). We will also discuss visual representations of prostitutes in nineteenth-century French art (Gavarni, Daumier, C. Guys, Degas, Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec). Conducted in French.

Requisite: One of the following—FREN 207, 208 or the equivalent. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020

343 Comparative Borderlands: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Transnational Perspective

(Offered as SPAN 342, LLAS 343 and SWAG 343) “Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out,” Chicana feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa wrote in the hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera. She was referring to, what she called, the linguistic imperialism of English in the US Southwest. And yet she also carved out a third space for those subjects at the crossroads of multiple ways of being – the queer and the abject. In this course, we will examine cultural and literary texts that speak to the ways that race, gender, and sexual identity are conditioned by the historical development of geopolitical borders. We will pay particular attention to the US-Mexico Borderlands but we will also examine other places in which “borderlands” of identity exist. Course conducted in Spanish.

Prerequisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-2022. Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

345 Gender and Sexuality in Latin America

(Offered as HIST 345 [LA/TR/TS], LLAS 345, and SWAG 345) Popular mythologies of Latin America have historically relied on hyper-masculine archetypes, including the conquistador, the caudillo, and the guerrillero to explain the continent’s past, culture and political development. By contrast, students in this course will be asked to bring women, gender and sexuality from the margins to the center of Latin American history. In doing so, we will reevaluate four transformative historical moments: the Spanish conquest, the wars of independence, the emergence of industrial capitalism, and the proliferation of late twentieth-century political revolutions. Through an exploration of these key periods of upheaval we will assess how social conflict was frequently mediated through competing definitions of masculinity and femininity. In addition, this course will explore the ways in which women’s activism has been central to social and political movements across the continent. Furthermore, we will investigate how the domain of sexual practice and reproduction underpinned broader conflicts over racial purity, worker power, and the boundaries of citizenship in racially and ethnically diverse societies. The course will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student. Two class meetings per week.

Limited to 18 students. Not offered in 2021-22.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

347 Race, Sex, and Gender in the U.S. Military

(Offered as BLST 347 [US] and SWAG 347) From the aftermath of the Civil War to today's "global war on terror," the U.S. military has functioned as a vital arbiter of the overlapping taxonomies of race, gender, and sexuality in America and around the world. This course examines the global trek of American militarism through times of war and peace in the twentieth century. In a variety of texts and contexts, we will investigate how the U.S. military's production of new ideas about race and racialization, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and citizenship impacted the lives of soldiers and civilians, men and women, at "home" and abroad. Our interdisciplinary focus will allow us to study the multiple intersections of difference within the military, enabling us to address a number of topics, including: How have African American soldiers functioned as both subjects and agents of American militarism? What role has the U.S. military played in the creation of contemporary gay and lesbian subjectivity? Is military sexual assault a contemporary phenomenon or can it be traced to longer practices of sexual exploitation occurring on or around U.S. bases globally?

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

348 History of Asian American Women: Migration and Labor

(Offered as HIST 348 [US/TR/TS] and SWAG 348) This seminar will explore the intersections of gender, migration, and labor, with a particular focus on Asian American women in the United States (broadly defined to include the U.S.’s territories and military bases), from 1870 to the present. Through transnational and woman-of color feminist lenses, we will investigate U.S. colonial and neo-colonial formations which disrupt local economies, compelling women to migrate from their homes across national borders and then channeling them into limited employment opportunities in some of the most exploitative industries in the United States, including manufacturing, agricultural, and domestic work. Students will do close analysis of historical evidence, including written documents, images, film, and newspapers. There will also be intensive in-class discussion and varying forms of written work, which will culminate in a final research paper on a topic chosen by the student.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

Offered as POSC 349 (Analytic Seminar) and SWAG 349) At first glance, law and love seem to tend in opposing directions: where law is constituted in rules and regularity, love emerges in contingent, surprising, and ungovernable ways; where law speaks in the language of reason, love’s language is of sentiment and affect; where law regulates society through threats of violence, love binds with a magical magnetism. In this seminar, placing materials in law and legal theory alongside theoretical and imaginative work on the subject of love, we invert that premise of opposition in order to look for love’s place in law and law’s in love. First we will inquire into the ways in which laws regulate love, asking how is love constituted and arranged by those regulations, and on what grounds it escapes them. In that regard we will explore, among other areas, the problematics of passion in criminal law and laws regulating sexuality, marriage, and family. Second we will ask, how does love in its various guises (as philia, eros, or agape) manifest itself in law and legal theory, and indeed partly constitute law itself? Here we will explore, for example, sovereign exercises of mercy, the role of equity in legal adjudication, and the means that bind legal subjects together in social contract theory. Finally, we will explore an analogy drawn by W. H. Auden, asking how law is like love, and by extension love like law. How does attending to love’s role in law, and law’s in love, shift our imaginings of both?

 Open to juniors and seniors. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Spring 2009, Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021

365 Reading the Romance

(Offered as ENGL 372 and SWAG 365) Do people the world over love in the same way, or does romance mean different things in different cultures? What happens when love violates social norms? Is the “romance” genre an escape from real-world conflicts or a resolution of them? This course analyzes romantic narratives from across the world through the lens of feminist theories of sexuality, marriage, and romance. We will read heterosexual romances such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire, alongside queer fiction such as Sarah Waters’ Fingersmiths and Radclyffe Hall’s Well of Loneliness. We will also pay attention to the Western romantic-comedy film, the telenovela and the Bollywood spectacular.

Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021

372 Indigenous Feminisms

(Offered as SWAG 372 and AMST 370) This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of Indigenous feminisms, and explores how questions of sex, gender, and sexuality have been articulated in relation to concerns such as sovereignty, colonization, and imperialism. We will explore how Indigenous feminists engage with or challenge other modes of feminist thought and activism. We will focus on how Indigenous ways of knowing and being can challenge how we conduct research and produce knowledge. While we will concentrate on work produced within the context of Native North America, we will also be attentive to transnational dimensions of Indigenous feminist histories, political movements, and world-building. Specific topics include movements to recognize missing and murdered Indigenous women; Indigenous feminist science and technology studies; and, Indigenous futurisms.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Spring semester. Visiting Professor Hamilton.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Spring 2022

377 Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

380 Women of Color and the Emergence of U.S. Third World Feminist Left

(Offered as HIST 380 [US/TE/TR/TS], AMST 380 and SWAG 380) This research seminar investigates the history of Asian American women and other women of color solidarities and activisms in the emergence of the U.S. Third World Feminist Left during the 1960s and 1970s. This movement saw ending imperialism and colonialism as a necessary part of their fight against racism, sexism, and capitalism in the United States and beyond and drew inspiration from Third World feminism and decolonization activities.  Third World feminism posits that women's activisms in the Third World do not originate from the ideologies of the First World and specifically centers Third World women's radicalism in their local/national contexts and struggles.  Organizations such as the Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) in New York City, which grew out of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brought together Black, Puerto Rican, and Asian American women in the socialist fight to end imperialism, sexism, capitalism, and racism.  The images of revolutionary Third World women engaged in anti-colonial struggles in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, especially during the Vietnam War era, inspired U.S.-based feminists of color and helped them embrace leftist Third World solidarity politics.  Utilizing the rich archival sources found in the Sophia Smith Collection (TWWA records, Miriam Ching Yoon Louie papers, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum papers) as well as the Triple Jeopardy newspapers found in the Marshall I. Bloom papers at the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, students will have an opportunity to work collaboratively to produce a substantial research project.

Omitted 2021-22. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020

381 Global Transgender Histories

(Offered as HIST 381 [TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 381). This seminar will explore the histories of transgender identities, activism, and communities around the world. Some questions to be engaged include: What concepts have been used to understand gender variant, expansive, and nonconforming people throughout history? How have war, violence, and legacies of colonialism, enslavement, and exploitation shaped the terms and conditions by which people of transgender experience and expression understood themselves and were perceived by others? How have transgender people advocated for self-determination, legal rights, and medical care? How has the transgender rights movement intersected with the civil, disability, women’s, and the LGBTQ rights movements? Students will work with primary sources such as newspaper accounts, legal codes, medical journals, religious texts, memoirs, and manifestos as well as pathbreaking historic studies of transgender people in China, England, Germany, Iran, Thailand, and the United States.

One class meeting per week. Limited to 18 students. Spring Semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022

400 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(Offered as SWAG 400 and POSC 407) The topic will vary from year to year. The past decade has witnessed the dramatic rise of populist parties, movements, and leaders. One of their defining attributes, and a key reason for their success, is their affective character. Rather than laying out policy proposals for rational deliberation and critical consent, they touch and excite people in an intimate way through their oratory and bodily comportment. Gender and sexuality play a key role in these visceral appeals. We will explore the ways populists enact hegemonic forms of masculinity and femininity and employ binary constructions of gender to differentiate allies from enemies.

Although we sometimes mistakenly assume that populist leaders draw on a common script, populist performances are most effective when they mine national memories, anxieties, and aspirations. We will analyze significant differences in the gendered styles of male and female populist leaders within and across nations. We will also examine how progressive movements among LGBTQ groups, feminists, and racial/religious minorities have employed gender and sexuality to challenge right-wing populists. Our approach will be comparative, cross-national, and interdisciplinary. The seminar will culminate in a final research paper.

Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

416 Economics of Race and Gender

(Offered as ECON 416, BLST 416 and SWAG 416) Economics is fundamentally about both efficiency and equity.  It is about allocation, welfare, and well-being.  How, then, can we use this disciplinary perspective to understand hierarchy, power, inequity, discrimination, and injustice?  What does economics have to offer?  Applied microeconomics is a fundamentally outward-looking and interdisciplinary field that endeavors to answer this question by being both firmly grounded in economics and also deeply connected to sociology, psychology, political science, and law.  In this class, we will employ this augmented economic perspective to try to understand the hierarchies and operation of race and gender in society.  We will read theoretical and empirical work that engages with questions of personal well-being, economic achievement, and social interaction.  Students will have opportunities throughout the semester to do empirical and policy-relevant work.  Each student will build a solid foundation for the completion of an independent term paper project that engages with a specific economic question about racial or gender inequity.

Requisite: ECON 300/301 (Microeconomics) and ECON 360/361 (Econometrics) or Consent of Instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2021

430 Renaissance Bodies

(Offered as HIST 430 [EUP/TC/TR], EUST 430 and SWAG 430) "Renaissance Bodies" investigates the ways in which early modern sciences and the figurative arts of the Renaissance collaborated to represent body-centered visual knowledges ranging from the "secrets of women" to scientific "monstrosities." The course also examines the ways in which Catholicism enhanced body-centered, sensual and visual forms of devotion. Discussions center on the eroticization of male, female, and queer bodies in a variety of discourses and visual rhetorics. A particular focus is on the representation of black bodies before the onset of modern racism. Case studies will include Eckhout’s "ethnographic" portrayals of African slaves and the native inhabitants of Brazil; Chiara di Montefalco’s miraculous relics; Elena Duglioli’s career as a spontaneously lactating saint; the cultural history of the dildo; Elena/o de Cespedes’s life as a transman; Sarah Bartmann as fetishized object of desire; male prostitution; and anatomical wax figures.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sperling.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

436 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in U.S. History

(Offered as HIST 436 [US/TC/TR/TS] and SWAG 436) This course introduces students to critical theories of difference in thinking and writing about the past. We will read major works that chart the history of the very concepts of race, gender, and sexuality. We will explore how these ideas were both advanced and contested by various groups over the years by reading primary sources such as newspaper articles, personal letters, court records, and organizational papers. Movements for women’s rights, racial justice, and LGBTQ liberation have dramatically shaped these debates and their implications. In particular, feminist theory, critical race theory, and queer theory provide powerful arguments about how we formulate research questions, what constitutes a legitimate archive, and why writing history matters. Students will learn to identify and work with an archive to craft a major research paper in some aspect of U.S. history while engaging the relevant historic arguments about race, gender, and/or sexuality.

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Manion.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

440 Race, Gender, and Sexuality in American Popular Music

(Offered as MUSI 440 and SWAG 440) How do popular musicians express their identity through their music? And how do listeners explore their own identities by consuming and interacting with this music? This course explores how American popular music of the last sixty years has expressed the race, gender, and sexual identities of its performers and consumers, and how the music industry has affected the production and meaning of popular music from the 1950s into the present, through rock and roll, soul, country, hip hop, and more. Combining historical and cultural inquiries with the analysis of recorded music, students in this course will examine how popular musicians sound their identity while simultaneously resisting essentialism, analyze how musical sounds are shaped by the gender politics of their specific cultural context, and evaluate how the music industry encourages and challenges racial inequality. Seminar work will culminate in a creative research project designed in consultation with the professor. Fulfills either the departmental seminar requirement or the comprehensive exam requirement for the major.

Requisite: MUSI 111 or consent of the instructor. Dropped. Assistant Professor Amy Coddington.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Fall 2018

453 Feminist and Queer Ethnography

(Offered as SWAG 453, ANTH 453, and SOCI-453) How have feminist and queer approaches shaped the questions, methods, and ethics of ethnographic research? This course highlights key questions and dominant paradigms of the field as well as emphasizing qualitative ethnographic research including interviewing and fieldwork. As such, we will engage the practical question of how to research, observe, describe, record, and present material about feminist and queer politics and activism.

Recommended: One course in gender/sexuality or anthropology. Open to junior and seniors;  sophomores require permission from the professor; not open to first-year students. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

Open to senior majors in Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies who have received departmental approval.

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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