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Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies



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.

Limited to 25 students with 10 seats reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta. 

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

111 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 start with the formation of Hellenic identity and notions of heroism in Homer's Iliad and then 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. Three class hours per week.

Limited to 30 students. Fall Semester. Professor Griffiths.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022, Fall 2022

113, 146 Art From the Realm of Dreams

(Offered as ARHA 146, EUST 146, and SWAGS 113.)  We will consider the multifarious and resplendent ways dreams have been given form across centuries, cultures, and media. Our paintings, prints, films, and texts will include those by Goya, Jung, Freud, van Gogh, Gauguin, Kahlo, Frankenheimer, Kurosawa and others.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester.  Professor Staller.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2024

132 Legal Science Fiction

(Offered as LJST 132 and SWAG 132) Science fiction conjures novel social arrangements in which questions of law inevitably emerge. Is a very smart robot just property? How should space be governed? If we can predict future crimes, can we punish future “criminals”? The answers to these questions are rooted in theories of what makes “the good society” and prompt us to think about how our own laws function with, against, or under the influence of scientific inquiry. In this course, we will consider how the speculative imagination approaches topics like civil rights, criminal law, labor, reproduction, corporate regulation, privacy, and property, analyzing science fiction texts and films alongside legal cases and theories of justice. Today, we regularly encounter legal conundrums that once seemed futuristic. Genetic engineering threatens the traditional framework of equality that provides the basis of rights. Algorithms, once thought to be a way to resolve race and gender biases, instead encode these biases into our everyday lives. How we order and improve human life is always a matter of legal concern, but regulation is often seen as anathema to technological progress. Why is this the case? Can this tension be resolved?

Limited to 40 students. Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Brangan

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

158 Asian American History: 1800-Present

(Offered as HIST 158 [US/TE/TR/TS] and SWAG 158) This course introduces students to the history of Asian/American migration and settlement in the United States from the late eighteenth century to the present. We will learn about foundational and current themes in the field of Asian American history. Using an intersectional approach, the course traces how issues related to gender and sexuality impact Asian American racial formation in the U.S. For example, we look at how particular immigration pathways impact the lives of Asian immigrant communities differently depending on individuals’ gender and sexual identities. We also explore the ways the fetishization of Asian American women and men has influenced shifts in American foreign and domestic policy.  Major themes include labor migration, community formation, U.S. imperialism, legal exclusion, racial segregation, cultural representations, and social movements. Students will also examine digital oral history archives throughout the U.S., and work collectively on an oral history project on the history of Asian American student activism at Amherst College and beyond.  Two meetings per week.

Limited to 40 students. Fall semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023

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 Senior Lecturer Picq.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 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.

Recommended: SWAG 100 or another course on gender or sexuality. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2024

209 Feminist Perspectives on Science and Medicine

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.

Limited to 20 students with 5 seats reserved for first-year students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

227, 228 Lovers and Friends: A Democratic Idea?

(Offered as POSC 228 and SWAG 227) In his 1955 Notes on a Native Son, James Baldwin framed his democratic obligation to the United States in romantic terms when he wrote that “because I love America more than any other country in the world, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” Only two years later, soon after Martin Luther King Jr. had become the most public face of the Civil Rights Movement, he instructed his congregation that “love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” From Aristotle in the ancient world to Frederick Douglass and David Walker in the 19th century to W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Baldwin, King, and Audre Lorde in the 20th, politics is framed in terms of the love we owe each other. What has been the theoretical upshot of framing political obligation in terms of love and friendship? What has this framing obscured and mystified? Is love and friendship an important pre-requisite for democratic citizenship or a dangerous political fantasy? This course is about the contested terrain of love as a political metaphor. We will investigate love and its cognates—care, trust, friendship, betrayal, sacrifice, resentment, desire—as conceptual terms deployed throughout the late-19th and 20th centuries to frame contests over citizenship, political obligation and responsibility, futurity, and democratic practice more generally. We will ask questions such as: What is love and friendship’s object of desire as a way of thinking democratic politics? Is there such a thing as civic love and political friendship? When, if ever, is it appropriate to love political enemies? Can we trust strangers?  Should the state love its citizens? Is politics a matter of desire? Should some political members be expected to sacrifice more than others? Can we care for others without loving or befriending them? Have we come to love or desire a vision of democracy that is actually a hindrance to our flourishing?This is a discussion-based course. High participation is a requirement and care will be taken to cultivate an environment in which students feel comfortable embarking on a shared journey of intellectual discovery. We will spend time in the course perfecting our ability to reason with each other by drawing on textual evidence to support our claims. There will be weekly reflection assignments as well as a final paper. Finally, this course will involve a practical component: students will be strongly encouraged to submit by the end of the semester a plan for how they might apply insights in the course to everyday life (political organizing, internships, volunteer work, etc.)  

Fall semester. Assistant Professor Loggins.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2024

232, 315, 328 Representation and Reality in Spanish Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 315, EUST 232, FAMS 328, and SWAG 315) From Pedro Almodóvar to Penélope Cruz, Spanish directors and actors are now international stars. But the origins of Spain’s cinema are rooted in censorship and patriarchy. This course offers an overview of Spanish film from 1950 to the present along with an introduction to film studies. Through weekly streaming films and discussions, students will follow how Spain’s culture, history and society have been imagined onscreen, as well as how Spanish filmmakers interact with the rest of Europe and Latin America. We will pay particular attention to issues surrounding gender and sexuality as well as contemporary social justice movements. No prior experience with film analysis is needed. Conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of the instructor. Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester. Professor Brenneis

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

236 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. Fall semester. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2022

240, 243 Rethinking Pocahontas: An Introduction to Native American and Indigenous Studies

(Offered as AMST 240 [Pre-1900], EDST-240 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.

Spring semester.  Professor Vigil.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2024

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 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2024

259 (En) Gendering Development: Historical Genealogies / Contemporary Convergences

(Offered as ANTH 259, POSC 259, SOCI 259, and SWAG 259) We will explore the centrality of gender in the processes, problematics and politics of development through feminist postcolonial and decolonial conceptualizations, with a particular focus on gendered livelihoods and gendered vulnerabilities. Focusing primarily on the global south, the course will draw on empirical examples from Africa, the Middle East, South and South East Asia and Latin America. We will cover the following development areas: a) orientalism and the global "war on terror"; how gendered/sexualized orientalist discourses are deployed to heal wounded national identities and justify military interventions and territorial encroachments; b) anti-colonial nationalism and the rise of femonationalism; how discourses of gender, nation and sexuality are (re)framed for contemporary political agendas; c) structural adjustment programs and femicides; how trade liberalization and feminization of labor generates economies of sexualized violence in border industries; d) politics of population control and reproductive tourism; how bodies of underprivileged women, formerly seen as "waste," and whose reproduction should be "controlled," are transformed into sites of profit generation for the reproductive industry in the global north.

The course will draw on the relevant academic literature as well as a range of other sources including news media, documentaries, feature films, and policy reports.

Fall semester. STINT Fellow Thapar-Björkert.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

265 Manhood and Masculinity in the U.S.

What does it mean to be a “real man” in the contemporary United States? What impact does masculinity have on sports, pop culture, and health, for example? How do race and sexuality impact masculinity? These are just a few of the questions that we will begin considering in this course. Masculinity, like "whiteness," has long been an opaque social category, receiving scant attention as a focus of study in its own right. But within the past few decades social scientific scholarship on the cultural construction of masculinity and on men and masculinities as complex and changing symbolic categories are the subject of intense theorization. This was born in part from the recognition that early feminist and gender theory focused almost exclusively (and for obvious political reasons) on the position and experience of women. Men, except where they were situated as part of the problem (the abuser, the oppressor, the patriarch), were neither the object nor the subject of study. This course critically analyzes manhood and masculinity as socially constructed and ever-changing concepts deeply entangled with race, class, disability, and sexuality. We will interrogate how masculinities influence actions and self-perceptions as well as analyze how masculinity promotes hierarchies of power and privilege in groups, organizations, and institutions, such as education, work, religion, sports, family, media, and the military. We will investigate the origins and development of masculinity, its expressions, and its problematic manifestations (including hegemonic masculinity, violence, sexual assault, health outcomes, etc.). By the end of the course, students should have an understanding of the ways that masculinity has shaped the lives and choices of men and women, boys and girls and should also be able to identify and question the taken-for-granted aspects of masculinity.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Karkazis.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

274, 275 Gender and Slavery in Latin America

(Offered as BLST 275 [CLA], SWAG 274, HIST 275 [LA/TS/TR/ P ] and LLAS 275)  Latin American slavery was one of the most brutal institutions the world has ever known, and it affected women and girls, boys and men in profoundly different ways. This readings-based course features both secondary and primary sources. Students will gain in-depth understanding of how gender and sexuality affected the experiences of enslaved Africans and their descendants in Latin America from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. Topics will include gender roles in Western Africa and how these diverged from the expectations of Spanish and Portuguese slave masters; the sexual and reproductive as well as labor exploitation of enslaved African women and girls; how enslaved men constructed masculinity within the emasculating institution of slavery; gender relations and family structures within slave communities; childhoods under slavery; and the sometimes distinct visions of freedom imagined by enslaved women and men. Select primary documents will acquaint students with the sources historians use to reconstruct these aspects of the histories of largely non-literate African-descended peoples. Regions to be covered include Brazil, the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, Mexico and Central America, and the Andean region. Students will be evaluated on class participation, a series of weekly reading notes, and two short papers.

Fall semester. Professor Lohse.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 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

279, 302 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.

Spring semester. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2024

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 ( 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. Spring semester. Professor Polk. Sophomore Seminar.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015, Spring 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021

310, 385 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. Professor Staller.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Fall 2023

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.

Fall semester. Lecturer B. Sánchez-Eppler.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Fall 2022

324 Literature after Fascism: 1945 to 1989

(Offered as GERM 324 and SWAG 324) Can there be literature “after Auschwitz”? This class investigates how German literature attempts to come to terms with the atrocities committed under National Socialism and produce a new understanding of German identity after 1945. If Nazi politics centered on a “purification” of the German nation along racial, sexual, and gendered lines, we will then ask how post-war Germany reworked notions of racialization, gender, and nationhood to overcome fascist legacies. How did literary works contribute to the construction of a post-fascist nation and its transition to a liberal democratic state? To answer this, we will explore the various ways in which German-language authors after 1945 articulated new notions of “Germanness,” masculinity and femininity, as well as normative and non-normative sexualities. Throughout, our focus will be on the possibilities and limits of literature in participating in these processes.Literary works may include texts by Wolfgang Koeppen, Günter Grass, Ingeborg Bachmann, Paul Celan, Anna Seghers, Christa Wolf, Gerhard Fritsch, and Thomas Bernhard. In addition to literary and historical research, writers of critical theory, political philosophy, and psychoanalysis will help us think through fascism and its aftermath, in particular Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Klaus Theweleit, and Alexander and Margarete Mitscherlich. Small-group work and frequent writing exercises will allow students to develop their oral and written fluency in German. Conducted in German.

Spring semester. Professor Rosenbrück

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023

330, 332, 338 Latin American Cinema

(Offered as SPAN 330, SWAG 332, LLAS 330 and FAMS 338) How have Latin Americans represented themselves on the big screen? In this course we will explore this question through close readings of representative films from each of the following major periods: silent cinema (1890s–1930s), studio cinema (1930s–1950s), Neorealism/Art Cinema (1950s), the New Latin American Cinema (1960s–1980s), and contemporary cinema (1990s to today). Throughout the course we will examine evolving representations of modernity and pay special attention to how these representations are linked to different constructions of gender, race, sexuality, and nationality. We will conclude the course with a collective screening of video essays created by students in the course. The course is conducted in Spanish.

Requisite: SPAN 301 or consent of instructor. Spring Semester. Professor Schroeder Rodríguez.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

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: Courtesans, Cocottes, and Sex Workers 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. Spring semester: Professor Katsaros.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2015, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Spring 2024

342, 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. Fall Semester: Professor Coráñez Bolton.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2022

343, 346 Twentieth-Century Visions: Beauvoir, Fanon, Marcuse, Foucault

(Offered as SWAG 346 and POSC 343) In this course, we study the political visions of four major twentieth-century theorists: Simone de Beauvoir, Frantz Fanon, Herbert Marcuse, and Michel Foucault. What forms of power did each of these thinkers surface? What social transformations did they call for? How did they imagine that transformation could be achieved? Devoting equal parts of the term to each author, we will dwell in, and move between, very different political problematics: the cultural production of “woman”; the psychic effects of racialized colonial rule; the perpetuation of capitalism through the sowing of false needs; the consecration of sex as identity. Yet we will also keep an eye on certain broad questions and themes. These include the production of the human subject by power; the ruses by which contingent social orders such as capitalism or colonialism come to appear as natural, total, or timeless; and the difference between surface and radical freedom. Readings will be drawn from: The Second Sex (Beauvoir); Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth (Fanon); Eros and Civilization and One-Dimensional Man (Marcuse); and Discipline and Punish or The History of Sexuality, Volume One (Foucault).

Requisite: At least one prior course in political science, or a course on social or political theory in any department. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Park.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023

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. Spring semester. Professor Polk.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2023

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.

Recommended Prior Coursework: SWAG 100 or HIST/SWAG 158. Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Peralta.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

349 Law and Love

[Analytic Seminar] (Offered as LJST 349 and SWAGS 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. Fall semester.  Professor Umphrey.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2014, Fall 2015, Fall 2017, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

365, 372 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 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Professor Shandilya.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2023

376, 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: Offered in Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022, Spring 2024

400, 407 Contemporary Debates: Gendering 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 the populists' 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.

Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Basu.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2023

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.

Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above)

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

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Senior Lecturer Picq.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

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) or consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Fall semester. Professor Reyes. 

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2022

422 Woolf and Her Circles: British Women Writers, 1918-1939

(Offered as ENGL 422 and SWAG 422) Best known for her experiments with form and style in the modernist novel, Virginia Woolf was also deeply engaged with the literary and artistic currents of her time. This course addresses several of Woolf’s key texts alongside the work of lesser known women writers, both in the Bloomsbury Group and in overlapping activist circles. We will investigate how Woolf and her contemporaries grapple with issues such as the psychic and social damage wrought by the First World War; alternatives to conventional understandings of gender, sexuality, marriage, and domesticity; and the role of women in shaping new visions of a more equitable and just future. We will challenge notions of canonization in reading the work of Vera Brittain, Radclyffe Hall, Winifred Holtby, Katherine Mansfield, Jean Rhys, and Dorothy Sayers alongside Woolf's writings and those of the male modernists with whom she is often associated. In addition to weekly forum posts, two formal essays are required: a midterm paper (5-7 pages) involving close textual analysis of a primary source; and a final research paper (12-15 pages), with a draft to be revised in conjunction with a peer review workshop. Students will be encouraged to conduct research in local and digital archives.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Professor L. Shapiro Sanders.

2022-23: Offered in Spring 2023

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023
Other years: Offered in 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, Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Spring 2024

498, 498D, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors

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

Fall semester. The Department.

2022-23: Offered in Fall 2022
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023

Related Courses

AMST-219 Rebels and Reformers: Women in the Progressive Era (Course not offered this year.)
COLQ-335 Transgender Histories (Course not offered this year.)