Courses & Requirements

Requirements for the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major

The minimum number of credits required for the major is 40.

Core Courses

  • Core Courses: WS-100, 200, 340, and a for-credit internship (WS-390, WS-450, or REL-370)

WS-100: Introduction to Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (4.00)

This course introduces students to key concepts and central debates within the interdisciplinary field of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). The goal of this class is to provide students with the analytical tools and terminology needed to undertake rigorous, intersectional, feminist examinations of historic and contemporary sociocultural practices and problems.

WS-340: Contemporary Feminist Theory (4.00)

A cross-disciplinary study of feminist theorists representing a variety of approaches. Cross-listed with PHI-340.

Course requisites: WS-100 or any Philosophy course

WS-390: The World As Classroom (4.00)

Students in this class will draw on 10 hours per week in an internship setting of their choosing to enrich their participation in a weekly seminar that utilizes feminist frameworks to connect learning outside the classroom with thoughtful reflection and grounded theory inside the classroom. Permission of instructor is required.

WS-450: Credit Internship (1.00)

For juniors and seniors who want a more-focused academic component to accompany their internship, the independently designed 450 may be an option. Students must identify a faculty sponsor and complete detailed paperwork for approval from the Office of Internship and Career Development.

REL-370: Community-Based Internship (2.00)

An academic internship that links theory and systemic analysis to practical community-based service, ethics, and learning in a local organization. The Community-Based Internship Course is an interdisciplinary academic course for students engaging in community-based leadership and service. Through readings in leadership theory in the class and with practical application under supervision in an organization, students will explore the work and issues of their organization in its local and broader contexts. Reflective analysis is a key part of this course and students will relate leadership theory and experience to their major disciplines. This course is an academic internship that links theory and systemic analysis to practical community-based service, ethics, and learning in a local organization. Approval and internship course paperwork approved by the Office of Internship and Career Development is required for registration. This course may be taken for 2-4 hours credit (for 2 credit hours: 4-5 hours each week on-site; for 4 credits: 8-10 hours each week on-site with an organization), and other academic requirements include research, keeping a reflective portfolio and the presentation of a case study.

Elective Courses (six)

  • Topical: Three courses that share a common theme (at least one of which must be a WS course that serves to link the non-WS courses to WGSS), plus three WS courses of the student's choosing. At least three of the six must be at the 300 level or higher. (Must be approved by the WGSS department.)
    -OR-
  • Divisional: Six WS courses, at least two from the humanities/arts list and two from the social sciences/natural sciences list that is maintained by the WGSS department chair. At least three of the six must be at the 300 level or higher.

Global Diversity

  • One course with a non-U.S. focus as designated on a list maintained by the WGSS department chair.

Additional WGSS Courses

WS-125: Introduction to Human Rights (4.00)

An exploration of the theoretical and historical foundations of human rights from a multidisciplinary perspective. Presents human rights as a framework of analysis and as a moral discourse. Examines group rights-for example, women, indigenous peoples, or inmates-and analyzes particularly challenging human rights problems such as genocide, torture, and immigrants' rights. Cross-listed with POL/REL-125.

WS-201: Intersectional Research Methods (4.00)

This course introduces students to research methods, critical techniques and theoretical approaches commonly utilized by Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies scholars.

Course requisites: WS-100 or permission of instructor.

WS-202: Psychology of Sexual Behavior (4.00)

Study of psychological determinants and consequences of human sexual behavior. Attitudinal and emotional factors will be emphasized. Cross-listed with PSY-202.

Course requisites: PSY-101 or PSY-102

WS-205: Introduction to Queer Studies (4.00)

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of queer studies. Drawing from queer theory, feminist scholarship, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, we will examine how intersecting categories such as race, class, gender, regionalism, and nationalism influence how queerness is understood and experienced.

WS-210: Religion and Ecology (4.00)

Religion and Ecology is an interdisciplinary course that explores the relationship of world religions with nature, meaning, place, and ethics. Focus will be on notions of "the sacred earth," spiritual engagement with nature, approaches to environmental crises and climate change, interfaith collaborations, feminist ecotheologies, and areas of sustainability (food, soil, air, water, energy, lifestyle, technology, the future, etc.). This course is experiential and connected with the local environmental community through site visits and speakers. Cross-listed with REL-210.

WS-211: Marriage and the Family (4.00)

The family as a basic social institution. The range of alternative behaviors in contemporary family life. Role relationships within the family and changes in family patterns. Family organization in different social classes, ethnic groups, and utopian communities. Cross-listed with SOC-211.

Course requisites: ANT-101 or SOC-101

WS-215: Modern Architecture (4.00)

Consideration of the key developments in architecture and urban design from the mid-19th century through postmodernism. Cross-listed with ART-215.

Course requisites: ART-150

WS-216: Topics in Black Writing (4.00)

TOPICS IN BLACK WRITING--Exploration of the varieties of American and international black writing across literary periods. Cross-listed as AS/ENG-216

Description for topic "BLACK WOMEN WRITERS"--Some of the most significant achievements in African-American literature during the past thirty-five years have been made by black women writers, culminating in Toni Morrison's receiving the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature. This course purports to connect these recent and contemporary works to the body of black women's literature that precedes it. The scope of this survey will range from literary responses to the experience of slavery to the fictional experiments of the post-civil rights generation. The writers to be scrutinized include Wilson, Butler, Hopkins, Walker, Larsen, Jones, and Youngblood. Their works will be contextualized by way of the intersection of their historical, social, cultural and creative moments.

Description for topic "WOMEN WRITERS OF THE AFRICAN DIASPORA"--This course will connect recent works from the rich body of literature produced by black women since 1970 to earlier writing by their predecessors. The scope of this survey will range from literary responses to the experience of slavery to contemporary explorations of the black female presence on the global stage. The writers to be scrutinized will include such writers as Wilson, Butler, Hopkins, Walker, Larsen, Jones, Shockley, Levy and Lee. Their works will be interpreted within their historical, social, cultural and aesthetic contexts. Counts toward post-1800 requirement for English majors.

Course requisites: ENG-110

WS-218: Queer Literature (4.00)

Definitions of identity based on sexuality are relatively recent; in this course, we will survey the historical and social construction of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities in literature. Situating texts into frames of literary, social, and cultural representations of queerness, we will historicize the development of non-heteronormative sexual and gender identities in an effort to illustrate that our contemporary ideas about sexuality and LGBTQ identities are informed by various academic disciplines, cultural influences, and political ideologies. Cross-listed with ENG-224.

Course requisites: Prereq ENG-110

WS-219: Women in World Music (4.00)

WOMEN IN WORLD MUSIC--An historical and sociological overview of the various roles women have played in music in cultures around the world as composers, performers, teachers, entertainers, and patrons, etc., from antiquity to the present day, with emphasis on non-Western traditions. Cross-listed with MUS-219.

WS-220: European Women Since the Middle Ages (4.00)

Experiences of and ideas about European women in the public and private spheres from the late Middle Ages through the 20th century. Cross-listed with HIS-220.

WS-221: Topics in Women and Literature (4.00)

TOPICS IN WOMEN AND LITERATURE--Women as authors and subjects in literature, wherein gender is a central factor of analysis (for example, Early Women Writers or Southern Women Writers). Counts toward pre-1800 or post-1800 requirement depending on topic. Cross-listed with ENG-220.

Description for "SOUTHERN WOMEN WRITERS"--The American South has arguably produced a disproportionate amount of the country's most well-regarded authors. In this course, students will examine writing from women living in the southern United States, considering what might make this region, its writers, and its writing, distinctive. Reading texts from a variety of authors, students will think about what aspects might work together to construct the Southern woman's voice--if it exists at all. Texts may include works by Alice Walker, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Monique Truong, Carson McCullers, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Madox Roberts, and Jesmyn Ward.

Description for "EARLY WOMEN WRITERS"--What did it mean for a woman to find her voice at a time when the feminine ideal was to be chaste, silent, and obedient? We will study texts by a servant and a queen, autobiography and fantasy, love poems and tracts, from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Restoration.

Description for "RADICAL KOREAN WOMEN POETS"--This course will investigate radically feminist Korean poetry spanning from Choson Era Korea (16th century) to the present. Students will work to understand major texts written by Korean women writers from both a creative and scholarly perspective. Poets we will study include Hwang Chini and her use of the sijo to express feminine desire, poetry written for and about Korean comfort women. Yi Yonju, a persona poet who adopted the voice of sex workers living on or near American Military bases between the 60s-80s, and the iconoclastic work of Kim Hyesoon and Kim Yideum, two women who are changing the course of Korean poetry in translation as well as apply their ideas to other contexts (i.e. border studies, human rights, women, gender, and sexuality, language and power.

Course requisites: ENG-110

WS-222: Human Rights in Muslim Contexts (4.00)

Is Islam compatible with human rights? We will analyze various debates surrounding this issue, exploring key actors and factors in state-society relations, conceptualizations of Middle Eastern politics, Muslim culture, and human rights. The course will present various debates on key rights issues, including minority and women's rights, and explore the impact of transnational activist networks on domestic human rights concerns. Cross-listed with POL-222.

WS-223: Diversity, Democracy and Education (4.00)

The study of models of education that respect human diversity especially as these relate to ethnic, cultural, gender, class and linguistic identity. Examination of how the conception of diversity adopted informs transformative educational policy and practice. Cross-listed with EDU-220.

WS-224: Leadership, Feminism & Religion (4.00)

In most religious cultures, women as a group were denied an active and authoritative role in its formation and interpretation. This course will look at women's struggle with their respective religious traditions and examples where women did play a role in shaping the tradition. We will explore the lives of women in multiple religious tradition: indigenous, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Islam. Together, we will explore some of the following themes: traditional religious knowledge production, patriarchy, feminism both as an analytical tool and as a social vision, women as moral agents, and development of feminist theories in various world religions, feminist critiques, and reforms presented. We will end the course by looking at concrete social issues, for example, sexual violence, abortion, pornography, and reproductive technologies to see how feminist in different religious traditions have influenced change. Cross-listed with REL-224.

WS-225: Topics in Women's Health (4.00)

This course will examine women's health issues from scientific and sociopolitical perspectives. Cross-listed with PH-225.

WS-226: Maternal and Reproductive Health (4.00)

This course employs a liberal arts approach, introducing multiple disciplinary perspectives on maternal and reproductive health topics, including pregnancy and childbirth, family planning, infertility and reproductive technologies. It will foster increased understanding of socio-cultural, biological, economic, environmental and historical influences on health, and encourage students to think critically about technical, financial, ethical and gendered aspects of intervention strategies. The course employs a case study approach; students will discuss real-life examples of maternal and reproductive health interventions, policies and ethical dilemmas. Cross-listed with PH-226.

WS-229: Topics in Film Study: Women & Film (4.00)

TOPICS IN FILM STUDY--Approaches to film from the viewpoints of history, genre and technique. (Introduction to Film will alternate with Film History). Cross-listed with ENG-230 when topic applies.

Description for "WOMEN AND FILM"--This course will focus on the history of film with primary focuses on the achievements of women film directors and on feminist film criticism. We will examine the contributions of women film directors to such film historical moments as the Silent Cinema, the Hollywood Studio System, the international art film, and contemporary independent film. Theoretical considerations will include ideology and genre, gender and spectatorship, and the cinematic gaze. Films for analysis will include the work of Lois Weber, Dorothy Arzner, Agnes Varda, Patricia Rozema, Jane Campion, Cheryl Dunye, and Catherine Breillat. Students will acquire a familiarity with current issues in film studies in addition to an overview of the development of narrative film. Students will utilize an array of critical skills to analyze film as a social/cultural text as well as an art form. Course requirements will include regular screenings, weekly essays, online exercises, weekly quizzes, and a synthesizing final exercise.

Course requisites: ENG-110;

WS-230: Psychology of Women (4.00)

The purpose of this class is to provide students with an introduction to the psychology of women through an intersectional theoretical framework. Throughout the course, students will learn how the field of psychology and related social sciences have studied the effects of social, cultural, and political influences on the socialization of girls and women. Students will explore how such paradigms, specifically the intersections of race, class, and gender, affect psychological, social, and environmental outcomes for girls and women, nationally and internationally. Cross-listed with PSY-230.

Course requisites: PSY-101 or PSY-102

WS-231: Race, Class and Gender (4.00)

Survey of the history, basic theories and recent research integrating these key concepts for modern society. Systematic examination of the effects of these variables on different groups in society. Cross-listed with SOC/AS-230.

WS-235: Gender and the Law (4.00)

This course examines key aspects of U.S. constitutional and statutory law that deal with gender. Possible topics include: legal guarantees of sex & race equality, marriage, employment discrimination (including sexual harassment), affirmative action, rape, domestic violence, reproductive rights, pornography and prostitution.

WS-242: A Multicultural History of American Women (4.00)

A MULTICULTURAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN WOMEN--Experiences of and ideas about women in the United States since the colonial period, with special emphasis on how gender has historically intersected with women's race, class, ethnic, sexual and regional identities. Cross-listed with HIS-242.

WS-243: Sexuality, Gender & Power in Greece and Rome (4.00)

This course examines sexuality and gender as discourses of power in Greece and Rome through a variety of primary literary and material culture sources. It will simultaneously introduce modern scholarly approaches to these issues, including Foucauldian analysis; feminist theory; queer studies; and gender theory. Cross-listed with CLA-243.

WS-244: Women and Buddhism (4.00)

The question of women's place and standing within Buddhism remains problematic and sometimes contentious. In this course we will focus on women in Buddhist literature over time, in order to draw conclusions about women's place and status according to doctrinal sources. We will also focus on women in Buddhism, looking at the lives of contemporary Buddhist women, with the aim of understanding the values and concerns that sustain, drive, and empower them. Cross-listed with REL-244.

WS-245: Marriage, Sexuality and Power in Cross Cultural Perspective (4.00)

This course reviews marriage around the world, such as polygyny, monogamy, polyandry, and homosexual and heterosexual unions, and discusses the consequences for emotional bonds, power, sexuality, children, and financial arrangements. Cross-listed with ANT-245.

WS-251: Gender, Sexuality & Islam (4.00)

Gender and sexuality are crucial to understanding the political, social, and economic life in the world today. Gender and sexuality studies challenge a number of traditional, academic, and cultural perspectives. In this course, we will be using critical texts from a wide variety of disciplines to examine gender and sexuality in the Muslim context. Using gender and sexuality as our main lens of analysis, we will be able to tease out the complex relationships between religion and culture and think about how particular constructions of culture have been pivotal to the reproduction of each of these social structures. In the final section of the course, we will look at transnational discourses that shape the way in which Islam and "the woman question" is imagined in relationship to gender and sexuality. We will also learn about Orientalism, colonialism, and the role of global inequalities. Cross-listed with REL-251.

WS-252: African American Women's History (4.00)

An examination of African American women's experiences from slavery to the present, considering the changing historical conditions under which black women challenged racism and sexism and fought for self-determination and autonomy. Meets the Historical Studies/Classical Civilizations standard and the Social/Cultural Analysis standard. Cross-listed with AS/HIS-252.

WS-263: Religion, Ethics and Social Justice (4.00)

In this course we will investigate how a variety of religious ethics and social justice theories and practices address past and current social, cultural and political issues. We will learn about the ethical dimensions of individual and systemic practices in the context of religion, along with ethical reflection, decision making, and activism. Special focus will be on feminist and womanist approaches to ethics and women religious leaders. Cross-listed with REL-263.

WS-265: Queering Religion (4.00)

In this course, we will examine the history, theology, sacred texts, ritual, religious communities, and movements of queer religion in various religions of the world. We will engage contemporary issues and debates within the study of queer religion, considering queer theory, popular culture (film, literature, media, politics), and LGBTQ+ religious movements. We will survey queer liberation theologies in U.S., Latin American, Asian and African contexts. (Cross-listed with REL-265.)

WS-277: Sex, Gender & Digital Identity (4.00)

This course will take an intersectional approach to the examination of sex, gender, and the evolution of digital identity. Topics may include profile generation, gaming cultures, the "Online Disinhibition Effect," online misogyny, harassment, and well-being. Course counts as an elective in the Film & Media Studies minor.

WS-295: Topics in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (4.00)

TOPICS IN WOMEN'S, GENDER & SEXUALITY STUDIES--A detailed, critical analysis of a specific topic in WGSS. Previous topics have included Theorizing the Female Body; Women in Families; Marginalized Women Redefining Feminism; and Audre Lorde: Challenging and Transforming Feminist Thought. May be repeated for credit when subject matter warrants.

Course requisites: WS-100 or permission of instructor

WS-301: Feminism and Sexuality (4.00)

Feminism is understood by many to have implications for understanding not only gender, but sexuality as well. This course will begin to explore these implications by investigating such issues as the social construction of sex, gender and sexuality; heterosexuality as a site of women's oppression; lesbianism as feminist practice; and queer theory. Prerequisite: one course in women's studies or permission of the instructor.

WS-303: Black, Queer & Trans Lives in Americas (4.00)

This upper level undergraduate seminar explores how members of the interatlantic African diaspora address issues of gender, sexuality, and racialized embodiment while navigating everyday lived experience. Our intersectional analyses will focus on Black, queer, and trans communities in the Americas and their commitment to dismantling racist, sexist, heteropatriarchal, transphobic, elitist hegemonic structures. Cross-listed with AS-303.

Course requisites: WS-110 or permission of instructor.

WS-304: Women As Artists and Patrons From the 12th to the 18th Centuries (4.00)

WOMAN AS MUSE AND MAKER FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT--Introduction to the role of women as both creators and sponsors of works of art. Not only were women the ambivalent object of portrayal from Eve to the Virgin, but they were also a force behind pen and parchment. From Hildegard of Bingen to Maria Robusti to Judy Chicago to Shirin Neshat, we trace the role of women as objects, as artists, and as patrons in the history of art. We emphasize issues of agency, the gaze, and Feminist theory. Cross-listed with ART-304.

Course requisites: 150 and any 200-level art course

WS-306: Authorial Studies (4.00)

AUTHORIAL STUDIES--Focuses on the work of one or two major figures in context (for example, Chaucer, Milton, Austen, Richardson and Fielding or Morrison). Cross-listed with ENG-306.

Description for "JANE AUSTEN"--Jane Austen's novels have always been popular, respected, and beloved, but contextualizing them reveals how very astute they were in examining the social relations and social problems of her day. This course will focus on close, contextualized readings of Austen's six completed novels. We will consider how these readings illuminate the historical moments in which Austen wrote. How did she conceive of courtship, love, and proper conduct for young women? How do her novels reach beyond these topics and address economic, political, philosophical, and gender issues? How does she use the form of the novel to do all this? What is her legacy for the centuries of fiction that followed her?

Description for "BURNEY AND AUSTEN"--This course will juxtapose the work of Jane Austen with that of Frances Burney, who greatly influenced Austen and was a significant author in her own right. We will study their novels as they build on and depart from crucial social constructions of courtship, love, and proper conduct for young women especially. We will also explore how their writing reaches beyond these topics and addresses economic, political, and philosophical matters. Many of these issues will come together as we consider the perceived and real roles of women authors in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Readings will include Burney's first two novels, three novels by Austen, and selected letters and journal entries. Counts toward pre-1800 requirement.

WS-307: Women and Gender in the Middle East (4.00)

This course is an overview of themes related to gender and women throughout the history of the Middle East, from the rise of Islam to the present. The course will cover the place and role of gender relations and women in religion, state, and society. Specific topics include the place of women in Islamic foundational texts, the shaping of gender relations in early Islamic society and jurisprudence, the role of women and family in Islamic empires, as well as the effect of imperialism on families and societies of the Middle East. Starting with the nineteenth century, we will explore the question of gender through the themes of migration, modernization, nationalism, sexuality, feminism, state formation, decolonization, the rise of political Islam, the "global war on terror", and finally the Arab Uprisings. Cross-listed with HIS-307.

WS-310: Studies in Early Literature (4.00)

STUDIES IN EARLY LITERATURE--Thematic or generic studies in medieval and early modern literatures. Cross-listed with ENG-310.

Description for "QUEERING THE RENAISSANCE"--Men desiring men, women desiring women, women presenting themselves as men, and men presenting themselves as women abound in early modern plays and poems. This course, which borrows its title from a path-breaking 1994 collection of critical essays, examines English Renaissance texts in which gender and sexual expression are not directed by male/female or hetero-/homosexual binaries. It will also consider literary criticism and modern adaptations of these texts, both for the light they shed on the primary texts and as objects of analysis in their own rights.

Course requisites: One 200-level English course

WS-311: Borders, Rights and Identities: Latina/o Political Struggles in the US (4.00)

Overview of the experience of Latinos/as in the United States. Examines the cultural background, demographics, economic struggles and political strategies of this fast-growing minority group. Discusses issues important for Latinos/as, such as immigration, education, economic opportunities and bilingualism and looks at public policies affecting them. Cross-listed with POL-311.

Course requisites: One 100-level course

WS-312: Special Topics Theatre/Women's Studies (4.00)

SPECIAL TOPICS IN THEATRE/WOMEN'S STUDIES--Study in selected areas of theatre history, dramatic literature, dramatic theory or performance theory. May be repeated if subject matter varies. Cross-listed with THE-395.

Description for "AWARD WINNING WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS"--This course will focus on plays written by women that have received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and the Tony Award. That includes some classic plays by noted playwrights, but also works by some of the biggest names working right now such as Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel, Quiara Alegria Hudes, and Annie Baker. No prerequisite.

WS-313: Gender Politics (4.00)

GENDER POLITICS--An analysis of various feminist perspectives on gender, race, and class; feminist analysis of political issues; and the feminist encounter with post-modernism. Cross-listed with POL-313.

Course requisites: One 100 level POL course

WS-314: Sex, Power & Politics (4.00)

This course explores how conflicting understandings of sex, gender, and sexuality shape public policies in important and sometimes unexpected ways. By bringing feminist, queer, and critical race theory to bear on political science scholarship in U.S. public policymaking, this course highlights how dominant gendered and sexual norms suffuse broad swaths of contemporary law and policy; and highlights how those same norms help legitimize only certain individuals as political actors, certain bodies and identities as politically relevant, and certain relationships as politically important. Cross-listed with POL-314.

Course requisites: One 100-level POL course (or POL-226 or WS-100 or WS-110)

WS-317: Studies in Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature (4.00)

STUDIES IN RESTORATION AND 18TH CENTURY LITERATURE--Thematic, generic or period studies (for example: The Colonial Imagination or Forms of Fiction). Cross-listed with ENG-317.

Description for "THE COLONIAL IMAGINATION"--A study of how fiction, drama, letters, poetry, and nonfiction of the late seventeenth- and eighteenth-centuries represent English encounters with other peoples and cultures. We will explore how these representations are themselves part of the colonial project, reinforcing English domination and exploitation; how factors such as gender and class complicate our understanding of colonial situations, and how colonized peoples co-opt and subvert elements of English culture in their own literature. Authors include Behn, Defoe, Swift, Equiano.

Course requisites: 200-level literature course

WS-322: Studies in 19th Century Literature (4.00)

STUDIES IN 19TH CENTURY LITERATURE--Thematic, generic or period studies (for example, Victorian Historicism, The Realist Novel or 19th-Century Poetry), including courses that combine British and American literature. Cross-listed with ENG-322/A/B/C.

Description for "AMERICAN FRAUDS AND CHARLATANS"--Ralph Ellison writes, "America is a land of masking jokers," and he includes Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Abraham Lincoln as examples of posers and tricksters. While America certainly did not invent the phony, the counterfeit, or the con man, these figures play an important role in American literature, and the anxieties about dubious self-representation in the literature of the 20th century have strong roots in the nineteenth. This class will explore those roots and the American worry over "authenticity" (in its various forms), reading authors such as Edgar Alan Poe, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ellen and William Craft, Mark Twain, and Charles Chesnutt.

Description for "THE BRONTE SISTERS"--Between them, the three Bronte sisters produced a notable corpus of poetry and seven memorable novels,at least five of which have acquired a cherished position in the English literary canon-Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and Villette, Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights, and Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, and Agnes Grey. The other two, Charlotte Bronte's The Professor and Shirley, are better known to scholars than to readers generally. In this course, we will study the contributions of the sisters to the development of the novel, particularly in the area of the bildungsroman, the novel of (self-)education, and also scrutinize the tussle between the romantic strain of storytelling and the narrative of psychological realism. Taking into account debates about gender and the woman question, as well as ideologies of race, class, gender and empire during the Victorian period, the course will explore how the texts relate to, or are in dialogue with, these debates and ideologies. Central to our study of the assigned texts is the critical examination of relationships, interactions and outcomes among dominant and marginalized cultures, subcultures and groups, such as women, minorities, racial others, and those discriminated against on the basis of class or social rank.

Description for "THE AGE OF TRANSITION: VICTORIAN POETRY AND PROSE"--Victorian poetry provides a transition, not always smooth, between the Romantic period and the Modern. Although the period itself is variously defined, for our course we shall consider it to span the reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901. It was a time when the British Empire was at the height of its glory. Its writers addressed a vast array of subjects and were frequently involved in political and philosophical disputations about concerns central to their daily lives, the moral appraisal of the imperial project, political economy, the idea of liberty, the complex challenges of increasing industrialization, urbanization, and secularization, the role and position of women in society, the condition of the poor, anxieties about national identity, the education of children and adults, the place of art and literature in society, Darwinism and religion, civilization and culture, aesthetic theories and principles, and many others. In this course we shall study Victorian poets and non-fiction prose writers within the context of these cultural debates. Writers may include, among others, Thomas Carlyle, John Stuart Mill, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Emily Brontë, Sarah Stickney Ellis, Matthew Arnold, John Ruskin, Walter Pater, Josephine Butler, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Meredith, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Thomas Hardy, and Oscar Wilde.

Description for "THE WOMAN QUESTION IN VICTORIAN LITERATURE"--Questions about the present and future roles of women in domestic and public life animate much of Victorian literature. This course examines the complex, changing situation of women as explored and imagined in the poetry, fiction, and prose of writers such as the Brontes, Gaskell, Mill, Tennyson, Martineau, E. Browning, C. Rossetti, Meredith, Hardy, and others.

Description for "THE VICTORIAN NOVEL: BILDUNGSROMAN"--We shall focus our study on the many varieties of Victorian Bildungsroman - the novel of self-development, male and female-and through it examine issues pertaining to self-perception and identity formation, gender dynamics and gender difference, women's rights and the woman question, relationship between self and work, between the provincial locale and the metropolis, between England and the Empire, between art and artistic pursuit, and explore the effects of industrialization, scientific and technological innovation, and social and political change on society and the individual. Texts include works by Charles Dickens, W.M. Thackeray, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, George Meredith, and Thomas Hardy.

WS-324: Critical Disability Studies (4.00)

This course surveys key concepts, themes, methods, and debates in the interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies. It is attentive to the ways that disability intersects with other categories of identity, such as gender, sexuality, and race. Possible topics include: histories of disability rights activism, theoretical approaches to disability, queerness and disability, bioethics, media representations of disability, and disability and art.

Course requisites: WS-100 or permission of instructor

WS-325: Studies in African American Literature (4.00)

STUDIES IN AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE--Thematic, generic or period studies (for example, The African-American Novel or Major African-American Writers). Cross-listed with ENG/AS-325.

Description for topic "AFRICAN AMERICAN FICTION AND FILM"--The African American novel has proven to be a vibrant and resilient form, giving expression to the experiences and concerns of black people for more than 150 years. Through the representational potentialities provided by fiction, black writers have given witness and testimony to a people's quest for freedom, identity, justice, and equality. A primary category of analysis will be gender, as the reading list will consist of paired texts by female and male writers. A special film component will be available for film studies credit.

Description for topic "BLACK WRITERS ABROAD: AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE IN GLOBAL CONTEXT"--This course will focus on the literature produced by African American writers in response to their experiences of expatriation, exile, and travel in Europe and Africa. African American geographical movement is usually associated with the Middle Passage of the slave trade and the Great Migration from the Southern states to the North in the twentieth century. Less attention has been paid to an African American diasporic mobility whereby black men and women ranged far and wide across the Atlantic in search of physical safety, equal treatment, artistic inspiration, political asylum, economic opportunity, spiritual expression, and personal liberation. Some specific issues for scrutiny include: the shifting meaning of an American identity for blacks abroad; the ramifications of encounters with diasporic Africans; the effect of international experience and writing upon the shaping of the African American literary voice and tradition; the critique of America and its institutions and attitudes proffered from a geographically removed vantage point; the heightened ability of expatriate blacks to understand the workings of American racism; and the impact of black women living and traveling abroad.

Course requisites: 200-level literature course

WS-330: Gender & Education in Global Perspective (4.00)

Focuses on the intersection of education and gender, drawing on interdisciplinary research in global development and gender studies. Examines theoretical perspectives, policies, and strategies for making education more equitable globally. Cross-listed with EDU-330.

Course requisites: At least 1 Education course or permission of instructor

WS-333: Women and the Politics of Social Change In Muslim Contexts (4.00)

The course examines the increasingly visible role played by women in political, religious, and social movements in Muslim contexts, focusing on diverse forms of activism and organization. We will analyze social movement theory and debates about the (in)compatibility between rights/gender equality and Islam as well as specific issues such as family rights, violence against women, religious expression, and women's political representation. Cross-listed with POL-333.

WS-334: Sex, Gender and Embodiment in Buddhism (4.00)

This course examines the various ways that different Buddhist societies have struggled with the tension between the religion's transcendent goal of enlightenment and the this-worldly challenges of human sexuality, embodiment, and gender. Cross-listed with REL-334.

Course requisites: Take ONE from REL-113 REL-130 REL-133 REL-195 or REL-232 or permission of instructor.

WS-343: Family, Love and Marriage in Premodern Europe (4.00)

The social and cultural history of families, love and marriage in Europe prior to 1800. Topics include: family and marriage structures; developing gender identities; sexuality; patriarchy; childhood; adolescence and old age; family planning; celibacy and virginity; family, sex and law. Cross-listed with HIS-343.

WS-344: Studies in American Literature (4.00)

STUDIES IN AMERICAN LITERATURE--Thematic, generic or period studies (for example, The American Renaissance or American Realism and Naturalism). Cross-listed with ENG-345.

Description for "AMERICAN MODERNISM"--Between World War I and World War II the American Modernists changed the face of literature, working from urban and rural spaces, in and outside the borders of the U.S. This course will study the texts of the American Modernists, exploring the different ways in which this group contested conventions and created a new space for American artists by continuously challenging perceptions of art and trying to remake old traditions in modern ways. Readings will include both canonical and neglected works from authors such as William Faulkner, Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, T.S. Eliot, and Jessie Redmon Fauset. In addition to literary examples of Modernism, students will examine different media from the period, including film and music.

Course requisites: 200-level literature course

WS-345: Studies in Gender and Sexuality (4.00)

STUDIES IN GENDER AND SEXUALITY--Exploration of constructions and representations of gender and sexual identities in literature (for example, Lesbian Novel, American Genders and Sexualities). Cross-listed with ENG-340.

Description for "GENDER, SEXUALITY AND THE CANTERBURY TALES" --In writing the Wife of Bath's Tale, Geoffrey Chaucer took on the persona of a boisterous five-time widow in order to complain about the myriad ways that men abuse women, and then to tell a story in which Queen Guinevere orders that a rapist knight must go on a quest to discover what every woman really wants. Many centuries later, literary scholars are still arguing about exactly what Chaucer was up to in this cross-dressing, oddly self-interrogating literary performance, but all agree that it raises complex issues regarding sex and gender that remain powerfully resonant today. In this course we will read several works by Chaucer, identifying issues of sex and gender as they emerge in their literary and historical contexts, and considering them also through the lens of contemporary feminist, gender, and queer theory. We will seek to discover both what light that theory sheds on Chaucer's writing and how Chaucer's writing anticipates, complicates, and even evades that theory.

Description for "VICTORIAN SEXUALITIES"--Throughout most of the 20th century, historians and cultural critics labeled the Victorian age the age of repression. But the Victorians had a culture-wide obsession with sex. The marital theme in Victorian fiction, the sensuality of Aestheticist poetry, the invention of the new field of "sexology" and new psychic identities based on sexual difference, debates about gender roles and their relationship to biological "instincts"; all of these issues remind us that the Victorians were in fact preoccupied with sexuality.Indeed, the central argument of this course will be that the very concept of "sexuality" is a 19th-century invention, and that the Victorians constructed multiple, heterogeneous forms of sexual identity which continue to shape our conceptions to this day.

Description for "LIKE A VIRGIN: GENDER AND SEXUALITY IN MEDIEVAL AND EARLY MODERN EUROPEAN LITERATURE"--Reading medieval and early modern European literature alongside recent gender studies scholarship and feminist theory, we will examine how these literary works construct femininity, masculinity, and sometimes a separate, third gender for the chaste monk or nun. From virgin martyrs to cross-dressing saints to castrated theologians, medieval religious literature often shaped the individual's relationship to God through gendered imagery. In a typical case, Bernard of Clairvaux characterized the soul as feminine in a spousal relationship to Christ the bridegroom. Gender, however, was not conceived in binary terms in medieval literature, especially religious texts. For example, Julian of Norwich represented Jesus as a mother in her Revelations. Our early modern readings include misogynistic plays, treatises on idealized female communities, and courty poetry expressing same-sex desire. In the final weeks of the course, we will discuss gender alongside sexuality, including virginity, courtly love relationships, and rape and consent. We will explore how pre-modern texts shape and represent what we would call "sexual orientation" today.

Course requisites: 200-level literature course.

WS-347: Renaissance Italy: Ideas, Culture and Lived Experience (4.00)

This class explores the intellectual and artistic movements of the Renaissance and the society that gave rise to these movements by considering how changes in culture, politics, religion and the economy influenced daily life while shaping art, literature and science. Cross-listed with HIS-347.

WS-350: Studies in Modernism (4.00)

STUDIES IN MODERNISM--Thematic or generic studies (for example, Modern Poetry, or Virginia Woolf and Modernism). Cross-listed with ENG-350.

Description for "ENG-350 WOMEN'S VOICES IN MODERN IRISH LITERATURE"--While women writers have always contributed to Irish literature, their voices and works have achieved new distinction and resonance in the modern era, whether the subject be growing up and living in a colony or a divided country, domestic life, class conflict, romance, politics, the position of women, social criticism, or art. This course examines the poetry, novels, plays, and memoirs of modern Irish women writers as they address the evolving problem of what it means today, and what it has meant since the beginning of the independence struggle in the early twentieth century, to be Irish and female. We will explore the efforts of these writers to identify and pursue new topics for present and future artistic exploration, studying works by writers such as Sydney Owenson, Augusta Gregory, Elizabeth Bowen, Kathleen Tynan, Kate O'Brien, Mary Lavin, Eavan Boland, Clare Boylan, Deirdre Madden, Jennifer Johnston, Marie Jones, Edna O'Brien, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Marina Carr, Anne Enright, Vona Groark, and others.

WS-351: Contemporary German Life and Thought (4.00)

The course explores selected topics and debates in contemporary Germany, ranging from German reunification to environmental politics, gender discourses, and immigration policies. Cross-listed with GER-351.

Course requisites: Take GER-202;

WS-352: Global Feminisms (4.00)

This interdisciplinary course explores global/transnational feminist issues as individual and collective practices and as organized movements. Cross-listed with POL-352.

Course requisites: WS-100, WS/POL/REL-125 or WS/POL-222 (or permission)

WS-354: Chinese Women on Film: History and the Cinematic Imagination (4.00)

This course examines the history of women and gender in China as depicted in film. Emphasis will be placed on the ways in which modernization, imperialism, and globalization have shaped women's roles and representations of women throughout the 20th century. Cross-listed with HIS-354.

WS-355: Studies in 20th Century and Contemporary Literature (4.00)

STUDIES IN TWENTIETH CENTURY AND CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE--Studies of themes in recent literature. Approved topics listed below/ Topics count toward pre-1800 or post-1800 requirement. Cross-listed with ENG-355.

Description for "NATIVE AND FOREIGN, LOCATION AND MIGRATION"--This course addresses the phenomenology of modern and contemporary migration across three literary genres. Beginning with a short story from 1901 by immigrant author Joseph Conrad, we survey a range of nationalities and narratives by authors of diverse ethno-cultural and linguistic heritages, e.g. Nigerian, Anglo-Indian, Korean, and Jewish/Yiddish. Authors may include Conrad, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tejo Cole, Chang-Rae Lee, Philip Roth, Colson Whitehead, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Description for "ALTERED STATES: POSTMODERN AND TRANSNATIONAL FICTION"--How do novels reconfigure our understanding of reality? How do novels construct race, gender, or nationality? What separates fiction and truth? This class examines these questions in fiction and theory since 1950, including Nabokov, Pynchon, Winterson, Morrison, and Rushdie.

WS-356: Comparative Black Feminisms (4.00)

Interdisciplinary analysis and critique of the history of ideas which make up African and African diasporic feminist thought and practice. Cross-listed with AS/SOC-356.

Course requisites: ANT-101, SOC-101 or WS-100

WS-357: Power, Leadership and Gender in Machiavelli and His Times (4.00)

POWER, LEADERSHIP AND GENDER IN MACHIAVELLI AND HIS TIMES--This course will explore the relationship between power, leadership, and gender in the thought of the most famous and controversial political theorist in the Western tradition, Niccolò Machiavelli. Although Machiavelli is best known for the ideas that he expressed in The Prince (1513), for the rest of his life Machiavelli engaged in a constant process of rethinking and revising these ideas. We will examine how in the Discourses on Livy, the Art of War, the plays Mandragola and Clizia, his poetry and his personal correspondence with acquaintances and friends, Machiavelli reformulates his notions on the methods and limits of political power; of the forms of government and their relative merits; of social structures and the ways they condition individual action; and of the nature of political thought itself, especially how it is affected by assumptions about gender, family, and the realm of the private and erotic. Gender will be employed as the central category of analysis for our close readings of Machiavelli's works. Cross-listed with HIS-357.

Course requisites: Soph, Junior or Senior standing (or permission).

WS-359: Topics in African & Afr Diaspora History (4.00)

Critical examination of a specific topic in African history or the history of the African Diaspora. Topics vary from year to year, and the course may be repeated for credit when the content changes. Cross-listed with HIS/AS-359.

WS-360: Studies in Film and Media (4.00)

STUDIES IN FILM AND MEDIA--Thematic, aesthetic,generic, historical, cultural or theoretical explorations of issues in film and media studies. Counts toward post-1800 requirement. Cross-listed with ENG-360. Description for "ALL ABOUT WOMEN ON THE VERGE: WOMEN AND THE FILMS OF P. ALMODOVAR"--Pedro Almodóvar, Spain's best known film maker, has stood the test of time and come to personify the emergence of a revitalized Spanish culture in the wake of thirty-six years of military dictatorship. In fact, many attribute the international prominence of contemporary Spanish cinema to the popularity of his films beyond the borders of his native country. But while few question the significance of his artistic vision, his works have often aroused strong criticism, in spite of his own claims that he "loves women," for the sometimes-questionable treatment of female characters. In addition to viewing a selection of films by Almodóvar, students will read and discuss the different kinds of texts that have been written about his films (i.e., scholarly journal articles, newspaper reviews and popular opinion) as well as consider more general notions regarding the interpretation of film and the portrayal of women in the arts.

Course requisites: One 200-level English course

WS-365: Dissent & Protest in Muslim Contexts In Muslim Contexts (4.00)

People all across the Muslim world are challenging authorities and seeking social and political change. This course examines contentious politics, in the form of protest, dissent, and social movements that arise in Muslim contexts. While the first part of the course introduces students to key concepts of social movement theory and contentious politics as developed by political sociologists and comparativists, the latter weeks of the course will analyze case studies mostly from the region commonly known as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA.) Together we will examine the factors that lead to contentious politics with an emphasis on structural constraints and opportunities for social and political activism in authoritarian and semi-democratic contexts. We will analyze why some forms of contentious politics lead to social movement development, as in feminist, environmentalist, and religious political movements in many Muslim contexts, while others such as some of the recent pro-democratic uprisings fail in delivering lasting political and electoral change. We will also explore the relation between Islamic activism and social movements, by looking at some the different ways groups have used Islam to mobilize support and as a blueprint for social and political transformation, and examine some of the reasons why some movements use violence. Cross-listed with POL-365.

WS-366: Queer & Trans Film Theory (4.00)

This course provides an introduction to LGBTQ+ film theory through contemporary cinema. Students will draw on foundational film concepts (such as shot, scene, editing, sound, and mise-en-scene) to analyze queer and trans film cinema. Attentive to the intersections of gender and sexuality with race, class, disability, regionalism, nationalism, and other axes of oppression, the course content may include topics in HIV/AIDS activism through film, queer-of-color critique, post-colonial and Third Cinema, and disability film studies, among others. Cross-listed with ENG-366.

Course requisites: WS-110 (Intro Queer Studies) or ENG-230 (Intro Film Studies)

WS-370: Topics in Latino Literature (4.00)

TOPICS IN LATINA/O LITERATURE--A critical analysis of a specific topic, genre, or period in Latino literature and other English Language media produced in the United States. May be repeated for credit when the topic varies. Many Latino authors write in English while filtering their stories through recollections of another country, the Spanish language and their respective cultures. Readings will examine how ancestry, immigration, and bi-cultural realities shape the identity and perspective of Latinos the communities and generations in the U.S. Cross-listed with ENG-370A/SPA-370 when the topic applies.

Description for "LATINA LITERATURE"--This course focuses on the writing of women who self-identify as Mexican, Cuban or Puerto Rican-American. Within this body of literature the course will be dedicated to examining how Latinas handle illness, healing and reproductive issues through a cultural prism different from that of dominant Anglo society.

Course requisites: ENG-110

WS-371: Women, Health and Society (4.00)

Cross-cultural concepts of women's bodies and health, including reproduction and child care, health practitioners and disease. Focus on gender, ethnic and class differences in health, health concepts and health practices around the world and locally, as well as research methods (kinship, interviews) relating to health. Cross-listed with ANT-371.

Course requisites: Sociology 101 or Anthropology 101

WS-375: Women in the New South (4.00)

Political, social and economic experiences of Southern US women since the Civil War, with special attention to issues of gender, race, class and sexuality. Students will conduct oral history and original research and will explore perceptions and misperceptions of Southern womanhood. Cross-listed with HIS-375.

WS-377: African Am.Images in Pop.Cultr (4.00)

Emphasis given to the influence of race on U.S. culture and the interplay of race and culture with politics. Pervasive attention paid in this course to representations of women and to the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender. Cross-listed with SOC/AS-370.

Course requisites: SOC-101 or ANT-101

WS-380: Contemporary Art and Theory (4.00)

Examination of key artists and theories in the art of the last three decades. Issues include: postmodernism, feminism and multiculturalism. Visits to museums and/or area galleries will be integrated into the course. Cross-listed with ART-380.

Course requisites: ART-150

WS-381: Topics in Hispanic Themes (4.00)

TOPICS IN HISPANIC THEMES--Examination of selected aspects of the cultures of Spain and/or Latin America through the study of literature, film, mass media, social institutions and movements. May be repeated for credit when the instructor changes. Typically meets with SPA-480. Cross-listed with SPA-380.

Description for "LATIN AMERICAN WOMEN'S WRITING"--A study of Latin American women representing women in literature, theatre and film with a focus on three broad periods:feminist precursors, the feminist "boom" of the 70's-80's, and productions to the present.

Course requisites: SPA-323 or permission of instructor.

WS-395: Advanced Topics in Women's, Gender And Sexuality Studies (4.00)

ADVANCED TOPICS IN WOMEN'S, GENDER & SEXUALITY STUDIES--A detailed, critical analysis of a specific topic in WGSS designed for students with significant background in WGSS and/or advanced undergraduates. Cross-listed with THE-312 if the topic applies to Theatre.

Description for "AWARD WINNING WOMEN PLAYWRIGHTS"--This course will focus on plays written by women that have received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics' Circle Award, and the Tony Award. That includes some classic plays by noted playwrights, but also works by some of the biggest names working right now such as Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel, Quiara Alegria Hudes, and Annie Baker.

Course requisites: WS-340 or permission of instructor.

WS-396: Critical Readings in Women's, Gender And Sexuality Studies (4.00)

This advanced undergraduate course is designed to expose students to current debates and contemporary research in the field of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Modeled after a graduate-level seminar, this course typically meets once per week for 3 hours and invites students to grapple actively, in a collaborative learning environment, with the ideas proposed in approximately 6 book-length texts.

Course requisites: WS-340 or permission of instructor.

WS-499: Theories of Lib: Feminism in Conversatio (4.00)

THEORIES OF LIBERATION: FEMINISM IN CONVERSATION (SENIOR SEMINAR)--Examines feminist theory's relationship to other liberatory theoretical work (e.g., human rights discourse, queer theory, anti-racist theory, post- colonial theory, disability studies, etc). Restricted to senior Women's Studies majors or minors.

Course requisites: WS-100 and WS-340

Requirements for the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Minor

Required Courses

WS-100: Introduction to Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (4.00)

This course introduces students to key concepts and central debates within the interdisciplinary field of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). The goal of this class is to provide students with the analytical tools and terminology needed to undertake rigorous, intersectional, feminist examinations of historic and contemporary sociocultural practices and problems.

WS-340: Contemporary Feminist Theory (4.00)

A cross-disciplinary study of feminist theorists representing a variety of approaches. Cross-listed with PHI-340.

Course requisites: WS-100 or any Philosophy course

Elective Courses

Three additional courses chosen in consultation with the WGSS department chair; 201 is highly recommended.

WS-201: Intersectional Research Methods (4.00)

This course introduces students to research methods, critical techniques and theoretical approaches commonly utilized by Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies scholars.

Course requisites: WS-100 or permission of instructor.

Back to top