This course introduces students to feminist theory and scholarship and to methodologies commonly employed in the interdisciplinary field of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Attention is focused on how gender and sexuality — together with class, race, religion, age, and other aspects of identity — shape institutions, cultural ideologies, public policy, and the lives and experiences of individuals. [GM1, SS]
Armstrong, Cuomo, Donnell, Gilligan
This course seeks to examine how critically artistic expressions of gender manifest in a variety of cultural products (music, videos, graphic novels, short fiction, film) created in different and divergent communities from around the globe (China, Israel, Ivory Coast, Palestine, Spain, USA). Further, it examines the related concepts of content production and influence in the realm of social media with an eye toward the exploration of art, power, cultural and gendered identities, and who and what in the age of digital expression influences and is influenced by whom. [GM2]
This course merges key insights of environmental studies/activism, which focus on relationships between living beings and their environment, and feminism, which focuses on systemic, hierarchical power structures organized by gender difference. The course investigates questions of power and knowledge at the intersection of ideas about gender and the environment/nature. We explore forms of environmental activism(s) relative to gender and gender difference (particularly as intersecting with race, class, and sexuality) and reflect on popular attitudes toward environmental issues. [GM1]
Across the globe, we observe different economic outcomes across gender that are both significant and persistent. This course takes an interdisciplinary perspective to study decisions that individuals make regarding marriage, children, education, and employment. As part of our examination of these choices and their consequences for economic well-being, we will make comparisons of gender-related outcomes over time and across race and ethnic groups, and learn about government policies that have differential effects across gender. [GM1, SS]
Transfeminism is a movement led by trans women with the goal of ending sexism, transmisogyny, and the oppression of all women. While conservative scholars have questioned trans women’s place in the feminist movement, the field of transfeminism shows us a vibrant academic and political history of trans women working towards women’s liberation. This course will consider foundational and recent scholarship on transfeminism in order to survey the field’s major concepts and debates. We will examine the field’s relationship to queer theory, feminism, and women’s studies. Students will write meaningfully about core concepts in transfeminist theory and engage in archival research to explore the discipline’s relationship to the lived experience and activism of trans women. Likely readings include works by Marquis Bey, Judith Butler, Kate Bornstein, Finn Enke, Treva Ellison, Jules Gill-Peterson, Kai M. Green, Grace Lavery, Matt Richardson, Gayle Salamon, Krista Scott-Dixon, Julia Serano, Sandy Stone, and Susan Stryker.
This course engages students in critical analysis of the criminal justice system and of significant innovations and proposals for reform of policies, programs, and practices. This seminar will introduce the student to the history of women in prison, the profile of women prisoners, operational and security challenges for prison administrators, and a review of the special needs for rehabilitation among women prisoners. The community-based learning component of this seminar is an opportunity for a small group of students from Lafayette College and a group of residents of the Northampton County Correctional Facility (NCP) to exchange ideas and perceptions about crime and justice, the criminal justice system, corrections, and imprisonment. [GM1]
Permission from instructor required.
This course examines how gender and gender identity-as well as race/ethnicity and sexual identity-intersect with STEM-related areas of inquiry. Using a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, the course investigates how STEM fields both shape and are shaped by ideas about gender. Topics include feminist critiques of science, intersections of gender with technology design and use, gender and the built environment, and the relationship between gender and “doing” STEM work. [GM1]
This course examines the work of women and non-binary filmmakers and how their images have been historically constructed (and not constructed) in cinema in the US and beyond. We will examine the ways gender is inseparable from race, class, religion, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, age, religion, and nation. As a community of learners, we will combine close readings of films, advertising, print, and social media, alongside vigorous discussion, and analytic writing. [GM1, W]
Prerequisite: FAMS 101 or WGS 101 or permission
Violence is a central topic of study within the interdisciplinary field of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The objectives for this course emphasize how material, discursive, and digital technologies enable violence across different sites, including the body, home, and within institutions. With a focus on how social identities — including gender, sexuality, and race — intersect with technologies of violence, this course addresses the connections between intimate, state, and global violence, along with corresponding methods of resistance. [GM1] WGS 101 is recommended.
This course critically examines pervasive notions of masculinity, focusing especially on systemic, hierarchical power structures organized around gender differences. The course investigates widely held assumptions about masculinity and femininity, considers the powerful influence of hegemonic norms of masculinities, and explores various forms of resistance to and disruption of such norms. Our approach will be intersectional, as we examine the importance of race, class, and sexuality in the construction of multiple masculinities. [GM1]
What is work? Who does it and in what capacity? And how does gender influence ideas about and practices of women’s and men’s labor? In this course, we will analyze these questions in specific contexts across the Americas from Argentina to the United States. We will study women’s productive and reproductive labor from an intersectional perspective that takes into account not only gender but also class, race, ethnicity, sexuality, life stage, and migration status. [GM1, GM2, SS]
These interdisciplinary courses explore from the perspective of feminist and gender theory issues of special interest to WGSS faculty and students. Previous courses have focused on such topics as Engendering “Black” Popular Culture, Gender and American Material Culture, Women and Work, and Women and Judaism.
Feminist Theory explores the various interdisciplinary intellectual traditions that structure ideas about gender/gender identity and sexuality/sexual identity. This course considers how social, historical, and ideological forces, organized by the intertwined concepts of gender and sexuality, shape different feminist traditions (both intellectual and activist). Special attention will be paid to how race/ethnicity, transnational issues, and class factors determine and are determined by different formulations for feminist thought and action. [GM1, H]
This interdisciplinary course begins with the question, “What is feminist research?” It explores how intersectional feminist thought shapes the research questions we ask, the methods we use, our relationships with research participants, and how to design research projects that lead to social change. This course will operate on two interrelated dimensions, focusing on: 1) the conceptual frameworks underlying different approaches to feminist research, and 2) the practical techniques for designing and conducting interdisciplinary feminist projects. [GM1, W]
Prerequisite: WGS 101 or two other WGS courses, or permission of instructor
This seminar addresses the theoretical contributions of “Black” (Continental, Diasporan, and American African) feminists working from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Viewing “Black” women as producers of knowledge and as transforming agents, we will outline the principles and practices of “Black” Feminisms. We also will examine the interrelationship among life, theory, and praxis, as well as the various ways in which these three are imagined and realized by “Black” feminist writers. [GM1]
Prerequisite: WGS 101 or two cross-listed courses or permission of the WGSS program chair.
Queer theory is an interdisciplinary critical approach that expands on feminist theory and LGBTQ studies. Queer theory rejects stable identities based on gender and sexuality, critiquing the intertwined symbolic and institutional systems of power and violence through which some identities are validated and others are stigmatized. This course introduces the foundational authors and texts of queer theory. It then addresses recent works that develop various elements of queer theory’s critiques of power, normativity, and assimilation. [GM1]
Prerequisite: WGS 280 or 340 or permission of instructor
This course examines the various cultural and social regimes that create and organize ideas about sexuality, addresses the “invention” of homo/heterosexuality, and examines the social, legal, representational, and political systems that define sexual (ab)normality. Topics include contemporary issues of sexual orientation, sexuality in relation to gender, race and class, pornography, intersex identities, drag, and Queer culture. [GM1]
Prerequisite: One WGS course or WGS elective course or permission of the WGSS Program Chair.
This course examines contemporary forms of feminist activism that center the politics of gender sexuality within broader US-based social, economic, and political movements. The course will introduce students to a variety of activist approaches, including community organizing, activist philanthropy, art as activism, digital activism, and direct action. Consistent with the interdisciplinary commitment of WGSS to putting theory into practice, students will organize an activist event to understand the role that collective action plays in social change. [GM1]
Prerequisite: Any 100 or 200-level WGS course
These advanced interdisciplinary seminars explore issues of special interest to WGS faculty and students.
This course gives students the opportunity to apply scholarship in the field of feminist and gender studies to complex problems in the local community. Students work 8-10 hours at their placement (newspapers, hospitals, teen centers, shelters, etc.), regularly submit reflective journals to the supervising WGSS faculty member, and write a final paper in which they analyze and assess the semester’s work.
Prerequisites: Two WGS or cross-listed courses or permission of the WGSS program chair.
This course provides an opportunity for students to explore a topic in depth through the lens of feminist and gender theory. The student meets regularly with the supervising WGSS faculty member to select and discuss relevant readings and to design an ambitious research project, generally one that culminates in a carefully researched paper.
Prerequisites: Two WGS or cross-listed courses or permission of the WGSS program chair
Guided by faculty affiliated with Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the student writes a thesis in a specialized aspect of the interdiscipline. If the student’s project is deemed to be of sufficient quality at the end of the first semester (WGS 495), the student may complete honors in WGS (WGS 496) in the second semester. [One W credit only upon completion of both 495 and 496]
Prerequisite: Open to qualified students by permission of WGSS program chair