Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Emory University

Time: Mon, Wedn, Fri 9-9:45

Course Description

This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Its aim is to develop tools for thinking analytically, critically and curiously about gender, sex and power, and how they intersect with issues of race, class, sexuality and disability. Drawing from feminist and queer scholarship, we will examine some historical perspectives on sex and gender and link these to contemporary discussions. Besides scholarly texts, students will engage with a variety of public scholarship like podcasts, TED-talks, blog entries, music videos, poetry, dance, art exhibitions, artist studio visits and much more…

Questions to be addressed include: What is Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and what is its history? What are some central debates within the feminist movement and feminist theory? What is sex and gender and how do they relate to each other? What is sexuality? How does power work on how sex, gender and sexuality have been conceived of historically, politically, and theoretically? How have they been used, and misused, as tools of power to exclude and subordinate along lines of class, race, and ability? And finally, are there ways to resist and even subvert this power?

These questions will inform students’ final papers, which will consist in an alternative form project and artist statement, in which art is used to subvert a particular sex, gender, race or disability ideology.

Course Goals

 After completing this course successfully, students will be able to: 

  • Analyze key moments in the U.S. feminist movement from the mid 20th century to present
  • Understand key feminist debates regarding the terms sex and gender
  • Recognize and critically engage with the vast variety of work that is out there, which deals with questions regarding sex, gender, sexuality, race, disability and power
  • Develop the critical toolsets to both recognize and subvert misogynist, racist, ableist and sexist ideologies
  • Summarize and critically analyze difficult texts in the field of WGSS
  • Write an artist statement
  • Create an intellectually stimulating classroom and class discussion
  • Formulate cogent feedback to your peer’s questions and work
  • Acquire the analytical and critical tools and thinking skills to see and engage with the world and your everyday life differently
  • Articulate your own reading of the world, through intellectual, critical, creative, explanatory and/or artistic means
  • take an informed stance on current feminist debates
  • Prepare you for an upper level WGSS class
  • Translate WGSS related work to a general audience

Course Format and Brief Overview of Requirements

This course is invested in teaching seminal texts in the field of WGSS, in tandem with non-traditional scholarship in the form of speeches, podcasts, blogs and a variety of artistic content. Three texts form the framework for this approach. bell hooks’ Feminism is for everyone pleas to create scholarship that reaches audiences outside of academia; Audre Lorde’s Poetry is not a Luxury encourages a skepticism towards dominant forms of knowledge production and emancipates the radical potential of affect laden content like poetry; and finally José Muñoz’ Disidentifications, Queer of Color and the Performance of Politics emphasizes the subversive power of performance arts to re-imagine dominant sexist, misogynist and racist ideologies.

Monday and Wednesday classes will be dedicated to fundamental theoretical texts in the field of WGSS. On Friday classes students will apply the gathered knowledge to the assigned non-traditional material. This emphasis on non-traditional scholarship is carried further into the assignments. Throughout the semester students have to fulfill four assignments in which they are asked to apply their newly acquired theoretical WGSS lens, to contemporary issues:  (1) a pop-time discussion; (2) a reflection on a current local art exhibition; (3) an alternative form project and (3) a final project