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Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies

Course Descriptions

  • GSWS 110: Intro to Women's/Gender Studies
    This course is an introduction to the field of women's and gender studies with an emphasis on literary texts studied in connection with ideas about gender in other disciplines, including science and social science. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
  • GSWS 200: Philosophy & Gender
    What is gender? Is it the same as one's sex? Is it inborn or learned? In this course, we'll investigate these questions, as well as how gender differences do or ought to change our theories of human existence and human good. A comparison of classical, modern, and postmodern treatments of the effect of gender on love, knowledge, and ethical obligation. Reading may include Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Mary Shelley, Freud, de Beauvoir, and Irigaray. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: PHIL 200
  • GSWS 206: Human Sexuality
    This course focuses on psychological aspects of human sexuality, including the sexual response cycle, intimate relationships, sexual orientations and identities, and sexual health and disease. The course aims to familiarize students with methods used in scientific research on sexuality, to encourage them to think critically about sexual issues, to help them develop a better understanding of sexual diversity, and to enable them to become responsible sexual decision makers. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing required. PSYC 110 recommended.
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 206
  • GSWS 208: Tpcs: Africana Women's Relg Exprnce
    (Spring 2019 Topic: Africana Women's Religious Experience.) New Description: This course explores the multidimensional religious experiences of Africana women, specifically Black women throughout the Americas, Africa, and the Caribbean, as they attempt to define and realize a sacred self across diverse periods and contexts. We give attention to the voices of Africana women in history and literature, film, performance, sacred speech and music to examine the ways religion has empowered and disempowered Black women in their individual and collective lives. Prerequisite: One course in either GSWS or AFAM. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)

    Cross-listed as: RELG 200, AFAM 208
  • GSWS 210: Developmental Psychology
    An examination of the principles of development with an emphasis on interpretation of empirical studies and theories. We stress the ongoing interplay of biological and environmental forces as influences on development; place development in a broad context of culture, class, and history; view children and adolescents as active shapers of their environment; emphasize both continuity and the capacity for change; and consider implications of developmental psychology for educators, practitioners, parents and policymakers. Prerequisite: Psychology 110.
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 210
  • GSWS 211: Adulthood & Aging
    Examination of developmental processes associated with adulthood, maturity, and aging. Examination of evidence for continued development throughout the life span. Evidence from a variety of sources is used in examining the person in terms of physical, psychological, social, and cultural influences on development. Prerequisite: Psychology 110.
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 211
  • GSWS 218: Blues Women in African American Lit
    An analysis of the representation of 'blues women' and the music in writings by African Americans. Authors include Larsen, Hurston, Morrison, Wilson, Jones, and Walker. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 218, AFAM 218, AMER 218
  • GSWS 228: Women Writing Women
    This course will survey selected women writers, in diverse genres past and present, with a focus on American women in the 20th and 21st centuries. Writers may include: Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, Maxine Hong Kingston, Louise Erdrich, Gloria Anzaldua, and Jamaica Kincaid, as well as women writing in recent genres like creative nonfiction, memoir, and transgender fiction. We will explore questions such as: Does the diversity of American women in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender identification trouble the very concept of 'U.S. women writers'? What are ways that women have defined and undermined the concept of 'woman' in their writing? (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 228, AMER 228
  • GSWS 237: Women in Theater
    This course will examine the involvement of women in the history of theater. Topics covered may include: the medieval plays of Roswitha, strong female characters (acted by men) in Shakespeare, the arrival of actresses on the Restoration stage, the eighteenth-century playwright Aphra Behn, the rise of 'star' actresses in the nineteenth century, and such twentieth-century figures as Marsha Norman, Maria Irene Fornes, Beth Henley, Wendy Wasserstein, Caryl Churchill, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Helene Cixous, and Ntozake Shange. Prerequisite: At least one course in theater history. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: THTR 237
  • GSWS 251: Family Structure & Political Theory
    Sexuality, child rearing, marriage, and family construction are crucial issues to political theorists, especially since the family is the fundamental social unit. Through an examination of traditional political theorists, this course will explore the treatment of these issues, and how they affect other, more established political problems such as citizenship, property, and community. Current legal and practical problems involving families will inform and illuminate our perusal of political theorists' approach to the relationship between the private family and the state. Readings include selections from the Bible, Sophocles and Aristophanes, Plato and Aristotle, the Gospels, St. Augustine, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Tocqueville, Mill, Engels and others. POLS 130 is recommended but not required. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement)
    Cross-listed as: POLS 251
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  • GSWS 252: Dialogue: Gender Identity
    In a culturally and socially diverse society, exploring issues of difference, conflict, and community is needed to facilitate understanding and improve relations between social/cultural groups. In this course, students will engage in meaningful discussion of controversial, challenging, and divisive issues in society related to gender identity. Students will be challenged to increase personal awareness of their own cultural experience, expand knowledge of the historic and social realities of other cultural groups, and take action as agents of positive social change in their communities. This course requires a high level of participation from all students. Note: This course earns .5 credits. No Prerequisites. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ETHC 252
  • GSWS 253: Family and Kinship
    This course focuses on family and kinship in cross-cultural perspective. We will look at families in their social and cultural context and ask what relationships exist between family forms, practices, and values and the economic system, political organization, religions, and cultures of the larger community. We will also ask what the sources of love and support, as well as conflict and tension, are within families and among kin, and we will question why family forms and ideal family types change over time. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 253
  • GSWS 265: Poverty, Inequality, Discrimination
    This course explores how the discipline of economics can explain and analyze the causes and effects of poverty, inequality and discrimination. It will examine how various populations (defined by race, age, gender, class, sexual orientation, etc.) experience these differently. Students will be introduced to (1) economic theories of poverty, inequality and discrimination, (2) ways to measure each and (3) public policies designed to mitigate poverty, inequality and discrimination in the US. Since women are more likely than men to be poor and a large number of policies are aimed at women and children, particular emphasis is given to the role of gender. Prerequisite: ECON 110 with a grade of C- or better. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ECON 265
  • GSWS 271: Women in Modern History
    This course examines women's lives, activities, and cultures in the United States and Europe from the late eighteenth century to the present. Among the issues examined are birth control; equality vs. difference (the essentialism debate); race and class; and gender as an analytical concept. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: HIST 288
  • GSWS 275: Female Religious Images in West
    Individual religious traditions have incorporated female images and ideals in different ways as goddesses, priestesses, and saints. The objective of this course is to examine ways in which the divine has been expressed in specifically female forms, as well as to examine the characteristics of female religious experience. Specific figures include Inanna, the central goddess figure of ancient Sumer; Eve and Sarah from the Hebrew Bible; Mary and female monastics from the Christian tradition; and contemporary Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women actively participating in their traditions. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 275
  • GSWS 276: Female Religious Images in Asia
    Goddess figures in India, China, and Japan are studied in this class along with the roles of human women in particular Asian religious traditions. This class explores the experiences of Buddhist nuns, Hindu and Muslim female saints, traditional healers, and shamans. Readings are drawn from religious texts, myths, and short stories from specific Asian cultures. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: RELG 276, ASIA 276
  • GSWS 280: Gender, Culture, and Society
    Theories concerning the acquisition of sex-typed behavior; social and biological influences on the roles of males and females in the twentieth- century United States as well as in other cultures. Feminist and anti-feminist perspectives. Images of future lifestyles and implications for social policy. Prerequisite: SOAN 110. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 280
  • GSWS 285: Sexuality and Society
    This course is a cross-cultural examination of perceptions and practices of sex and sexuality. We will begin with a brief overview of some archaeological findings and their implications, after which we will go on to address sexual practices in history and modern times both in the United States and other areas of the world. We will study economic, cultural, political, and religious influences on sexual thought and practice. Prerequisite: SOAN 110. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 285
  • GSWS 300: Topics: Feminist Controversies
    This course will explore selected controversial topics among feminists, such as: the institutions of motherhood and reproduction, including surrogacy, abortion, and breastfeeding; the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival; sex work (pornography and prostitution); and definitions of sexual assault. In the course of debating these topics, students will learn distinctions and connections between different strands of feminist thought, such as: liberal feminism, Marxist and socialist feminisms, radical feminism, cultural feminism, lesbian feminism, queer feminism, psychoanalytic feminism, postmodern feminism, African American feminism, 3rd world feminism. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
  • GSWS 301: Romantic Comedies & Phil of Love
    (Romantic Comedies and Philosophy of Love) Why do we like to watch romantic comedies? What's satisfying about them, even when they're not great films? Film theorist Leo Braudy claimed that "genre [film] ? always involves a complex relation between the compulsions of the past and the freedoms of the present. ? [They] affect their audience ? by their ability to express the warring traditions in society and the social importance of understanding convention." In this course, following Braudy, we will investigate the relationship between the film genre of romantic comedy and age-old thinking about love, marriage, and romance. We'll read some ancient and modern philosophy of love, as well as some relevant film theory, and watch and discuss an array of romantic comedies, trying to unpack what we really believe about love. Prerequisite: One Philosophy course or permission of the instructor. ("Genre: The Conventions of Connection," Film Theory and Criticism, eds. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. New York: Oxford U. Press, 538).
    Cross-listed as: PHIL 301, CINE 301
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  • GSWS 305: Identity/Body/Persecution Med Europ
    (Identity, Body, and Persecution in Medieval Europe) Medieval men and women discussed many of the same questions of identity that we do: What makes an individual unique? How does group affiliation affect identity? What is the relationship between identity and change? How does faith in God influence understanding of the individual? This course considers the following topics: medieval conceptions of the individual in Christian autobiography; the role of the body and gender in determining identity (exploring topics such as the Eucharist, the cult of saints, and sex difference); how medieval Europeans defined their own identity by persecuting the 'other,' including heretics, Jews, and lepers; how change affected identity in medieval texts such as werewolf stories and resurrection theology.
    Cross-listed as: HIST 326, RELG 326
  • GSWS 319: Archaeology Race Ethn Class Gnder
    (Archaeology of Race, Ethnicity, Class, and Gender.) This course examines the ways that we understand (or misunderstand) race, ethnicity, class, and gender from an archaeological perspective. We explore archaeological research projects across time and regions to interrogate an essential problem in archaeology: How can we tell whether material differences in the archaeological record correspond to boundaries human groups draw among themselves? Course topics include race and racialization, ethnic diversity and ethnogenesis, the formation and performance of class, social constructions of gender and sexuality, and the political stakes involved in archaeological studies of difference. Throughout this course we ask how an engagement with intersectionality?the idea that categories of difference are entangled and covalent?may allow for a more nuanced understanding of the past, and of the present. Prerequisites: SOAN 110 and SOAN 216 OR SOAN 220 OR consent of the instructor.
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 319
  • GSWS 320: Labor Economics
    In this course, standard theories of labor economics are developed. Topics include labor supply, labor demand, education, discrimination, contracting, and unions. Particular emphasis is given to the labor force participation of married women and single mothers, earnings, wage distributions and inequality, job training, and employment benefits. Empirical analysis complements theoretical modeling, especially in the area of women's work and international comparisons regarding labor laws and labor market outcomes. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.) Prerequisite: ECON 210.
    Cross-listed as: ECON 320
  • GSWS 325: Women, Art and Society
    This course considers the contributions of women artists to the Western tradition of art making and examines the way art in the Western world has used the figure of woman to carry meaning and express notions of femininity in different periods. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ARTH 325
  • GSWS 326: Gender Identity in Modern Art
    Since the late nineteenth century, communities of artists and critics have defined themselves in opposition to the dominant forms of maleness and heterosexuality. This course examines the definitions of 'homosexuality' and 'feminism,' and traces their development in and influence on the visual arts. Prerequisite: one art history course. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: ARTH 326
  • GSWS 340: Psychology of Gender
    Sex and gender have long been controversial topics in psychology. In this class, we will cast a wide and critical eye on how sex and gender are defined, conceptualized, and studied. We will ask a series of questions about similarities and differences in a number of areas, including relationships, mental health, abilities and achievement, aggression, communication, hormones, and physical health and functioning. We will discuss gender development and socialization, as well as gender inequality and sex-role stereotypes, paying particular attention to how the scientific study of sex and gender is used and misused in contemporary society. Prerequisites: Psychology 110 and sophomore standing. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 340
  • GSWS 347: Topics in Gender and History
    A seminar that examines in depth one aspect of gender and history. Topics vary from year to year. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: HIST 364, AMER 347
  • GSWS 349: Gender in Developing Countries
    This class introduces students to the unique challenges that women face in developing countries. Organized around major policy debates, we explore themes including women in the labor force, women in politics, gender and development, inequality, and violence. We also learn about top-down change, instituted by organizations like the IMF and World Bank, and bottom-up solutions created by NGOs and social entrepreneurs. Through class readings, group discussions, small group work, presentations, and a research paper, students are able to identify forms of existing gender inequalities, and critically examine policy solutions.Prerequisite: POLS 110 or consent of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: POLS 349
  • GSWS 350: Topics in Gender and Media
    (when applicable) Intensive study of selected subjects within the field of communications. Topics vary by semester. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement, depending on topic.)

    Cross-listed as: COMM 350
  • GSWS 355: Community Psych
    Community Psychologists study individuals in the contexts of their communities - e.g., families, peer groups, schools, workplaces, religious groups, culture, and society - and strive to engage collaboratively in research and community action work to ameliorate social problems, enhance the overall well-being of the community and its members, and make positive public policy changes. In this course, we will: (1) Consider the goals and roles of Community Psychologists; (2) Examine how social structures and community problems affect individuals' lives, and analyze our own underlying assumptions about these issues; (3) Consider the importance of diversity and psychological sense of community; (4) Explore methods & strategies for citizen participation and social change; and (5) Learn to use psychological research to inform social policy change and prevention efforts. Topics may include: Family Violence; Foster Care; Racism & the Justice System; Community Organizing for Rights (e.g., Civil Rights, Workers' Rights, Women's Rights); Community Organizing Against Harms (e.g., Hazardous Waste); Community Mental Health; Poverty & Homelessness; Children and Welfare Reform; Community Violence Prevention; Adaptation and Coping with Disaster (e.g., 9/11, Hurricane Katrina); and Advocacy on Capitol Hill - The Tobacco Lobby and Teenage Smoking. Prerequisite: Psychology 110 or equivalent. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: PSYC 355
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  • GSWS 362: Love in a Time of Capitalism
    Most of us are familiar with the idea that romantic love plays a different role in the contemporary world than it did at other times and the idea that love manifests in different ways across cultures. Rather than attempt a survey of all the possible manifestations of romantic love, this course aims to explore how 'love' features into our understandings of human interaction in the 21st century, particularly in the United States. We will be particularly focusing on the contemporary American notion that love and money are opposing forces. Our first goal will be to identify at least some of the tropes of love that are in current circulation. We will then explore the potential social consequences of those tropes, including the ways in which such tropes are passed on and reproduced across generations and the possibility of commodifying and 'selling' certain tropes as the 'right' way to be in love. Throughout the course, we will collect love stories, and our final task of the semester will be to compare our theoretical and media derived understandings of romantic love to its manifestations in people's lives. Prerequisites: SOAN 110 and 220 or consent of instructor.
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 362, AMER 362
  • GSWS 372: Queer Theory
    This course will address the contemporary social theories collectively described as 'Queer Theory.' A unifying thread for those theorists generally accepted as working within Queer Theory is the prioritization of gender and sexuality as social ordering devices. Queer Theorists make dualities, power inequalities, and identity performance central to their analyses. The creation, rise, and ultimate deconstruction of these theories will be placed within social and historical contexts. Once the student has a firm understanding of the source and content of Queer Theory we will embark upon an exploration of its application through the investigation of a number of topics that are often peripheralized in the academy. Ultimately, we will question the utility of the theory in light of factors ranging from its dismantlement under deconstruction to the rise of social contingency theory. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SOAN 372
  • GSWS 376: Queer Cinema
    This course will focus on queer cinema--films that not only challenge prevailing sexual norms, but also seek to undermine the categories of gender and sex. Gender and sexual norms are perpetuated and challenged through notions of visibility, a key tactic in the fight for societal acceptance and civil rights. How sexuality is made visible and invisible will serve as a central focus in our analysis of queer film and media, focusing primarily on explicit representations of GLBTQ characters. Through feminist and queer theory, film theory and cultural criticism, we will analyze the contested relationships between spectators and texts, identity and commodities, realism and fantasy, activism and entertainment, desire and politics. Prerequisite: COMM 255, COMM 275, or permission of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: COMM 376, CINE 376
  • GSWS 380: Renassiance Art and Domesticity
    This course examines the original setting of works of art in the secular context of the household during the Renaissance (about 1300-1650). It will also consider representations of the domestic sphere as evidence for the functions of objects in houses, palaces, or villas. Addressing issues of patronage, function and audience, the course explores the uses men and women in the Renaissance made of works of art in their homes. Among the art forms we will analyze are: domestic architecture, paintings (frescoes, portraits, cassone, spalliere), sculpture, furnishings, metalwork, ceramics, tapestries and other textiles. Prerequisite: at least one art history course or consent of the instructor.
    Cross-listed as: ARTH 380
  • GSWS 382: Women's Rhet & Feminist Critique
    (Women's Rhetoric and the Feminist Critique) Traces the development of women's oratorical tradition and the feminist critique by looking at how U.S. women argued for the right to speak before they had the vote and then how they continue arguing for equality once the right to suffrage had been established. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: COMM 382
  • GSWS 400: Women's Voices in Latin America
    An author, thinker, movement, or group of works studied in depth. All work in Spanish. This course will examine the role of women in Hispanic culture. Important figures such as La Malinche, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, and Eva Peron as well as the fiction, poetry, and films of Rosario Castellanos, Clarice Lispector, Gabriela Mistral, Isabel Allende, Rigoberta Menchu, Maria Luisa Bember, and Alicia Steimberg will be studied. Prerequisite: Two 300-level Spanish courses, including SPAN 300 or equivalent, or permission of instructor. (Meets GEC Cultural Diversity Requirement.)
    Cross-listed as: SPAN 400, LNAM 400
  • GSWS 403: Emily Dickinson
    An advanced seminar on the poetry and letters of Emily Dickinson. Emphases on the cultural context of Dickinson's work and its critical reception.
    Cross-listed as: ENGL 403