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Fall 2015 Approved Courses

women's and gender studies program

Below are course titles, numbers, and descriptions for  approved Fall 2015 courses.


Required Courses for Minors

Department Title Course Code Professor Meeting Time
Cross-Listed Introduction to Feminisms SOCY2225  (ENGL2125/HIST2502) KIM T TH 4:30
Description: This course is taught by Women's Studies faculty to acquaint students with a large range of academic and life experience topics that have been affected by Women's Studies scholarship. After a preliminary meeting, the class divides into 12-14 person seminars that meet once per week to discuss and study such issues as women's history, feminist theory, sex roles, socialization, gender and health, religion, work, and literature and essays by and about women. The course emphasizes participation and collective work on projects and usually includes a continuing personal and readings-oriented journal.

Elective Courses

Department Title Course Code Professor Meeting Time
African and African Diaspora Studies
Diversity and Cross-Cultural Issues
W 9-10:50 or W 4:30-6:20
Description: The course provides a critical perspective on current issues and problems in American racism, sexism, heterosexism, ablism, and ageism. These issues and problems are studied in the context of the dynamics of social process, historical and anthropological perspectives, and theories of prejudice and social change. Social work's responsibility to contribute to solutions is emphasized. Different models for examining the issues of race, sex, sexual orientation, age and ability are presented. Department Permission Required
Media and Cultural Studies
Description: This course will analyze the many ways power is consolidated, negotiated, or resisted through popular media, especially advertising, television, film, and social media. We will examine how correspondences between mass communication and economic structures impact cultural, political, and ideological processes in society, including (but not limited to) the construction of gender roles, sexual norms, racial and ethnic identities, class affiliations, and attitudes towards violence. This course will be theoretically rooted in the critical tradition of media studies, with particular emphasis on 20th century continental and American cultural and social theory. Major Restricted
Cultural Diversity in the Media COMM2285
MATELSKI MW 3-4:15 or MW 4:30-5:45
Description: This course will examine gender disparities in both developed and developing countries through an economic lens. Among others, we will study topics such as domestic violence, son preference, prostitution, fertility, and discrimination in the labor market.
Gender Roles and Communication
Description: This course is both a writing-intensive seminar and a Women's and Gender Studies minor course. Focus is on the social construction of gender through communication. The early section of the course compares historical and theoretical approaches to representations of gender in communication texts. Then, building on these comparisons, students read about, examine, and analyze texts, focusing particularly on television programming and advertising. Major Restricted
Reading the Body
TANNER T TH 3-4:15/6-6:50
Description: This course will use literature to explore how the experience of embodiment shapes human identity in contexts including illness, obesity, poverty, disability, pregnancy, trauma, and aging. Through the analysis of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, we will consider the way that bodily experiences, material conditions and cultural constructions of normalcy shape our understanding of identity in sickness and in health. In our class discussions, we will consider how literary representations of bodies in sickness and health might influence real world actions and interactions by establishing distance or constructing empathy through the act of reading. Course open to freshmen only
English Celtic Heroic Age: Word and Image
ENGL2101 O'LEARY T TH 3-4:15
Description: This course will explore the vernacular heroic literature of the insular Celts, that is, the Irish and the Welsh. Particular attention will be paid to the effect of Christian transmission on pagan source material, mythological survivals, the heroic worldview and value system, the nature of insular Celtic kingship, and the role of women in the heroic literature.
Victorian Inequality
TH 1-2:45
Description: From 'Dickensian' workhouses to shady financiers, Victorian literature has provided touchstones for discussions of inequality today. This course will investigate how writers responded to the experience of inequality in Victorian Britain during an era of revolution and reaction, industrialization and urbanization, and empire building. Considering multiple axes of inequality, we will explore topics such as poverty and class conflict, social mobility, urbanization, gender, education, Empire, and labor. We will read novels, poetry, and nonfiction prose; authors include Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Gasketll, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Mary Prince, Author Morrison, and Thomas Hardy. 
Understanding Race, Gender, and Violence
MWF 2 and        TH 6-6:50
Description: This course explores pressing problems of modern race and gender-based violence across the globe, including domestic violence, youth gangs, police violence, sexual assault, and genocide. Using both historical and sociological perspectives, we will examine the roots of such violence, the ways in which it has been expressed, the meanings attached to it, and its implications for society--particularly for racial/ethnic minorities, women, and LGBT people. The lab for the course will involve students in collaborative work with local anti-violence projects and organizations in the Boston area. Course open to freshmen only
An Outsider's History of the High and Late Middle Ages
HIST2221 MATUS T TH 12-1:15

Description: This course is an introduction to the High and Late Middle Ages that focuses on voices of marginal individuals and groups. Women, Jews, dissenters, beggars, (false) prophets, and the possessed-not necessarily mutually exclusive categories-will be subjects of our study. Our central concern will be the shaping of medieval societies through the tension between the peripheral and the traditional.

History Latin American Women Represent Themselves
Description: After reading one general history of women and gender in Latin America, students will read testimonies by Latin American women. We will deal with the problem of the structure women give to their own lives in their narratives, as well as with more straightforward issues such as the sexual division of labor, and the nature of family and of gender relations in Latin America. The testimonies will be used as windows into objective and subjective history and the ways in which these two intersect.
Islamic Civilization and Societies
Inside the Kingdom: Conversations with Saudi Women
BAILEY TH 3-4:15
Description: This course is a collaborative project with Taibah Univerity in Medinah, Saudi Arabia. The course focuses on women in Saudi Arabia, including political rights, education, economic and social roles, as well as the influences of religion and culture in their lives. We will speak twice a month with students from Taibah University by videoconference to discuss these issues. A variety of sources will be used in the course including biographies, fiction and films. The course is graded pass/fail. 2 Credits.
Political Science Seminar: American Culture War
WOLFE M 3-5:30
Description: Since at least the 1960s, pundits and social scientists have talked about the existence of a profound culture war in the United States. On issues ranging from abortion to immigration to homosexuality, we have been told, America is divided into two major camps, one leaning to the left and the other to the right. This course will examine the evidence behind such assertions, concentrating on some of the key issues around which theories of America's culture war are organized.
Psychology Interpersonal Violence PSYC3334 TISHELMAN T 6-8:30
Description: This course will review research, assessment, treatment, and current controversies in the area of family violence, focusing on child sexual abuse, child physical abuse, and spousal abuse. The course will consist of a combination of lecture and class discussion on the issues, including those related to memories of abuse, identification of abuse, and the legal, psychological, and social ramifications of extracting women and children from abusive homes.
Deviance and Social Control
PFOHL T TH 10:30-11:45
Description: This course explores the social construction of boundaries between the "normal" and the so-called "deviant." It examines the struggle between powerful forms of social control and what these exclude, silence, or marginalize. Of particular concern is the relationship between dominant forms of religious, legal, and medical social control and gendered, racialized and global economic structures of power. The course provides an in-depth historical analysis of theoretical perspectives used to explain, study and control deviance, as well as ethical-political inquiry into such matters as religious excess, crime, madness, corporate and governmental wrong-doing, and sexual subcultures that resist dominant social norms.
Gender and Sports
KIM MW 3-4:15
Description: This course uses sport to understand gender relations in a society. The course examines the ways that gender and intersections of race, class, sexuality are produced by and within relations of power, and how normative definitions of gender and its intersections underpin normative practices in sport, health, and physical cultural contexts. Drawing on feminist scholarship, this course provides a critical insight into the history of gender relations, and how gender is used to reproduce and resist inequalities in sport, health, and physical culture.
Sociology Gender, Health, and Inequality
Description: This course will examine constructions of masculinity and sexuality in Western society from a critical cultural perspective.  We will consider the ways in which cultural narratives about “acceptable” masculine behaviors and attitudes catalyze social conflicts, reinforce established power hierarchies, and organize the modes of being available to people of different gender identities and sexual orientations. We will also evaluate the liberatory potential of emergent discourses and practices that seek to cultivate greater acceptance of diversity, and promote social healing. There will be a concentrated focus on popular cultural forms (especially television, film, music, sports, and social media) that are particularly influential to contemporary men and boys. 
Sociology Studies in Crime and Social Justice SOCY3310 HEDGES M 4:30-7
Description: Crime and social justice is considered not as distinct, but indivisible constructs produced through specific knowable institutional/personal practices. Course allows students to analyze perspectives on the process through which laws and criminal justice institutions have been/continue to be constructed; situate crime study within a "power reflexive" framework, while being attentive to the operation of race, class, and gender as features of contemporary social relations/institutions; discuss contemporary intellectual and practical efforts challenging existing conceptual and political structures relating to crime and social justice; and imagine/articulate institutions paralleling the vision of social justice developed throughout the course.
Sociology Culture Through Film
SOCY3388 HAMM W 3-6
Description: We will explore contemporary issues, perception and reality, language, race, gender, sexual orientation, indigenous rights, marriage, colonialism, protest and chaos, and attempt to "think outside the box." Each week we will view one or more films that raise questions about the ways we understand these issues. The films have been selected to enable us to experience alternative ways of thinking about concepts with which we probably feel comfortable. The goal of the course is to allow us to realize that many of our beliefs are cultural constructions and in fact are always in the process of revision.
Sociology Images and Power SOCY5532 PFOHL W 3-5:30
Description: This seminar involves an historical sociological exploration of social technologies of image-making in art, science, religion, advertising, politics and everyday life. Of particular concern is the cognitive, moral and bodily power of images in relation to the cultural politics of class, race, sex and gender. Course participants are expected to engage with a wide range of critical literatures pertaining to the material and imaginary power of images and to engage in ethnographic fieldwork, resulting in a mixed-media study of the power of imagery in a particular social scene or institution.
Sociology Women and the Body SOCY1089 HESSE-BIBER T TH 1:30-2:45
Description: This course covers Western cultural pressures on women be super-slender. We analyze biological, sociological, and feminist perspectives on the body especially with regard to issues of beauty and body image and sexuality. We analyze how race, ethnicity and class intersect to create differences among womens relationship to their bodies. In what way do biological perspectives illuminate as well as cloud understanding of women's relationship to their bodies? We explore mass-mediated pressures on women's bodies through films, women's magazine, reality TV, and social networking sites. We examine the plastic surgery industry and the growing trend toward "designer bodies."
Theology Women and the Church   THEO5481 HINSDALE T 4:30-6:50
Description: The religious and social experience of women from a variety of cultures, including the experience of class participants, form the basis of this seminar. We will 1) study the historical roots of Christian feminist theology; 2) explore the critiques and alternative reconstructions of traditional understandings of the Bible, God, human beings and their relationship to the world that have been offered by Christian feminist theologians writing from a variety of ideological perspectives; and 3) investigate the ways in which women have defined themselves in relationship to the church, particularly in terms of spirituality and ministry.
Theology HIV/AIDS and Ethics
THEO5498 KEENAN MW 3-4:15
Description: This course looks at how we can understand a bit better the ethics of public health through the lens of HIV/AIDS. There besides studying the virus itself, we examine the varied related ethical issues regarding stigma, prevention, research, gender inequity, economic disparities, local culture, religion, funding, and access.
Theology Spirituality and Sexuality   THEO3261 MCDARGH W 10-12:25
Description: How does our experience of ourselves as sexual beings open us to the experience of the holy, and conversely, how might our desire for God be intimately related to our sexual desire and longings? These are the questions that will be the focus of our work. Not a course on sexual ethics, this course is an exploration of the complex interrelationship of sexual and spiritual desire as both are reflected upon in the Christian spiritual tradition.
Theology Classics of Christian Spirituality
THEO3244 PREVOT T TH 9-10:15
Description: The history of Christian spirituality is a history of interactions between the superabundant life of God and the precarious lives of human beings. In this course, we will examine the conversion stories, ascetical practices, mystical experiences, and works of mercy and justice that have shaped Christian spirituality throughout the ages. We will focus on the lives and teachings of several holy women, such as Sts. Perpetua and Felicity, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Macrina, Marguerite Porete, St. Catherine of Siena, Julian of Norwich, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sojourner Truth, Etty Hillesum, and Nancy Mairs. We will think critically about the many different ways that these women bear witness to the life-giving Spirit of God in the midst of a sinful and suffering world.