Course Descriptions

WGS 101 Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality This course offers all students, including prospective concentrators in Women, Gender, and Sexuality, an introduction to the field, with attention to fundamental issues in women's, gender, and sexuality studies. The course will identify the forms and sites of gender oppression, as well as the collective responses by women and queer people to their conditions. In introducing the concept of structural inequality as it has affected the lives of women and queer people, it will also explore how gender and sexuality are constructed alongside and through other categories of identity, including race, class, nationality, religion and ability.
WGS 265 Feminist Political Theories A core course in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality curriculum, Feminist Political Theories introduces students to a wide variety of feminist theoretical frameworks. We will examine what it means to do feminist theory; modern feminist theories, including liberal, radical, Marxist, socialist, and anarchist feminisms, as well as intersectionality theories; postmodern feminist thought, including queer and transgender theories and third-wave feminisms; and postcolonial feminist theories from early modernity to postmodernity. Sophomore Standing
WGS 390 Feminist and Queer Inquiries An examination of the forces that have shaped or that are currently reshaping women, gender and sexuality studies. Focusing on the ways that recent work has drawn upon and challenged disciplinary forms of knowledge, the course aims to familiarize students with the current status of feminist and queer scholarship. The class encourages students to define their own critical interests and place themselves within this larger, scholarly conversation. Course will also prepare students for the SIP. Open to juniors. Must have taken WGS-101.
WGS 490 Seminar in Women, Gender & Sexuality A study of a particular aspect of feminist theory, history, or practice. Emphasis upon the theory and methodology of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, collaborative learning, and alternate source material. Topics vary annually. Senior Majors & Concentrators Only
WGS 593 Senior Integrated Project Each program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Integrated Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Integrated Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details. Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.
WGS 600 Teaching Assistantship

Elective Courses

Fine Arts

ARTX 160 Art, Power and Society

In this course we will think about our relationship to and responsibilities towards political and social engagement as artists, thinkers, activists, and participants in society, within context of the U.S. here and abroad. Questions we will consider include: What is art? What is power, and how does it work? What are the intersections between art and power, what effects do they have on society, and how can art that challenges power and power relationships disrupt social norms and conventions, systems of power, or power matrices? Students in this course will learn how they can impact society through art, and that “art” might not be what they think it is. This course counts as an elective towards American Studies.

ARTX 290 Art and Gender

This course explores the intersection of visual culture and gender through the lens of critical theory. We will examine how gender has been constructed both in and through the visual arts historically as well as in the present through various interrelated topics such as the myth of the artist; the gaze, the voyeur, and desire; the gendered body in visual art; and the gendered body’s intersection with race, class, and sexual orientation.

ARTX 345 Performance Art

This course examines the history of performance art in the 20th and 21st centuries, with an emphasis on the political and aesthetic interventions of the body in visual art and visual culture, as well as the relationship between performance art, subjectivity, and identity, including queerness, gender, and race. Topics will range from action painting to video performance, dance to sex, and violence to social intervention. This course counts for Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

ARTX 360 Queer Aesthetics

Through in-depth study of contemporary global queer visual art, this course provides an introduction to queer theory as a field through an engagement with more advanced and topical queer theories and artworks that prioritize Black, Indigenous, and People of Color knowledge and world making. This course assumes no prior knowledge of queer theory, but previous experience with critical theory is strongly recommended


CLAS/HIST 230 Women in Classical Antiquity

A literary, historical, and cultural survey of social structures and private life in ancient Greece and Rome. Issues covered include constructions of sexuality, cross-cultural standards of the beautiful, varieties of courtship and marriage, and contentions between pornography and erotica. Students will examine sources from medical, philosophic, lyric, tragic, comic, and rhetorical writers as well as representative works from vase painting, the plastic arts, graffiti, etc. (This is a designated Greek and Roman literature or culture course in Classics.)

ENGL 323 Chicanx Literature

A selective study of Chicana/o literary and cultural texts. Possible emphases could include colonialism and conquest, indigenismo, geopolitical conflict or “the Borderlands,” identity formations and identifications, and/or sociocultural resistances. This course fulfills the Applied Theory requirement for the Literary Criticism and Theory craft sequence. For the Historical and Cultural Breadth requirement, this course counts as a 20th- or 21st-Century course, or it fulfills the minoritarian, diasporic, or transnational requirement.
Prerequisite: Take one of the following: ENGL-109, CES-200, CES-240, CES-260, or WGS-101; or instructor permission.

ENGL 324 Early Modern Women’s Literature: Shakespeare’s Sisters

A study of the women writers that Virginia Woolf termed “Shakespeare’s Sisters” when she lamented the lack of early women writers. We’ll study these, primarily British, women writers of the period, emphasizing the social, political, economic, and cultural conditions of women’s authorship before the nineteenth century.
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or a Reading the World course.

ENGL 325 19th Century Women’s Literature: The Epic Age

A study of British and U.S. women writers of the period, emphasizing social, political, economic, and cultural conditions for women’s authorship as well as recurring concerns and themes of women authors and the emergence of African American women’s writing.
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or a Reading the World course.

HIST 204 American Women’s History to 1870

An in-depth survey of the lives of women in America from the beginning of the colonial era to 1870. Topics include: the differences of class, religion, and race in women’s lives, religion, work, friendships, family life, community, health and sexuality, the women’s rights movement, and the impact of the American Revolution and Civil War.

HIST 205 American Women’s History since 1870

An in-depth survey of the lives of women in America from 1870 to today. Topics include the impact of race, class, and region in women’s lives, paid and unpaid labor, prostitution, family life, community, birth control, the women’s rights movement, and the impact of US involvement in international wars.

HIST 238 Gender and Sexuality in Pre-Modern Europe

Part social history, part cultural history, this course examines gender and sexuality in medieval and early modern Europe, particularly the ways in which perceptions of gender difference were used to construct political and social relationships. The course is organized thematically rather than chronologically, and topics include medicine, marriage, prostitution, gender and state-building, and same-sex relations.

HIST 246 Gender and Sexuality in 19th Century Europe

This course is an introduction to the history of gender and sexuality in nineteenth-century Europe and its empires. It is organized roughly chronologically, but its approach is primarily thematic. We will consider how gender norms were constructed by philosophical, political, racial, and scientific thinking over the nineteenth century, and we will reflect on how individuals both conformed to and defied those norms in their individual lives. We will also examine nineteenth century beliefs about sex and sexuality and look at how those beliefs structured relationships within and across gendered lines.

HIST/RELG 267 Women and Judaism

This course explores the religious and social position women have historically occupied in Jewish society. We will discuss religious practice and theological beliefs as well as social and economic developments as a means of addressing questions such as: What role have women played in Jewish tradition? How are they viewed by Jewish law? How has their status changed in different historical contexts, and why might those changes have taken place? What are contemporary ideas about the status of Jewish women, and how have these ideas influenced contemporary Jewish practices and communal relations? What do the historical and religious experiences of Jewish women teach us about the way that Judaism has developed?

HIST 292 WGS in Early Latin America

This course explores women, gender, and sexuality in Latin America from European invasion in 1492, through to Latin American independence in the 1820s. Using a range of primary sources and selected readings, we will use gender and sexuality as a category of analysis into the world(s) forged by Native Americans, Iberians, and Africans in Latin America during its “colonial” period.

PHIL 311 Postmodern Critical Theory

Introduction to contemporary French philosophy, with special emphasis on the themes of language, desire, embodiment, and sexual difference. We examine the early debate between Merleau-Ponty and Lacan on the acquisition of language, formation of desire, and development of body images We then turn to two key post-structuralists: Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. We focus upon Foucault’s transition from his “archaeology of knowledge” to his mature “genealogy of desire,” contrasting his account of embodiment and social power to Pierre Bourdieu’s. After reviewing Derrida’s deconstructionist analysis of language, we turn to one of the following figures: Kristeva, Deleuze, Irigary, Butler, or Zizek. Films are shown throughout the course on Wednesday evenings. Media Studies concentrators are encouraged to write final essays linking philosophy and cinematography. Suggested for media studies, psychology, English, French, and political science students. Some background in philosophy recommended

RELG 204 Feminist Studies in Religion

This course explores questions that lie at the intersections of the ideas about women, men, and gender in the academic study of religion. We examine the transformation of scholarship about religion based on feminist studies in of religion. We look first at the academic study of religion, and then at the experiences of women and men in different religious traditions, and move to more complex questions about the ways in which the lives of women and men are shaped by gendered categories. We pay particular attention to issues of identity, voice, history, and agency.
Prerequisite: Previous coursework in Religion is desirable, but not required.

RELG 205 Religion and Masculinity in the U.S.

This course explores how masculinity is constructed and performed in religious communities, rituals, and practices. It provides a solid theoretical grounding in theories of masculinity and gender performativity from philosophical, sociological and historical lenses. We then delve in to case studies to consider how masculinity and religion formed men’s experiences of war, imaginings of God, race, and family. We consider an array of religious communities/movements in 20th century and contemporary America, from the Muscular Christianity movement to Muslin masculinities to Pentecostal Latino masculinities, interrogating the ways religious beliefs and practices create and maintain gendered bodies.

RELG 210 Sex and the Bible

This course is about sex and interpretation, focusing primarily on how Christians have interpreted the Bible around questions of human sexuality. The questions that we will consider are: What does it mean to say a particular view of sexuality and sexual behavior is “biblical” given the sheer variety of possible interpretations? How have changing notions of human sexuality affected the way that the biblical text is understood and deployed? We will explore these questions by reading key biblical texts from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament and their interpretation by thinkers from antiquity up to the present. Topics to be covered include marriage, gender, desire, same-sex relationships, and sexual renunciation.
Prerequisite: Previous course(s) in the Department of Religion recommended but not required.

RELG 241 Princesses, Demonesses, and Warriors: The Women of the South Asian Epics

The Ramayana and the Mahabharata are two ancient Sanskrit epic poems. For the past two thousand years, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata have been retold countless times by different poets, artists, playwrights, novelists, television producers, and filmmakers throughout South and Southeast Asia and the Diaspora. The creators of these Ramayanas and Mahabharatas include women, Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, and members of low caste and indigenous groups.In this course, you will be introduced to the diverse and complex worlds of the Ramayana and Mahabharata narrative traditions through the close examination of eight different female characters in several retellings of these two epics. We will read excerpts from the Sanskrit Ramayana and the Sanskrit Mahabharata as well as a play, poems, short stories, and folk songs. We will also watch films and episodes from television shows. The Ramayanas and Mahabharatas that we will encounter in this class were created in eight different languages

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures

CHIN 260 Women in China

As in many countries subject to imperialism, women’s movements in China were an important part of China’s modernization project. How, then, have Chinese feminist theories and women’s movements been different from those in the West? What is it like to live as a woman in a rapidly changing China through the 20th and 21st centuries? This course takes three approaches to explore these questions. To examine the characteristics and changes of gender roles we look at the representations of women in literature and film. To understand women’s experiences we read women writers’ essays, memoirs and fictions. To think about how women work as historical agents who make historical changes, we look at women activists, feminist thinkers and women’s movements.

GERM 204 Advanced German II: German Stories and Histories

This course centers around texts presented within the historical and cultural context of 20th century Germany, with special emphasis on developing students’ reading skills and cultural literacy. Continued practice of linguistic structures and systematic vocabulary building are also central to the course. In German. May be taken before German 203. GERM-201; GERM-204L must be taken concurrently

JAPN 236 Pre-Modern Japanese Literature

This course deals with literature produced in the Japanese court in the Japanese language between the ninth and fourteenth century and will focus on the of the women’s tradition of the court. Japan is the only nation in the world whose early canonical works of prose literature in the vernacular are consistently and overwhelmingly by women. This course will examine several major texts of that early tradition, the second of which, “Tale of Genji”, is the earliest piece of long prose fiction in the world. We will be analyzing the various texts in relation to such questions as the following: What sorts of social/cultural circumstances supported the flowering of a woman’s literary tradition? What have been the themes of their writings? What role did these texts serve in the lives/consciousness of their predominately female audience?

JAPN 250 Manga/Anime and Gender in Modern Japan

Why are manga/anime so popular? Let’s find out. This course undertakes a critical analysis of manga (comics) and anime (animation). We will examine these media’s historical origins, narrative features, the world’s reception and much more. The samurai warrior, the bishônen (beautiful boy), and the sexy cyborg-gender in Japanese culture has vivid representations. This course explores constructions of masculinity and femininity, paying attention to the figures of the girl as the postwar descendant of the bishônen, the ostensibly undersocialized otaku and yaoi culture and transgender manga where imagination opens the door to alternate and critical realities.

Social Science

ANSO 220 Special Topics: The Family

This course examines the institution of The Family, primarily from a critical perspective. After situating The Family in cultural and historical structures of race/ethnicity, class, and gender, we explore the institution as a site for the production and reproduction of femininity, masculinity, and (hetero)sexuality. We also examine the implications of the institution and the dynamics of power embedded in it for individuals and groups working against the dominant script.
Prerequisite: ANSO-103

ANSO 225 Sex and Sexualities

This course provides students with an overview of influential theories about the social aspects of sex and sexuality, as well as some direct engagement with ethnographic representations of sexual worlds and their politics. It examines the diversity of human sexual identities and activities in their historical, philosophical, legal, and social contexts. This course will consider sex and sexualities in an intersectional way, that is, in and through their intersections with issues of race, class, gender, nationality, and globality.
Prerequisite: ANSO-103 or CGHL-120

POLS 310 Women, States, and NGOs

What role do states have, if any, in defining, maintaining, constructing, or remedying sex discrimination? This course provides a comparative, historical framework to consider the challenges and opportunities feminist movements have met and continue to face as they mobilized both within and beyond their countries to demand social justice.

PSYC 270 Feminist Psychology of Women

This course is designed for students who are interested in a seminar dealing specifically with issues related to women’s lives and experiences from a feminist perspective. We will examine the field of psychology for its androcentric biases toward women and correct these biases by reviewing literature that places women at the center of inquiry, both as researchers and objects of study. Specific topics will include: silencing of women in classroom, pathologizing of women, sex bias in diagnosing, feminist developmental theories, sexual harassment in the academy, feminist responses to Freud, myth of beauty in adolescence, women and leadership, women’s sexuality, psychological consequences of incest, rape, and other forms of violence against women. AOS (SS)
Prerequisite: PSYC 101 and one additional psychology course.

PSYC 465 Advanced Psychology of Sexuality

In this course, we will consider the study of sexuality and sexual development from a psychological perspective. From this perspective, I will present ideas, theories, and concepts of gender and sexuality that are informed from the study of human behavior. The course aims to aid your critique of existing scholarship while creating your own framework for conceptualizing issues surrounding notions of sexuality. This course covers a wide variety of topics concerning the psychology of human sexuality. For example, we will consider sexual anatomy, communication about sexuality, queer identities, polyamory, and pornography.
Prerequisite: PSYC-101 and one additional PSYC course. Junior or Senior Standing only.