Courses and Requirements
The goal of Hamilton’s Women’s and Gender Studies Department is to develop students’ skills in conducting interdisciplinary critical analyses of how gender -- in relation to race, class, citizenship status, ability, age, and sexuality -- structures our world.
The Senior Program (550) is an interdisciplinary project culminating in a thesis or performance. Students who have an average of at least 3.5 (90) in the concentration may receive honors through distinguished work in 550. A complete description of the Senior Program is available from the program director.
A minor in Women’s and Gender Studies consists of 101, 201, 301, one course selected from 314, 327, 401, 402 or 405, and one elective.
Students without prior courses in the program may enroll in courses above the 100 level with permission of the instructor.
Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies.
An interdisciplinary investigation of past and present views of women and their roles, treatment and experiences in institutions such as the family, the state, the work force, language and sexuality. The diversity of women’s experiences across age, class, ethnic, sexual, racial and national lines introduced, and theories of feminism and of women’s studies discussed. (Writing-intensive.) (Proseminar.) One proseminar section in the spring. Maximum enrollment, 18. Jones, Barry and Lacsamana.
Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World.
An introduction to the roles of women in the ancient world through various sources: history, art and archaeology, law, literature and medicine. Covers the period from Egypt to early and classical Greece and down to the Roman empire, and traces the shifts in attitudes during these periods. (Same as Classics 140.)
Women and Madness.
Examination of historical, cultural, literary, artistic and psychological constructions and representations of women as “mad.” Uses feminist sociopolitical perspectives to explore how these representations are connected to topics such as anger, violence, sexuality, race, class, conformity and resistance to female roles, and the psychiatric and psychological communities.
Introduction to Feminist Thought.
An interdisciplinary examination of the history and contemporary practice of feminist thought. Topics include the history of feminist thought in Western culture, the broadening and complication of that canon to include examinations of race, class, gender, sexuality, ableism and ageism, and the implications of global feminist thought. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. (Political Theory) (Same as Government 201.) Maximum enrollment, 18. Lacsamana.
Introduction to LGBTQ Studies.
This introductory-level writing-intensive course will explore sexuality as a category of analysis that intersects with gender, race, class, nationality, and religion. The course will include key historical texts in the field of LGBTQ Studies, as well as current developments. Through writing a series of letters, students will practice the feminist model of combining personal, political, and scholarly perspectives. You will learn to critically analyze prevailing normative assumptions, social and cultural institutions, your own life, Hamilton College, and the wider community. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 18. Stina Soderling.
Women and War: Feminism, Militarism and Nationalism.
Examines the ways war and processes of militarization impact women in developed and so-called developing countries. Accompanying this discussion will be an analysis of women’s relationship to the “state” and “nation” during periods of warfare. Readings range from personal narratives written by women who have experienced war first-hand to those actively engaged in revolutionary anti-imperialist struggles. These narratives will be grounded by theoretical readings that explore the ongoing debates and tensions among feminists regarding nationalism, violence, war and militarization. Prerequisite, 101 or consent of the instructor. Lacsamana.
This course examines historical and contemporary performances of women on stage in the US. Using current feminist performance theory the course provides tools for students analysis of text and performance. At the end of the course students move from analysis of text/performance to creation of their own solo performance pieces. (Writing-intensive.) (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, Theatre 100. (Same as Theatre 205.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Jeanne Willcoxon.
Women, Gender and Popular Culture.
Interdisciplinary investigation of how popular culture reproduces gendered identities and racialized differences. Feminist theories of popular culture will inform examinations of racial stereotypes and heterosexist conventions in diverse forms of popular culture (films, fiction, non-fiction, television, music, the internet) from 1980-present in both mainstream and sub-cultural contexts. Analysis of popular culture's commodification of contradictory versions of "womanhood," as well as how women's self-representations pose complex questions of agency and resistance in the culture industry. Prerequisite, one course in women's studies or consent of instructor.
Queer Literature and Film.
Examination of the historical and theoretical constructions of sexual and gender identities through the literature and film of the late 19th c – present. The course will explore a range of issues including the emergence, normalization and regulation of heterosexuality and “homosexuality” as categories of identity; intersections with race, class and queerness; transgender identity and subjectivity; constructions of the “family” among others. Our analyses of LGBT literature and film will be grounded by contemporary debates in feminist, gender, and queer studies. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, one course in women's studies or consent of instructor. (Same as American Studies 214.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Race, Gender and Culture.
A critical philosophical examination of the normative categories of race, gender and culture. Topics include the origin, character and function of racial, gender and social identities. Analysis will focus on questions concerning the malleability of these identities, as well as questions concerning their psychological and social significance. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Open only to 1st and 2nd year students. (Same as Philosophy 222 and Africana Studies 222.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Critical Intersectionality: Re-Inserting a Power Analysis.
The concept of “intersectionality” and its political and theoretical foundations are arguably one of the most important contributions by women of color feminist scholars and activists to the social sciences and to practice arenas such as diversity education and organization development. Since its popularization, the meaning of the concept has been diluted, too often used only to identify and acknowledge multiple identities, thus leading to cultural relativist perspectives on social justice struggles. This course will trace the origins of the concept, delineate the structural features that give significance to an individual’s multiples identities and complicate collective identities, and identify various ways in which a critical intersectional analysis can provide fuller understandings of individual experiences and subjectivities, organizational policies and practices, and the social, economic, and political forces that shape them, often in contradictory ways. Prerequisite, 101 or consent of the instructor.
Gender, Space and Identity in the African Diaspora.
This course examines how racialized and gendered identities are made in relation to space. How does gender intersect with race, class and other power relations embedded in the places we live? How do women and men come to occupy different places in the world – literally and figuratively – or occupy the same places in different ways? Case studies focus on identity making in relation to the body and the course more broadly focuses on the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ethnicity as matrices of social and structural power relations and hierarchies. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as Africana Studies 224.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Women, Law, Public Policy and Activism in the Contemporary United States.
An examination of feminist analysis of legislation and legal theory; public, educational and social policy; and legal/policy activism in the U.S. Opportunity for law or public policy research and/or internship in area. (Writing-intensive.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Immigration and Settler Colonialism: Feminist Perspectives.
We are witnessing an upsurge in activism around immigration in United States. At rallies, rhetoric of "We are all immigrants" are paired with singing "This Land Is Your Land." But are we all immigrants? And whose land is this really? When are immigrant and Native movements in conflict, and when do they work together? This course pairs a feminist study of immigration with theories of settler-colonialism; that is, the study of North America as Indigenous land settled by colonizers. We will read scholarly texts, news sources, and social movement literature, with a focus on our local region. Prerequisite, one course in Women''s and Gender Studies, Africana Studies, American Studies, or Religious Studies, or permission of the instructor. Soderling, Stina.
Art & Feminism.
This course examines the ways feminist ideas have challenged us to re-think art & art history, both past & present, particularly with respect to feminism’s mandate to consider race, class, sexuality, and other aspects of social location alongside the interrogation of gender. Thematic concerns include the institutions & structural conditions within which marginalized artists have worked and continue to work; the challenges of representation & self-representation that black/queer/female artists encounter; and the innovative forms of feminist art & activism that have shaped culture more broadly (Same as Art History 231.) Susan Jarosi.
Women in Modern Asia.
Key dimensions of women’s relationships to colonial and national states in Asia during the 20th century. Introduction to distinct cultural systems in Asia with emphasis on how religion, ethnicity and class shape lives of women in Asian societies. Roles of women in politics, economics and social reform under both colonial and national states. Extensive use of biography, autobiography and memoir. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Same as History 235.)
Medieval Women: Writing and Written.
How did medieval women authors engage with a literary tradition that too often, as 14th c. writer Christine de Pizan lamented, declared that "female nature is wholly given up to vice”? Readings from English and French authors including Christine, Marie de France, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, and Geoffrey Chaucer; anonymous tales of women saints, cross-dressing knights, and disobedient wives; “authoritative” writings about women (inc. religious and medical tracts and a manual on courtly love). We will investigate how these texts both created and challenged gender roles in the Middle Ages. Prerequisite, One course in literature; no prior experience with Middle English required. History or Identity and Difference) (Same as Literature 237.)
Religion and Gender in American History.
In this course students examine the ways in which religious ideas have shaped Americans’ conceptions and performances of femininity and masculinity, and vice versa. Using case studies from the colonial period through contemporary times, we will explore the ways in which religion both constrained the performance of gender and the ways women and men found (and, sometimes, created) liberating resources within religious traditions. We will pay particular attention to the intersection of religion and gender with race, class, and sexuality. (Same as Religious Studies 247.)
Gender and Environment.
The theoretical, historical and material links between gender and the natural world. We explore how the social category of gender relates to environmental issues, but also focus on how other human differences based on race, class, sexuality and nation connect to the so-called "non-human environment.” The course begins with feminist historical and theoretical analysis of the links between gender and environment, including examinations of Ecofeminism and Deep Ecology. Building on this foundation, we then explore Health and Technology, Environmental Justice, and Global Climate Change. (Writing-intensive.) (Same as Environmental Studies 255.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Language, Gender and Sexuality.
Stresses special lessons that anthropology has to teach about the gendered facets of linguistic expression, including the necessity of an approach that is both empirical, including moments of interaction, and critical, exploring issues of power and agency. Considers conceptual benefits and limitations to using gendered difference as a model for sexual difference in the study of linguistic expression. Prerequisite, one course in anthropology or consent of instructor. (Same as Anthropology 257 and Linguistics 257 and Sociology 257.) LaDousa.
The Straight Story?: Rethinking the Romance.
A study of the ways in which various forms of sexual desire (overt or closeted) drive the plot of literary works. How is desire constructed? How have authors used, manipulated and resisted the marriage plot for aesthetic and political ends? Special attention to works by gay and lesbian authors. Readings, which include works of theory as well as imaginative texts, to include such authors as Austen, Diderot, Balzac, Zola, Wilde, Baldwin. (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) (Theme or Identity and Difference) (Same as Literature 278.)
Students Leading the Change for Racial and Gender Justice: Identity, Agency, Transformative Leadership.
This leadership project brings together students, faculty, and staff from Hamilton College and comparable institutions for two main purposes. One is to promote an intersectional understanding about raced and gendered campus climates that give rise to a range of damaging experiences, from the more subtle micro-aggression to hate crimes and sexual assaults and rape. The other purpose is to develop organizing strategies to create diverse, safe, and just campuses. This course includes a required field study at the Highlander Center in Tennessee, March 19-24. Prerequisite, Intro level course in either WMGST, AFRST, or SOC. (Same as Africana Studies 289.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Margo Okazawa-Rey.
Feminist Methodological Perspectives.
An interdisciplinary exploration of feminist methods of social analysis. Emphasis on how feminist inquiry has transformed how we think about and study gender in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 18. Barry.
Feminist and Queer Utopian Thinking and Practice.
This course will explore how feminist and queer thinkers and activists have imagined and built alternative, more hopeful, presents and futures. We will study the development of feminist utopian theory and activist projects, as well as the long history of arguably queer utopian communities, with a focus on our local region. Students will do research using the Communal Societies collection at Burke Library, and the course will include a field trip to the Oneida Mansion, historic home of the Oneida Community. Maximum enrollment, 12. Soderling, Stina.
Representing Gender in Latin America.
Approaches gender studies through critical analysis of Latin American literature, film and social movements. We study representations of femininity and masculinity in Latin American culture and their historical roots, considering traditional gender roles and more contemporary attempts to break with social expectations linked to sex and gender, as well as the complex interactions of gender with nationality, class and sexual orientation. Discussions center in issues of representation, identity and “equality.” Readings include both literary texts as well as gender theory. (Proseminar.) Prerequisite, Two 200-level courses in Hispanic studies above 200 or 201, or consent of instructor. Taught in Spanish. (Same as Hispanic Studies 303/403.) Maximum enrollment, 16. Burke.
Crossings and Transgressions: On Migration and (Im)Mobilities.
The current global moment is marked by border-crossings and border-transgressions where not only people are on the move, but also ideas and images about them. The refugee, the migrant, the domestic worker and the terrorist—itinerant figures of different orders—inspire narratives about what constitutes “human nature” and inhumane practices. This course explores the multiple meanings of mobility and stasis by examining the (dis)placements and circulations of people, things, and ideas along with the (folk)tales that accompany migration and related discourses on race, gender, and sexuality. Prerequisite, Anth 113 or approval by instructor. (Same as Anthropology 310.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Mariam Durrani.
Black Women's Experience in the United States.
Examination of the experiences of black women in the United States from 1800-2006. Emphasis on the intellectual history of black women. Topics include the legacy of slavery, the role and influence of religion and the black church, the history of black women's education, the development of black feminism, the roles of and attitudes toward black lesbian and bisexual women, the role and impact of black women in popular culture and music. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, 101 or consent of instructor. (Same as Africana Studies 311 and American Studies 311.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Seminar: Feminist Perspectives of Class in the United States.
Examines class and class struggle as it is associated with ethnicity, nation, race, gender and sexuality in the United States. Uses representations of class and class struggle in history and in contemporary literary, cinematic, social change movement and academic texts. Prerequisite, one course in women’s studies, sociology, economics or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Adair.
Gender, Health and Technology.
This course is an interdisciplinary, cultural studies examination of the intersections between gender, health and technology from a global perspective. This course explores the ways in which social identities of gender, race, class, sexuality, nationality, ability and so forth are relevant to studies of health and technology. The course will be theoretically and historically grounded by feminist critiques of science and technology, and explore the following topics: sexual and reproductive technologies, body modifications, and environmental toxicity and human health. Prerequisite, Any Women's Studies course or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Sexuality and Gender in Greece and Rome.
This course examines issues of sex, sexuality, and gender in the ancient societies of Greece and Rome through the study of literature, art, sociology, and science. We will investigate the representation of gender cross-culturally over time to learn what we know, and what we can’t know, about the lives of ancient men and women, their interaction, communication and their roles in culture and society. Particular attention will be given to the lives of women, whose voices are often underrepresented in Greek and Roman literature and historical records. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, 1 course in Classics or Women's Studies. (Same as Classics 325.) Maximum enrollment, 18. Jesse Weiner.
Seminar on Aging.
Focuses on experiences of aging with attention to midlife and beyond. Examines images of aging in literature, film and media; ageism and its interconnections with race, class, sexual and gender identity; the relationships of aging to experiences of the body, health, economic issues, social and familial relationships; and death and dying. Considers how changing age distributions in the United States influence intergenerational relationships and social policy. Prerequisite, one course in women’s studies or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Gentry.
Trans* Studies and Politics of the Body.
This course introduces students to the central issues of transgender studies and familiarizes them with emergent work in the field, including work that draws on critical methodologies developed in other fields. Students will learn how trans* embodiments are inflected by race, class, gender, and location, and will gain an understanding of the fields of power in which these embodiments and claims to identity take shape. Students will also engage how transgender studies, as a field, moves us both through and beyond personal narratives of medical and social sex/gender transition. Prerequisite, 101 or consent of the instructor. Dylan Blackston.
Seminar on Gender and Disability.
This seminar examines how disability operates as a category of analysis. Focusing on how disability intersects with gender, race, class, sexuality, religion, and nationality, particular attention will be given to feminist disability theorizing. We will also examine the ways in which the production of knowledge relies on able-bodied norms. We will think through the implications of traditional classroom arrangements and modify traditional means of teaching and learning as need be. Projects will address representations of disability broadly, including Hamilton's campus and the local community. Prerequisite, 101 or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Geographies of Race and Gender.
Examines how “natural” differences of gender and race are created through discourses, images and everyday practices in particular spatial contexts. Using historical and fictional texts, ethnographies, theoretical discussions and films the course explores the production of racial and gender differences in European development and imperialist expansion. Focuses on three historical periods in the production of racialized and gendered geographies: plantation/slave societies in the Americas, African Colonialism, contemporary globalization and ethnic diversity in Europe. (Same as Africana Studies 333.) Maximum enrollment, 20. Merrill.
Kitchen Culture: Women, Gender and the Politics of Food.
A cultural studies examination of women’s long-standing association with the private space of the home, in particular the kitchen, and the production and consumption of food. Grounded by feminist theoretical discussions of domesticity, the class analyzes how notions of family, community and cultural practices connected to food are differentiated by race, class, ethnicity and nationality. Prerequisite, 101 or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Medieval Women and the Written Word.
How did medieval women authors engage with a literary tradition that too often, as 14th c. writer Christine de Pizan lamented, declared that "female nature is wholly given up to vice”? Readings from English and French authors including Christine, Marie de France, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, and Geoffrey Chaucer; anonymous tales of women saints, cross-dressing knights, and disobedient wives; “authoritative” writings about women (inc. religious and medical tracts and a manual on courtly love). Attention to the origins of these texts as they both create and challenge medieval gender roles. Prerequisite, A 200-level course in literature; no prior experience with Middle English required. History or Identity and Difference (Same as Literature 337.)
Seminar: Women Writing Against the Grain.
A comparative investigation of U.S. women writing their own stories through the genre of autobiography in the 19th and 20th centuries. Attention to theoretical and practical questions of ideology, genre, language, audience and reception. Particular focus on women’s self-representation as hegemonic transgression at the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality and ableism. (Writing-intensive.) Prerequisite, One course in Women's Studies and some coursework in comparative literature or literary theory or consent of the instructor. (Same as Literature 343.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Adair, Vivyan.
Queer and Trans Visual Cultures.
This course examines what it means to “queer” or “trans” visual and performance-based media. It offers an interdisciplinary investigation of queer and trans representation, and both the possibilities and limitations of positive images and mainstream LGBTQ visibility. It also examines how visual productions of trans and queer identities are produced alongside and through racial, ethnic, religious, regional, and class identities. In connection with course readings, students will study film, photography, painting, installation, and performance art. Prerequisite, Any WMGST or Cinema and Media Studies course or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 20. Dylan Blackston.
Cleopatra was a witness to and a shaper of the history of ancient Egypt and the late Roman Republic. To posterity the historical Cleopatra is an enigma, but her image in film, literature, art and popular culture is ever present. Through authors such as Horace, Plutarch, Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw and through cinematic treatments from the 1940s-1970s, explores how the historical figure of Cleopatra became both the signifier and embodiment of sexual and racial politics across historical periods. (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, one course in classical studies or Africana studies. (Same as Classics 372 and Africana Studies 372.) Maximum enrollment, 18.
Transnational Feminist Frames.
This course looks at the work of (women) filmmakers with South Asian and Iranian ties to ask how contemporary visual culture figures gender and sexuality. It spans national and regional borders to examine contextual and formal challenges artists navigate as they probe the complexity of gendered lives. Amanpour (A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, 2014), Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, 2002), Makhmalbaf (Blackboards, 2009), and Sumar (Silent Waters, 2003), and others. How do notions of gender, sexuality, and nation shape film form? How might form be used to think anew about such social structures? (Writing-intensive.) (Social, Structural, and Institutional Hierarchies.) Prerequisite, A 200-level course in Literature, Women’s and Gender Studies, or permission of the instructor. Theory, SSIH, and Methods (Same as Literature 379.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Sundar, Pavitra.
Queer/Feminist Literary Theory.
Contemporary feminist and queer theories have a close connection to literature; they emerged from and later transformed literary studies. We will discuss selected theoretical writing, as well as creative texts from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century: fiction, plays, and films. Conversations will center around questions of identity and performativity, and the intersections of gender, sexuality, race and class. Readings to be drawn from the following: Oscar Wilde, Radclyffe Hall, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, E. M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Tony Kushner, Cherrie Moraga. Prerequisite, At least one course in Literature and/or Women's Studies, or consent of instructor. (Theory or Identity and Difference) (Same as Literature 391.)
Seminar: Theories of Sexuality.
This course introduces students to the scholarly practice of theorizing sexuality. We will focus on contemporary interdisciplinary Critical Sexuality and Queer Theory, produced both within and outside the academy. In order to understand how the critical study of sexuality developed, we will trace the genealogies of these texts and together develop a bibliography of key books and articles. Prerequisite, one course in women’s studies or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Soderling, Stina.
Seminar on Global Feminisms.
Comprehensive examination of global feminism, focusing on the rise of women’s movements for economic and social justice. Attention to the role of socio-cultural constructions of femininity and masculinity; issues of violence against women and children; poverty; economic, sexual and civil rights; immigration and citizenship; global migration; and the construction of identity by dismantling national and transnational relations of exploitative power regimes. Prerequisite, one course in women’s studies or consent of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12. Lacsamana.
Seminar: Black Feminist Thought.
Interdisciplinary examination of the tradition of black feminist thought as it spans African and African-American heritages.Exploration of how black women are not simply victims of oppression but visionary agents of change.Areas examined include history, literature,music,art,education, sociology and film. There is intersectional analysis of the social, structural, and institutional hierarchies within the identities of women of African descent (gender/transgender, race, white supremacy, sexual/affectional orientation, class, color, and ability). Prerequisite, one course in women's studies or consent of instructor. (Same as Africana Studies 405.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Haley.
Seminar: Feminist Epistemologies and Decolonizing Knowledges.
How do we know what we know? What is “real” and “true”? How are feminist epistemologies distinct from other taken-for-granted ways of knowing? How has “knowledge” and knowledge-production been central to colonial and imperial projects of the 19th and 20th centuries and what are their present-day influences? What would it take and what would it mean to “decolonize” knowledge? These and other important questions will guide the critical exploration from feminist perspectives. Prerequisite, 101 and another course in Women's Studies or consent of the instructor. Maximum enrollment, 12.
Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality, Nationality and Ableism and US Education.
An examination and analysis of intersectionality and the interplay of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationalism and ableism in US education, historically, sociologically, and in terms of policy and praxis in the lives of students and educators. Prerequisite, One course in Women’s and Gender Studies and/or Education Studies. (Same as Education Studies 415.) Maximum enrollment, 12. Vivyan Adair.
A project or thesis on a topic in women’s studies. Limited to senior concentrators and interdisciplinary concentrators with a focus on women’s studies. The Department.
(from the Hamilton Course Catalogue)