Current Courses

Fall 2022


Call Number: 00694

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 2:40PM-3:55PM TBA

Instructor: Marisa Solomon

This course examines the conceptual foundations that support feminist and queer analyses of racial capitalism, security and incarceration, the politics of life and health, and colonial and postcolonial studies, among others. Open to all students; required for the major in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) and the Interdisciplinary Concentration or Minor in Race and Ethnicity (ICORE/MORE).

Call Number: 00695

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 10:10AM-11:25AM at 304 Barnard Hall

Instructor: Manijeh Moradian

This introductory course for the Interdisciplinary Concentration or Minor in Race and Ethnicity (ICORE/MORE) is open to all students. We focus on the critical study of social difference as an interdisciplinary practice, using texts with diverse modes of argumentation and evidence to analyze social differences as fundamentally entangled and co-produced. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this course, the professor will frequently be joined by other faculty from the Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies (CCIS), who bring distinct disciplinary and subject matter expertise. Some keywords for this course include hybridity, diaspora, borderlands, migration, and intersectionality.

Call Number: 00696

Day, Time & Location: W 4:10PM-6:00PM at LL016

Instructor: Laura Kay

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 18 students. History and politics of womens involvement with science. Womens contributions to scientific discovery in various fields, accounts by women scientists, engineers, and physicians, issues of science education. Feminist critiques of biological research and of the institution of science.

Call Number: 00697

Day, Time & Location: W 2:10PM-4:00PM TBA

Instructor: Janet Jakobsen

Investigates the significance of contemporary and historical issues of social, political, and cultural conflicts centered on womens bodies. How do such conflicts constitute women, and what do they tell us about societies, cultures, and politics? - D. Ko

Call Number: 00698

Day, Time & Location: Th 4:10PM-6:00PM at 306 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Instructor: Marisa Solomon

This course is designed to provide students with an introduction to key themes in contemporary feminist thought. Attention will be devoted to how the intersections of race, gender, class, nation and sexuality, as well as the politics of deviance, shape feminist theory. This course aims to introduce students to key theoretical contributions of feminist thought. The course emphasizes an understanding of feminist theories through the political, historical and cultural contexts in which they developed. Topics covered will include the production of racialized, gendered, and sexualized bodies through cultural productions, public polices and technology; Marxist feminism; postcolonial feminism; transnational and diasporic practices; politics of representation and queer theory. Prerequisite: Either one introductory WGSS course or Critical Approaches to Social and Cultural Theory or Permission of the Instructor.

Call Number: 00699

Day, Time & Location: Tu 4:10PM-6:00PM 407 Barnard Hall

Instructor: Janet Jakobsen

This course collaborates between students and professor, humans and animals, subjects and objects, to investigate the Animal Problem. What are non-human animals? How do we relate to them? How do we account for our animal nature while reconciling our cultural aspirations? What are our primary desires with respect to non-human animals?

Call Number: 11769

Day, Time & Location: M 2:10PM-4:00PM at 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall

Instructor: Lila Abu-Lughod

The Senior Seminar in Women's Studies offers you the opportunity to develop a capstone research paper by the end of the first semester of your senior year. Senior seminar essays take the form of a 25-page paper based on original research and characterized by an interdisciplinary approach to the study of women, sexuality, and/or gender. You must work with an individual advisor who has expertise in the area of your thesis and who can advise you on the specifics of method and content. Your grade for the semester will be determined by the instructor and the advisor. Students receiving a grade of B+ or higher in Senior Seminar I will be invited to register for Senior Seminar II by the Instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Senior Seminar II students will complete a senior thesis of 40-60 pages. Please note, the seminar is restricted to Columbia College and GS senior majors.

Call Number: 00701

Day, Time & Location: W 4:10PM-6:00PM TBA

Instructor: Jonathan Beller

The integration of contemporary media and social practices of all types is intensifying. This seminar examines media theory and various media platforms including Language, Photography, Film, Television, Radio, Digital Video, and Computing as treated by feminists, critical race and queer theorists, and other scholars and artists working from the margins. Prerequisite: Either one introductory WGSS course or Critical Approaches to Social and Cultural Theory or Permission of the Instructor.

Call Number: 11772

Day, Time & Location: Tu 4:10PM-6:00PM at 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall

Instructor: Audra Simpson, Manu Karuka

Indigenous women, queers, trans- and Two Spirit people have been at the forefront of activism and resistance to state incursion into Indigenous lands and waters. This was evident most recently at Mauna Kea, a mountain sacred to Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii as women, trans and queer formed the first line of resistance and occupation against the construction of a 1000-meter telescope on the site. This is not unique, their voices, along with indigenous queer and feminist scholars, have been working to address issues as far-ranging as mascots, settler appropriation of indigenous cultures, missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and the violence against indigenous urban youth. This seminar will consider how those indigenous feminist, queer, and Two Spirit scholars have theorized gender, sexuality, race, and colonialism, alongside issues of land, water and sovereignty. We will read works that consider how indigeneity challenges how gender and sexuality are expressed in the context of settler colonialism and racial capitalism. 

Call Number: 00702

Day, Time & Location: Th 12:00PM-1:50PM TBA

Instructor: Neferti Tadiar

This advanced seminar examines historical, social, cultural, and theoretical propositions for decolonizing praxis and their complex relations to feminist critique. How do we understand Western European colonialism and coloniality as modes, conditions, and institutions of power, dispossession, subjugation, and subjection continuing into the present? What are the methods, practices, and vision enacted and proposed by the colonized for undoing and radically transforming the determinate logics, instruments, and structures of colonialism as these persist in the present moment? We will consider how gender and sexuality as well as race – as technologies of social organization, codes of valuation, and modes of survival – shape colonialism and the struggles against it. We will inquire into their significance to projects of decolonization. How might decolonization envision and make possible other ways of life?

Call Number: 00693

Day, Time & Location: W 12:00PM-1:50PM TBA

Instructor: Neferti Tadiar

This advanced seminar examines important approaches, issues, perspectives, and themes related to planetary concerns of environmental crisis, climate change, life sustainability, and multi-species flourishing, with a focus on feminist, postcolonial, anti-racist, and queer perspectives. Topics for discussion and study include the global pandemic,  histories of colonialism, slavery, and capitalism,

Prereqs: BOTH 1 WMST Intro course PLUS any WGSS 'Foundation' course, OR instructor permission.

Call Number: 11774

Day, Time & Location: W 10:10AM-12:00PM 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall

Instructor: Sarah Haley

While the mutually constitutive nature of race and gender has been a longstanding premise in feminist and gender studies, this class explores recent works across a range of fields that provide new insight into the process and operation of racialized gender in economic, cultural, social, and political life. Key themes will include colonialism, humanism/the human, method, refusal, carcerality, relationality, Marxist feminism, and disability. As a field constituted by theories of racialized gender this class will emphasize Black feminist frameworks while also meaningfully engaging decolonial, Indigenous, queer of color, and women of color analyses.

Call Number: 16086

Day, Time & Location: W 2:10PM-4:00PM 934 Schermerhorn Hall

Instructor: Julia Bryan-Wilson

What happens when we understand art as an active producer of theory, rather than as an object to which theory might be “applied?” This seminar proposes that recent art has catalyzed and shaped advanced feminist and queer thought, and asks how visual art practices have been engines of theoretical propositions about the entanglements of genders, sexualities, racialization, desire, state power, archives, migration, utopias/dystopias, loss, anger, visibility/opacity, world-making, etc. We will focus our speculations around a series of case studies from around the world to think about how insistently intersectional feminist, trans, and queer knowledge is embodied, generated, and performed within works, acts, and objects themselves. Modeling more horizontal methods of learning in alignment with queer feminist pedagogies, students will participate in building our reading list and will collaboratively lead discussions. Artists/artist’s groups might include Asco, Sadie Barnette, fierce pussy, Jeffrey Gibson, Félix González-Torres, Glenn Ligon, Candice Lin, Julie Mehretu, Yasumasa Morimura, Zanele Muholi, Senga Nengudi, Cecilia Vicuña, and Martin Wong.


Call Number: 10631

Day, Time & Location: M W 2:40PM-3:55PM TBA

Instructor: Camille Robcis

This course provides an introduction to some of the major landmarks in European cultural and intellectual history, from the aftermath of the French Revolution to the 1970s. We will pay special attention to the relationship between texts (literature, anthropology, political theory, psychoanalysis, art, and film) and the various contexts in which they were produced. Among other themes, we will discuss the cultural impact of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, industrialism, colonialism, modernism, the Russian Revolution, the two world wars, decolonization, feminism and gay liberation movements, structuralism and poststructuralism. In conjunction, we will examine how modern ideologies (liberalism, conservatism, Marxism, imperialism, fascism, totalitarianism, neoliberalism) were developed and challenged over the course of the last two centuries. Participation in weekly discussion sections staffed by TAs is mandatory. The discussion sections are 50 minutes per session. Students must register for the general discussion (“DISC”) section, and will be assigned to a specific time and TA instructor once the course begins.

Call Number: 11492

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 2:40PM-3:55PM TBA

Instructor: Christia Mercer

Is there an essential difference between women and men? How do questions about race conflict or overlap with those about gender? Is there a normal way of being queer? Introduction to philosophy and feminism through a critical discussion of these and other questions using historical and contemporary texts, art, and public lectures. Focus includes essentialism, difference, identity, knowledge, objectivity, and queerness.

Call Number: 10633

Day, Time & Location: M W 10:10AM-11:25AM TBA

Instructor: Samuel K Roberts

Through assigned readings and a group research project, students will gain familiarity with a range of historical and social science problems at the intersection of ethnic/racial/sexual formations, technological networks, and health politics since the turn of the twentieth century. Topics to be examined will include, but will not be limited to, black women's health organization and care; HIV/AIDS politics, policy, and community response; benign neglect; urban renewal and gentrification; medical abuses and the legacy of Tuskegee; tuberculosis control; and environmental justice. There are no required qualifications for enrollment, although students will find the material more accessible if they have had previous coursework experience in United States history, pre-health professional (pre-med, pre-nursing, or pre-public health), African-American Studies, Women and Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, or American Studies.

Call Number: 10592

Day, Time & Location: M W 11:40AM-12:55PM TBA

Instructor: George Chauncey

This course explores the social, cultural, and political history of lesbians, gay men, and other socially constituted sexual and gender minorities, primarily in the twentieth century. Since the production and regulation of queer life has always been intimately linked to the production and policing of “normal” sexuality and gender, we will also pay attention to the shifting boundaries of normative sexuality, especially heterosexuality, as well as other developments in American history that shaped gay life, such as the Second World War, Cold War, urbanization, and the minority rights revolution. Themes include the emergence of homosexuality and heterosexuality as categories of experience and identity; the changing relationship between homosexuality and transgenderism; the development of diverse lesbian and gay subcultures and their representation in popular culture; the sources of antigay hostility; religion and sexual science; generational change and everyday life; AIDS; and gay, antigay, feminist, and queer movements.

Call Number: 00038

Day, Time & Location: M W 11:40AM-12:55PM TBA

Instructor: Premilla Nadasen

Using an intersectional framework, this course traces changing notions of gender and sexuality in the 20th century United States.  The course examines how womanhood and feminism were shaped by class, race, ethnicity, culture, sexuality and immigration status.  We will explore how the construction of American nationalism and imperialism, as well as the development of citizenship rights, social policy, and labor organizing, were deeply influenced by the politics of gender.  Special emphasis will be placed on organizing and women's activism.

Call Number: 11947

Day, Time & Location: M W 1:10PM-2:25PM TBA

Instructor: Annie Pfeifer

Although the first volume of the Grimms’ Children Stories and Household Tales was published more than 200 years ago, their fairy tales continue to enchant readers. In this course we will not only study the Grimms’ fairy tales themselves, but also examine their origins and their social, ideological, and political contexts in 19th-century Europe. We will work with fairy tale theory (narrative, psychoanalytic, historical) and discuss the function of the tales as folklore as well as their status as children’s literature. Alongside the “original” Grimms’ tales—a concept that we will discuss—a major portion of the course will engage the legacy of the fairy tales and the way they have been appropriated by others, particularly from a critical, feminist perspective.

Points of emphasis will include: how writers in the first half of the 20th century politicized the tales in the battle for social change during the time of the Weimar Republic and Nazi Germany; how the tales were reinterpreted in different national traditions and historical periods; how the fairy tale become a mass culture icon in Disney’s film versions; and how contemporary writers like Margaret Atwood continue to employ tales in questioning and challenging traditional constructions of gender.

Call Number: 10595

Day, Time & Location: Tu 12:10PM-2:00PM TBA

Instructor: George Chauncey

The city has classically been represented as the site of sexual freedom, but also of sexual immorality and danger. This course explores the interrelated histories of sexuality and the city in the twentieth-century United States (especially New York) by exploring how urban conditions and processes shaped sexual practices, identities, communities, and ethics, and how sexual matters shaped urban processes, politics, and representation.

Call Number: 00082

Day, Time & Location: W 2:10PM-4:00PM at 202 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Instructor: Kaiama Glover

Looks at the portrayal of women as unsettling figures in the Francophone Caribbean literary universe. Examining the uncanny heroines in the novels of both male and female writers, students will identify the thematic commonalities and specific configurative strategies that emerge in the fictional representation of women in the region. The symbolic import of zombies, schizophrenics, and other disordering characters will be analyzed as indicators of and reflections on broader social realities. FREN BC1204: French Intermediate II or the equivalent level is required.

Call Number: 00007

Day, Time & Location: M 2:10PM-4:00PM at 406 Barnard Hall

Instructor: Lisa Tiersten

The development of the modern culture of consumption, with particular attention to the formation of the woman consumer. Topics include commerce and the urban landscape, changing attitudes toward shopping and spending, feminine fashion and conspicuous consumption, and the birth of advertising. Examination of novels, fashion magazines, and advertising images.

Call Number: 12573

Day, Time & Location: Tu 2:10PM-4:00PM TBA

Instructor: Nikolas Kakkoufa

Homosexuality, as a term, might be a relatively recent invention in Western culture (1891) but bodies that acted and appeared queer(ly) existed long before that. This course will focus on acts, and not identities, in tracing the evolution of writing the queer body from antiquity until today. In doing so it will explore a number of multimodal materials – texts, vases, sculptures, paintings, photographs, movies etc. – in an effort to understand the evolution of the ways in which language (written, spoken or visual) registers these bodies in literature and culture. When we bring the dimension of the body into the way we view the past, we find that new questions and new ways of approaching old questions emerge. What did the ancient actually write about the male/female/trans* (homo)sexual body? Did they actually create gender non-binary statues? Can we find biographies of the lives of saints in drag in Byzantium? How did the Victorians change the way in which we read Antiquity? How is the queer body registered in Contemporary Literature and Culture? Can one write the history of homosexuality as a history of bodies? How are queer bodies constructed and erased by scholars? How can we disturb national archives by globalizing the queer canon of bodies through translation? These are some of the questions that we will examine during the semester.

The course surveys texts from Homer, Sappho, Aeschylus, Euripides, Plato, Theocritus, Ovid, Dio Chrysostom, Lucian, Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, Arthur Symonds, Dinos Christianopoulos, Audre Lorde, Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner etc., the work of artists such as Yiannis Tsarouchis, Robert Mapplethorpe, Dimitris Papaioannou, Cassils, movies such as 120 battements par minute, and popular TV shows such as Pose.

Call Number: 12198

Day, Time & Location: M 10:10AM-12:00PM TBA

Instructor: Katherine Fein

How did changing modes of representation reflect and contribute to shifting conceptions of embodiment and identity? This advanced undergraduate seminar explores the complex relationship between photography and the human body in the United States since the introduction of photography in 1839. Moving decade by decade, this course traces the development of photography alongside social and political change that altered how human bodies were understood, represented, inhabited, and controlled. We will examine a variety of photographic genres that figure the body, including personal portraits, ethnographic images, identification images, documentary photography, and fashion photography. Alongside the close examination of photographs, we will read key primary sources, scholarship in art history, and theoretical texts. Two field trips—one to Columbia’s Art Properties and one to the Metropolitan Museum of Art—will give us an opportunity to have our own embodied encounters with historical photographs. Although the course explores the period between 1839 and 1970, we will reflect upon the legacy of historical photographic practices in the years since and in the contemporary world.

Call Number: 10243

Day, Time & Location: W 2:10PM-4:00PM TBA

Instructor: Rachel Adams

Deformed, grotesque, super/transhuman and otherwise extraordinary bodies have always been a central feature of comics.  However, the past ten years have seen a surge of graphic narratives that deal directly with experiences of health and illness, and that are recognized as having significant literary value.  This course will focus on graphic narratives about healthcare, illness, and disability with particular attention to questions of embodied identities such as gender, sexuality, race, and age.  Primary texts will include the work of Alison Bechdel, Roz Chast, CeCe Bell, David Small, Allie Brosch, and Ellen Fourney.  We will study the vocabulary, conventions, and formal properties of graphic literature, asking how images and text work together to create narrative.  We will consider whether graphic narrative might be especially well suited to representations of bodily difference; how illness/disability can disrupt conventional ideas about gender and sexuality; how experiences of the body as a source of pain, stigmatization, and shame intersect with the sexualized body; and how illness and disability queer conventional sexual arrangements, identities, and attachments.  While studying the construction of character, narrative, framing, color, and relationship between visual and print material on the page, students will also produce their own graphic narratives.

Call Number: 12867

Day, Time & Location: Th 4:10PM-6:00PM TBA

Instructor: Anna Reumert

In this course, we are going to examine political imagination in revolutionary times and discuss issues of representation and authorship that emerge when people mobilize for change. Taking lessons from anthropology, critical theory, queer and feminist theory, as well as postcolonial and Black studies, we will apply a method of critical inquiry to readings of the revolution as historical concept and as a lived experience. We will examine not simply “what happened”, but how we came to know about it: What determines whether a popular uprising is written into history as a “revolution” or dismissed as a “riot”? What does it mean for a revolution to “succeed”? Who gets to author the revolution as such –– the people on the street, the people who take power, or the people writing about the event after it happened? Who gets to be the protagonists of the revolution, and who are left out? How does class, race and gender figure into this hierarchy of voice?

We will apply these questions in reading two contemporary uprisings that get to the heart of the tensions between “identarian” and “universal” political claims: The Movement for Black Lives in the US, and Lebanon’s civil uprising of 2019-20. Both uprisings mobilized against racial capitalism and sectarianism and were met with state and police violence. We will examine the political critique that emerged from these uprisings, and how they might enable a critique of the political as an exclusionary concept. By reading activist, scholarly and artist interpretations of the uprisings, including film, dance, poetry, and manifestos, we will ask: What new forms of political mobilization and visions emerge from this critique?

Call Number: 00122

Day, Time & Location: Th 4:10PM-6:00PM at 318 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Instructor: Elizabeth Bernstein

This research and writing-intensive seminar is designed for senior majors with a background and interest in the sociology of gender and sexuality. The goal of the seminar is to facilitate completion of the senior requirement (a 25-30 page paper) based on ;hands on; research with original qualitative data. Since the seminar will be restricted to students with prior academic training in the subfield, students will be able to receive intensive research training and guidance through every step of the research process, from choosing a research question to conducting original ethnographic and interview-based research, to analyzing and interpreting ones findings. The final goal of the course will be the production of an original paper of standard journal-article length. Students who choose to pursue their projects over the course of a second semester will have the option of revisiting their articles further for submission and publications.

Call Number: 10028

Day, Time & Location: Tu 2:10PM-4:00PM 

Instructor: Hilary Hallett

This seminar explores the history of American gender through the history of the American film industry from the first features in the 1910s through the crumbling of the Hollywood Studio System and Production Code in 1968. The industry’s movies and stars offer important sites to examine transformations associated with the development of modern sex roles and racial attitudes over the half-century comprising Hollywood’s Studio Era. During this period, much of the controversy sparked by the industry stemmed from its depictions of new ideals of womanhood, manhood, and sexuality. Moreover, in this era, Hollywood targeted specific audiences and movies were not afforded the protection of free speech. This made films and movie stars peculiarly reflective of, and vulnerable to, broader societal fantasies and fears about changes involving gender roles, sexuality, and racial attitudes. We will use motion pictures and movie stars as primary sources and consider how the changing institutional history of film production connected to the images it sold. Students will write one short paper and a paper proposal in preparation for a short research-based essay on a topic relating to how some aspect of film history reflected a particular problem in gender history. 

Call Number: 00284

Day, Time & Location: M 6:10PM-8:00PM TBA

Instructor: Elizabeth Castelli

This seminar considers the difference gender makes in interpreting ancient Christian texts, ideas, and practices. Topics will include gender hierarchy and homoeroticism, prophecy and authority, outsiders’ views of Christianity, bodily pieties such as martyrdom and asceticism, and gender politics in the establishment of church offices. Emphasis will be placed on close readings of primary sources and selected scholarly framings of these sources.

Call Number: 38467

Day, Time & Location: T 7:20pm-9:00pm at Thompson Hall 229 (Teachers College)

Instructor: Aurelie Athan 

The mother-child relationship: Implications for development and influence on clinical theory and practice, focus on theories of parenting, ruptures in the relationship and therapy with mothers and children.

Call Number: 10258

Day, Time & Location: W 10:10am-12:00pm at 963 Schermerhorn Hall Ext. 

Instructor: Vanessa Lauren Agard-Jones

Zora Neale Hurston—Barnard College ‘28 and a once-graduate student in Columbia’s department of Anthropology—was a pioneering chronicler of Black folklore, a student of Black expression, and a creative imaginer of Black worlds via her novels, short stories, plays and poetry. From her travels throughout the U.S. South, to Haiti, Jamaica, and beyond, Hurston took as her mission a diasporic articulation of Black life in the Americas. In this seminar, we ask what a deep reading of Hurston’s oeuvre can teach us about the history of Anthropology, about the blurry borders between fiction and ethnography, and about the legacies that her work leaves—in communities of scholarly practice and beyond.

Call Number: 39603

Day, Time & Location: M 6:00pm-7:40pm ONLINE (Teachers College)

Instructor: Melanie Brewster 

The purpose of this course is to introduce some of the major issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity and how these issues historically and presently interact with psychological and educational topics. This course will examine factors impacting individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) and explore the potential role of mental health and educational professionals, teachers, and researchers in working with this population.

Call Number: 11968

Day, Time & Location: W 2:10PM-4:00PM TBA

Instructor: Claudia Breger


Call Number: 13154

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 4:10PM-5:25PM TBA

Instructor: Lena Edlund

Prerequisites: ECON UN3211 and ECON UN3213 This course studies gender gaps, their extent, determinants and consequences. The focus will be on the allocation of rights in different cultures and over time, why women's rights have typically been more limited and why most societies have traditionally favored males in the allocation of resources.

Call Number: 12764

Day, Time & Location: Tu 10:10AM-12:00PM TBA

Instructor: Samuel K Roberts

Through a series of thematically-arranged secondary and primary source readings and research writing assignments, students in this seminar course will explore the public health, medical, political, and social histories of HIV and AIDS in Black American communities. The course’s chronological focus begins roughly two decades before the first recognition of the syndrome, in June 1981, to the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Call Number: 15048

Day, Time & Location: MW 2:40PM-3:55PM TBA

Instructor: Jack Halberstam

This class will ask you to read a set of novels, theoretical essays and engage works from queer cinema, TV and music, in order to think deeply about sexuality, identity, desire, race, objects, relationality, being, knowing and becoming. We will consider sexuality, desire and gender not as a discrete set of bodily articulations, nor as natural expressions of coherent identities so much as part of the formulation of self that Avery Gordon names “complex personhood.” Beginning with a film from the UK that rereads queerness back through a history or labor and ending with a film made entirely on the iPhone and that stages queerness as part of an alternative articulation of Hollywood, we will explore new and old theories of queer desire. Through the readings, discussions, and assignments, you will develop critical analytical skills to consider social change movements with particular attention to how sex, gender, race, class, sexuality, sexual orientation, and other systems of power shape people’s everyday lives. We will trace the entanglements of narrativity and subjectivity, desire and language, difference and representation and we will explore queer theories of being, knowing and becoming.  

Call Number: 12966

Day, Time & Location: TBA

Instructor: Jean Howard

Prison literature—poems, plays, memoirs, novels, and songs written in prison or about prison—constitute a significant part of American literature. Prisons expose many of the systemic inequalities of American life, above all those based on racism and the enduring legacies of slavery. Using the tools of critical race theory, feminism, and class analysis, this course will explore the forms of cultural expression that have emerged in relationship to the American prison experience. Though the course will touch on the rise of convict leasing, chain gangs, and work farms as part of the penal system under Jim Crow, the main focus will be on developments in the U.S. prison system and in prison literature since the 1960s, roughly from the prison writing of George Jackson, Angela Davis, and Malcolm X to the outpouring of contemporary fiction and poetry about prison life by Jesmyn Ward, Colin Whitehead, Rachel Kushner, and Reginald Betts. This is the era of what Michelle Alexander has called “the new Jim Crow,” the rise of mass incarceration, the partial privatization of the penal system, and the growth of supermax facilities.

Among the questions we will explore together are these: What tools and techniques do writers use to construct the prison experience? What are the affordances offered by various genres (drama, autobiography, poetry, the novel) for exploring the prison system and the systems of oppression that converge at that site? Does some literature of incarceration perpetuate damaging discourses about “felons,” or does it revise and complicate stereotypes and narratives about incarcerated individuals? How do narratives involving change, conversion, growing up, or being defeated operate in various genres of prison literature? What role do mourning, witnessing, testifying, and resistance play in such writing? What is the imagined audience of various genres of prison writing, that is, for whom is it written? What ethical and political demands does such writing make on us as readers, citizens, activists?

Call Number: 15968

Day, Time & Location: T 11:00am-12:50pm at 501B International Affairs Building (SIPA)

Instructor: Yasmine Ergas 

This course introduces students to fundamental human rights associated with gender and the global processes through which they have been shaped and reshaped. Focusing primarily but not exclusively on women’s rights and drawing on treaties, cases, programmatic documents, statistical data and other materials, we ask how gender inequalities are addressed at a global and regional level, how such commitments resonate at a national level, and how they are being challenged today. Why are specific measures are needed to protect against gender-based discrimination if human rights are putatively universal?  Does the current global gender rights framework work effectively for all those subject to gender-based discrimination?  Which points of view on gender does it incorporate and promote, and which does it  “silence”? How do factors such as citizenship, nationality, sexual orientation and gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion and class affect the protection of gender rights? How can the current global gender rights framework help address discrimination and inequality with respect to fundamental issues of personhood such as identity, bodily integrity, and the right to life? How can  it be deployed to address the implications of socioeconomic processes closely linked to globalization, such as migration or the emergence of markets in reproduction? Can it play a role in times of widespread political turmoil and of war? 

Call Number: 16825

Day, Time & Location: T 2:10pm-4:00pm at 934 Schermerhorn Hall

Instructor: Julia Bryan-Wilson

This seminar examines the resurgence of craft within contemporary art and theory. In a time when much art is outsourced — or fabricated by large stables of assistants — what does it mean when artists return to traditional, and traditionally laborious, methods of handiwork such as knitting, jewelry making, or woodworking? Though our emphasis will be on recent art (including the Black feminist reclamation of quilts, an artist who makes pornographic embroidery, a cross-dressing ceramicist, queer fiber collectives, do-it-yourself Indigenous environmental interventions, and anti-capitalist craftivism), we will also examine important historical precedents. We will read formative theoretical texts regarding questions of process, materiality, skill, bodily effort, domestic labor, and alternative economies of production. Throughout, we will think through how craft is in dialogue with questions of race, nation-building, gendered work, and mass manufacturing. The seminar is centered around student-led discussion of our critical readings.


Call Number: 10586

Day, Time & Location: M W 4:10PM-5:25PM TBA

Instructor: Casey Blake

This course examines major themes in U.S. intellectual history since the Civil War. Among other topics, we will examine the public role of intellectuals; the modern liberal-progressive tradition and its radical and conservative critics; the uneasy status of religion ina secular culture; cultural radicalism and feminism; critiques of corporate capitalism and consumer culture; the response of intellectuals to hot and cold wars, the Great Depression, and the upheavals of the 1960s. Fields(s): US

Call Number: 10704

Day, Time & Location: W 2:10PM-4:00PM TBA

Instructor: Leta Hong Fincher

This is a seminar for advanced undergraduates and master’s degree students, which explores the socioeconomic consequences of China’s development of a boom, urban residential real-estate market since the privatization of housing at the end of the 1990s. We will use the intersecting lenses of gender/sexuality, class and race/ethnicity to analyze the dramatic new inequalities created in arguably the largest and fastest accumulation of residential-real estate wealth in history. We will examine topics such as how skyrocketing home prices and state-led urbanization have created winners and losers based on gender, sexuality, class, race/ethnicity and location (hukou), as China strives to transform from a predominantly rural population to one that is 60 percent urban by 2020. We explore the vastly divergent effects of urban real-estate development on Chinese citizens, from the most marginaliz4d communities in remote regions of Tibet and Xinjiang to hyper-wealthy investors in Manhattan. Although this course has no formal prerequisites, it assumes some basic knowledge of Chinese history. If you have never taken a course on China before, please ask me for guidance on whether or not this class is suitable for you. The syllabus is preliminary and subject to change based on breaking news events and the needs of the class.

Call Number: 12762

Day, Time & Location: Tu 2:10PM-4:00PM TBA

Instructor: Yiwen Shen

The aim of this course is to examine the interrelated concepts of body, borders, gender construction, and sexuality as expressed in Japanese literature, religion, and culture from the premodern period to the present. We will use a variety of media including oral literature, narrative fiction, noh play, early modern comic literature, novel, film, and anime.

Call Number: 10101

Day, Time & Location: M 12:10PM-2:00PM TBA

Instructor: Lauren Robertson

Concentrating on the drama of early modern England, this course will investigate a culture of surveillance regarding women’s bodies in the period. We will give special focus to the fear of female infidelity, the theatrical fascination with the woman’s pregnant body, and the cultural desire to confirm and expose women’s chastity. We will read plays in which women are falsely accused of adultery, in various generic contexts (such as William Shakespeare’s 

Cymbeline and Much Ado About Nothing), along with plays in which women actually commit infidelity (such as the anonymous Arden of Faversham and Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid in Cheapside). Focusing on a different play each week, we will ask: what does it take, ultimately, to believe women about their fidelity? At the same time, what is the effect of being doubted on women themselves? We will also give consideration to the particular resources of dramatic form, paying attention to moments in plays that coerce spectators themselves into mistaken judgments about women.

We will supplement our reading of drama with pamphlets, advice literature, poems, church court cases, and ballads, in order to place these plays within a broader and more varied culture of female surveillance in early modern England. Finally, we will work to recover past strategies of liberation from this surveillance in the plays we read, in women’s writing that warns against male betrayal, and in dramatic and historical instances of female cross-dressing.

Call Number: 11572

Day, Time & Location: Th 4:10PM-6:00PM TBA

Instructor: Eric Gamalinda

This seminar focuses on the critical analysis of Asian representation and participation in Hollywood by taking a look at how mainstream American cinema continues to essentialize the Asian and how Asian American filmmakers have responded to Hollywood Orientalist stereotypes. We will analyze various issues confronting the Asian American, including yellowface, white patriarchy, male and female stereotypes, the “model minority” myth, depictions of “Chinatowns,” panethnicity, the changing political interpretations of the term Asian American throughout American history, gender and sexuality, and cultural hegemonies and privileging within the Asian community.

Call Number: 13405

Day, Time & Location: M 10:00AM-11:25AM/ W 10:00AM-12:55PM at 511 Dodge Hall

Instructor: James Schamus

This course surveys the first century of the American Western film genre, and its relation to American imaginings and ideologies of the “frontier,” with in-depth readings of key precursor texts, including memoirs, histories, novels, and essays. We will consider the evolution of the genre and its changing place within the film industry, and study exemplary films that established and challenged the genre’s narrative, aesthetic, and ideological conventions. We will explore how films engage with the history and myth of the American West. We will also be analyzing the politics of the Western, in particular how films articulate configurations of race, class, nation, sexuality and gender. And we will study the way Western films and filmmakers themselves interrogate the analytic categories we use to study them -- categories such as “genre” and “auteur” – with specific attention to the work and career of John Ford. Please note: the course requires sustained engagement with and analysis of written texts as well as films, so please be prepared for a bit more reading than what you might expect from a typical film survey course.

Call Number: 00091

Day, Time & Location: Tu 12:10PM-2:00PM TBA

Instructor: Widney Brown

One of the most hotly debated issues of today is the extent to which the state can legitimately dictate or impinge on one’s bodily autonomy. This is a long-running debate in the area of sexual and reproductive rights, but also is relevant to such current debates as the right to die / right to death with dignity; the right to use drugs for recreational or ritual purposes; engaging in hunger strikes as a protected form of freedom of expression; and the debate about whether the state can mandate vaccines. It is a debate that is highly gendered but also raises questions about how political power and socio-economic status influences how governments act on individuals and communities.

Call Number: 11896

Day, Time & Location: W 6:10PM-8:00PM TBA

Instructor: Paisley Currah

Debates over the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have never been more visible in the international arena. Advocates are beginning to have some success in putting sexual orientation and gender identity on the agenda for inclusion in human rights instruments. But in many local and regional contexts, state-sanctioned homophobia is on the rise, from the official anti-gay stance of Russia featured during the Sochi Winter Games to the passage of Mississippi’s anti-gay bill and Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act. This course examines these trends in relation to strategies pursued by grassroots activists and NGOs and the legal issues they raise, including marriage and family rights, discrimination, violence, torture, sex classification, and asylum. We will also focus on current debates about the relation between sexual rights and gender justice, tensions between universalisty constructions of gay/trans identity and local formations of sexual and gender non-conformity, and legacies of colonialism.

Call Number: 12188

Day, Time & Location: W 12:10PM-2:00PM TBA

Instructor: Julie Rajan

The term 'gendercide' highlights a range of distinct and specific forms of violence executed against human beings based on their own gender self-identification as well as patriarchal assumptions about their gender. In this course, we will examine research discerning, movements challenging, and the adjudication, and/or lack thereof, of Gender Based Violence (GBV) in several major categories traversing spatial, temporal, and ideological contexts, including: reproductive rights and health; trafficking and migration; and disaster and pandemics. It is critical to: interrogate the ideologies that drive and sustain GBV; examine in detail the harm it presents to human beings; explore what can be done to protect the security of those experiencing GBV; and to think about measures of prevention to guard additional human beings from experiencing it. The heart of the course will involve an intersectional analysis of specific case studies; highlighting the GBV associated with each case; examining the impact of GBV on human rights; and how GBV has been addressed in society. The close study of each case will assist students in illuminating intricacies, complexities, and challenges to human security in specific contexts. 

Call Number: 12563

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 11:40AM-12:55PM at 201 Casa Hispanica

Instructor: TBA

This course is designed to explore the massive and unprecedented radical Feminist activisms in the Latin America –mainly in the Southern Cone, Argentina and Chile- in the second decade of the twentieth century.  In order to account for the multiple and heterogeneous character of the movement we will study the emergence of this new activism, its actions, and the conversations they engage in with their predecessors. Current feminisms display an essential claim against the policies of neoliberal States. They are also known for creating a vast scope of ideas and vocabularies linked to new perspectives on violence, the body, resistance, or precarity, among others. The course analyzes the impact of space (streets, assemblies, university) in the action, intervention, and creation of feminist politics. It also looks at the discourses and texts written: manifestos, videos, posters, books, performances. Feminist aesthetic production is an inseparable aspect of these interventions and it will be an essential focus in all the topics discussed. The political and cultural transformations that feminist activisms pursue involve thinking new forms of subjectivation as part of collective politics. This course proposes various interdisciplinary approaches in order to encompass the multidimensional nature of this topic.

Call Number: 11834

Day, Time & Location: Th 12:10PM-2:00PM TBA

Instructor: Mamadou Diouf

“Pan Africanist” ideologies were very diverse from Garveyism, Negritude to the various African America, Caribbean and African discourses of “neo-pharaohnism” and “Ethiopianism.” This seminar explores how Black leaders, intellectuals, and artists chose to imagine Black (Africans and people of African descent) as a global community from the late 19th century to the present. It examines their attempts to chart a course of race, modernity, and emancipation in unstable and changing geographies of empire, nation, and state. Particular attention will be given to manifestations identified as their common history and destiny and how such a distinctive historical experience has created a unique body of reflections on and cultural productions about modernity, religion, class, gender, and sexuality, in a context of domination and oppression.

Call Number: 10042

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 10:10AM-11:25AM TBA

Instructor: Michael Naft

This course seeks to (1) illuminate the psychological pathways through which stigma impacts members of devalued social groups, and (2) investigate the mechanisms through which interventions at different levels of an ecological system either succeed or fail.  The course broadly considers identity devaluation, discrimination, and exclusion as general processes that apply to a range of social categories and status characteristics, including sexual orientation, obesity, mental illness, racial and ethnic identity, physical disability, immigration status, and having a criminal record.  Conceptualizing stigma as a multi-level construct, we will focus on both psychological and structural mechanisms through which stigma harms its targets and contributes to population-level inequalities.  While the course will draw primarily on the literature in social psychology, we will also consider research and writing from other disciplines, including clinical psychology, sociology, public health, and law.  Over the course of the semester, we will also consider methodological issues in psychological research, including ways in which stigma, its impacts, and intervention effects can be measured. 

Call Number: 00691

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 1:10PM-2:25PM at 304 Barnard Hall

Instructor: Camilla Sturm

An archaeological perspective on the evolution of human social life from the first bipedal step of our ape ancestors to the establishment of large sedentary villages. While traversing six million years and six continents, our explorations will lead us to consider such major issues as the development of human sexuality, the origin of language, the birth of “art” and religion, the domestication of plants and animals, and the foundations of social inequality. Designed for anyone who happens to be human.

Call Number: 00266

Day, Time & Location: M 4:10PM-6:00PM at LL001

Instructor: Ileana Jimenez

Broadly, this course explores the relationship between gender, sexuality, and schooling across national contexts. We begin by considering theoretical perspectives, exploring the ways in which gender and sexuality have been studied and understood in the interdisciplinary field of education. Next, we consider the ways in which the subjective experience of gender and sexuality in schools is often overlooked or inadequately theorized. Exploring the ways that race, class, citizenship, religion and other categories of identity intersect with gender and sexuality, we give primacy to the contention that subjectivity is historically complex, and does not adhere to the analytically distinct identity categories we might try to impose on it.

Call Number: 00548

Day, Time & Location: M 9:30AM-1:15PM at 405 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Instructor: Breixo Viejo Vinas

Prerequisites: Open to first-year students.

We derive much of our information about the world from visual media. Social networks, television, cinema: all shape our aesthetic sensibilities and our political visions. Yet we often lack a basic understanding of what could be called “visual literacy.” This introductory course gives students the critical tools to analyze how film and other visual media really work – in order to appreciate their artistic and social achievements, as well as to guard against their insidious manipulative devices.

In the first part of the semester, we focus on film analysis through a detailed study of the different production phases of filmmaking – from screenwriting and mise-en-scène to editing and film scoring. We pay special attention to the way in which certain stylistic and narrative choices have particular ideological effects. The second part of the course looks at film history through a comprehensive, chronological overview of its main movements and periods, including the coming of sound in Hollywood cinema, post-war Italian Neorealism, the emergence of world auteurs, New Waves of the 1960s and 1970s, etc. Students will use the hermeneutical tools learnt in film analysis to intellectually engage with some masterworks of film history. In the third and final part of the semester, we study the major debates of film theory from perspectives such as auteurism, formalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, feminism, postcolonial and queer studies, etc.   

Required screenings include Nanook of the North (Flaherty, 1922), Sunrise (Murnau, 1927), Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929), Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942), Bicycle Thieves (De Sica, 1948), Rashomon (Kurosawa, 1950), Breathless (Godard, 1960), Belle de Jour (Buñuel, 1967), The Hour of the Furnaces (Solanas, 1968), Seven Beauties (Wertmüller, 1974), Blue Velvet (Lynch, 1986), Paris Is Burning (Livingstone, 1990), and Children of Men (Cuarón, 2006).

Call Number: 00551

Day, Time & Location: Tu 9:30AM-1:15PM at LL017

Instructor: Breixo Viejo Vinas

In 1952, the British Film Institute’s prestigious journal Sight - Sound polled the world’s leading film critics to compile a list of the best motion pictures of all time. It was one of the first attempts to establish an authoritative film canon at an international scale. Since then, dozens of magazines, cinematheques, and festivals around the globe publish their “best movies” lists every year. These polls tend to reproduce a canonical selection of “classics” that includes Citizen Kane (Welles, 1941), Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), The Godfather (Coppola, 1972), and other familiar titles among contemporary film audiences. The canon itself would not be worth bothering with if it hadn’t been so influential in academic circles. University film programs often integrate this selection without questioning the ideological motivations behind it. In this class, we study “unseen masterworks” of world cinema that have been usually marginalized in conventional analysis of film. We challenge the standard, anglo-centric, sexist, heteronormative, and racist-by-omission film history in order to articulate a critique of cultural hegemony – and its tendency to depoliticize film as a medium. For that purpose, we look at a series of paradigmatic features in terms of their 1) explorative approach to film style, and 2) politically subversive narrative. In-class screenings include The World of Apu (Ray, 1959), The Exterminating Angel (Buñuel, 1962), Woman in the Dunes (Teshigahara, 1964), Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (Paradjanov, 1965), The Red and the White (Jancsó, 1967), Mandabi (Sembene, 1968), Johnny Got His Gun (Trumbo, 1971), Oh Lucky Man! (Anderson, 1973), Seven Beauties (Wertmüller, 1975), and ...but the clouds... (Beckett, 1977). Required readings include Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art (1974), seminal texts by film directors, and excerpts from Gilles Deleuze’s The Movement Image (1983), The Time-Image (1985), and “The Exhausted” (1992).

Call Number: 00084

Day, Time & Location: M W 11:40AM-12:55PM at 302 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Instructor: Melanie Heydari

Since the last decades of the twentieth century there has been a dramatic increase in the number of women writers from the Middle East and North Africa. This advanced course, which will be taught mainly in French, provides a window into this rich and largely neglected branch of world literature. Students will encounter the breadth and creativity of contemporary Middle Eastern and North African women’s literature by reading a range of twentieth- and twenty-first-century novels, short stories, memoirs and poetry available in French or in translation, and by viewing films that are from or about Iran, Lebanon, Algeria, and Egypt. How do Middle Eastern women authors address women’s oppression – both social and physical – and enunciate issues such as the tension between tradition and modernity, sexuality, identity and class from a female perspective? What literary traditions and models do they draw on? How different are those texts written in French for a global audience, as opposed to those written in Persian or Arabic? What are the effects of reading them in translation? Authors will include Marjane Satrapi, Shahrnush Parsipur, Assia Djebar, Maïssa Bey and Nawal El Saadawi.

Call Number: 00629

Day, Time & Location: Th 4:10PM-6:00PM at LL002

Instructor: Paula Franzese

Prerequisites: POLS W1201 or the equivalent. Not an introductory-level course. Not open to students who have taken the colloquium POLS BC3326. Enrollment limited to 25 students; L-course sign-up through eBear. Barnard syllabus. Explores seminal caselaw to inform contemporary civil rights and civil liberties jurisprudence and policy. Specifically, the readings examine historical and contemporary first amendment values, including freedom of speech and the press, economic liberties, takings law, discrimination based on race, gender, class and sexual preference, affirmative action, the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, the right to die, criminal procedure and adjudication, the rights of the criminally accused post-9/11 and the death penalty. (Cross-listed by the American Studies and Human Rights Programs.)

Call Number: 00119

Day, Time & Location: Tu Th 10:10AM-11:25AM at 805 Altschul Hall (Barnard)

Instructor: Debra Minkoff

Prerequisites: One introductory course in Sociology suggested. Social movements and the theories social scientists use to explain them, with emphasis on contemporary American activism. Cases include the Southern civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, contemporary feminist mobilizations, LGBTQ activism, immigrant rights and more recent forms of grassroots politics. 

Call Number: 00121

Day, Time & Location: Tu 2:10PM-4:00PM TBA

Instructor: Jonathan Rieder

Prerequisites: SOCI BC1003 or equivalent social science course and permission of the instructor. Enrollment limited to 15 students. Drawing examples from popular music, religion, politics, race, and gender, explores the interpretation, production, and reception of cultural texts and meanings. Topics include aesthetic distinction and taste communities, ideology, power, and resistance; the structure and functions of subcultures; popular culture and high culture; and ethnography and interpretation.

Call Number: 00147

Day, Time & Location: W 12:10PM-2:00PM at 306 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Instructor: Shayoni Mitra

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 16 students. This course examines the category of "woman" as it is mobilized in performance, considering both a variety of contemporary performances chosen from a wide range of genres and a diversity of critical/theoretical perspectives. Course may fill either the Theory requirement, or one (of two) required courses in dramatic literature/theatre studies/performance studies for Theatre/Drama and Theatre  Arts major, but not both.

Spring 2023

Spring 2023 courses will be available on our website and under the WMST listing on the Directory of Courses in late October/early November.