IRWGS Curriculum Development Grant Courses

In May of 2014, The Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality (IRWGS) was awarded funding by The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation towards the development of new curricular offerings in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. The Institute aimed to develop courses that could be offered within current disciplinary structures in response to consistent and growing student interest in gender studies in relation to a diversity of fields. Undergraduates often came to IRWGS seeking courses in gender and public health, disability studies, sexuality studies, media studies, intersectionality, and courses in human rights. IRWGS therefore sought to develop courses in these areas (but not limited to them).

The IRWGS Curriculum Development Grant competition was open to tenured or tenure-track professors, Core Lecturers, and current PhD students (ABD) at Columbia.

Courses & Awardees

Lucie Vágnerová, Music

This course explores sound-based creative practices as sites where gender, race, and sexuality are always, and sometimes explicitly negotiated. We will study contemporary sound art that variously speaks to inequalities in canon-formation, participates in human rights movements of the late 20th and 21st centuries, and suggests feminist and queer readings of everyday sonic praxis. Readings in feminist theory, critical theory, art history, musicology, and media studies will guide in-class discussion of artworks accessed through online archives and New York-based installations. We will also review artist statements, exhibition catalogues, conference programs, online media, and journalistic articles. The seminar will address the following questions: What role do sound-based creative practices play in re-/de-/forming raced, gendered, and sexual subjects? What is the place of activism in sound-based arts engaged with feminist and queer politics? Can sound be feminist, queer, Afrofuturist? How should theorists of race, gender, and sexuality address sound in and out of the arts?

Offered Fall 2015

Justin Phillips, Political Science

For much of the 20th century, the American political system excluded lesbians and gay men from full citizenship.  This course seeks to understand the political and social forces shaping the transformation of these sex nonconformists from a pariah group into a viable social movement and eventually into a powerful constituency within the Democratic Party.  Special emphasis will be placed on the state’s role in defining lesbian and gay identities, the ways in which gender and racial diversity have shaped the LGB movement, and the role that partisan electoral strategies played in ushering sexuality to the center of American political conflict. 

Offered Spring 2016

Mana Kia, Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

This course focuses on forms of friendship and their relationships to ideas and expressions of love and loyalty in pre-modern times. We begin by considering the intellectual basis of the modern idea of friendship as a private, personal relationship, and trace it back to earlier times when it was often a public relationship of social and political significance. We will explore the meaning and practices of friendship, its expressions of love and its forms of loyalty as a way to understand how communities were organized in relation to and beyond family and institutional structures. A particular focus of this course is the politics of gender and sexuality in homosocial contexts. We will draw on scholarly works from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, particularly philosophy, sociology, anthropology, literature, history and art history. We will attend to friendship’s work in constituting, maintaining and challenging various social and political orders in a variety of Asian contexts (West, Central, South and East Asian), with reference to scholarship on European contexts. Primary source materials will include philosophy, histories, autobiographies, love stories, heroic epics, mirror for princes, paintings, material objects of exchange, and architectural monuments.

Offered Spring 2016

Ellie Hisama, Music

Feminist Listening: Critical and Intersectional Approaches to Popular Music develops modes of feminist listening to a variety of examples in popular music including rock, pop, hip-hop, R&B, soul, country music, and experimental pop. By examining the sonic, texted, and visual components of popular music in relation to gender, sexuality, the body, race, ethnicity, economics, and nation, students will develop a critical vocabulary for discussing and analyzing the effects and meanings of popular music as filtered by twenty- first century listeners. Through close listening, discussion of assigned readings and pieces, and analytical writing on pieces and performances, the course will provide the opportunity for students to examine a wide repertory of popular music by using a variety of analytical “sieves,” refining and enriching their experience of popular music as listeners and writers.

Offered Spring 2017

Marianne Hirsch, English and Comparative Literature

Despite the fact that intimate violence destroys the frameworks of identity and community, testimony and truth, memory and justice, rape has been a fundamental and globally pervasive literary theme and trope, often the very act that engenders narrative and plot. This seminar will explore how rape has been written in the face of its unspeakability and the silences surrounding it, and how the act of bearing witness can become an act of resistance, rebuilding voice, subjectivity and community. Literary texts will be read alongside feminist theoretical work on embodiment, trauma, testimony and law.

Offered Fall 2017