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Course Offerings

Fall 2014 Core and Cross-listed Courses

WGS 110 Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
Ann Brigham, Monday/Wednesday 12:30PM-1:45PM, Chicago Campus
STAFF, Tuesday/Thursday 12:30PM-1:45PM, Chicago Campus

This core course introduces students to feminist thought and gender studies. We will study analytical models for examining gender and survey some of the specific research and writing that these analytical models have fostered.  We will include in our reflections a look at the development of feminism(s), the sexual politics of women's rights, and the cultural structures of gender, and we will pay attention to the issues of race, class, sexuality, and ethnicity that influence these matters.  Topics will include: gender and consumption, femininity and masculinity, socialization and identity, language and representation, revision and recovery, domesticity and family, oppression and resistance, law and violence, bodies and sexualities, theory and activism. Required for WGS minors. Open to freshmen. Can be used to fulfill either the Humanities or Social Sciences general education requirement.

WGS/PHI 215 What is a Family?
Marjorie Jolles Monday/Wednesday 11:00AM-12:15PM, Chicago Campus

This course offers a detailed examination of key texts in the humanities that have shaped Western thought on the family.  Students read texts spanning ancient, early modern, late modern, and contemporary contexts, and analyze the diverse ways family is understood, enacted, and represented. The course concludes with a private tour of the Illinois Holocaust Museum. Course is sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Can be used to fulfill a requirement for the WGS Minor.

WGS 302/402: Feminist Modes of Inquiry
Ann Brigham, Tuesday 2:00 PM-4:30pm Chicago Campus
This course is about knowledge and power. Specifically, it focuses on the ways that knowledge—and the forms that it takes—serves as a mode of power. A large part of our work will be to examine various assumptions about what knowledge is and how knowing is best accomplished. We will begin by examining how various modes of knowledge create and maintain the status quo, defining and assigning power to the “knowers.” We will then engage in a wide-ranging exploration of how various modes of feminist inquiry challenge ways of knowing. That is, we will look at how feminist inquiry deeply questions not only what we know, but how we know it. Various feminist researchers examine questions like, what counts as evidence? Knowledge? “Truth”? On what assumptions are all of these based? Who gets to decide? Feminist researchers show what happens to knowledge when we change our research topics and questions, the tools we use, and the relationships formed between researchers and their subjects, evidence, and writing. They show how the ways we produce knowledge can challenge the status quo and also serve to empower and promote social change for certain groups of people. This course gives students the opportunity to engage in, and reflect upon, different modes of feminist inquiry.

WGS 304/404: Feminism and Western Philosophy
Marjorie Jolles Wednesday 2:00PM-4:30PM Chicago campus

This course will provide a close examination of selected classic texts in Western philosophy and their subsequent feminist responses and revisions. We will explore how feminist philosophers have interpreted influential Western thinkers from the 17th century to present, and how these interpretations have generated foundations for feminist inquiry, informing contemporary philosophical, feminist, and public discourse on topics including the self and autonomy, difference and sameness, reason and belief, public and private spheres, sexuality and identity, gender, power and the state. Prerequisites: WGS 110, WGS 210 or instructor consent.

PSYC 108 Human Sexuality
STAFF, Tuesday/Thursday 12:30PM-1:45PM, Chicago Campus
STAFF, Wednesday 6:00 PM-8:30PM, Chicago Campus
STAFF, Wednesday 6:30PM-9:00PM, Schaumburg Campus

This course explores sexuality from youth to old age, including the development of gender identity, sexual orientation, and sex roles. We will review the physiology and psychology of sexual arousal, adult sexual behavior in its many manifestations, and a brief introduction to sexual dysfunction.

PSYC 345/445 Psychology of Women
STAFF, Tuesday, 2:00 PM – 4:30 PM, Chicago Campus

STAFF, Tuesday 6:30PM-9:00PM, Schaumburg Campus
The course studies the psychological development of women viewed from social, cultural, and biological perspectives.

SOC 340/440 Gender and Society
STAFF, Monday 6:00PM-8:30PM, Chicago Campus
This course includes the study of the social construction of gender definitions; focus on how gender roles in the family, media, and work place are constructed.

Recent Core Courses

WGS 303/403: Comparative Feminisms: India, Morocco, and the US
Ellen O'Brien, Thursday 2:00-4:30 PM Chicago campus
This course examines comparative approaches to feminist inquiry and action using three "case study" countries: India, Morocco, and the United States. With careful attention to our theories and methods, we will consider how citizens negotiate intersecting and conflicting codes of gender and sexuality and how the term "feminism" is deployed, defined, and/or rejected in specific national and cultural contexts.  While remaining alert to feminist dialogues across national and regional boundaries, we will also address the differing priorities and objectives that arise in international approaches to WGS. In order to glimpse the local dimensions and particulars of gendered issues, we will pair theoretical readings and commentaries with careful examinations of specific cultural representations and practices.

WGS 304/404: Global Feminist Ethics
Marjorie Jolles, Wednesday 6-8:30 PM Chicago campus
This course will provide an examination of the philosophical field of ethics, with emphasis on feminist concerns and global contexts. We will develop an understanding of classical and contemporary systems of ethics that have dominated ethical debate, and how those systems engage with transnational and feminist theory and practice. Topics will include sexual ethics; the body and bio-ethics; war and peace; compassion and practices of care; the treatment of nature and non-human animals; discourses of human rights in transnational settings; crime, punishment, redemption, and justice; and more. In addition to studying scholarly ethical texts, we will pay considerable attention to how ethical questions circulate in popular and public spheres as well. Because ethics includes the study of both how we treat others and how we treat ourselves, topics covered will address not only the values we adhere to in our actions with others but also the values we espouse in constructions of selves and personal narratives.

WGS 304/404 The Body: Agency, Pain, Desire
Marjorie Jolles
Chicago Campus
This course takes a critical look at the philosophical treatment of the body.  Long considered distinct from the mind and therefore inessential to the self, the body is nonetheless a fundamental marker of identity for all of us. Using a wide array of texts from philosophy, feminist and queer theory, critical race theory, cultural studies, and disability studies, we will inquire into the body as both an inner subject and outer object, as the self’s material home, spatial boundary, and site of engagement with multiple forms of power.  In the process, we will gain a deeper understanding of the varied processes by which bodies become gendered, sexed, raced, classed, beautiful and abject, healthy and sick, enabled and constrained, docile and violent, feeling and felt, capable and incapable, legitimate and illegitimate.  Anchoring our study of embodiment to three key phenomena—agency, pain, and desire—we will explore in depth the way subjectivity and reality are shaped by, and give shape to, the body and its practices.

WGS 304/404 Gender, Violence, Resistance
Cat Jacquet
Chicago Campus
Over thirty years after second wave feminists sought to eradicate rape, gender-based violence continues to be a national and global epidemic. What is gender-based violence? Why does it happen? Why does it continue? What purpose does it serve? This interdisciplinary course will examine the connections between gender and violence, with an emphasis on sexual violence against women.  The course will use a feminist framework and focus on the unique intersections of violence and race, class, and other categories of analysis. Students will explore the construction and perpetration of violence against women, making connections between violence and other factors such as global capitalism, militarism, and dominant cultural constructions of masculinity.  A significant portion of the course will focus on different community responses and resistance to violence, including black feminist and Latina feminist analyses of violence against women.

WGS 306/406-01: War on Women: Rhetorics at Home and Abroad
Carrie Brecke, Monday 2:00-04:30 PM Chicago campus
Contact instructor for more information. 

 WGS 307/407: Queer Histories: Place, Culture, Politics
Jeff Edwards
Chicago campus
We will explore the production of queer gender and sexual identities, cultures, and politics in the US from the early 20th century to the present. We will pay particular attention to: 1) the relationship of urban space and political economy to these processes; 2) the relationship of class, ethnicity, and race to these processes; 3) the relationship between gender and sexual identities; and 4) the effects of collective action on the part of queers and their allies to gain cultural and political recognition, freedom, and empowerment. Prerequisites: WGS 110, WGS 210 or instructor consent. 

Recent Cross-listed Courses

ENG 319/419 Staging Witchcraft Plays
Regina Buccola
Chicago Campus 
Witchcraft Plays begins with one of the best known and most widely influential stage portrayals of witchcraft in theater history, Macbeth, which uses the figure of the witch to explode ideological assumptions about class (patriarchy, class-based social stratification, upward mobility) and gender (social, political and domestic roles).  In this course, we will examine both fantastic portrayals of the witch, including Shakespeare’s Macbeth, John Martson’s Sophonisba, and Thomas Middleton’s The Witch in conjunction with “realistic” portrayals of witchcraft in British and Scottish court depositions as well as the stage representations of those cases in Thomas Dekker, John Ford and William Rowley’s The Witch of Edmonton and Heywood and Brome’s The Witches of Lancashire.  We will consider witchcraft’s dual valence in early modern England as both a means of vilifying women and as a means by which women could exercise autonomy and empowerment.

ECON 308/408: Feminist Economics: Theory, History, & Politics
June Lapidus
Chicago Campus
This is a non-traditional study of the economic situation of women in the United States. Most economic analysis assumes the individual chooses to make mutually beneficial change the focus here gives attention to the interrelation between the family, the labor market, and the government in determining women economic fortunes.  Note: Requires instructor consent.

HIST 383/483: History and Politics of Women in the United States
Sandra Frink
Chicago Campus
The purpose of this course is to gain an understanding of the experiences of women in the United States from the colonial period to the present.  We will discuss the problem of establishing standards by which we can measure women's position in American society and their achievements in American history.  We will also assess women's contributions to American life, debating both how they influenced developments and change and how historical events shaped their worlds.  Most importantly, we will explore the many different worlds of women by investigating the way class, race, ethnicity, and geography impacted the lives of women.   We will consider which ideas and assumptions within American culture have changed and which have stayed the same, whether these cultural ideas have accurately reflected the experiences of women, and, ultimately, what concerns shape women's experiences in the present day.

PSYC 387/487: Child Abuse/Family Violence
Students will learn about the critical issue of youth violence, its causes, and ways to reduce its prevalence. The class has a skill-building and applied focus: Students will participate in community exploration and political action to improve the lives of children who experience risk and adversity in Chicago. Students will interview and consult with neighborhood organizations and community members, explore effective policies and programs that reduce youth violence, and advocate for strategies that prevent and minimize youth violence to their elected officials and the broader public. Course requires 25 hours of community service. Prerequisites: three psychology courses required.

SOC 321/421 Education and Gender
Course explores the multiple and complex relationships of gender and education, in both the US and in Third World communities. Topics include; feminist theory and pedagogies; historical perspectives on educating women; controversies and contested theories about gender and education; systems of representation that serve both to emancipate and subordinate women; stratification in schools; and ways to empower ourselves and our students through education

HIST 327/427: Working Men and Working Women
Erik Gellman
Chicago Campus
Class has been the subject of misunderstanding and ill-informed political disagreement. Especially in the self-consciously egalitarian United States, the notion of fundamental class differences may seem antithetical to the aspirations, or even claims, for a class-less American society. Yet differences in occupation, income, wealth, the habits of everyday life, and definitions of the “good life” have remained. This course examines how working-class experiences and ideas have shaped the postbellum United States with particular emphasis on how class identities have become interwoven with shifting ideas about race, sexuality, and gender. Class often measures an individual’s experiences in day-to-day life. Job status, education, housing, clothing, eating and drinking habits, and speech patterns represent some of the markers of “class difference.” Yet class consciousness has also led to political, social and cultural movements that have produced longstanding changes to national and international power structures. Technological innovation, political ideology, the development of a consumer economy, and the evolution of popular culture all have made and remade class identities by uniting people and dividing them. By making class visible, this course seeks to deepen our understanding of modern American history, while demystifying some of the characterizations of people who, by choice and necessity, have labored to make America.

HIST 342/442: Global Perspectives on Race, Gender, Social Change
Nicole Anderson-Cobb
Chicago Campus
This course will examine global social movement from a comparative perspective.  Using selected case studies from across the globe, we will examine historic and contemporary social movements, the role of identity in informing political engagement, obstacles and resistance to organizing, strategies of activism, the evolution of leadership and community-based action, and the consequence of community engagement for all involved.  The course is also designed to aid students in assessing social issues in their own communities and developing an action plan for engagement and service in their areas of interest.