This course provides students with a critical overview of key texts in the overlapping fields of feminist and gender and sexuality studies. Our approach will be grounded in the history of modern political theory, enabling students to consider feminist theory and praxis as always in relationship to larger political ideologies. We will historicize the emergence of western liberal concepts such as equality of opportunity, rights of the individual, freedom of choice, and property rights, and consider how various strands of feminism respond to the western liberal tradition, a tradition criticized by some feminists as inherently racist, exclusionary, and theoretically contradictory. Using the troubled history of liberal feminism as a catalyst, this course will interrogate the intersection of gender, a construct always in tension with sexuality and the material sexed body, with other axes of social identity, such as race, class, religion, disability, and nation.
Interdisciplinary in method and in scope, this class places primary documents such as autobiographies, political manifestos, and poems alongside theoretical and historical texts in order to consider various strands of feminism in relationship to the following concepts: the politics of representation, identity, the sexual division of labor, the public/private divide, the body, sexuality, intersectionality, and political agency and activism. This course will cover the theories and political objectives of liberal feminism, radical feminism, women of color feminism, U.S. third world feminism, queer theory, and transnational feminism.
- To understand the various strands of feminist theories and the political histories from which they emerged
- To apply feminist theory to various topics including race, class, disability, the nation-state and the global economy