Courses by semester
Courses for Spring 2023
Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .
|FGSS1940||A Global History of Love By posing seemingly simple questions such as what is love and who has the right to love, this introductory-level lecture course surveys how love has been experienced and expressed from the pre-modern period to the present. Through case studies of familial and conjugal love in Africa, Asia, the US, Europe, and South and Latin America, the course will examine the debates about and enactment's of what constitutes the appropriate way to show love and affection in different cultures and historical contexts. Among the themes we will explore are questions of sexuality, marriage, kinship, and gender rights. A final unit will examine these themes through modern technologies such as the Internet, scientific advances in medicine, and a growing awareness that who and how we love is anything but simple or universal.||Spring.|
Introduction to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary program focused on understanding the impact of gender and sexuality on the world around us and on the power hierarchies that structure it. This course provides an overview of key concepts, questions, and debates within feminist studies both locally and globally, focusing mainly on the experiences, historical conditions, and concerns of women as they are shaped by gender and sexuality. We will read a variety of texts--personal narratives, historical documents, and cultural criticism--across a range of disciplines, and will consider how larger structural systems of both privilege and oppression affect individuals' identities, experiences, and options. We will also examine forms of agency and action taken by women in the face of these larger systems.
Full details for FGSS 2010 - Introduction to Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
|FGSS2260||Japanese Pop Culture Japanese pop culture—anime, manga, video games, music and more—has been a major phenomenon with massive worldwide popularity for the last three decades. In this course, we will explore a wide range of Japanese pop cultural forms, exploring the interactions between different media, Japanese pop culture as global pop culture, and a variety of modes of analyzing visual and audio materials. We will also see how pop cultural works themselves, in their content and form, engage with questions of gender, technology, fandom, nation, and the environment. No prior knowledge of Japanese language, culture, or history required. All readings and screenings will be available in English or with English subtitles.||Spring.|
Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies
This course offers an introduction to central issues, debates, and theories that characterize the field of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Studies. Starting from the assumption that neither "sex" nor "sexuality" is a private experience or category, we will explore some of the ways that these powerfully public and political terms have circulated in social, legal, economic, and cultural spheres. We will also examine how these categories are situated in relation to other formative categories including race, ethnicity, religion, family, marriage, reproduction, the economy, and the state. Using a comparative and intersectional approach, we will read from various disciplines to assess the tools that LGBT studies offers for understanding power and culture in our contemporary world.
Full details for FGSS 2290 - Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies
|FGSS2350||Literature and Medicine How does literary language depict the experience of physical suffering? Can a poem or a novel palliate pain, illness, even the possibility of death? From darkly comic narratives of black plague to the rise and fall of hysteria to depictions of the AIDS crisis, this course examines literature centered on medical practices from the early modern period through the twentieth century. Why have medical practices changed, and how do writers address their political, social, and ideological implications? Readings will include a broad range of genres, including poetry (Dickinson, Whitman, Keats), fiction (McEwan, Chekhov, Gilman, Kafka, Camus), theater (Kushner), nonfiction prose (Woolf, Freud), and critical theory (Foucault, Scarry, Canguilhem, Sontag).||Spring.|
|FGSS2468||Medicine, Culture, and Society Medicine has become the language and practice through which we address a broad range of both individual and societal complaints. Interest in this medicalization of life may be one of the reasons that medical anthropology is currently the fastest-growing subfield in anthropology. This course encourages students to examine concepts of disease, suffering, health, and well-being in their immediate experience and beyond. In the process, students will gain a working knowledge of ecological, critical, phenomenological, and applied approaches used by medical anthropologists. We will investigate what is involved in becoming a doctor, the sociality of medicines, controversies over new medical technologies, and the politics of medical knowledge. The universality of biomedicine, or hospital medicine, will not be taken for granted, but rather we will examine the plurality generated by the various political, economic, social, and ethical demands under which biomedicine has developed in different places and at different times. In addition, biomedical healing and expertise will be viewed in relation to other kinds of healing and expertise. Our readings will address medicine in North America as well as other parts of the world. In class, our discussions will return regularly to consider the broad diversity of kinds of medicine throughout the world, as well as the specific historical and local contexts of biomedicine.||Spring.|
Black Women in the 20th Century
This course focuses on African American women in the 20th century. The experiences of black women will be examined from a social, practical, communal, and gendered perspective. Topics include the Club Woman's movement, suffrage, work, family, black and white women and feminism, black women and radicalism, and the feminization of poverty.
Full details for FGSS 2512 - Black Women in the 20th Century
|FGSS2560||Black Queer Writing and Media This course will introduce students to Black Queer literatures and media. Since these materials decenter whiteness and patriarchal heterosexism, they often seem illegible to those approaching them from the perspective of the dominant culture. We will start with foundational texts that outline the parameters of our dominant culture. We will then discuss Black Queer contemporary novels, films, essays, and visual art in order to understand the ways that these works move past the limitations of those parameters. By engaging these literatures and media, this course investigates the exciting possibilities that emerge from understanding alternative ways of being and living in our world. This course satisfies the Literatures of the Americas requirement for English majors.||Spring.|
Tyranny and Dignity: Chinese Women from the Cultural Revolution to the White Paper Revolution
This course focuses on the human condition of Chinese women after 1949. In the name of the Women's liberation movement since the early 1900s, do Chinese women eventually hold up the half sky? From the cradle to the grave, what was most challenging in women's life? How did political, economic, and cultural forces frame women's professional careers and private life? No judgments nor imaginations. Using multi-media, such as Chinese independent documentary films, music, and photographs, students will discover the hidden stories behind the mainstream narratives. Workshops with film directors, pop music singers, and photographers offer students an unusual way of accessing all backstage field experiences.
Full details for FGSS 2575 - Tyranny and Dignity: Chinese Women from the Cultural Revolution to the White Paper Revolution
|FGSS2770||Islam and Gender This course explores the role of gender and sexuality in shaping the lives of Muslims past and present. Through a close examination of ethnographies, intellectual histories, and religious treatises, we will analyze the key debates and discourses surrounding the intersection of gender and Islam. We begin by investigating Quranic revelations and hadith concerning gender and sexual ethics, female figures of emulation in early Islam, and feminist exegeses of the Quran. Continuing onward, we focus upon the everyday lives of Muslim women and non-binary individuals in medieval, colonial, and post-colonial contexts, highlighting the ways in which people negotiate and respond to the sexual politics of the times in which they live as we ask what, if anything, is specifically "Islamic" about the situations under discussion? Following this, we embark upon a history of sexuality within Islam, tracing the ways in which the categories of "homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" came to exist in the Muslim world, as well as the history and positionality of trans communities past and present. We then continue with an exploration of Islamic feminism as it exists today, looking to the ways in which Muslim feminists have critically engaged both religious texts as well as Western feminist theory. Finally, the course concludes by analyzing the relationship between the study of Islam, gender, and empire.||Spring.|
|FGSS2806||Roman Law This course presents a cultural and historical perspective on ideas of agency, responsibility, and punishment through foundational texts of western law. We will primarily focus on three main areas of law: (1) slavery and (2) family (both governed by the Roman law of persons), and (3) civil wrongs (the law of delict or culpable harm). Through an examination of the legal sources (in translation) and the study of the reasoning of the Roman jurists, this course will examine the evolution of jurisprudence: the development of the laws concerning power over slaves and women, and changes in the laws concerning penalties for crimes. No specific prior knowledge needed.||Spring.|
|FGSS2932||Engendering China In contemporary China, as in many other places of the world, the ideology and social reality of gender relations is highly paradoxical. Women are flattered for their power as consumers and commitment to the family while they are also expected to engage in wage-earning employment. Men, on the other hand, face constant pressure of being tough and social problems such as costly betrothal gifts as unintended consequences of a gender regime that is supposedly male-oriented. Are these paradoxes a betrayal of the socialist experiment of erasing gender differences? Are they remnants of China's long imperial tradition? This course explores the power dynamics of gender relations in China from ancient times to the present. It leads students to examine scholarship that challenges the popularly accepted myth of lineal progression of China toward gender equality, and to understand women's and men's life choices in various historical settings. At the same time, this course guides students to adopt "gender" as a useful analytical category, treating China as a case study through which students are trained to "engender" any society past and present.||Spring.|
Black Women and Political Leadership
This course studies the life experiences and political struggles of black women who have attained political leadership. It will study their rise to political power through an examination of the autobiographies of women from the Caribbean, the U.S., Africa and Brazil. Political figures such as Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Shirley Chisholm, Benedita da Silva will serve as some of the primary sources of analysis and discussion. Students will have the opportunity to select and follow a political leader and her challenges closely. The first half of the course will examine some of the general literature on the subject; the second half will study the women in their own words. We will attempt to have some available local political leaders visit the class.
Full details for FGSS 3206 - Black Women and Political Leadership
|FGSS3210||Gender and the Brain Why are boys more likely than girls to be diagnosed with autism, and why are women more likely than men to be diagnosed with depression? Are there different "gay" and "straight" brains? And how does brain science interact with gender and sexuality in popular debate? Reading and discussing the original scientific papers and related critical texts, we will delve into the neuroscience of gender. In this course, we will delve into the neuroscience of gender difference. Reading the original scientific papers and related critical texts, we will ask whether we can find measurable physical differences in male and female brains, and what these differences might be. Do men and women solve spatial puzzles differently, as measured physiologically? Do nonhuman animals display sex-specific behaviors mediated by brain structure, and can we extrapolate these findings to human behavior? Why are boys three times more likely than girls to be diagnosed as autistic, and is there any connection between the predominantly male phenomenon of autism and other stereotypically male mental traits? Are there physical representations of sexual orientation in the brain, and how are these related to gender identity? And how are scientific studies represented and misrepresented in popular debate?||Spring.|
|FGSS3320||Gender and Psychopathology This course examines the ways in which sex and gender impact the expression of severe psychopathology. We will study biological, psychological, and cultural factors associated with sex and gender as they influence the epidemiology, phenomenology, etiology, diagnosis, and course of illness in major forms of psychopathology: specifically, schizophrenia, major affective illness, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and personality disorders. We will also examine the complicated roles of race, class, sexuality, and gender identity as they relate to these conditions. These topics will be examined through the frameworks of psychological science and feminism in an attempt to understand the effects that gender and science have on one another and the ways in which they influence the understanding of mental illness.||Spring.|
|FGSS3565||Black Ecoliterature Mainstream media would have us believe that driving a new Toyota Prius, recycling, and shopping "clean" at Whole Foods would make us all food environmentalists, right? Additionally, climate change and environmental degradation are often discussed as if they are phenomena that affect us all equally. Despite these dynamics, research in recent years tells us that while there might be some general ways that we experience our constantly changing physical environments—race, gender, and location very much affect how we experience "Nature." In this course we will use literature from across the African diaspora to investigate how looking at race, gender, and location produces very different ideas about environment, environmentalism, and "Nature" itself.||Fall or Spring.|
Race and Slavery, Old and Modern
What does it mean to live in the aftermath of slavery? How has the human history of slavery contributed to the production of "natural" values that we take for granted—such as community, property, citizenship, gender, individuality, and freedom? This course explores the history of enslavement throughout the human past, from the ancient world to the modern era. We will pay particular attention to the relationship between slavery and the construction of racial blackness. We will explore various institutionalized forms of servitude throughout time and space, from the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic worlds, from eunuchism to concubinage, from slavery in the Roman Empire to "modern slavery" and sex trafficking. Readings will be in English and will engage a variety of dynamic sources: theoretical, historiographical, anthropological, religious, legal, literary and multimedia.
Full details for FGSS 3693 - Race and Slavery, Old and Modern
|FGSS3702||Desire and Cinema "The pleasure of the text," Roland Barthes writes, "is that moment when my body pursues its own ideas—for my body does not have the same ideas I do." What is this erotics of the text, and what has it been up to lately at the movies? Are new movies giving our bodies new ideas? In the context of the changing art of the moving image in the 21st-century, how might we read and revise classic works of psychoanalytic, feminist, and queer theory on erotic desire and cinema? We will focus especially on relatively recent metacinematic work, moviemaking about moviemaking, by such directors as Pedro Almodóvar, Olivier Assayas, Michael Haneke, Todd Haynes, David Lynch, Steve McQueen, and John Cameron Mitchell.||Fall or Spring.|
Undergraduate Independent Study
Individual study program intended for juniors and seniors working on special topics with selected reading or research projects not covered in regularly scheduled courses. Students select a topic in consultation with a FGSS faculty member who has agreed to supervise the independent study.
Full details for FGSS 3991 - Undergraduate Independent Study
Senior Seminar in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
This senior seminar constitutes the culmination of the FGSS major-it provides a unique opportunity to come together with all the other FGSS seniors to both put to use what has been learned and explore new aspects of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. In this particular seminar, we will attempt to answer, in short, the question of what it means to be a feminist today, at this point in time and place. Pursuing the intersections of theory and practice, we will explore issues and concerns in the areas that you have identified as central to your concept and/or critique of feminism.
Full details for FGSS 4000 - Senior Seminar in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
|FGSS4023||Black and Indigenous Histories What does it mean to be Black and Indigenous? For much of United States history, at least, to be Black and Indigenous was a legal if not social impossibility. Even as societies around the world have embraced the pluralism of multiraciality Black-Indigenous peoples have found themselves largely absent from both historical and contemporary conversations surrounding blackness and indigeneity. This course does the important work of excavating the histories of Black and Indigenous peoples in the Americas. We will do so by examining case studies alongside the writing and artwork of Black-Indigenous figures in order to understand more about the relationships, politics, and meanings of Black-Indigenous identity.||Spring.|
Intersectional Disability Studies
A recognition of the importance of intersectionality has become increasingly key to not only understand the complexity of social identity and lived experience, but to combat discrimination and oppression. While the course has a centering focus on the disability experience-in part because of the way in which disability is often left out of intersectional considerations-it will reveal how the economic, legal, and political structures of power and privilege that disadvantage people with disabilities cannot be looked at on a disability-specific basis alone. Thus we will give necessary attention to the disability experience as it overlaps and connects with lived experiences of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and citizenship, among others. In looking particularly at the realms of employment, education, the law, and health care, we will explore the efficacy of legal and policy initiatives that are already in place, and in doing so, strongly consider the growing need for, and value of, intersectional approaches to discrimination and oppression.
Full details for FGSS 4035 - Intersectional Disability Studies
Sexual Identities and the Media
What spaces are available for imagining non-normative sexualities and non-binary genders in mainstream and alternative media? This class moves beyond a simple consideration of how lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and queer people have been represented in the mainstream media to consider how media offer LGBTQ people alternative platforms for queer world-making. Further, this course is an exploration in our own queer world-making. Each assignment asks you to create a visual work that engages with materials from the class and from popular and queer media. This course is not about making "good" or "pretty" art, but about using creative processes to think differently—queerly—about LGBTQ representations. This class guides an adventure in looking differently at the world, including the media world, through the practice of queer making.
Full details for FGSS 4292 - Sexual Identities and the Media
|FGSS4491||Feminism and Philosophy Feminist approaches to questions in metaphysics, epistemology, language, and value theory.||Spring.|
|FGSS4504||The City: Asia This course uses the lens of temporality to track transformations in notions of urban personhood and collective life engendered by recent trans-Asia economic shifts. We will develop tools that help unpack the spatial and cultural forms of density and the layered histories that define the contemporary urban fabric of cities such as Hanoi, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. The course combines the investigation of the cinemas and literatures of the region with the study of recent writing on cities from Asian studies, film studies, queer theory, urban studies, political theory, religious studies, cultural geography, literary theory, and anthropology.||Spring.|
|FGSS4701||Nightlife This course explores nightlife as a temporality that fosters countercultural performances of the self and that serves as a site for the emergence of alternative kinship networks. Focusing on queer communities of color, course participants will be asked to interrogate the ways in which nightlife demonstrates the queer world-making potential that exists beyond the normative 9-5 capitalist model of production. Performances of the everyday, alongside films, texts, and performance art, will be analyzed through a performance studies methodological lens. Through close readings and sustained cultural analysis, students will acquire a critical understanding of the potentiality of spaces, places, and geographies codified as "after hours" in the development of subcultures, alternative sexualities, and emerging performance practices.||Spring.|
|FGSS4845||Labor, Race, and Gender The majority of existing union members are women and workers of color, and, since the mid-1980s, the majority of newly organized workers have been women of color, particularly black women and recent immigrants from Latin America. Yet, with the exception of just a handful of unions, the labor movement still has been slow to build on this support and enthusiasm. This course will focus on the challenges and possibilities created by the changing demographics of race and gender in the contemporary labor movement. Through a combination of readings, small group discussions, guest speakers, and library and on line research, short essays and one longer research paper; the course will examine these issues from an historical, demographic, labor relations, and sociological perspective.||Spring.|
|FGSS4991||Senior Honors Thesis II To graduate with honors, FGSS majors must complete a senior thesis under the supervision of an FGSS faculty member and defend that thesis orally before an honors committee. To be eligible for honors, students must have at least a cumulative GPA of 3.3 in all course work and a 3.5 average in all courses applying to their FGSS major. Students interested in the honors program should consult the DUS late in the spring semester of their junior year or very early in the fall semester of their senior year.||Spring.|
|FGSS6504||The City: Asia This course uses the lens of temporality to track transformations in notions of urban personhood and collective life engendered by recent trans-Asia economic shifts. We will develop tools that help unpack the spatial and cultural forms of density and the layered histories that define the contemporary urban fabric of cities such as Hanoi, Bangkok, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. The course combines the investigation of the cinemas and literatures of the region with the study of recent writing on cities from Asian studies, film studies, queer theory, urban studies, political theory, religious studies, cultural geography, literary theory, and anthropology.||Spring.|
Politics and Joy in Black Women's Writing
This course will look at how Black women writers negotiated enslavement, Reconstruction, and Jim Crow era segregation while also managing to find avenues of joy, escapism, and a certain kind of freedom through art-making. In addition to reading primary texts by Phillis Wheatley, Hannah Bond, Jessie Redmon Fauset, and others we will also look at critical and theoretical work by Hortense Spillers, Saidiyah Hartman, Barbara Fields, and Karen Fields.
Full details for FGSS 6561 - Politics and Joy in Black Women's Writing
|Fall or Spring.|
|FGSS6610||Erotics of Visuality "You didn't see anything," a woman in a movie says to her dubious lover. "No one sees anything. Ever. They watch, but they don't understand." What is desire in a movie, and how do we know it when we see it or feel it? How do the images, sounds, and narratives of a cinematic event engage us erotically? How might we want to revise classic psychoanalytic, feminist, and queer theories of desire and cinema in light of the changing art of the moving image in the 21st century? We will focus especially on metacinematic work by Pedro Almodóvar, Olivier Assayas, Todd Haynes, David Lynch, Michael Haneke, Steve McQueen, and John Cameron Mitchell, among others.||Fall or Spring.|
|FGSS6845||Labor, Race, and Gender The majority of existing union members are women and workers of color, and, since the mid-1980s, the majority of newly organized workers have been women of color, particularly black women and recent immigrants from Latin America. Yet, with the exception of just a handful of unions, the labor movement still has been slow to build on this support and enthusiasm. This course will focus on the challenges and possibilities created by the changing demographics of race and gender in the contemporary labor movement. Through a combination of readings, small group discussions, guest speakers, and library and on line research, short essays and one longer research paper; the course will examine these issues from an historical, demographic, labor relations, and sociological perspective.||Spring.|
Proseminar in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
This course offers an introduction to theoretical and practical aspects of the interdisciplinary field of Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies, providing graduate students with a range of disciplinary approaches and issues. We will explore both the disciplinary specifics of FGSS scholarship and the interdisciplinary breadth of gender/sexuality's reach as an analytic lens. While many of our graduate courses train students in highly specialized areas of feminist theory, this course aims to teach students how to find common intellectual ground from interdisciplinary perspectives without sacrificing the complexity of any disciplinary approach.
Full details for FGSS 6880 - Proseminar in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Topics in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Independent reading course for graduate students on topics not covered in regularly scheduled courses. Students develop a course of readings in consultation with a faculty member in the field of Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies who has agreed to supervise the course work.
Full details for FGSS 6990 - Topics in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies