Application DeadlineApplications to the Women's History program are accepted on a rolling basis.
2012-2013 Women's History Courses
Visions/Revisions: Issues in Women’s History
This seminar surveys path-breaking studies of US and Global women’s history and related subjects. Course readings, both scholarship and political treatises, exemplify major trends in feminist discourse since the 1960s—from early challenges to androcentric worldviews to the current stress on differences among women. Class discussions range from fundamental questions (e.g., What is feminism? Is “women” a meaningful category?) to theoretical, interpretive, and methodological debates among women’s historians. The course is designed to help advanced students of women’s history clarify research interests by assessing the work of their predecessors. MA candidates will also use the course to define thesis projects.
Thesis Seminar in Women’s and Gender History
This course is designed for students who are writing MA theses in women’s and gender history. We will discuss the historiographical dimensions of thesis work; assess various research methods, interpretive models, and theories of history; and grapple with practical questions about writing and documentation. Readings include historical scholarship, theoretical works, and research guides. At critical junctures, students will also read and evaluate each other’s work.
Women’s History Graduate Program Elective:Institutional Internship for Professional Development
2 Credits per semester (may be taken for up to two semesters)
The Women’s History Graduate Program encourages students to do internships at institutions and organizations relevant to their interests. Generally students have opted to do internships as independent study either during the school term or in the summer.
Beginning in the fall of 2013, students may choose the option of fulfilling their elective requirement with school term internships. In order to receive credit for this elective, they must choose an internship, attend professional development seminars which will meet several times during the semester, and generate papers the nature of which will be determined with their advisers early in the semester. The seminars will address topics such as putting theory into practice, choosing relevant work, interviewing, resume development, and networking. These seminars will also provide students with an opportunity to share their internship experiences with each other which will help them problem solve and make the most out their experiences. This internship experience is meant to help students in the process of professional development.
Women/Gender, Race, Class and Sexuality in Film: History and Feminist Film Theory
This yearlong seminar uses history and feminist film theory to analyze American cinema from its silent origins to the present. Gender, race, class, and sexuality offer contextual ways to look at the representation of women and men in films. We analyze cinema as a part of historical processes and assess historical and feminist interpretations. We learn how to read films, discussing explicit and implicit meanings. A variety of film genres will be analyzed from early motion pictures of the 1890s, silent films, 1940s women’s film, avant garde, film noir, Afro-American cinema, second-wave feminist film, documentary, queer cinema, films of politics, masculine genre films (action/adventure), ethnic cinema, and fantasy/horror through global cinema. Students will develop a critical understanding of movies, not only as part of cultural and social history but also as a political vehicle for activism and change.
Policy in Theory and Practice: Environment and Development
This yearlong seminar is about environmental policy. As such, it asks a number of questions. How and why does policy get made? Which information is heard and used, and which is not? What role does science play in environmental policy making? How are certain styles of development and development paradigms deployed? How is the policy process politicized? What happens to it after it is adopted as “policy”? We start with a historical review of development paradigms and how these shape environment-development discourses, revealing competing approaches to key contemporary issues such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, population, food security, land grabs, poverty alleviation, energy, community-based natural resource management, environmental violence, and environmental justice. While largely focusing on the Global South, with reference to Asia, Latin America, and Africa, and policies driven by international institutions such as the World Bank, as well as dominant nation states, the seminar will also draw on examples from the Global North. We then move to epistemology and theory building in the social and environmental sciences that influence environmental policy, examining diverse approaches from social theory and political ecology to policy studies, environmental economics, ecological modernization, and ecology. We will discuss power and the construction of environmental knowledge. This will be followed by an examination of environmental policy in formation and implementation at international (e.g., international environmental agreements), national (e.g., ministries and state agencies), and local levels (e.g., environmentally-themed programs and projects). We will then explore varied approaches to policy analysis; i.e., the methodological means to assess and improve policies in practice. Finally, we will examine the contested potential for policy improvement and associated movements for increased participation and democratization of policy processes. There will be a number of sessions involving group presentations, debate, and role-play on specific environment and development issues. Conference work will be closely integrated with the themes of the course, with a two-stage, substantive research project focusing on an analysis and critique of an instance of policy of the student’s choice (usually grounded in texts but also involving fieldwork, if feasible). The intent will be to provide input for chosen policy actors—from social movements to NGOs to formal policy makers. As such, project presentations will incorporate a range of formats, from traditional papers to multimedia visual productions. Where possible, students will be encouraged to do primary research during fall study days and winter and spring breaks. Prior experience in the social sciences is highly recommended.
Moving from 19th-century struggles against slavery to recent uprisings against apartheid and global capitalism, this seminar explores women’s relationships to revolutions that have shaped the modern world. Although the course focuses largely on US history, we will also consider developments in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Topics include the revolutionary work of individuals such as Harriet Tubman, Aleksandra Kollontai, Yuri Kochiyama, Nawal El-Saadawi, Mamphela Ramphele, and Rigoberta Menchu; unsung women’s essential contributions to revolutionary movements around the globe; the ways in which revolutions have addressed—or failed to address—women’s demands for equality and self-determination; and the emergence of independent women’s movements within revolutionary contexts. Reading includes memoir, fiction, and political treatises, as well as historical scholarship. Open to graduate students, seniors, and juniors; open to sophomores with permission of the instructor.
Politics of/as Representation
This seminar will address issues of politics and representation. We will look at the political process within the traditional domain of governance and popular participation, using as our primary (but not sole) focus the fall election campaign. We will also examine the way processes of representation (in their duality, which will be addressed here later) constitute a highly charged, political practice. Representation is understood and addressed in this course both in terms of the presence of particular social groups in the arena of politics and political debate and in terms of the symbolic portrayal of different groups and issues in terms of discursive and visual modes of articulation. Given the intersections between the two terms/dimensions under consideration, students will be expected to stretch their analytical faculties to tie them together in ways that are not necessarily always available to us in conventional texts and/or analyses and/or transparent. We will begin by focusing on the 2012 elections as a means to arrive at a better understanding of the ways in which public discourse is constructed, focusing particularly on the mass media’s contribution to this process. Through this analysis, we will address methodological and theoretical issues relevant to the themes addressed in this course. Bear in mind that the analysis of the elections is undertaken here for expository purposes and not as the conclusive word on all US elections and their history. In this light, and given the often commented on similarity between sports and electoral coverage, we will also look at sports and, particularly, representations of the body—social, political, and sexual. This will allow us to shift away from “the political” in the formal, conventional understanding of the term toward a closer look at the ways in which politics is constructed and experienced in/through our everyday lives and through our social relations. This turn in emphasis will allow us to build on the analytical tools and insights gained earlier in the course and allow us to examine at greater length issues of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and international affairs in a diversity of arenas, including (but not limited to) the mass media. Our focus here will be on the multiple languages that lie at the heart of cultural constructions and aesthetic productions and their relationship to dominant and subversive, as well as oppositional, forms of representation.