Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Courses

Wss 501 Feminist Science, Technology, and Biomedicine Studies (3-4) 

In this course we will focus on the interplay between science, technology, and medicine, on the one hand, and gender on the other – always with attention to the ways in which gender intersects with other axes of social division and inequality such as race, class, nation, sexuality, age, health, and ability status. In particular, feminist theorists have long engaged the biomedical sciences and biotechnologies as sites for critical reflection on the epistemologies and ontologies of gender. Further, as loci of shifting social, cultural and institutional forms, biotechnologies continue to generate new possibilities for living alongside new inequalities, thereby providing fertile ground for new theorizing on the mutual shaping of gender and technology. We begin with classic critiques of science and biomedicine stemming from feminist theory and then move to current iterations of core conceptual ideas that continue to underpin conversations on gender and biomedicine. In the second half of the course, the class will take up ethics in medical research and justice as sites of contestation towards alternative science and knowledge production practices.

Wss 502 Situated Sexualities and Transnational Activism (3-4)

This course serves as both an introduction to LGBTQ studies and its transnational turn. The aim is to understand how notions of gender and sexuality create analytical categories such as gay, lesbian, transgender, heterosexual and homosexual, as well as how the transnational framework across national and cultural boundaries complicate the often Euro-American centrist interpretations of these categories. In the first half of the course, we will explore the feminist and queer theories that have coined and complicated the categories. In the second half of the course, we will turn to the transnational, which emphasizes the flow and mobility of ideas, people, capital, and activism. We will examine how feminist and queer theories teach us about the current phase of globalization, neoliberal capitalism, and imperialism. The class will encourage students to understand sexuality as a critical concept and a potential site of theoretical and activist bridging across the issues of feminism, racial justice, labor rights, disability, indigeneity, and anti-war movements globally.

Wss 508 Gender, Development, and Feminist Economics (3-4)

This graduate-level course takes a critical look at economic development models through a gender lens, using case studies from around the world. The course reviews the evolution of economic theory and wide-spread implementation of suggested development policies across the globe. The outcome of the earlier development programs & policies was not gender-neutral, neither on a macroeconomic level, nor on the micro or meso-level, hence, calling for gender-sensitive economic theory and economic development policies. This course will focus on the evolution of feminist economic theory and the implementation of economic development programs, using a comparative approach to cultural, historic, and regional differences. Case studies of international organizations (such as United Nations and World Bank) will be used to provide a practical experience to students, as well as cases from programs of local and state governments. Goals of the course are to equip students with a good understanding of: (a) feminist economic theory and economic development theory; (b) evaluation tools for gender mainstreaming; and (c) case studies and best practices using examples of development programs. Students who have received credit for AWSS498 cannot receive credit for this course. 

Wss 509 Reproductive Justice (3-4)

In this class we survey feminist theorizations and advocacy on reproduction beginning with a review of foundational literature from the 1970s and 1980s that collectively asserted "choice," "control," "self-determination," "freedom," and "rights" mainly in relation to abortion and contraceptives. This literature points to a central tension between the individual and social dimensions of reproduction. By the end of the 20th century, women of color began to elaborate "reproductive justice" (RJ) as an alternative framework to rights-based approaches focused on the individual. We will study the experience of reproductive oppression and abuses alongside related ideologies and politics of eugenics and population control at the heart of RJ struggles. In addition, the class will focus on newer iterations of RJ through the conceptualization of birth justice in the context of birth outcome disparities, surveillance and criminalization of pregnant women, and obstetric violence. Against the background of a shifting technological terrain in the 21st century, we will explore contentious issues arising within the context of Fertility, Inc. These include selective reproduction based on sex preferences or desires to avoid children with genetic and chromosomal abnormalities; new markets involving third party reproducers such as egg donors and gestational surrogates; egg freezing for fertility preservation; and lesbian and trans reproductive practices.

Wss 510 Graduate Orientation in Women’s Studies (1-2)

Wss 510, required for all new master’s students in Women’s Studies, is an introduction to the UAlbany Women’s Studies master’s program, the Department, and the field. Topics covered include the role of Women’s Studies within the academy, the challenges of interdisciplinarity and of intersectional feminist analysis, and the role of research and teaching in feminist activism. Women’s Studies faculty will meet with the class to discuss their teaching, research, and activism. Students will also learn about the option of participating as instructors-of-record in Introduction to Feminisms (the Teaching Collective) for the spring semester. Prerequisite: Admission to M.A. program in Women’s Studies or permission of instructor. Course carries variable credit; most students enroll for 2 credits but enrollment for 1 credit is possible with permission of Department.

Wss 512 Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics in the Asian Diaspora (3-4)

This course has an emphasis on historical perspectives as well as the intersections of gender, class, and race/ethnicity. It studies the phenomenon of the Asian Diaspora dating from late 18th century to the present. Topics include: immigration laws; labor and work; family and community formation; the processes of reconstruction of history and memory; politics of media representation. In a given semester, the focus may be on Asians in one geographic region such as the Americas, Europe, Africa, or the Pacific Rim. Research project required.

Wss 515 (Soc 515) Global Politics of Women’s Bodies (3-4)

This course is a critical examination of the politics of women’s bodies across national boundaries, in diverse cultures, and in relation to pressing social forces, such as militarization, economic globalization, religious fundamentalisms, colonial legacies, and global policies with health and environmental impacts. Ideas, practices, and policies affecting women’s bodies in different countries will be examined not only in relation to particular cultural milieus, but also in connection to more global trends, including historical, economic, social, and political linkages among countries. Possible topics include embodiment and social suffering; transnational sexualities; reproductive politics; beauty and the media; bodies as sites of violence; women’s bodies, racism, and colonialism; embodiment and political protest; bodily scars of neoliberalism; environment, health, and disability; and transnational activism centered on women’s bodies.

Wss 520 Advanced Feminist Pedagogy and Theory (2)

Continuation of Wss 510. Advanced students with experience in feminist teaching work in a collaborative collective mode to apply feminist pedagogical and political theory to specific teaching situations. Work may be coordinated with "teaching collective" group in Wss 310, 320, and 322 when possible. Analysis of current scholarship on pedagogy required, along with analysis of the practical applications of theory in specific teaching situations. Prerequisite: Wss 510.

Wss 522 Advanced Feminist Pedagogy and Practice (2)

This is credit toward independent study and teaching, which may serve as a continuation of Wss 520 (Advanced Feminist Pedagogy and Theory). Advanced students with interest in feminist pedagogy will independently study scholarship on teaching, under the guidance of WGSS faculty, to supplement their participation as teaching mentors for the peer-teaching program in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies known as the “Teaching Collective,” in coordination with the foundation course, “Introduction to Feminisms” (Wss 101). In their role as teaching mentors, graduate students are expected to guide and support the undergraduate discussion facilitators in the Teaching Collective with their own advanced learning of feminist pedagogy. Prerequisite: Wss 510 or permission of instructor. Recommended: Wss 520.

Wss 525 (Pad 525, Pos 525Q, Epl 525) Feminist Thought and Public Policy (3)

Examination of the implications of public policy research and implementation from a feminist perspective; the coherence or lack of it amongst different models of public policy formation, different perspectives on specific public policy issues, and different orientations within the women's movement.

Wss 530 (Aas 529, Lcs 530) Environmental Justice: Racism, Classism, Sexism (3-4)

In Environmental Justice: Racism, Classism, and Sexism we will explore how, racism, classism and sexism effect current environmental "events", including environmental policy-making, public health outcomes, and the rhetoric and politics of environmentalism. Surveying the development of environmental awareness among the public, philosophies behind such awareness and resulting shifts in policy, we will focus on the growth of the environmental justice movement, and will consider how various groups have addressed environmental degradation and justice. Also, under consideration will be a set of related issues: how globalization has effected these events, the feminist critique of science and its impact, relationships between grass-roots activism (for example, native American activists and other Environmental Justice group) and between these groups and more scholarly approaches and contributions by artists, labor-rights groups, religious leaders, animal rights activists, and deep ecologists. Prerequisite: Students, at whatever level, are welcome. The requirements will differ for graduate and undergraduate students. For example, graduate students will be reading more theoretical articles, and will be responsible for explaining these to the undergraduate students. In addition, graduate students will be required to submit a final research paper that is much longer (12-20 pages) than that required for undergraduate students.

Wss 533 Race, Rape Culture, and Advocacy (3-4)

The seminar will examine the extent to which cultural, social, and political attitudes contribute to normalizing and/or trivializing sexual harassment and assault against women, girls, and other gendered subjects. The course is designed to familiarize students with the intersections of race, gender, class and other factors that shape experiences with sexual harassment and sexual assault and organized resistance to them. Utilizing case studies, literature, popular culture, and historical examples through interdisciplinary learning, this course will address the difficult questions of how to move toward an anti-racist and anti-rape society while also examining the social and cultural causes that act as barriers to this progression. Students who have received credit for AWSS498 cannot receive credit for this course. Students who have received credit for AWSS498 cannot receive credit for this course. 

Wss 540 (Aas 541) Black Women in U.S. History (4)

This reading and research seminar will examine the history of black women in the United States. It will focus upon the range of demands placed on black women during the Gilded and Progressive eras--the founding of the National Association of Colored Women in 1896, their participation in the women's suffrage movement and other liberation struggles. Their creative expressions and labor force participation, and interracial activities also will be discussed.

Wss 542 Transformative Storytelling for Social Change (3-4)

Transformative storytelling for social change uses methods that are multi-layered, narrative-led, collaborative, motivated by action-research, and grounded in feminist pedagogies and theories. Students in this course create personal stories and collaborate to produce collective stories that can form the basis for advocacy. Incorporates different creative forms of communication and expression, including drama, photography, film, drawing, design, creative writing, and music. This is a fully online course.

Wss 545 (Aas 545, Lcs 545) Black Diasporas, Feminisms, and Sexual Politics (3-4)

This course will explore in global perspective concepts of blackness and its relationship to feminist and other women-led and gender-based political movements that have shaped complex discourses on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and nationality. Challenging such terms as the “African Diaspora” – a reference to the dispersed locations of African-descended people across the globe – or even the “Black Atlantic” – as coined by Paul Gilroy – we will expand the geopolitical spheres of Europe, America, Africa, and the Caribbean to traverse different oceanic spaces that include “Black Australia” and Afro-Asia. Through these transnational lenses, we will question how blackness, and black femininity in particular, shift meanings in varied locations but also converge in formations of global identities, marginalized experiences, and political movements. Topics covered may include history-telling and memory-making, cultural representations of the “black” body in arts and popular culture, sex trafficking and migrations, articulations of “black feminisms” and sexual identities, and social crises and social change. Students who have received credit for AWSS498 cannot receive credit for this course. 

Wss 550 The Literature of Feminism: An Interdisciplinary Seminar (3-4)

Draws upon the entire body of writing (fictional and nonfictional) that concerns feminism In different semesters, it may focus on different themes, periods, ideas, or issues related to feminism. Combines readings, lectures, seminar discussions, and research. May be repeated for credit when topics differ.

Wss 551 (Lcs 551) Gender and Class in Latin American Development (3)

The study of the historical interplay of cultural, ideological, and structural factors affecting women's lives during the course of Latin America's experience with modernization and industrialization during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Topics covered may include: household work, paid work, migration, growth of female headed households, women's political participation, and women's participation in social movements. Prerequisite(s): Any course in Latin American Studies and/or Women's Studies and/or History.

Wss 560 Families (3)

Introduction to research literature on families, with emphasis on contemporary industrial societies, and on diversity among family types. Topics include theoretical perspectives, formation and dissolution, interactions and power, economic issues, parent-child relations, extended family, and family policy.

Wss 561 (Arh 561) Women in Cinema (3)

This course provides an introduction to women in cinema with an emphasis on images of women in film and films directed by women. Drawing upon film history and feminist film theory, this course takes on the construction of femininity and embodiment on screen as well as the role of the camera, the anticipated or implied spectator, and the film industry at large in those representations. Students will also examine alternatives to the traditional visual relationships and gender dynamics emphasized by Hollywood and other film industries, and will become familiar with experimental, animated, and feminist counter-cinema as important instances of visual culture that either transgress or work through issues of gender and the gaze differently. Prerequisite: graduate student status.

Wss 565 Feminist Theory (3-4)

Examination of key changes in feminist theory from the late 1960s to the present. Assessment of changes in the way feminists have thought about such topics as: motherhood, sexuality, the origin and nature of women's oppression, class, race, and differences amongst women. Attention to the political implications of changes in theory. Written analysis required of feminist theory in relation to the foundation of traditional disciplines studied by students. Prerequisites: Wss 490Z, 590 recommended.

Wss 575 (Arh 575) Women in Art from the Renaissance to Impressionism (3)

Examines representations of women in European and North American art from the Renaissance through Impressionism. Special attention is given to works made by women, and to the problem of how women artists negotiated their position as both subjects and objects of artistic depiction. While women artists faced challenges to their authority on every level -material, theoretical, and ideological- the course explores the inventive ways they reconfigured, or even challenged, traditional expectations.

Wss 576 (Arh 576) Women in Art from the New Woman to Now (3)

This course examines the ways in which women artists living within diverse historical and cultural contexts gained social agency through visual imagery and material construction. Beginning with the "New Woman" movement around the turn of the twentieth century, it examines women's contribution to avant-garde movements in Europe and north America; the feminist art movement of the 1960s and 70s; "post-modern" feminist art which critiqued the very notion of social identity; and women artists' continuing efforts to enrich, question, and challenge the global art world of the twenty-first century. May not be taken by students with credit for Arh/Wss 475 or Arh/Wss 575 prior to Fall 2014. 

Wss 581 Digital Cultures, Global Circuits, and Feminist Futures (3-4)

Digital culture - immersed in the emerging technologies of digital media - has expanded the visibility and interactivity of feminist movements across the globe through interconnected communications, subsequently transforming the meaning and impact of feminist politics. What do such transformations mean for the future of feminist activism and progressive politics both on and offline? What, especially, do these transformations mean for organizing and advocacy across racial, ethnic, trans/national, dis/ability, gender, and sexuality differences? This course will explore the possibilities and limitations of digital technologies in forging transnational and intersectional feminist conversations, community-building, and global solidarity. Topics may include social media and interactivity; hashtag activism and feminist blogospheres; digital migrations and virtual border-crossings; digitized sex and sexualities; sexual violence, trafficking and pornography; cultural appropriations and racial performance; material versus virtual bodies; discursive populisms and backlash; popular culture and digital humanities. Students who have received credit for AWSS498 cannot receive credit for this course. 

Wss 590 Research Seminar in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (3-4)

Seminar in the theory and practice of women's studies research to examine: what distinguishes women's studies from other disciplines; the relationship between research and community/political activism; how research is changing the traditional disciplines and the methods used in research. Permission of instructor required.

Wss 592 Graduate Internship in Feminist Activism and Social Change Advocacy (2-4)

The graduate internship gives M.A. students hands-on professional experience in a community-based social change advocacy organization within the non-profit or local government sector. There are three components of the internship. (1) Students are expected to spend 6-8 hours per week at their placements. Each student works closely with a feminist mentor or faculty member who provides guidance on projects as well as an analysis of the structure and function of the non-profit or community organization and its role in social change. (2) Students develop and undertake a specific engagement project in collaboration with individuals in the organization and community members/clients. (3) Students attend a weekly academic seminar where they apply feminist theory and analysis to their work in their placement or their community action research project and complete a final paper summarizing their work. Prerequisite(s): Wss 590 and/or permission of instructor. Students who have received credit for Wss 492Y cannot receive credit for this course.

Wss 597 Independent Study (1-4)

Study in an area of special interest not treated in courses currently offered. Work performed under direction of a professor chosen by the student on a topic approved by the program. May be repeated with approval. Not open to undergraduates.

Wss 599 Topics in Women's Studies (1-4)

Consideration of topics or issues in women's studies selected on the basis of faculty and student interest. May be taken more than once with different content. Potential topics include seminar in sex role development or cross-cultural study of women. Consult schedule for specific title. Students who have received credit for AWSS498 cannot receivecredit for this course. 

Wss 604 (Pos 604, Pad 604) Inequality and Public Policy (3)

This course addresses the formulation and implementation of public policies that seek to end inequalities based on gender, race, class, sexual identity and/or other categories of marginalization. Theoretical and case study readings focus on the challenges, paradoxes and successes of a variety of social change initiatives. Prerequisite: Wss 525 (Feminist Thought and Public Policy) recommended.

Wss 607 (Ant 607) Anthropology of Gender (3)

Feminist anthropologists have long argued that gender is a key lens through which to view larger social struggles. Putting into conversation both classic and recent work by leading feminists and feminist anthropologists, this course investigates the centrality of gender and sexuality to contemporary processes around the world. Through attention to theory, ethnography and methodology, we examine the cultural production of gender and sexuality, as well as the way that ideologies and practices around gender/sexuality inform the reproduction and transformation of social hierarchies within families, communities, the nation-state, and in larger global flows. This course is cross-listed with the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor required.

Wss 639 (His 639) Readings in Gender and Society (4)

Examination from a theoretical and historical perspective of the ways that gender analysis has shaped discussion of a variety of historical issues. Readings may focus on one or more geographic areas, themes, or historical periods. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor.

Wss 640 Gender Inequality (3)

Recent data, theories, and policies regarding earnings and employment differentials, occupational segregation, and political power differences between men and women, including an examination of racial, ethnic and class differences among women.

Wss 641 (His 640) Seminar in Gender and Society (4)

Individual research in historical materials resulting in a scholarly paper on some aspects of gender studies. May be repeated for credit with consent of instructor.

Wss 644 (Soc 644) Global Gender Inequalities (3)

Using feminist theories and research drawn from sociology, political economy, demography, and development studies, the course examines a variety of gender-related international issues including the topics of survival (health, reproductive rights, education, war); population issues (sex ratios, female headed households); economics (informal economy, micro-enterprises, export processing, tourism, migration, transition economies); politics and policies; and social movements (nationalism, environmental movements, women’s movements, lesbian and gay movements). Special emphasis is placed on how global economic and political transformations affect women.

Wss 645 (Soc 645) Selected Topics in Gender Research (3)

Intensive investigation of theories and research findings pertaining to a specific topic in the area of sociology of gender, such as feminization of poverty, gender and politics, women's role in economic development, reproductive technology, gender and aging, and work and family roles. Topic will be announced. May be repeated for credit.

Wss 678 (Pad 678) Advocacy for Social Change (3)

The purpose of the course is to deepen understanding of the theoretical and applied dimension of nonprofit advocacy and the critical role that nonprofit advocacy organizations play in democratic governance. The course focuses on strengthening knowledge and skills of influencing public policy as nonprofit actors including applying theories of public policy advocacy to real life cases; analyzing social issues, using policy analysis techniques to identify policy solutions, planning and implementing advocacy campaigns using different strategies and tactics. Note: This course is one of three courses required for participants in the Fellowship on Women and Public Policy.

Wss 689 Master’s Project Proposal Writing (1-4)

Preparation and planning for M.A. Final Project, under direction of M.A. committee. This independent study course is optional for those planning to take Wss 690 the following semester. Prerequisite: Admission to M.A. program in Women’s Studies and permission of Women’s Studies Graduate Faculty Advisor.

Wss 690 MA Final Project (3-4)

Research leading to successful completion of a three hour written examination; or a 25-30 page paper; or presentation of creative work or a project involving political action. Prerequisite: admission to MA program in Women's Studies and permission of Women's Studies Graduate Faculty Adviser.

Wss 695 Topics in Women's Studies (1-4)

Advanced treatment of topics or issues in women's studies selected on the basis of faculty and student interest. May be taken more than once with different content. Consult schedule for specific title. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

Wss 697 Advanced Independent Study (1-4)

Study by a student in an area of special interest not treated in courses currently offered. Work performed under direction of a professor chosen by the student on a topic approved by the department. May be repeated with approval. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

Wss 698 Advanced Topics in Women's Studies (3-4)

Consideration of topics in women's studies. May be taken once with different content. Consult semester schedule for specific title. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

Wss 797 Advanced Independent Study (1-4)

Study by a student in an area of special interest not treated in courses currently offered. Work performed under direction of a professor chosen by the student on a topic approved by the department. May be repeated with approval. Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

Wss 798 Special Topics in Women's Studies (3-4)

Advanced topics in women's studies offered in conjunction with other departments. May be taken more than once with different content.