Spring 2020 Courses


NOTE: Third- and Fourth-Year Majors and Minors have priority registration for the first two days of class registration, 11/4/2019 and 11/6/2019. The limitation is removed on the third day of class registration, 11/7/2019, and WGS classes are open to all students.

WGS 2100 Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies

Instructor Varies

An introduction to gender and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) studies, including the fields of women’s studies, feminist studies, & masculinity studies. Students will examine historical movements, theoretical issues, & contemporary debates, especially as they pertain to issues of inequality & to the intersection of gender, race, class, sexuality, & nationalism. Emphasis will vary according to the interdisciplinary expertise & research focus of the instructor.

Special Note: Required for all WGS majors and minors, Intro courses do not count toward concentrations.

WGS 2600 Human Sexualities

Lisa Speidel

Examines human sexuality from psychological, biological, behavioral, social, and historical perspectives. Topics include sexual research and theoretical perspectives, sexual anatomy and physiology, sexual health, intimacy, communication, patterns of sexual response and pleasure and sexual problems and therapies. Course will also include examination of the development of sexuality and the intersections of other identities, gender identity, sexual orientation, sexuality and the law, sexual assault, and other social issues in sexuality. This course will focus on creating a safe environment for honest and authentic conversations about the issues.  Confidentiality and respect will be emphasized to create a community of trust. Students will learn about these issues of sexuality through discussion, experiential activities, film, readings, research, reflective writing and guest speakers.

Course Category: Sexuality Concentration

WGS 2894 Gender, Body Image, and Activism

Karlin Luedtke

What is the relationship between body image and identity? How does one affect, constrain, and inform the other?  The development of body image is a complex process influenced by messages we receive from family, friends, peers, health care practitioners, teachers, and mass media to name a few. Messages are also constructed and interpreted differently depending on one's gender, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and ableism.

WGS 3105 Issues in LGBTQ Studies

Doug Meyer

This course is an interdisciplinary analysis of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) Studies.  We will study  historical events and political, literary, and artistic figures and works; contemporary social and political issues; the meaning and development of sexual and gender identities; and different disciplinary definitions of meaning and knowledge.

Course Category: Sexuality Concentration

WGS 3140 Border Crossings: Women, Literature, and Islam

Farzaneh Milani

This course will focus on a bloodless, non-violent revolution that is shaking the foundation of the Islamic Middle East and North Africa--women's literature. Hidden behind real or imaginary walls, veils, and silences, the Middle Eastern and North African women have suffered yet another distortion of their identity, mainly the critical neglect surrounding their literature.  For centuries, however, and especially in the last few decades, women have made their voices heard through their writings.  They have seized every opportunity to break away from the silence that has veiled them at home or abroad.  This course, in a small way, is an attempt to remedy this oversight.  It examines the rhetoric and poetics of sex segregation, voice, visibility, and mobility in a spectrum of genres that includes folklore, novel, short story, poetry, biography, autobiography, and essay. This course fulfills the global requirement.

Course Category: Gender Concentration, Global Requirement

WGS 3220 Global Perspectives on Gender and Sport

Bonnie Hagerman

This course will examine female athletes from a global perspective, comparing and contrasting their experiences, and placing them in historical perspective. Among the topics we will consider will be a look at Saudi Arabian sportswomen and their recent entry into the Olympic Games; an examination of the pros and cons of Chinese sports schools; an exploration of the post-apartheid athletic landscape of South Africa, and a discussion of the struggle of Iranian women to compete at the highest levels of sport even as they struggle against clothing restrictions.  As we consider the global experience and how it differs from continent to continent, county to country, and region to region, we will consider not only issues of gender, but race, class, and sexuality as well.

Course Category: Gender Concentration, Global Requirement

WGS 3240 Gender, Race, and Sport: A History of African American Sportswomen

Bonnie Hagerman

This course seeks to explore the intersection of gender and race in sport, specifically examining the African-American experience in sport. This course will ask students to consider whether sport was (and continues to be) the great equalizer for both African-American sportsmen and sportswomen, and to evaluate their portrayals (or lack thereof) in both the white and black media. We’ll consider athletic greats Jackie Robinson and Althea Gibson, as well as lesser known athletes Jack Johnson and Ora Mae Washington—why are some athletes destined to be celebrated while others are forgotten? We will also explore the activism of Muhammad Ali and Venus Williams, and the gendered differences of their campaigns, as well as the importance of sport as a platform for voicing inequality as we look not only at breaking color barriers during Jim Crow America, but “The Black Power Salute” of the 1960s, and taking a knee in 2016. Through primary source readings, documentaries and discussion we’ll seek to put the African-American sporting experience in context to see just how far athletes of color have actually come in the American sporting arena.

Course Category: Gender Concentration

WGS 3559 New Course in WGS: The Politics of Motherhood

Abby Palko

What makes a good mother? Not everyone will become a mother, but everyone has a mother. How does culture shape mothering practices? How do mothering practices shape culture? Working moms vs. stay-at-home moms, Super moms vs. slacker moms – multiple rounds of the so-called Mommy Wars have played out in the US in the past few decades to great media attention. How do we begin to make sense of the numerous, disparate cultural notions of what a mother should do and be? Other important questions we might ask include: Is there a difference between “childfree” and “childless”? Is a child better served by a working mother or a stay-at-home mother? What are the impacts on children of “traditional” and “nontraditional” family structures? (and how do we define “traditional”?) How do race, economic class, educational attainment, sexual orientation impact women’s mothering practices?

WGS 3612 Gender and Sexuality in the United States, 1865-Present

Gillet Rosenblith

This course will explore the significance of gender in United States from the Civil War to the present.  We will ask how people’s ideas about gender structured society and how social relations defined what it meant to be a man or a woman. Readings and discussion will focus on three particular areas of inquiry: the rights and obligations of citizenship; the value and division of labor; and the configuration of emotional life (including familial relationships, erotic desires, and individual aspirations). Resisting any transhistorical definition of womanhood, we will investigate how understandings of gender developed in relation to racial, ethnic, class, and regional differences. The goal of this course is to become adept at generating your own historical analysis through the study of primary documents. This course fulfills the second writing requirement.

Course Category: Sexuality Concentration, Gender Concentration

WGS 3750 Women, Childhood, Autobiography

Lorna Martens

Cross-cultural readings in women’s childhood narratives. Emphasis on formal as well as thematic aspects.

Course Category: Gender Concentration

WGS 3800 Queer Theory

Andre Cavalcante

This course introduces students to some of the key and some of the controversial theoretical texts that make up the emerging field of queer theory. We will consider the beginnings of queer theory and also look at more recent work in fields such as queer gothic and phenomenology. The approach of the course will be interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on literary and aesthetic criticisms that may shift according to the instructor's areas of expertise. The goal of the course is to develop critical practice by working through a variety of perspectives, not only across academic disciplines but also across cultures. Insofar as queer theory reads for the often unseen, or submerged, reality embedded in cultural texts, contexts, and literatures, we will engage conscious critical practice in the class. This course fulfils the Second Writing Requirement.

Special Note: Queer or Feminist Theory is required for all WGS majors/minors.

Course Category: Sexuality Concentration

WGS 3810 Feminist Theory

Denise Walsh

This course provides an overview of the historical bases and contemporary developments in feminist theorizing and analyze a range of theories on gender, including liberal, Marxist, radical, difference, and postmodernist feminist theories. We will explore how feminist theories apply to contemporary debates on the body, sexuality, colonialism, globalization and transnationalism. Throughout the course we will incorporate analysis of race, class, and national differences as well as cross-cultural perspectives.

Special Note: This, or Queer Theory, required for all WGS majors and minors.

Course Category: Gender Concentration

WGS 3814 Gender, Sexuality, Identity in Premodern France

Deborah McGrady

This course will explore religious, social, scientific and legal views on gender, sexuality and identity that may extend from medieval through early modern Europe with an emphasis on the French tradition. Readings will include literary texts and cultural documents as well as current scholarship on questions of sexuality, gender, and identity politics.

Course Category: Gender Concentration, Sexuality Concentration

WGS 4500 Topics in WGS: Violence Against Sexual Minorities

Doug Meyer

This course emphasizes violence against minority groups. Particular attention will be paid to violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, although the class will also focus on forms of abuse against other historically-marginalized groups. Topics covered will include racist and sexist violence, sexualized abuse, including rape and sexual assault, domestic violence, and the politics of hate crime. 

WGS 4559 New Course in WGS: Gender and Housing

Gillet Rosenblith

This course will ask what “home” has meant to different groups of Americans from the end of the Civil War to present, taking particular interest in how gender has interacted with housing policies and concepts of home. We will explore subtopics including: shantytowns and settlement houses; public housing; criminality; the Great Migration; the GI Bill and suburbanization; urban uprisings, urban renewal, and the Fair Housing Act; second wave feminism and housing; gentrification; and evictions. Throughout the course, we will think about how people’s definitions of home have changed over time. We will also examine how varying political entities deployed images of home over time, and what repercussions these deployments incurred, with particular regard for racial, gender, and socioeconomic consequences.

Course Category: Gender Concentration

WGS 4559 New Course in WGS: Should Women Vote? The History of Suffrage and Anti-Suffrage

Cori Field

The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified a hundred years ago, specifies that the right to vote shall not be denied "on account of sex."  Why did most American voters oppose this amendment for so long?  What finally led to its passage in 1920?  Why, a century later, are so many women citizens either unable or unwilling to vote?  In this course, you will answer these questions by designing an exhibit on the history of suffrage and anti-suffrage from materials in the UVA Special Collections Library.  This exhibit will be on display in the summer of 2020 for the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment.

Course Category: Gender Concentration

WGS 4700 Men and Masculinities

Lisa Speidel

Typically, men are dealt with in a way that casually presents them as representative of humanity.   This course addresses the various ways that men are also “gendered,” and can be the subject of inquiries of gender, sexuality, inequality, and privilege in their own right. This course fulfills the second writing requirement.

Course Category: Gender Concentration

WGS 4800 Gender-Based Violence

Lisa Speidel

This course encourages students to engage in critical thought about gender based violence in the United States and to examine the various approaches to and theories of prevention efforts. The structure of the course is divided into three parts. First, the meanings and nature of interpersonal and sexual violence will be established, including the effects of being the target of violence and the intersections of race/ethnicity and sexuality/sexual orientation. Second, the course will focus on the historical meaning of prevention which focused on potential victims, such as the victim control model, risk reduction rhetoric, and self-defense classes. In addition, an analysis of the criminal justice system as a form of prevention will be addressed. The third section of the course will consist of exploring contemporary definitions of prevention and leading national programs focused on changing perpetrator behavior and cultural systems that support gender based violence. 

Course Category: Gender Concentration