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Course Offerings

Fall 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Reproductive Physiology

BIOL 255 - STAFF / I'Anson

An examination of sex as a biological phenomenon with consideration of the genetic (chromosomal), embryological, endocrine, and neurological bases of sexual development, differentiation, and identity.

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

ENGL 313 - Kao

This course considers the primary work on which Chaucer's reputation rests: The Canterbury Tales. We pay sustained attention to Chaucer's Middle English at the beginning of the semester to ease the reading process. Then we travel alongside the Canterbury pilgrims as they tell their tales under the guise of a friendly competition. The Canterbury Tales is frequently read as a commentary on the social divisions in late medieval England, such as the traditional estates, religious professionals and laity, and gender hierarchies. But despite the Tales' professed inclusiveness of the whole of English society, Chaucer nonetheless focuses inordinately on those individuals from the emerging middle classes. Our aim is to approach the Tales from the practices of historicization and theorization; that is, we both examine Chaucer's cultural and historical contexts and consider issues of religion, gender, sexuality, marriage, conduct, class, chivalry, courtly love, community, geography, history, power, spirituality, secularism, traditional authority, and individual experience. Of particular importance are questions of voicing and writing, authorship and readership. Lastly, we think through Chaucer's famous Retraction at the "end" of The Canterbury Tales, as well as Donald R. Howard's trenchant observation that the Tale is "unfinished but complete." What does it mean for the father of literary "Englishness" to end his life's work on the poetic principle of unfulfilled closure and on the image of a society on the move?

History of Women in America, 1870 to the Present

HIST 258 - Senechal

A survey of some of the major topics and themes in American women's lives from the mid-19th century to the present, including domestic and family roles, economic contributions, reproductive experience, education, suffrage, and the emergence of the contemporary feminist movement. The influence on women's roles, behavior, and consciousness by the social and economic changes accompanying industrialization and urbanization and by variations in women's experience caused by differences in race, class, and region.

Philosophy of Sex

PHIL 246 - Bell

This course explores questions related to contemporary conceptions of sexuality and its proper role in our lives. Questions addressed include: What is the purpose of sex? Are sexual practices subject to normative evaluation on grounds of morality, aesthetics, and/or capacity to promote a flourishing human life? We consider the relation between sex and both intimacy and pleasure, viewed from the perspective of heterosexual women and men, and gay men and lesbians. What are our sexual practices and attitudes toward sex? What should they be like?

Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination

PSYC 269 - Woodzicka

This course examines cognitive and affective processes involved in stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Causes and social implications of prejudice involving various stigmatized groups (e.g., African-Americans, women, homosexuals, people of low socioeconomic status, overweight individuals) are examined. Participants focus on attitudes and behaviors of both perpetrators and targets of prejudice that likely contribute to and result from social inequality.

Feminist Anthropology

SOAN 275 - Goluboff

This course covers the complex and sometimes "awkward" relationship between feminism and anthropology. We explore topics such as the place of feminist theory and politics within the discipline of anthropology, the problems involved in being a feminist and an anthropologist, and the creation of feminist ethnography.

Spring 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Beauvoir and The Second Sex

PHIL 235 - Verhage

The Second Sex (1949) is Simone de Beauvoir's most well-known work in philosophy. It is a deep and urgent meditation on a true hope that is still elusive for many of us: to become, in every sense. one's own. It weaves together philosophy, history, social studies, economics, and biology to analyze the notion of "woman" and to explore the making and the power of gender and sexuality. Newly translated, The Second Sex is an important philosophical and political document about inequality and enforced otherness. In this course, we read this text together with recent work in the field and discuss it both as an important historical document and as a still relevant work on our gendered being in the world.

Women in Sport

WGS 150 - Levine

In this course, students use feminist theories and women's studies to examine many aspects of women's participation in sport in the United States. Students examine a range of topics including women's achievements in sport; Title IX and associated arguments for and against its implementation; social and cultural influences on women's participation; gender stereotypes associated with sport; and the role of the media in reinforcing gender-based stereotypes.

Winter 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Special Topics in Anthropology

ANTH 290 - Goluboff

A discussion of a series of topics of anthropological concern. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2014 topic:

ANTH 290: Hooking up and Dating on Campus in the Digital Age (3). This class explores how the cell phone has impacted "hooking up" and dating on campus, with particular attention to Washington and Lee University as a case study. We discuss the development of campus sexual culture in America and the influence of digital technology on student sociality. Students use open-source digital research tools to analyze data (interviews, focus groups, statistics) collected during Fall 2011 about dating and "hookup" behavior at W&L. Students work in groups to post their weekly analyses on the class WordPress site, as a digital humanities project. The goal of the course is to create a variety of interpretations of the data that might challenge or reaffirm conclusions drawn in a recent scholarly article. Goluboff.

Fall 2013 topics:

ANTH 290-01: American Indian Ethnography (3). One of the major goals of modern ethnohistory is to use historical and anthropological methods to uncover the understandings that non-western peoples have of their own histories. This seminar will introduce students to the theoretical and methodological principles of ethnohistorical research and their application to North American peoples. Participants will first study American Indian conceptions of time and their relationship to the criteria by which tribal communities selected and comprehended the events comprising their histories. The seminar will then examine how Indian tribes from different parts of North America, including the Southwest, Northeast, Southeast, and Plains interpreted, evaluated, and responded to their encounters with colonial and the United States governments. Markowitz.

ANTH 290-02: Food, Culture, & Society (3). In this course, we discuss the key roles that food plays in culture, society, and individuals' notions of self and community. We begin by investigating the place of food in religious rituals and the daily practices of believers. We then focus on how the globalization of the food industry has impacted local cultures, the natural environment, and national identities. When studying the influence of the "eat local" movement on shopping and consumption habits, we take a field trip to nearby place(s) of sustainable farming and artisan/heritage food production. Students write a research paper on the trajectory of a food item of their choice, preferably using options available in the local community. Goluboff.

Medieval and Early Modern British Literature: Masculinity and Monstrosity

ENGL 250 - Kao

This course is a survey of English literature from the Early Middle Ages to the Early Modern period. We read works in various genres--verse, drama, and prose--and understand their specific cultural and historical contexts. We also examine select modern film adaptations of canonical works as part of the evolving history of critical reception.

Winter 2014 emphasis: Masculinity and Monstrosity. This course is a survey of English literature from the Early Middle Ages to the Early Modern period. We read works in various genres--verse, drama, and prose--and understand their specific cultural and historical contexts. Our particular focus is on the diverse conceptions and representations of masculinity and monstrosity in texts such as Beowulf, Chaucer's Knight's Tale, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare's King Lear, Spenser's Faerie Queene, and Milton's Paradise Lost. Can heroic, courtly, or spiritual masculinity exist without monstrosity? And how does female masculinity or male femininity navigate the monstrous and the normative? We also examine select modern film adaptations of canonical works as part of the evolving history of critical reception. (HL) Kao.


Shakespearean Genres

ENGL 320 - Pickett

In a given term, this course focuses on one or two of the major genres explored by Shakespeare (e.g., histories, tragedies, comedies, tragicomedies/romances, lyric and narrative poetry), in light of Renaissance literary conventions and recent theoretical approaches. Students consider the ways in which Shakespeare's generic experiments are variably inflected by gender, by political considerations, by habitat, and by history.

La France à travers les siècles

FREN 343 - Kamara

Readings in French literature and civilization from across the centuries. Recent offerings: Les femmes et la comédie; L'orientalisme français; L'écriture de femmes. May be repeated for degree credit if the topic is different.

Winter 2014 Topic:

FREN 343: L'amour et le mariage à travers les siècles (3). Prerequisite: FREN 273. This course focuses on Francophone women writers from the middle ages to the present. We read and discuss plays, poems, essays, correspondences, and novels in which women writers, through the overarching themes of marriage and love, examine their status as individuals as well as their role vis-à-vis their families, society, the church and the state. (HL) Kamara.

Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity

PHIL 242 - Bell

An exploration of the different range of opportunities available to various social groups, including racial, ethnic and sexual minorities, women, and the poor. Topics include how to define fair equality of opportunity; the social mechanisms that play a role in expanding and limiting opportunity; legal and group-initiated strategies aimed at effecting fair equality of opportunity and the theoretical foundations of these strategies; as well as an analysis of the concepts of equality, merit and citizenship, and their value to individuals and society.

God and Goddess in Hinduism

REL 132 - Lubin

This course explores the many ways in which Hindus visualize and talk about the divine and its manifestations in the world through mythic stories, use of images in worship, explanations of the nature of the soul and body in relation to the divine, and the belief in human embodiments of the divine in Hindu holy men and women. Topics include: the religious meanings of masculine and feminine in the divine and human contexts; the idea of local, family, and "chosen" divinities; and differing forms of Hindu devotion for men and women.

Gender and Sexuality

SOC 280 - Novack

An anthropological and sociological investigation of sex roles in preliterate and modern societies. Special consideration is given to the role of innate sexual differences, cultural variation, technology, and power in determining patterns of male dominance. Emphasis is placed on real and mythical female and male power in the context of changing relationships between men and women in American society.

Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies and Feminist Theory

WGS 120 - Verhage

This course introduces students to the fields of feminist theory and women's and gender studies by focusing on key theoretical concepts and surveying a range of topics that have been central to the academic study of women and gender. Such topics are likely to include the family as a social institution, gender in the workplace, beauty norms, violence against women, the history of feminist activism, and/or women's achievements in traditionally male-dominated fields such as sports, art, science, or literature. Students learn to approach such topics using gender as an analytical tool that intersects in complex ways with other categories of social power, such as race, class, and sexuality. The course is interdisciplinary in approach and presents a plurality of feminist perspectives in order to offer a rich understanding of the development of feminist thought over the past several decades. Course assignments encourage students to use such thought to analyze their other academic pursuits, as well as the non-academic environments in which they live, including thinking critically about their own experiences as women and men in contemporary society.