Course Offerings

Winter 2019

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.

Women, Art, and Empowerment

ARTH 365 - King, Elliott H.

This seminar explores female artists from the late 18th century through the present, whose depictions of women have directly challenged the value system in art history that has traditionally privileged white heterosexual male artists, audiences, collectors, historians, curators, etc. Lectures, discussions, and research projects address multicultural perspectives and provide a sense of feminism's global import in a current and historical context.

Women and Gender in Modern Europe

HIST 206 - Horowitz, Sarah

This course investigates the history of Europe from the late 18th century to the present day through the lens of women's lives, gender roles, and changing notions of sexuality. We examine how historical events and movements (industrialization, the world wars, etc.) had an impact on women, we look at how ideas about gender shaped historical phenomena, such as imperialism and totalitarianism. We also consider the rise of new ideas about sexuality and the challenge of feminism.

Seminar: The Yin and Yang of Gender in Late Imperial China (10th-19th centuries)

HIST 285 - Bello, David A.

Relations between men and women are the basis of any human society, but the exact nature and interpretation of these relations differ from time to time and from place to place. The concepts of Yin (female) and Yang (male) were integral to the theory and practice of Chinese gender relations during the late imperial period, influencing marriage, medicine and law. This course examines the historical significance of late-imperial gender relations across these, and other, categories from both traditional and modern perspectives.

Representations of Women, Gender and Sexuality in World Literature

LIT 210 - Radulescu, Domnica V.

This course examines a plethora of literary texts chosen from across historical periods from antiquity, through early modern times, to the modern and postmodern era and across several national traditions and cultural landscapes.  Its main intellectual objective is to sensitize students to the ways in which women and gender have been represented in literary texts of various genres and to help them develop specific analytic skills in order to discover and evaluate the interconnections between the treatment of women in society and their artistic reflections in works of literature.

Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity

PHIL 242 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

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.

Gender and Politics

POL 255 - LeBlanc, Robin M.

This course investigates the gendered terms under which women and men participate in political life. Attention is given to the causes of men's and women's different patterns of participation in politics, to processes that are likely to decrease the inequalities between men's and women's political power, and the processes by which society's gender expectations shape electoral and institutional politics. The different effects of gender on the practice of politics in different nations are compared, with a special emphasis placed on advanced industrial democracies.

God and Goddess in Hinduism

REL 132 - Lubin, Timothy (Tim)

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

SOAN 280 - Goluboff, Sascha

An investigation of gender cross culturally. Special consideration is given to the roles of biology, cultural variation, identity, and power in determining patterns of male dominance. Emphasis is placed on changing relationships between men and women in American society.

Introduction to Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

WGSS 120 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

An interdisciplinary introduction to the academic study of women, gender, and sexuality. We read the work of scholars who are trying to make sense of the complicated ways in which gender intersects with other power structures such as race, class, sexuality, and nationality. The course first introduces several key terms in gender and queer studies including intersectionality, social constructivism, oppression, and heteronormativity. Using these terms, we then further analyze topics such as the family as a social institution, gender in the workplace, beauty norms, gendered violence, the history of feminist and queer activism, and gender and queer identity in immigration law. Assignments encourage students to analyze their other academic pursuits, as well as the non-academic environments in which they live, including thinking critically about their own experiences in contemporary society. The course provides a foundation in feminist analysis for students who wish to complete a minor in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. It is also appropriate for students at any level who are seeking a more systematic understanding of how gendered dynamics shape the subjects of their major studies or the practices of their daily lives. 

Representations of Women, Gender and Sexuality in World Literature

WGSS 210 - Radulescu, Domnica V.

This course examines a plethora of literary texts chosen from across historical periods from antiquity, through early modern times, to the modern and postmodern era and across several national traditions and cultural landscapes.  Its main intellectual objective is to sensitize students to the ways in which women and gender have been represented in literary texts of various genres and to help them develop specific analytic skills in order to discover and evaluate the interconnections between the treatment of women in society and their artistic reflections in works of literature.

Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity

WGSS 242 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

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

Fall 2018

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 - I'Anson, Helen

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.

Medieval and Early Modern British Literature

ENGL 250 - Kao, Wan-Chuan

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.

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

ENGL 313 - Kao, Wan-Chuan

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?

Topics in European History

HIST 229B - Horowitz, Sarah

A course offered from time to time depending on student interest and staff availability, on a selected topic or problem in European history. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2018, HIST 229B-01: Making Modern Sexuality (3). From where do we get our ideas about sex and sexuality? Are they based in evidence, or do they speak to cultural forces and anxieties of long standing? This course investigates these questions by examining selected topics in the history of sexuality in the modern West, as well as contemporary clinical understandings of these issues and how moral, economic, and cultural forces serve to shroud sexual expression and identities in metaphor and myth. (HU) Horowitz.

History of Women in America, 1870 to the Present

HIST 258 - Senechal, Roberta H.

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.

Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination

PSYC 269 - Woodzicka, Julie A.

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.

Spring 2018

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.

I Heart Jane: Austen's Fan Cultures and Afterlives

ENGL 254 - Walle, Taylor F.

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Jane Austen has attained a celebrity that far exceeds the recognition she enjoyed during her lifetime. The fan culture that now surrounds Austen, her spunky heroines, and her swoon-worthy heroes rivals that of Star Wars or Harry Potter. Austen enthusiasts meet for book club, wear Regency costumes, convene for tea, and throw balls with period-appropriate music and dance. All of this mooning over Mr. Darcy, however, could easily be the object of Austen's own satire. Mercilessly lampooning silliness and frivolity, "dear Jane" was more inveterate cynic than hopeless romantic. How, then, did Austen transform from biting social satirist to patron saint of chick lit? Beginning with three of Austen's novels, and then turning to the fan cultures surrounding Pride and Prejudice, this course examines the nature of fandom, especially its propensity to change and adapt the very thing it celebrates. What does it mean to be a fan? Is there such a thing as an "original" or authorial meaning of a text? What do Austen's fan cultures say about both the novels themselves and the society that appropriates them?

Reading Lolita in Lexington

ENGL 285 - Brodie, Laura F.

This class uses Azar Nafisi's memoir, Reading Lolita in Tehran , as a centerpiece for learning about Islam, Iran, and the intersections between Western literature and the lives of contemporary Iranian women. We read The Great Gatsby , Lolita , and Pride and Prejudice , exploring how they resonated in the lives of Nafisi's students in Tehran. We also visit The Islamic Center of Washington and conduct journalistic research into attitudes about Iran and Islam.

The Second Sex: Beauvoir on the Power of Gender

PHIL 235 - Verhage, Florentien

Sixty years after its initial publication, The Second Sex is as eye-opening and relevant as ever. Simone de Beauvoir's masterpiece weaves together history, philosophy, economics, biology, and a host of other disciplines to analyze the Western notion of "woman" and to explore the making and the power of gender and sexuality. The Second Sex is an important philosophical and political document about inequality and enforced "otherness." Referring to the history of philosophy, new developments in existential thought, and drawing on extensive interviews with women, Beauvoir synthesizes research about women's bodies and psyches as well as their historic and economic roles.

Seminar in Evolutionary Psychology

PSYC 215 - Whiting, Wythe L., IV

The purpose of this course is to examine evolutionary theory as a means of explaining human behavior. The main premise is that behaviors such as cooperation, aggression, mate selection, and intelligence exist because individuals exhibiting these behaviors were more likely to produce healthy offspring that perpetuated those behaviors (i.e., natural selection). We evaluate the validity of this argument in a number of areas of human behavior and also discuss how culture has shaped our genes. Evolutionary psychology is not an area of psychology, like social psychology or cognitive psychology, but is instead a lens through which all human behavior can be explained. Though it is tempting to engage in "arm chair" application of evolutionary theory to behavior, this is a science course; all arguments must be backed up with data.

Campus Sex in the Digital Age

SOAN 261 - Goluboff, Sascha

This class explores how the cell phone has impacted hooking up and dating at college, 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 they collect on the mobile apps they use to socialize with each other on campus. As a digital humanities project, students work in groups to post their analyses on the class WordPress site.

The Second Sex: Beauvoir on the Power of Gender

WGSS 235 - Verhage, Florentien

Sixty years after its initial publication, The Second Sex is as eye-opening and relevant as ever. Simone de Beauvoir's masterpiece weaves together history, philosophy, economics, biology, and a host of other disciplines to analyze the Western notion of "woman" and to explore the making and the power of gender and sexuality. The Second Sex is an important philosophical and political document about inequality and enforced "otherness." Referring to the history of philosophy, new developments in existential thought, and drawing on extensive interviews with women, Beauvoir synthesizes research about women's bodies and psyches as well as their historic and economic roles.