Course Offerings

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 Asian, African, or Islamic 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 Asian or African 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.

Winter 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.

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.

Reading Gender

ENGL 261 - Rajbanshi, Reema

A course on using gender as a tool of literary analysis. We study the ways ideas about masculinity and femininity inform and are informed by poetry, short stories, novels, plays, films, and/or pop culture productions. Also includes readings in feminist theory about literary interpretation and about the ways gender intersects with other social categories, including race, ethnicity, sexuality, and class. Historical focus will vary according to professor's areas of interest and expertise. We study novels, poems, stories, and films that engage with what might be considered some major modern myths of gender: popular fairy tales. We focus at length upon the Cinderella and Red Riding Hood stories but also consider versions of several additional tales, always with the goal of analyzing the particular ideas about women and men, girls and boys, femininity and masculinity that both underlie and are produced by specific iterations of these familiar stories. Winter 2018: Introduction to Fourth-World Feminisms. This course reads across contexts and genres to think through 19th-21st-century formulations of gender as imagined and enacted by indigenous and tribal women. In doing so, it necessarily addresses issues of settler and extractive colonialisms (United States, Guatemala, India), forms of resistance (hunger strike, un/armed protest), and subaltern poetics complicating received narratives of progress and art. A consistent concern is the relationship between this mode of feminist praxis/politics and other modes of feminist thought, such as second wave U.S. feminism, Black feminism, and women of color feminisms. Another recurring question is to address the nuances of categories, such as "indigenous", "tribal", and "race/caste", categories that have taken on heightened sensitivity in the current global moment. Reading materials span novels, films, and critical essays, and assignments center on oral presentations and regular writing. Rajbanshi.

Seminar: The Age of the Witch Hunts

HIST 219 - Brock, Michelle D. (Mikki)

This course introduces students to one of the most fascinating and disturbing events in the history of the Western world: the witch hunts in early-modern Europe and North America. Between 1450 and 1750, more than 100,000 individuals, from Russia to Salem, were prosecuted for the crime of witchcraft. Most were women and more than half were executed. In this course, we examine the political, religious, social, and legal reasons behind the trials, asking why they occurred in Europe when they did and why they finally ended. We also explore, in brief, global witch hunts that still occur today in places like Africa and India, asking how they resemble yet differ from those of the early-modern world.

Topics in United States, Latin American or Canadian History

HIST 269B - Richier, Leah A.

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

Winter 2018, HIST 269B-01: Gender, Sex, and Sexuality in the Civil War (3). This course centers around issues of women, gender, family, heterosexuality, homosexuality, and transgendered peoples during a time period traditionally imagined as a sexless military endeavor. Going beyond female nurses in the Civil War, the course addresses prostitution, venereal disease, sexual violence, Bread Riots, infant mortality, masculinity models, interracial relations, enslaved families, and LGBTQ issues. (HU) Richier.

Winter 2018, HIST 269C: Uncovering W&L History (3). Not open to students who have credit for HIST 180 on the same topic. A seminar focusing primarily on Washington College history as it relates to slavery, and placing it within the larger context of local and state history. Student focus intensely on historical methodology and analysis through the use of primary and secondary research. (HU) DeLaney.

Queering Colonialism

HIST 379 - Tallie, Tyrone H., Jr. (T.J.)

This course seeks to examine the many intersectional and overlapping threads in the histories of colonialism, gender, and sexuality. As authors like Achmat and Cohen have argued, colonialism has simultaneously supported and been supported by heteronormative, patriarchal, and white-supremacist regimes. This course looks at three avenues in which the 'normal' has been both created and contested in colonial histories: the body, belonging, and becoming. We read from a variety of disciplines, eras, and locations in order to understand how bodies can be made normal or 'queer.' We also examine how imperial structures of rule impact the daily lived experiences of people as they attempt to find spaces of belonging and potential for becoming part of a larger group. movement. or idea.

Representations of Women, Gender and Sexuality in World Literature

LIT 310 - 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, Sexuality, and Islam

REL 284 - Atanasova, Kameliya N.

How have issues of gender and sexuality in Medieval and Modern Islamic societies been debated across the Middle East, South Asia, and the West? Students examine scholarly and public discussions of gender and Islam, and they build a vocabulary in which to talk about women. queer, and intersex history as they concern Muslim societies and their foundational sources in their regional and historical contexts. No prior knowledge of Islam is necessary.

Gender and Sexuality

SOAN 280 - Novack, David R.

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

WGSS 120 - Verhage, Florentien

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.

21st-Century Feminism: Where Are We Now?

WGSS 220 - Walle, Taylor F.

Where it used to be considered a liability, the word feminist is now proudly claimed by pop stars and emblazoned on t-shirts. What has changed, and what should we make of this popular feminism? Does it herald a new age of equal rights, or does it threaten to undermine the progress that 20th-century feminists worked so hard to secure? Looking exclusively at texts published after 2000, this course surveys a wide range of feminist issues, including intersectionality, body positivity, sexual assault, trans feminism, popular feminism, feminist merch, the 2016 election, and the future of feminism.

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

Representations of Women, Gender and Sexuality in World Literature

WGSS 310 - 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.

Advanced Seminar in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

WGSS 396 - Bell, Melina C. (Melina)

This course provides an opportunity for advanced students to explore in detail some aspect of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Specific topics may vary and may be determined, in part, by student interest. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Advanced Seminar in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

WGSS 396 - Tallie, Tyrone H., Jr. (T.J.)

This course provides an opportunity for advanced students to explore in detail some aspect of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies. Specific topics may vary and may be determined, in part, by student interest. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.