Harvard University

Studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS) 97

Fall 2004

Tuesdays 3-5 pm

Kates Room, Warren House

 

Prof. Robin Bernstein

email: rbernst@fas.harvard.edu

Office: Barker Center, Warren House 112

Phone: 617.495.9634

Office Hours immediately follow class

To schedule an appointment outside regular Office Hours, please contact Stephanie

Gauchel (sgauchel@fas.harvard.edu)

 

Introduction to

Transnational Feminist Thought

 

 

This course introduces some of the most urgent issues, questions, and problems currently under debate among feminists and theorists of gender.   In particular, we focus on women’s experience of, and feminist responses to, a globalized economy.   As we pursue this inquiry, we ask not so much, “What do feminists think?” but more, “How do women and men around the world generate and transmit feminist thought?  How do their locations and identities affect their processes of knowledge-making, as well as the form and content of their ideas?  How does feminist thought travel, and what happens as it does so?  How can we, as individuals and as a class, enter this flow of ideas?   How do our multiple, intersecting identities enable us to read, think, speak, and write about issues of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation?”

 

Throughout the semester, we consider the politics of “theory” itself.  The course provides a forum in which to explore the assumption that something widely recognized as “feminist theory” is inherently more theoretical than, say, a political demonstration, theatrical performance, novel, or photograph.  Furthermore, this course enables students to develop the skills needed to interpret activism, performance, visual art, or creative writing as manifestations of—rather than exclusively reflections of—feminist thought.  Finally, this course encourages students to think collaboratively, to co-create productive conversations, to experiment with new modes of expression, to dream, and to integrate these theoretical explorations with a critical analysis of the politics of our own multiple locations.

 


Texts and Policies

 

Required Texts (please note that you are not required to purchase every book; all course texts are on reserve at the library):

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Bridges Volume 10 Number 1 (2004): Special Issue: Women in the Israeli Peace Movement

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume I

Chrys Ingraham, White Weddings: Romancing Heterosexuality in Popular Culture

Judith Katz, The Escape Artist

Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy: A Novel

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity

Linda Nicholson, ed. The Second Wave: A Reader in Feminist Theory

Ella Shohat, Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age

Sourcebook (SB)

 

Recommended texts:

Lydia Alix Fillingham, Foucault for Beginners

Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman, eds. Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism

Robert J.C. Young, Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction

 

Films:

Las Madres de la Plaza de Maya (Argentina, 1985 [subtitled])

The Watermelon Woman (United States, 1997)

 

Course Requirements and Grading:

 

Attendance and informed, productive participation                                   25% of total grade

5-page paper (due October 19)                                                               10%

Prospectus for Final Paper (due November 2)                                         5%

International perspective on U.S. Presidential Election

(due November 9)                                                                     5%

Progress Report #1 (due November 16)                                                  10%

Progress Report #2 (due November 30)                                                  10%

In-Class Workshop (December 7 or 14)                                                 5%

Draft of Final Paper (due December 21)                                                 5%

12-15 page paper (due Tuesday, January 18, 2005)                                  25%

 

All assignments (except for the final paper) are due in class.

Late papers will be penalized one third of a letter grade for each day overdue.

The Prospectus, International Perspective on the U.S. Presidential Election, Workshop, and Draft are all graded “full credit/no credit.”

Failure to complete any assignment can lower your grade far in excess of the stated percentage.

The assignment for the first paper will be distributed on October 5.  All other assignments will be distributed on October 19. 

 

 

Course Policies:

 

This course requires students to take collective responsibility for the success of every classroom discussion.  This responsibility involves two components.  First, you are required to arrive in class having read and thought about all the reading.  In other words, merely gulping down the reading is inadequate.  You should come to class having chewed and digested the material thoroughly.  You are expected to prepare your own thoughts, opinions, and questions before every class.  Second, you must express your ideas in a respectful manner that advances our conversation.  Practices that disrespect your colleagues (for example, interrupting, hogging the floor, launching personal attacks, or answering cell phones) will shut down rather than further conversation; such practices, therefore, are unacceptable.

Your productive, informed participation constitutes 25% of your grade for this course.  That means that a student who receives an A on every assignment, but who never speaks in class, will receive a C+ for the course.  You need not be equally vocal every week, but consistent silence will adversely affect your grade.  Lateness and unexcused absence will also lower your grade.

 

Course Schedule

 

September 21.  Reading Feminist Action as Feminist Theory

 

Read in class:

 

Excerpt from Noel Sturgeon, “Theorizing Movements: Direct Action and Direct Theory” (chap. in Marcy Darnovsky, Barbara Epstein, and Richard Flacks, Cultural Politics and Social Movements [Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1995]), pp. 35-38

 

View in class: excerpts from Las Madres de la Plaza de Maya (Argentina, 1985 [subtitled])

 

September 28. Nationalism and Transnationalism

 

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised Edition. (London and New York: Verso, 1991), “Introduction” and “Cultural Roots,” pp. 1-36 (SB)

 

Arjun Appadurai, “Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy.” In The Cultural Studies Reader, ed. Simon During (London and New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 220-230 (SB)

 

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Introduction and Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 (pp. 1-136)

 

RECOMMENDED: Robert J.C. Young, Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction

 

October 5.  Borders and Intersections

 

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

 

Kimberlé Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” In After Identity: A Reader in Law and Culture, ed. Dan Danielsen and Karen Engle (New York : Routledge, 1995 ), pp. 332-354 (SB)

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at works by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (p. xiv and 415) and Anne Nash (p. 424)

 

RECOMMENDED: M.A. Jaimes, “Guerrero, Savage Hegemony: From ‘Endangered Species’ to Feminist Indiginism,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 413-440

 

ASSIGNMENT FOR THE FIRST PAPER DISTRIBUTED

 

October 12. Standpoint Theory and the Politics of Location

 

Nancy C. M. Hartsock, “The Feminist Standpoint: Developing the Ground for a Specifically Feminist Historical Materialism, in The Second Wave, pp. 216-240

 

Monique Wittig, “One is Not Born a Woman,” in The Second Wave, pp. 265-271

 

Donna Haraway, “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” in Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: The Reinvention of Nature (New York: Routledge, 1991), pp. 183-199 (SB)

 

Caren Kaplan, “‘Beyond the Pale’: Rearticulating U.S. Jewish Whiteness,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 451-484

 

Adrian Piper, “Passing for White, Passing for Black,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 75-112

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at the works by Adrian Piper (pps. 80 and 100), Lorraine O’Grady (p. 96), Abbe Don (p. 459), and Deborah Kass (p. 469)

 

October 19.  Identity and Community

 

PAPER #1 DUE!!

 

The Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement,” in Nicholson, The Second Wave, pp. 63-70

 

Patricia Hill Collins, “Defining Black Feminist Thought,” in Nicholson, The Second Wave, pp. 241-259

 

Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, eds. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (selections in SB)

 

Norma Alarcón, “The Theoretical Subject(s) of This Bridge Called My Back and Anglo-American Feminism,” in Nicholson, The Second Wave, pp. 288-299

 

Queer Nation Manifestos <http://www.jessanderson.org/doc/qnation.html>

 

RECOMMENDED: Daisy Hernández and Bushra Rehman, eds. Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism

 

TO BE DISTRIBUTED: ASSIGNMENT FOR FINAL PAPER, INCLUDING DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS FOR PROSPECTUS, PROGRESS REPORTS, IN-CLASS WORKSHOP, AND DRAFT

 

October 26. The Situated Body/The Sexual Body

 

bell hooks, “naked without shame: a counter-hegemonic body politic,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 65-74

 

Kathleen Zane, “Reflections on a Yellow Eye: Asian I (\Eye/)Cons and Cosmetic Surgery,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 161-192

 

Coco Fusco, “We Wear the Mask,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 113-118

 

Lisa Jones, “The Hair Trade,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 119-136

 

Isabelle R. Gunning, “Cutting through the Obfuscation: Female Genital Surgeries in Neoimperial Culture,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 203-224

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at the works by Yolanda Andrade (p. x), Renée Green (p. 26), Yong Soon Min (p. 45), Nicole Eisenman (p. 63), Walter Lima Jr. (p. 68), Kara Walker (p. 74), Liliana Porter (p. 115), Maud Sulter (p. 117), Lynne Yamamoto (p. 124), Lorna Simpson (p. 130), Indu Krishnan (p. 155), Celia Rumsey (p. 162), Sister’s Pictorial magazine (p. 165), Pam Tom (p. 170), Tiana (p. 177), Patricia Hoffbauer (pp. 188 and 190), Juan Sanchez (p. 194), Dolores Zorreguieta (p. 204), Donna Han (p. 212), Marta Maria Perez Bravo (p. 248), Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons (p. 252), Ellen Spiro (p. 256), Guerrilla Girls (p. 262)

 

 

November 2. Sexuality and Power

 

PROSPECTUS DUE!!

 

Election Day!  Vote!!

 

Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume I

 

Tricia Rose, “Two Inches a Yard”: Silencing Black Women’s Sexual Expression,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 315-324

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at works by Renée Green (p. 26), Jocelyn Taylor (p. 316) and Renée Cox (p. 322)

 

RECOMMENDED: Lydia Alix Fillingham, Foucault for Beginners

 

November 9. Identity and Performance

 

Bring to class one non-American’s thoughts regarding the results of last week’s U.S. Presidential election.  Your sources may include non-American newspapers, websites, personal contacts, etc.  Please provide copies for all your classmates. 

 

Judith Butler, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory.” In Performing Feminisms: Feminist Critical Theory and Theatre, ed. Sue-Ellen Case (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), pp. 270-282 (SB)

 

Judith Halberstam, “Mackdaddy, Superfly, Rapper: Gender, Race, and Masculinity in the Drag King Scene.” Social Text 52/53, nos 3 and 4 (Fall/Winter 1997), 105-131 (SB)

 

May Joseph, “Transatlantic Inscriptions: Desire, Diaspora, and Cultural Citizenship,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 357-368

 

Carmelita Tropicana, “Looking Good: A Performer’s Perspective,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 137-142

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at the works by Carmelita Tropicana and Ela Troyano (p. 138), Hanh Thi Pham (p. 140), Teri Slotkin (p. 268), Mensual magazine (p. 286) Annie Sprinkle and Maria Beatty (p. 296), Shu Lea Cheang (p. 309), Catherine Opie (313), Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gómez-Peña (p. 338) Jamelie Hassan (p. 360), and Ernesto Pujol (p. 362)

 

November 16. The Transnational Foundations of Gender and Sexuality

 

PROGRESS REPORT #1 DUE!

 

Chrys Ingraham, White Weddings: Romancing Heterosexuality in Popular Culture, Chapters 1, 2, and 3, pp. 1-121

 

Carla Freeman, High Tech and High Heels in the Global Economy: Women, Work, and Pink-Collar Identities in the Caribbean (Durham, NC; London: Duke University Press, 2000). “Introduction,” Chapter 4: “Myths of Docile Girls and Matriarchs: Local Profiles of Global Workers,” and Chapter 6: “Fashioning Femininity and ‘Professional’ Identities: Producing and Consuming Across Forman and Informal Sectors,” pp. 1-20, 102-139, 213-252  (SB)

 

November 23. Clothing and/as Transnational Feminist Thought

 

Guest Speaker: Annemarie Strassel

 

Reading TBA

 

SIGN UP FOR IN-CLASS WORKSHOP (December 7 or December 14)

 

November 30. Work as/and Transnational Feminist Thought

 

PROGRESS REPORT #2 DUE!

 

Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy: A Novel

 

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chapter 6, pp. 139-168

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at works by Joyce Scott (p. 18), and Laura Aguilar (p. 392)

 

RECOMMENDED: Teresa Carrillo, “Cross-Border Talk: Transnational Perspectives on Labor, Race, and Sexuality,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 391-412

 

December 7. Peace, War, and Activism

 

IN-CLASS WORKSHOP!!

 

Bridges Volume 10 Number 1 (2004): Special Issue: Women in the Israeli Peace Movement

 

Mervat F. Hatem, “The Invisible American Half: Arab American Hybridity and Feminist Discourses in the 1990s,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 369-390

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at works by Shirin Neshat (p. 148), Jamelie Hassan (p. 374), Mona Hatoum (p. 380)

 

December 14.  Toward a Usable Past

 

IN-CLASS WORKSHOP!!

 

Judith Katz, The Escape Artist

 

Film: The Watermelon Woman  (Please note: this film is on reserve in the Language Resource Room on the 6th floor of Lamont Library.  Please screen this film BEFORE class.)

 

RECOMMENDED: Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, “The Female World of Love and Ritual: Relations between Women in Nineteenth-Century America,” in Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1985), pp. 53-76 and Joan W. Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” in Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), pp. 28-50 (both books on library reserve)

 

December 21. Toward Feminist Futures

 

DRAFT OF FINAL PAPER DUE!!

 

Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Chapter 9, pp. 221-251

 

Inderpal Grewal, “On the New Global Feminism and the Family of Nations: Dilemmas of Transnational Feminist Practice,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 501-532

 

Mallika Dutt, “Reclaiming a Human Rights Culture: Feminism of Difference and Alliance,” in Shohat, Talking Visions, pp. 225-246

 

Visual art in Shohat, Talking Visions: look at works by Anne S. Walker (pp. 228 and 506), Diane Tani (p. 236), Flo Oy Wong (p. 488), Yoshiko Shimada (p. 496), Soo-Ja Kim (p. 514), Hung Liu (p. 531), and Zarina (p. 575)

 

TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2005: FINAL PAPER DUE!

 

Please hand your paper to Stephanie Gauchel in the Office of the Program of Studies in Women, Gender, and Sexuality (Barker Center, Warren House, first floor).