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Spring 2015 Tu-Th 10-11:20 am

SWAG 200 MCLS 230


Feminist Theory

Professor Sahar Sadjadi Professor Krupa Shandilya


Email: ssadjadi@amherst.edu Email: kshandilya@amherst.edu
Office Hours: Tu-TH 11:30-12:30; Morgan Hall 108 Office Hours: Wed. 3pm-5pm; JC 301

Course Description:

In this course we will investigate contemporary feminist thought from a variety of


disciplinary perspectives and theoretical orientations. We will focus on key issues in
feminist theory such as the sex/gender debate, sexual desire and the body, the political
economy of gender, and the construction of masculinity among others. This course aims
also to think through the ways in which these issues intersect with race, class, colonialism
and the nation. We will discuss why we study “theory” and explore the relation between
feminist theory and political practice.

Course Materials:

Books for purchase from Amherst Books are listed below. Few copies of these books will
be on reserve at Frost library. All Other Required Readings for this course can be found
on E-Reserve [E].

Feminist Theory: A Reader, Fourth Edition


Edited by Wendy Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski
McGraw-Hill, New York 2013

Course Requirements

Attendance
You are required to attend all classes on time. If necessary, you can miss one class during
the semester without any explanation required. Your final grade for the course will be 
reduced by ⅓ of a letter grade (from A­ to B+, for example) for each further 
absence. Two late attendances equal one absence.

Reading and Class Discussion


You are required to read all the assigned material before the class. This class will hinge
on your engagement with the readings and the ideas they put forward. Your participation
in class discussion is expected and your contribution is indispensible for a dynamic
collective learning experience.

Statement of Argument Paragraph


Before 9 pm the day before the class, students will post one paragraph online,
summarizing the main argument for one of the readings for that day. In addition, students

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Spring 2015 Tu-Th 10-11:20 am
SWAG 200 MCLS 230
are welcome to pose questions that they might have about the reading. Each student
should post overall ten of these single-paragraph statements during the semester.

Response Paper
You will write two 2-page response papers during the semester, reflecting upon the
course readings. Response papers should be submitted online on Moodle and also in hard
copy in Prof. Sadjadi’s mailbox.

Speaker Report
You will attend two five college events related to women, gender and feminism and select
one for writing a 4-page report. Speaker report is due on April 17th.

Final Essay Exam


You will have a take-home final essay exam.

All written assignments should be double-spaced and typed in standard fonts (12 points)
with 1’ margins. Please paginate and staple papers. Proofread your essay before
submitting it. You are strongly encouraged to benefit from the resources of The Writing
Center. https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/support/writingcenter

Grading Distribution
Reading and Participation in Class Discussion: 15%
Statement of Argument Paragraphs: 20%
Response Papers: 20%
Speaker Report: 20%
Final Exam: 25%

Guidelines for Speaker Report

Please see the following site for a list of possible speakers (but don’t restrict yourself to
this site alone): https://www.fivecolleges.edu/fcwsrc/events

For your speaker report you will need to do the following:


1. Summarize the thrust of the speaker’s argument. This includes the following:
a. What is her/his central point?
b. What are some of the methodological tools that he/she deploys to make her
point?
c. How does he/she deploy feminist thought in her/his work?
2. Think about how the speaker’s talk resonates/challenges/expands some of the issues
we have discussed in class. You could think of it from the following perspectives (feel
free to add others that you might think are relevant):
a. Is his/her methodology similar to that deployed by other thinkers?
b. The issues he/she is concerned with?
3. What did you learn from the talk? Do you feel that it added to your knowledge of
feminist thought? Why/why not?

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SWAG 200 MCLS 230
Guidelines for Response Papers

Please briefly articulate and analyze the main themes and arguments of the readings.
Comment on the major issues and questions raised by the articles. Try to connect the
topics and move from one to the other, and in some cases from one article to the other, in
an essay form. Your comments may include question or observations about approaches,
frameworks, and perspectives; methods; data analyzed in the articles; specific
viewpoints; and explicit or implicit points of disagreement (or agreement) among the
authors.

We are interested in evaluating a) your comprehension of the content of the texts and, b)
your analysis and reflections on the themes of the readings. It is not possible to address
all the points the authors raise within your 2-page limit. Select what you consider the
most pertinent.

***
Week 1

Thurs. Jan 22nd: Introduction

FEMINIST THEORIES

Week 2

Tues. Jan 27th: Feminisms

Rosalind Delmar, “What is Feminism?” 1986.

Audre Lorde, “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” 1979.

Uma Narayan, “Contesting Cultures: “Westernization,” Respect for Cultures, and Third-
World Feminists. In Dislocating Cultures: Identities, Traditions, and Third World
Feminisms” 1997.

Thurs. Jan 29th: Why Theory?

bell hooks, “Theory as Liberatory Practice” Yale Journal of Law & Feminism 4:1, 1991-
1992.

Maria C. Lugones and Elizabeth V. Spelman, “Have We Got a Theory for You!” Women's
Studies International Forum, 1983.

Charlotte Bunch. “Not by Degrees: Feminist Theory and Education” 1979.

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THE CATEGORY OF ANALYSES: THE SEX/GENDER DEBATE

Week 3

Tues. Feb. 3rd: Being a Woman/Becoming a Woman

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex: “Introduction” and excerpts of “Childhood” 1949.
[R1:161] & Chapter 1, Vintage: 1989 [1949]. [E]

Judith Butler, “Sex and Gender in Simone de Beauvoir's Second Sex”


Yale French Studies No. 72, Simone de Beauvoir: Witness to a Century (1986), pp. 35-49.
[E]

Thurs. Feb. 5th: The Category of Woman

Sandra Harding, “The Instability of the Analytical Categories of Feminist Theory” Signs
Vol. 11, No. 4 (Summer, 1986), pp. 645-664. [E]

Sojourner Truth. Ain’t I a Woman? 1851. [R1: 91]

Audre Lorde. “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” 1984.
[R1:289]

Week 4

Tues. Feb 10th: Gender as Performance

Esther Newton. Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America. University of Chicago


Press, 1972. Chapter 1, pp. 1-21. [E]

Judith Butler, “ Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology


and Feminist Theory” Theatre Journal 40(4): 1998, pp. 519-531. [E]

Optional:
Pascoe, Cheri J. Dude You are a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School.
University of California Press, 2007. Introduction. [E]

Thurs. Feb 12th: Between Man and Woman

J. Halberstam, “An Introduction to Female Masculinity” In Female Masculinity 1998.


[R1: 493]

Ann Fausto Sterling, “Should There Be Only Two Sexes?” In Sexing the Body 2000.
[R1: 507]
Julia Serano, “Trans woman Manifesto.” 2007. [R1:547]

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Optional:
Leslie Feinberg, “Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come” 1992.
[R2:148]

Week 5

Tues. Feb. 17th: Feminism, Science and Epistemology

Sandra Harding, “The Woman Question in Science to the Science Question in


Feminism”, 1986. [R1: 354]

Donna Haraway, “Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the
privilege of partial perspective” Feminist Studies 14(3): 575–599, 1998. [E]

Emily Martin, “The Egg and the Sperm: How Science and Has Constructed a Romance
Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles” Signs 16(3): 485-501, 1991. [E]

[Our Bodies, Our Selves Project]

THE BODY, SEXUALITY AND DESIRE

Thurs. Feb. 19th: Feminism and Sexuality

Ann Koedt, “The Myth of Vaginal Orgasm” 1970 [R1:196]

Shulamith Firestone, “The Culture of Romance” 1970 [R2:123]

Elizabeth Lloyd, “Pre-theoretical Assumptions in Evolutionary Explanations of Female


Sexuality” Philosophical Studies 69 (2-3), 1993, pp. 139-153. [E]

[Our Bodies, Our Selves Project]

Week 6

Tues. Feb. 24th: The Body

Susan Bordo, “The Body and the Reproduction of Femininity” from Unbearable Weight:
Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body 1994. [R1:460]

Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory”


2001. [R1:515]

Kathy Davis, “Reclaiming Women’s Bodies: Colonialist Trope or Critical


Epistemology?” 2007 [E]

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[Our Bodies, Our Selves Project]

Thurs. Feb. 26th: Writing Desire: L’ecriture Feminine

Hélène Cixous, “The Laugh of the Medusa” Signs, Vol. 1, No. 4 (Summer, 1976), pp.
875-893. [R1: 224]

Luce Irigaray, “This Sex Which Is Not One” 1977. [R1: 273]

[Our Bodies, Our Selves Project]

Friday Feb. 27th: PAPER 1 DUE

Week 7

Tues. March 3rd: Feminist Sex Wars

Carole Vance, “Pleasure and Danger: Toward a Politics of Sexuality” 1984. [R1:335]

Katherine MacKinnon, “Sexuality” from Toward a Feminist Theory of the State 1989.
[R1: 415]

Emma Goldman, “The Traffic in Women,” from Anarchism and Other Essays, 1910
[R1:126]

[Our Bodies, Our Selves Project]

Thurs. March 5th: Women Desiring Women:

Audre Lorde, “A woman Speaks” ; “A Litany for Survival” ; “Meet”


“Bicentennial Poem”; “Walking our Boundaries”; “Sister Outsider” from The Black
Unicorn [E]

Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality & Lesbian Existence”, 1980. [R1: 298]

[Our Bodies, Our Selves Project]

March 8th: International Women’s Day

Week 8

Tues. March 10th: Feminism and Queer Theory

Eve Sedgwick, “Epistemology of the Closet” Epistemology of the Closet, 67-90. 1990 [E]

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Suzanna Danuta Walters, “From Here to Queer: Radical Feminism, Postmodernism and
the Lesbian Menace” 1996 [R2:553]

[Our Bodies, Our Selves Project]

Thurs. March 12th: Fifty Shades of Grey (film)

SPRING BREAK: March 14th-22nd

GENDER AND LABOUR

Week 9

Tues. March 24th: Feminism and Marxism

Friedrich Engels, “Origins of the Family, Private Property and the State,” The Essential
Feminist Reader (ed.) Estelle Freedman, Modern Library: 2007, 104-11. [E]

Alexander Kollontai, “Working Woman and Mother,” 1914 [R1:132]

Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism” 1981 [R2: 187]

Nancy Hartsock. The Feminist Standpoint: Toward a Specific Feminist Historical


Materialism. 1983. [E]

Thurs. March 26th: Theorizing Women’s Labor

Gayatri Spivak, “Introduction”, Breast Stories Seagull Books: 1997 [E]

Mahasveta Devi, “The Breast Giver” and “Behind the Bodice” Breast Stories, Seagull
Books: 1997 [E]

Friday March 27th: PAPER 2 DUE

Week 10

Tues. March 31st: Political Economy of Gender

Heidi I. Hartmann, “The Family as the Locus of Gender, Class, and Political Struggle:
The Example of Housework” Signs, Vol. 6, No. 3 (Spring, 1981), pp. 366-394 [E]

Gayle Rubin, “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the 'Political Economy' of Sex” in Rayna
Reiter, ed., Toward an Anthropology of Women, 157-210. [E]

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Thurs. April 2nd: The Neoliberal Economy and Gendered Labor

David Harvey. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford University Press, 2005.


Introduction 1-5. [E]

Rhacel Salazar Parrenas, “Servants of Globaization: Women, Migration, and Domestic


Work” 2001 [R2:202]

RACE AND NATION: CRITICAL RACE THEORY, POSTCOLONIAL THEORY AND


FEMINISM

Week 11

Tues. April 7th: Race as a Critical Category for Feminist Thought

The Combahee River Collective, “A Black Feminist Statement” Feminist Theory: A


Reader 1977 [R1: 268]

Patricia Hill Collins, “The Politics of Black Feminist Thought” Feminist Theory: A
Reader 1990 [R1: 445]

Angela Davis, “Outcast Mothers and Surrogates: Racism and Reproductive Politics in the
Nineties” 1991 [R1: 452]

Thurs. April 9th: Race and Feminism

Andrea Smith, “Native American Feminism, Sovereignty, and Social Change” 2005. [R1:
543]

Elizabeth Martinez, “La Chicana” [E]

Week 12

Tues. April 14th: Intersectionality

Kimberle Crenshaw, “Intersectionality and Identity Politics: Learning from Violence


against Women of Color” 1997 [R1:484]

Grillo, Trina and Stephanie Wildman. "Sexism, Racism, and the Analogy Problem in
Feminist Thought," in Jeanne Adleman and Gloria M. Enguidanos, (eds.) Racism in the
lives of women [E]

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Thurs. April 16th: Race, Nationalism, Colonialism and Gender

Anne McClintock, “Massa and Maids: Power and Desire in the Imperial Metropolis”
Imperial Leather: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest, pp. 75-131 [E]

Anne McClintock, “‘No Longer in a future Heaven’: Gender Race and Nationalism”
Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation, and Postcolonial Perspectives (ed.) Anne
Mcclintock, Aamir Mufti and Ella Shohat, Univ. of Minnesota Press: 1997, pp. 89-112
[E]

Dear White People (film)

Friday April 17th: SPEAKER REPORT DUE

Week 13

Tues. April 21st: Women, Nation and Militarism

Mrinalini Sinha. “Gender and Nation.” 2004 [E]

bell hooks, “Feminism and Militarism: A Comment” Women’s Studies Quarterly 23(3/4):
58-64, 1995.

Thursday April 23rd Transnational Feminism

Chandra Mohanty, “Under Western Eyes” Revisited: Feminist Solidarity through


Anticapitalist Struggles” 2003. [R2: 536]

Leila Ahmed, “The Veil Debate Again” 2005 [R2: 306]

bell hooks. Sisterhood is Still Powerful.

Week 14

Tues. April 28th: Field Trip

Thurs April 30th: STUDENT CONFERENCES

Week 15

Tuesday May 5th: FINAL PAPER DUE