Courses

Introduction to Gender Studies, WGS 2100

This course offers an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of gender studies. Through readings, class presentations, discussions, blog posts, and analytical papers, you will develop your own understanding of key methodologies and terms employed by gender scholars and activists. You will apply what you have learned to contemporary issues that particularly interest you. Throughout the course, you will push yourself to respectfully challenge your own and others’ preconceived notions about gender/sex/sexuality. While transnational issues will be explored, and can be the focus of your written work, the bulk of the readings and films assigned for the course focus on the United States.

You will leave this course with a portfolio consisting of an annotated bibliography, blog posts, and analytical papers, all of which will equip you to further develop your understanding of gender in your ongoing work at UVA and beyond.

Feminist Theory, WGS 3810

In this class, we will read and discuss influential writers who have shaped the development of feminist thought since the 1980s.  You will each develop your own answer to three key questions: What is feminist theory?  Who can produce feminist theory?  Why do we need feminist theory?

Gender and Sexuality in America, 1865-Present, HIUS/WGS 3612
Gender and Sexaulity in America, 1600-1865, HIUS/WGS 3611

These two courses, which can be taken individually or as a year-long sequence, explore the significance of gender and sexuality in the territory of the present-day U.S. from 1600 to the present. We will ask, on the one hand, how people’s ideas about manhood, womanhood, and sexuality structured society and, on the other, how social relations defined what it meant to be a man or a woman. Readings and discussion will focus on three particular areas of inquiry: the rights and obligations of citizenship; the value and division of labor; and the configuration of emotional life (including familial relationships, erotic desires, and individual aspirations). Resisting any transhistorical definitions, we will investigate how Native, European, and African understandings of gender and sexuality changed over time on the North American continent. We will pay particular attention to shifting class distinctions and regional differences.

The goal of these courses is to become adept at generating your own historical analysis through the study of primary documents. The majority of the readings consist of primary sources—letters, diaries, legal documents, and fiction written by or about women in the past. In addition, you will read a few secondary sources in order to assess how professional historians analyze and employ evidence. Through short weekly writing assignments and class discussion, you will use these readings to develop your own analytical skills. Lectures will introduce topics not covered in the readings. Two five-page papers and a take-home final exam will require you to synthesize the readings, lectures, and discussion in order to generate your own arguments about the significance of gender in the American past.


Coming of Age in America: A History of Youth, HIUS 3559

This course will explore the historical experience of young people and the meaning of youth from the colonial period to the present. What did it mean to come of age? What was it like to be a young person? What distinguished youth from childhood and adulthood? What hopes and fears did older people project onto the young? Rather than treating youth as a biologically determined stage of life, we will analyze how shifting social relations and cultural understandings changed what it meant to grow up. Topics to be explored include work, sexuality, education, political involvement, and popular culture. Throughout, we will compare and contrast the experiences of young people from different regions, religious backgrounds, races, and social classes.
Lectures will focus on key changes and turning points in the history of youth. Readings will consist of secondary sources that employ a variety of methodologies and approaches including social, cultural, legal, and political history.
Assignments include five short essays (two pages each), a longer book review (five pages), and a paper analyzing a primary or secondary source (seven pages). This course fulfills the second writing requirement.

Global History of Black Girlhood, WGS 4559

Hashtags such as #BlackGirlMagic and #BlackGirlsMatter draw on a long history of black girls claiming space to express their creativity, insight, and pleasure despite other people’s efforts to silence, belittle, or mislabel them.  In this collaborative class, we will work together to recover and center that history.  We will study a wide range of sources from histories to novels, poetry, photographs, films, and social media posts.  Through online and in-person discussion, we will evaluate different strategies for recovering black girls’ past experiences and ideas.  We will then see what new evidence and interpretations we can uncover in three distinct archives: oral history interviews with formerly enslaved women in the US South, the records of African American reformers who sought to “uplift” black girls at the turn of the twentieth century, and contemporary online postings created by and for black girls around the globe.

A Global History of Aging, Gender, and Sexuality

What does it mean to be young?  To grow old?  How do gender and sexuality change over the course of life?  This research seminar will take a global approach to understanding the intersections of age, gender, and sexuality from the sixteenth-century to the present in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas. Through a series of case studies, we will explore the significance of chronological age in various contexts. We will pose questions about how growing older impacts health, sexuality, family life, political involvement and spirituality. We will look at how nonbinary and queer people pursue distinct paths to adulthood and old age, and we will ask how theories of queer temporality can offer new insights into the aging process. Throughout, we will pay particular attention to how beliefs about age shape racial and class formations in different parts of the world.

Intersectionality: A US History

Long before Kimberly Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality,” Black women in America fought for liberation based on their standpoint at the nexus of overlapping oppressions. In distinct but sometimes allied ways, Native, immigrant, working-class, disabled, and gender nonconforming people articulated their own understandings of freedom. By employing intersectional methods of analysis, historians can recover these experiences, ideas, and life strategies. In this course, we will explore the theoretical foundations of intersectionality as an approach to the study of history.  We will read and discuss recent publications on the history of the Americas from the sixteenth century to WWI with a focus on the themes of gender, sexuality, kinship, and citizenship. 

Graduate Seminar: Approaches to Gender and Sexuality Studies

This course is a graduate-only advanced introduction (inevitably partial and selective) to key concepts, thinkers, and texts in the fields of feminist and queer theory. The goal is to develop a foundation for your own research and teaching on gender and sexuality. Together, we will explore books and articles that have traveled across disciplines to shape debate in a variety of fields.  We will focus attention on several particularly influential theorists—including Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Patricia Hill Collins, and Hortense Spillers—as well as key methodologies—for example intersectionality, queer of color critique, and indigenous feminism. Throughout the class, you will explore approaches to gender and sexuality in your own area of expertise. As final assignments, you will produce a sample syllabus for your teaching portfolio and a critical review of two influential books or articles in your own research area. 

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