Women's and Gender Studies

Program Office: 763 Schermerhorn Extension; 212-854-3277; 212-854-7466 (fax)
http://irwgs.columbia.edu/

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Lila Abu Lughod, 757 Schermerhorn Extension; 212 854 3693; la310@columbia.edu

Located within the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality and taught in cooperation with Barnard College’s Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, the program in women's and gender studies provides students with a culturally and historically situated, theoretically diverse understanding of feminist scholarship and its contributions to the disciplines. The program introduces students to feminist discourse on the cultural and historical representation of nature, power, and the social construction of difference. It encourages students to engage in the debates regarding the ethical and political issues of equality and justice that emerge in such discussion, and links the questions of gender and sexuality to those of racial, ethnic, and other kinds of hierarchical difference.

Through sequentially organized courses in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as required discipline-based courses in the humanities and social sciences, the major provides a thoroughly interdisciplinary framework, methodological training, and substantive guidance in specialized areas of research. Small classes and mentored thesis-writing give students an education that is both comprehensive and tailored to individual needs. The major culminates in a thesis-writing class, in which students undertake original research and produce advanced scholarship.

Graduates leave the program well prepared for future scholarly work in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, as well as for careers and future training in law, public policy, social work, community organizing, journalism, and professions in which there is a need for critical and creative interdisciplinary thought.

Major in Women’s and Gender Studies

The requirements for this program were modified on September 22, 2014. Students who declared this program before this date should contact the director of undergraduate studies for the department in order to confirm their correct course of study.

Students should plan their course of study with the undergraduate director as early in their academic careers as possible. The requirements for the major are:

WMST UN1001Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies
or WMST UN3125 Introduction to Sexuality Studies
WMST UN3311Colloquium in Feminist Theory
WMST UN3514Historical Approaches to Feminist Questions
WMST UN3521Senior Seminar I
WMST UN3915Gender and Power in Transnational Perspective
Six approved Elective Courses on women, gender, and/or sexuality in consultation with the director of undergraduate studies.*

Concentration in Women’s and Gender Studies

The requirements for this program were modified on September 22, 2014. Students who declared this program before this date should contact the director of undergraduate studies for the department in order to confirm their correct course of study.

The same requirements as for the major, with the exception of WMST UN3521 Senior Seminar I.


Special Concentration for Those Majoring in Another Department

The requirements for this program were modified on September 22, 2014. Students who declared this program before this date should contact the director of undergraduate studies for the department in order to confirm their correct course of study.

WMST UN1001 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies; plus four additional approved elective courses on gender.

Fall 2018

WMST UN3125 Introduction to Sexuality Studies. 3 points.

This course is designed to introduce major theories sexuality, desire and identity. We will be considering the relations between the history of sexuality and the politics of gender. We will read some primary texts in gender theory, and in the study of sexuality, desire, and embodiment. This course also provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary examination of human sexual and erotic desires, orientations, and identities. We will study how desires are constructed, how they vary and remain the same in different places and times, and how they interact with other social and cultural phenomena such as government, family, popular culture, scientific inquiry, and, especially, race and class.   

Fall 2018: WMST UN3125
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3125 001/21138 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
310 Fayerweather
Jack Halberstam 3 51/60

WMST UN3521 Senior Seminar I. 4 points.

The Senior Seminar in Women's Studies offers you the opportunity to develop a capstone research paper by the end of the first semester of your senior year. Senior seminar essays take the form of a 25-page paper based on original research and characterized by an interdisciplinary approach to the study of women, sexuality, and/or gender. You must work with an individual advisor who has expertise in the area of your thesis and who can advise you on the specifics of method and content. Your grade for the semester with be determined by IRWGS's Director of Undergraduate Studies in consultation with your advisor. Students receiving a grade of "B+" of higher in Senior Seminar I will be invited to complete Senior Seminar II. Senior Seminar II students will complete a senior thesis of 40-60 pages in a course facilitated by the IRWGS Director.

Fall 2018: WMST UN3521
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3521 001/13284 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
754 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Lila Abu-Lughod 4 1/25

WMST GU4000 Genealogies of Feminism. 4 points.

Please contact the Department for course description for this seminar

Fall 2018: WMST GU4000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4000 001/68314 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
754 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Marianne Hirsch 4 18/25

WMST UN3450 Topics in Sexuality and Gender Law. 3 points.

As society shifts in its views about sexuality and gender, so too does the law.  Indeed, legal developments in this area have been among the most dynamic of the past couple of decades.  Yet law does not map easily or perfectly onto lived experience, and legal arguments do not necessarily track the arguments made in public debate.


In this seminar, we will explore the evolving jurisprudence of sexuality and gender law in a variety of areas.  Our goal throughout the semester will be to understand and think about these issues as lawyers do - with our primary focus on understanding and evaluating the arguments that can be made on both (or all) sides of any particular case, with some attention to the factors outside of the courtroom that might shape how courts approach their work.  Related to this, we will also seek to understand how and why some of the jurisprudence has changed over time.

Fall 2018: WMST UN3450
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3450 001/82596 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
754 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Suzanne Goldberg 3 17/20

WMST UN3335 Gender and Wars: Perspectives from the Global South. 3 points.

Wars are salient features of globalization. But, how can we understand the relationship between gender and war? How do notions of masculinities and femininities operate in the organizing, waging, protesting, and commemorating war? Starting from the premise that gender is crucial to explaining what happens in national revolutionary wars, postcolonial conflicts and civil wars, peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions, and the social and personal aspects when wars come to an end; this course considers a transnational feminist analysis to reflect on the relationship between gender and militarism. It pulls together literature from different disciplinary fields to explore the gendered dimensions of wars of national liberation, armed conflicts, wartime gender based/sexual violence, politics of victimhood, anti-war activism, resistance and agency. We will pay particular attention to case studies from the global South.


The gendered analyses of war will be explored from a multi-disciplinary framework including history, anthropology, sociology, political science, international relations, philosophy, literature and film. We will utilize film, journalistic accounts, ethnographic narratives and other resources to explore the complex ways in which people, especially men and women experience and respond to wars differently. 

Spring 2019

WMST UN3522 Senior Seminar II. 4 points.

Individual research in Women's Studies conducted in consultation with the instructor. The result of each research project is submitted in the form of the senior essay and presented to the seminar.

Spring 2019: WMST UN3522
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3522 001/77743 M 6:10pm - 8:00pm
754 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Lila Abu-Lughod 4 3/20

WMST UN3915 Gender and Power in Transnational Perspective. 4 points.

Enrollment limited to 15.

Prerequisites: Instructor approval required

Considers formations of gender, sexuality, and power as they circulate transnationally, as well as transnational feminist movements that have emerged to address contemporary gendered inequalities. Topics include political economy, global care chains, sexuality, sex work and trafficking, feminist politics, and human rights.

,

If it is a small world after all, how do forces of globalization shape and redefine both men’s and women’s positions as as workers and political subjects? And, if power swirls everywhere, how are transnational power dynamics reinscribed in gendered bodies? How is the body represented in discussions of the political economy of globalization? These questions will frame this course by highlighting how gender and power coalesce to impact the lives of individuals in various spaces including workplaces, the home, religious institutions, refugee camps, the government, and civil society, and human rights organizations. We will use specific sociological and anthropological case studies, to look at how various regimes of power operate to constrain individuals as well as give them new spaces for agency.This course will enable us to think transnationally, historically, and dynamically, using gender as a lens through which to critique relations of power and the ways that power informs our everyday lives and identities. 

Fall 2018: WMST UN3915
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3915 001/01330 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
119 Milstein Center
Elizabeth Bernstein 4 16/20

WMST GU4300 Advanced Topics in Women's and Gender Studies. 4 points.

This seminar considers the family at a historical and socio-technical juncture at which its form is both remarkably flexible and deeply intractable. The course begins with an overview of sociological and feminist scholarship on the family. We then examine how developments stemming from genetic science have spurred the emergence of new reproductive technologies over the last few decades and, in turn, novel forms of procreation and affiliation. To what extent do assisted reproduction practices, such as in vitro fertilization, prenatal diagnosis, and surrogacy, offer novel ways for constituting and conceptualizing the family? Which constituencies benefit from these possibilities, which enable them, and which are constrained by them? To what extent do clinical and reproductive genetics privilege biological relatedness and, therefore, traditional gender ideologies? How is the family now simultaneously case as a source of (health) risk, a necessary resource for optimal (healthy) living, and a volitional social form? We will take up these questions against the backdrop of forms of kin-keeping sociality (family reunions, genealogy, etc.), on the one hand, and, on the other hand, "biosociality" and biological affinity. Readings include works by Cartsen, Engels, Franklin & McKinnon, Furstenberg, Nelkin, Povinelli, Katz Rothman, Strathern and Weston. 

Spring 2019: WMST GU4300
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4300 001/12581 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
754 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Jack Halberstam 4 6/25

WMST GU4506 Gender Justice. 3 points.

This course will provide an introduction to the concrete legal contexts in which issues of gender and justice have been articulated, disputed and hesitatingly, if not provisionally, resolved. Readings will cover issues such as Workplace Equality, Sexual Harassment, Sex Role Stereotyping, Work/Family Conflict, Marriage and Alternatives to Marriage, Compulsory Masculinity, Parenting, Domestic Violence, Reproduction and Pregnancy, Rape, Sex Work & Trafficking. Through these readings we will explore the multiple ways in which the law has contended with sexual difference, gender-based stereotypes, and the meaning of equality in domestic, transnational and international contexts. So too, we will discuss how feminist theorists have thought about sex, gender and sexuality in understanding and critiquing our legal system and its norms.

Spring 2019: WMST GU4506
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4506 001/23048 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Katherine Franke 3 40/40

WMST GR6001 Theoretical Paradigms. 4 points.

This course will explore transnational feminist debates about gender-based violence and examine the critical concepts being developed within the scholarly literature to question this “common sense.” What are the elisions and exclusions in many common-sense understandings of these terms? Can we deepen the ways in which we engage with the manifestations and causes of such violence?  We will proceed through close readings of the texts of the key feminist thinkers, researchers, and activists who are contributing to the critical analysis of the dynamics and history of this international agenda. We pay special attention to place-based research on the applicability and deployment of particular approaches to gender-based violence as found in human rights work, humanitarianism, philanthrocapitalism, and the proliferating organizations, governmental and nongovernmental, around the world that promote girls’ and women’s rights and freedom from violence. Case studies will focus mostly on the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa.

Spring 2019: WMST GR6001
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 6001 001/28143 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
754 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Lila Abu-Lughod 4 20/20

WMST GR8001 Feminist Pedagogy. 1 point.

This is a course is oriented to graduate students who are thinking about issues in teaching in the near and distant future and want to explore forms of pedagogy. The course will ask what it means to teach “as a feminist” and will explore how to create a classroom receptive to feminist and queer methodologies and theories regardless of course theme/content. Topics include: participatory pedagogy, the role of political engagement, the gender dynamics of the classroom, modes of critical thought and disagreement. Discussions will be oriented around student interest. The course will meet 4-5 times per SEMESTER (dates TBD) and the final assignment is to develop and workshop a syllabus for a new gender/sexuality course in your field.  Because this course is required for graduate students choosing to fulfill Option 2 for the Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies at IRWGS, priority will be given to graduate students completing the certificate.

Spring 2019: WMST GR8001
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 8001 001/23212 T 6:10pm - 8:00pm
754 Ext Schermerhorn Hall
Marianne Hirsch 1 20/20