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. Vanessa Agard-Jones, 867 Schermerhorn Extension; vanessa.agard-jones@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 UN3311FEMINIST 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 2020

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 2021: WMST UN3125
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3125 001/12725 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
Jack Halberstam 3 90/90

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.

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 will be determined by the instructor and the advisor. Students receiving a grade of "B+" or higher in Senior Seminar I will be invited to register for Senior Seminar II by the Instructor and the Director of Undergraduate Studies.  Senior Seminar II students will complete a senior thesis of 40-60 pages. Please note, the seminar is restricted to Columbia College and GS senior majors.

Fall 2021: WMST UN3521
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3521 001/12726 M 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Lila Abu-Lughod 4 2/10

WMST GU4325 Embodiment and Bodily Difference. 4 points.

At once material and symbolic, our bodies exist at the intersection of multiple competing discourses, including the juridical, the techno-scientific, and the biopolitical. In this course, we will draw upon a variety of critical interdisciplinary literatures—including feminist and queer studies, science and technology studies, and disability studies—to consider some of the ways in which the body is constituted by such discourses, and itself serves as the substratum for social relations. Among the key questions we will consider are the following: What is natural about the body? How are distinctions made between presumptively normal and pathological bodies, and between psychic and somatic experiences?  How do historical and political-economic forces shape the perception and meaning of bodily difference? And most crucially: how do bodies that are multiply constituted by competing logics of gender, race, nation, and ability offer up resistance to these and other categorizations?

WMST GU4350 Performing feminist activisms in Contemporary Latin America. 4 points.

This course explores different ways in which feminist artists and activists use performance to spark social change in Latin America. Using feminism and performance studies as critical lenses, this course addresses how performative actions can challenge patriarchal systems in neoliberal times. We begin the course by reviewing key texts to discuss the key terms “feminisms”, “performance” and “activisms” Then, the course turns to an examination of contemporary feminist activisms in Latin America, including the #niunamenos movement in Argentina, the 2018 feminist tsunami in Chile and the work of Mujeres Creando in Bolivia. In each session, we will discuss the performative strategies activists use to denounce, protest and resist dominant discourses of power, neoliberalism and gender violence, searching to trace connectivities and fractures among different contemporary feminist activist movements across Latin America.

Spring 2021

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 2021: WMST UN3522
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3522 001/14285 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
Vanessa Agard-Jones 4 1/20

WMST UN3200 Queer Theory. 4 points.

This class will ask you to read a set of novels, theoretical essays and social science studies in order to think deeply about sexuality, identity, desire, race, objects, relationality, being, knowing and becoming. We will consider sexuality, desire and gender not as a discrete set of bodily articulations, nor as natural expressions of coherent identities so much as part off the formulation of self that Avery Gordon names “complex personhood.” Beginning with a recent film from the UK that rereads queerness back through a history or labor and ending with a recent film made entirely on the iPhone and that stages queerness as part of an alternative articulation of Hollywood, we will explore new and old theories of queer desire.

Through the readings, discussions, and assignments, you will develop critical analytical skills to consider social change movements with particular attention to how sex, gender, race, class, sexuality, sexual orientation, and other systems of power shape people’s everyday lives. We will trace the intersection of histories of labor, medicine, representation and activism and we will ask difficult questions about assimilation, mainstreaming, globalization and pink capitalism.

Spring 2021: WMST UN3200
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3200 001/13834 M 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Online Only
Tey Meadow 4 25/28

WMST UN3526 Senior Seminar II. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Enrollment limited to senior majors.

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 2021: WMST UN3526
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3526 001/00652 W 6:10pm - 8:00pm
Online Only
Elizabeth Bernstein 4 4/10

WMST UN3655 Gender and Public Health: Disparities, Pathways, and Policies. 3.00 points.

This seminar providea an intensive introduction to critical thinking about gender in relation to public health. We begin with a rapid immersion in social scientific approaches to thinking about gender in relation to health, and then examine diverse areas in which gendered relations of power – primarily between men and women, but also between cis- and queer individuals – shape health behaviors and health outcomes. We engage with multiple examples of how gendered social processes, in combination with other dimensions of social stratification, shape health at the population level. The overarching goal of this class is to provide a context for reading, discussion, and critical analysis to help students learn to think about gender – and, by extension, about any form of social stratification – as a driver of patterns in population health. We also attend consistently to how public health as a field is itself a domain in which gender is reproduced or contested

Spring 2021: WMST UN3655
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3655 001/13913 W 8:10am - 10:00am
Online Only
Jennifer Hirsch 3.00 11/13

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. 

Spring 2021: WMST UN3915
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3915 001/14284 W 10:10am - 12:00pm
602 Northwest Corner
Nimmi Gowrinathan 4 21/28

WMST GU4000 GENEALOGIES OF FEMINISM. 4.00 points.

Even before Laura Mulvey’s classic feminist essay on the “male gaze,” feminist artists and filmmakers, as well as theorists of visuality, have analyzed, critiqued and contested the association of vision with power and knowledge. Creatively reframing the gaze and subverting conventions of visual representation, they have reimagined the relationship of media technologies to embodied and social difference, and to social constructions of gender, race, class and sexuality. This course will study these theories and practices by looking at late 20th and early 21st century painting, film, television, photography, performance, activism and social media in transnational perspective

Spring 2021: WMST GU4000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4000 001/18033 Th 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Online Only
Neferti Tadiar 4.00 13/20
Fall 2021: WMST GU4000
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4000 001/12727 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Marianne Hirsch 4.00 12/20

WMST GU4235 Indigenous Feminisms. 4 points.

Indigenous women, queers, trans- and Two Spirit people have been at the forefront of activism and resistance to state incursion into Indigenous lands and waters. This was evident most recently at Mauna Kea, a mountain sacred to Kanaka Maoli in Hawaii as women, trans and queer formed the first line of resistance and occupation against the construction of a 1000-meter telescope on the site. This is not unique, their voices, along with indigenous queer and feminist scholars, have been working to address issues as far-ranging as mascots, settler appropriation of indigenous cultures, missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and the violence against indigenous urban youth. This seminar will consider how those indigenous feminist, queer, and Two Spirit scholars have theorized gender, sexuality, race, and colonialism, alongside issues of land, water and sovereignty. We will read works that consider how indigeneity challenges how gender and sexuality are expressed in the context of settler colonialism and racial capitalism.

Spring 2021: WMST GU4235
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4235 001/19145 T Th 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
Audra Simpson 4 9/15

WMST GU4317 ADVANCED TOPICS. 4.00 points.

In this course, our point of departure will be the precariousness of embodied existence, in which precarity is understood as both an existential condition and as the socially uneven culmination of neoliberal political and economic trends. We will draw upon a variety of interdisciplinary literatures—including feminist, critical race, and queer studies; science and technology studies; disability studies; and medical sociology and anthropology—to consider some of the ways in which our bodies have served as both the repository and substratum of recent social transformations. Within the context of current pandemic crises relating to both public health and to myriad forms of social inequality, we will also consider appeals to the beneficence of science, technology, medicine, and the rational governance of dis-ease. What can critical histories of plagues, epidemics, and quarantines teach us about emergent forms of biopolitics? We will conclude by considering the interventions of contemporary disability and social justice activists, and the alternative possibilities that they have posited for self-care and mutual aid

Spring 2021: WMST GU4317
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4317 001/00692 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Online Only
Neferti Tadiar 4.00 8/18

WMST BC2140 Critical Approaches in Social and Cultural Theory. 3.00 points.

This course examines the conceptual foundations that support feminist and queer analyses of racial capitalism, security and incarceration, the politics of life and health, and colonial and postcolonial studies, among others

Spring 2021: WMST BC2140
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 2140 001/00646 M W 2:40pm - 3:45pm
Online Only
Marisa Solomon 3.00 59/70
Fall 2021: WMST BC2140
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 2140 001/00675 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
Marisa Solomon 3.00 22/50

WMST BC2150 PRACTICING INTERSECTIONALITY. 3.00 points.

This introductory course for the Interdisciplinary Concentration or Minor in Race and Ethnicity (ICORE/MORE) is open to all students. We focus on the critical study of social difference as an interdisciplinary practice, using texts with diverse modes of argumentation and evidence to analyze social differences as fundamentally entangled and co-produced. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of this course, the professor will frequently be joined by other faculty from the Consortium for Critical Interdisciplinary Studies (CCIS), who bring distinct disciplinary and subject matter expertise. Some keywords for this course include hybridity, diaspora, borderlands, migration, and intersectionality

Spring 2021: WMST BC2150
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 2150 001/00647 T Th 1:10pm - 2:25pm
Online Only
Manijeh Moradian 3.00 68/70
Fall 2021: WMST BC2150
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 2150 001/00628 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Kimberly Springer 3.00 70/70

WMST V3312 THEORIZING ACTIVISM. 4.00 points.

Considering local, national, and international activist case studies through social movement theories, we work together to understand what activism looks like, the people who engage in it, how activist messages are constructed, and how visions of transformation are developed

Spring 2021: WMST V3312
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3312 001/00654 T Th 9:00am - 10:50am
Online Only
Kimberly Springer 4.00 12/15

WMST BC3530 Feminist Media Theory. 4 points.

The integration of contemporary media and social practices of all types is intensifying. This seminar examines media theory and various media platforms including Language, Photography, Film, Television, Radio, Digital Video, and Computing as treated by feminists, critical race and queer theorists, and other scholars and artists working from the margins.

Spring 2021: WMST BC3530
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3530 001/00653 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Online Only
Jonathan Beller 4 22/30

WMST BC3814 ACTIVISM & INQUIRY LAB A. 1.00 point.

This lab course is an optional addition to the WGSS junior colloquia courses “Theorizing Feminist Activisms” and “Feminist Inquiry”; students must take one of those courses simultaneously with this lab. The lab gives students an opportunity to gain practical experience with one or more qualitative research methods that are frequently used in feminist and gender studies. It will be particularly valuable as groundwork for senior thesis research, but all students enrolled in Theorizing Activisms or Feminist Inquiry are encouraged to take the lab to deepen their understanding of practical and ethical issues in conducting research in support of social change

Spring 2021: WMST BC3814
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 3814 001/00665 F 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Online Only
Kimberly Springer 1.00 5/15

WMST BC4303 Gender, Globalization, and Empire. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 20 students.

Study of the role of gender in economic structures and social processes comprising globalization and in political practices of contemporary U.S. empire. This seminar focuses on the ways in which transformations in global political and economic structures over the last few decades including recent political developments in the U.S. have been shaped by gender, race, sexuality, religion and social movements.

Spring 2021: WMST BC4303
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
WMST 4303 001/00648 Th 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Online Only
Manijeh Moradian 4 17/20