Frida Kahlo, The Broken Column

Introduction to Gender Studies

Instructor: Paige Sweet
The Barnard Center for Research on Women
3009 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Gender is often thought of as an expression of one’s individual identity, something that emerges from one’s sense of self. Yet is also often described as a social construct, something with historical and regional roots that places a person into a relation with set norms. Are these two ideas incompatible? Or, conversely, can gender be something that is at once personal and social? What tools and analytic frameworks are available to conceptualize gender inside and out?

In this course, we’ll take up these question by examining gender from multiple angles: as a concept (not simply a natural fact); as something that has both a physical and psychic life; and as a mode of representation, among others. Drawing on works by Judith Butler, bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, select pieces of art, and writings by feminist scientists and psychoanalysts, including Donna Haraway, Anne Fausto-Sterling, and Evelyn Fox Keller, we will ask: Is it possible to consider gender without also thinking of history, location, race, and sexuality? What is at stake in thinking that (some? all?) genders are complex or given or malleable? In what ways do we live on, through, and against multiple gendered planes–its social, political, legal, physiological, and other relational aspects–that are at once imaginary and insistently real? Throughout, our objectives will be to consider the many layers of gendered meaning that exist, the ways they change over time, and how they take shape in our lives.

Course Schedule

Wednesday, 6:30-9:30pm
October 17 — November 07, 2018
4 weeks


Registration Open

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