Fall Courses

WMST Courses

WMST 2140 Critical Approaches to Feminist Questions

Days and times: Tu/Th 11:40 am – 12:55 pm

Call number: 02265

Points: 3

Instructor: Alex Pittman

Description: Introduction to key concepts from social theory as they are appropriated in critical studies of gender, race, sexuality, class and nation. We will explore how these concepts are taken up from different perspectives to address particular social problems, and the effects of these appropriations in the world.

WMST 3125 Introduction to Sexuality Studies

Days and times: M/W 2:40 pm – 3:55 pm

Instructors: Jack Halberstam

Location: 516 Hamilton Hall

Points: 3

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.

WMST 3311 Feminist Theory

Days and times: T 10:10am-12:00pm

Instructors: Tina Campt

Location: 318 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Call number: 03462

Points: 4

Prerequisites: LIMITED TO 20 BY INSTRUC PERM; ATTEND FIRST CLASS An exploration of the relationship between new feminist theory and feminist practice, both within the academy and in the realm of political organizing.

WMST 3312 Theorizing Women’s Activism

Days and times: T 2:10pm-4:00pm

Location: 227 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Call number: 01401

Points: 4

Instructor: Janet Jakobsen

Description: Prerequisites: Critical Approaches or Feminist Theory or permission of instructor. Helps students develop and apply useful theoretical models to feminist organizing on local and international levels.  It involves reading, presentations, and seminar reports.  Students use first-hand knowledge of the practices of specific women’s activist organizations for theoretical work.

WMST 3450 Topics in Gender and Sexuality Law

Days and times: Th 2:10pm-4:00pm

Location: 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall [SCH]

Call number: 82296

Points: 3

Instructor: Suzanne Goldberg

Description: 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 3514 Historical Approaches to Feminist Questions

Days and times: R 4:10pm-6:00pm

Location: TBA

Call number: 05571

Points: 4

Instructor: Alex Pittman

Description: This course will provide students with a comparative perspective on gender, race, and sexuality by illuminating historically specific and culturally distinct conditions in which these systems of power have operated across time and space. In particular, the course seeks to show how gender has not always been a binary or primary category system.  Such approach is also useful in understanding the workings of race and sexuality as mechanisms of differentiation.  In making these inquiries, the course will pay attention to the intersectional nature of race, gender, and sexuality and to strategic performances of identity by marginalized groups.

WMST 3521 Senior Seminar I

Days and times: T 10:10 – 12:00pm

Location: 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall

This course offers you the opportunity to develop a capstone.

WMST 3525 Senior Seminar I: Knowledge, Practice, Power

Days and times: T 4:10pm-6:00pm

Instructors: Janet R. Jakobsen

Location: 805 Altschul Hall (Barnard)

Call number: 08939

Points: 4

Prerequisites: Permission of instructor. Enrollment limited to senior majors. The Senior Seminar in WGSS offers you the opportunity to develop a capstone research project during the first semester of your senior year. The capstone project may be freestanding, or, with permission of the instructor, may be continued during the spring semester as a Senior Thesis.  The capstone project must be based on original research and involve 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 project and who can advise you on the specifics of method and content. Your grade for the semester with be determined by the Senior Seminar instructor in consultation with your advisor.

WMST 3785 Narrating Rape: Literature, Gender and Violence

Days and times: T 2:10 – 4:00pm

Instructors: Marianne Hirsch

Call number: 25033

Points: 4

Prerequisites: the instructor’s permission.

(Seminar).  Despite the fact that gender-based violence destroys the frameworks of identity and community, testimony and truth, memory and justice, rape has been a fundamental and globally pervasive literary and artistic theme and trope, often the very act that engenders representation, narrative and plot.  This seminar will explore how rape has been imaged, written and told in the face of its unspeakability and the silences surrounding it, and how the act of bearing witness can become an act of resistance, rebuilding voice, subjectivity and community.  Literary texts will be read alongside feminist theoretical work on gender-violence, embodiment, trauma, testimony and law.

Requirements: class attendance and participation, weekly one-page postings on the readings, two 8-10 page papers.

Application instructions:E-mail Professor Marianne Hirsch (mh2349@columbia.edu) with the subject heading “Narrating Rape seminar.” In your message, include basic information: your name, school, major, year of study, and relevant courses taken, along with a brief statement about why you are interested in taking the course. Admitted students should register for the course; they will automatically be placed on a wait list from which the instructor will in due course admit them as spaces become available.

WMST 3915 Gender and Power in Global Perspective

Days and times: W 4:10pm-6:00pm

Location: 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall [SCH]

Call number: 02432

Points: 4

Instructor: Selina Makana


Prerequisites: Critical Approaches or the instructor’s permission.

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.

WMST GR 6001 Theoretical Paradigms: Feminist Practice

Days and times: W 2:10-4pm

Instructors: Saidiya V Hartman

Location: 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall [SCH]

Call number: 67300

Points: 4


WMST GR8010 Advanced Topics: Ecofeminism

Days and times: M 12:10pm-2:00pm

Instructors: Branka Arsic

Location: 754 EXT Schermerhorn Hall [SCH]

Call number: 75780

Points: 4

The course will reconstruct the major arguments formulated by ecofeminist theorists by reading some of the major ecological treatises of the 19th and 20th centuries, and by introducing some of the questions that have preoccupied feminist philosophers in the last couple of decades. We will thus begin by inquiring into how philosophers, and later ecologists, from Schelling, Hegel and Nietzsche to Jakob von Uexküll, Simone Weil, and Gilles Deleuze, understood the earth, matter, and life on earth, before moving to discuss questions of gendered subjectivity and embodied personhood as formulated in the works of Simone de Beauvoir (selections from The Ethics of Ambiguity), Luce Irigaray (selections from The Forgetting of Air, Marine Lover) and Julia Kristeva (selections from Black Sun and Tales of Love). In this introductory part of the course we will pay special attention to how feminist thinkers developed a philosophy of elements and vegetal life in order to articulate aspects of the feminine, or what some of them also called “woman’s” subjectivity.

WMST GU4310 Contemporary American Jewish Women’s Literature

Days and times: M 4:10pm-6:00pm

Instructors: Irena Klepfisz

Location: 306 Milbank Hall (Barnard)

Call number: 07495

Points: 4

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 15 students. Sophomore standing. Identifies trends in Jewish American women’s writing of this period: integration of Jewish and feminist consciousness into Jewish women’s mainstream writing; exploration through fictive narratives of women’s roles in Jewish orthodox communities; recording of experiences of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and from Arab countries.

CrossListed Courses

AMST UN3930 Topics in American Studies: Gender History and American Film

Days and times: Tues 10:10 – 12:00 pm

Instructors: Hilary Anne Hallett

Location: 317 Hamilton Hall

Call number: 22188

Points: 4

Please refer to the Center for American Studies for the course descriptions for each section.

CLFR UN3617 Writing Women in Medieval France and England

Days and times: Th 2:10pm-4:00pm

Instructors: Eliza Zingesser

Call number: 22198

Points: 3


This course is an introduction both to the works of women who either lived in France or adopted French as a literary language in the Middle Ages, as well as to works commenting on the role of women, often from an antifeminist viewpoint. Our explorations will take us across a wide range of genres, from poetry to legal documents to mystical treatises to romances.
Class discussion in English, with readings available in both modern French and English. The course can be taken for French credit if students complete the reading and all assignments in French.

CPLS GR6350 Subjectivity and Power

Days and times: T 4:10 – 6pm

Call number: 11648

Points: 4

Instructor: Simona Forti

Description: Contemporary political-philosophical debate revolves around the question of new forms of power, from biopower to governmentality. Many authors involved, from Giorgio Agamben to Nikolas Rose, claim to be developing core ideas put forward by Michel Foucault: mainly, Foucault’s insight concerning the inextricable tangle of subjectivity and power relations which, accordingly, dismantels the classical liberal and juridical view of the face-off between “the individual – the state.” While they provide original analyses of the functioning of the new forms of power, they nevertheless neglect to delve deeply into the folds of subjectivity.

The course traces a philosophical genealogy of the interrelation between subjectivity, power, and domination in order to shed light on the subjective side of this relation. Readings from Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Primo Levi, Jacques Derrida Judith Butler, will allow us to raise questions that often remain unthought, such as:  What is the structure of a subjectivity that easily slides into domination? What desires motivate our attachment to constraining powers, and from where does our anxiety to conform stem? At the same time, drawing on the writings of these authors, we will ask ourselves how to envisage the conditions of possibility for a resistant subject, for an idea of the Self that is capable of creating friction with domination. Far from being a return to the monism of individualism, this Self will turn out to be an “an-archic” subject that blurs the boundaries between ethics and politics.

PHIL UN2110 Philosophy and Feminism

Days and times: MW 11:40am-12:55pm

Instructors: Christia Mercer

Location: 833 Seeley W. Mudd Building

Call number: 19570

Points: 3

Is there an essential difference between women and men? How do questions about race conflict or overlap with those about gender? Is there a “normal” way of being “queer”? Introduction to philosophy and feminism through a critical discussion of these and other questions using historical and contemporary texts, art, and public lectures. Focus includes essentialism, difference, identity, knowledge, objectivity, and queerness.  This course will have unrestricted enrollment and no required discussion section.

PORT GR6004 Race, Gender, and Affect in Brazilian Perspective

Days and times: M 1pm – 3pm

Instructors: Ana Paulina Lee

Location: 505 Casa Hispánica

Call number: 78496

Points: 4

This graduate seminar will examine affect, mood, taste, and feeling as critical sites in Brazilian studies about race and gender. Particular attention will be paid to the “affective turn” in critical race and queer theory. We will examine a number of issues related to affect theory, beginning with, what is affect? Can we study affect historically and geographically? How is affect racialized or gendered? What can affect theory bring to cultural memory studies? By drawing on theories of affect, cultural memory, food studies, historical and anthropological studies about racial and ethnic formation, and gender and sexuality studies, we will discuss how affect illuminates the intersecting realms of aesthetics, politics, performance, and cultural memory, and across bodies in mundane and spectacular ways.

Class will be conducted in English or Portuguese, depending on enrollment.

PORT UN3327 Visual Cultures and Ethnicities of Latin America

Days and times: Tues 1:00pm-4:00pm

Instructors: Ana Paulina Lee

Call number: 82346

Points: 3

This course is a comparative study of the cultures and ethnicities of Latin America, with a focus on Asian migration, settlement, and visual culture. Course readings, in-class mapping workshops, and discussions will examine Asian diasporic artistic production, performance, and visual cultures. We will pair visual and cultural analysis with studies about spatial theory and cultural geography, including the relationship between perception and space to race, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. We will question how visual culture, artistic practice, and performance have interrupted static understandings of ethnicity, race, gender, and sexuality. We will read theories about cultural hybridity, performance, affect, memory, and migration and examine artistic production from Latin America. We will also analyze the symbolic value and socio-economic positions of ethnic neighborhoods like Chinatown in Cuba or Japantown in Brazil. In addition, we will examine representations of Asian-ness in a variety of popular culture and media. Using mapping software, students will create digital media projects that highlight Asian diasporic artistic practices in Latin America.

SOCI UN3261 Sexuality & Society

Days and times: MW 1:10-2:25pm

Instructors: Shamus Khan

Call number: 63478

Points: 3

The purpose of this course is to explore the relationship between sexuality and society. Our aim is to provide an enormously broad introduction to this topic area, covering historical and national variation, exploring biological, psychological, historical, and sociological texts, and thinking critically about issues such as reproduction, desire, and identity. These readings can, at times, be demanding. Some will cover genetics; others will contain relatively dense cultural theory.

Related Courses in other Departments

AFAS GU4080 Topics in the Black Experience: gender, Sexuality and Labor in the Caribbean

Days and times: Thurs 12:10 – 2:00 pm

Location: 758 EXT Schermerhorn Hall

Instructor: Christine A Pinnock

Description: Please refer to Institute for Research in African American Studies for section-by-section course descriptions.

AFAS GU4080 Topics in the Black Experience: MLK Jr and Radical Democracy

Days and times: W 12:10 pm – 2:00 pm

Location: 758 Extension Schermerhorn

Points: 4

Instructor: Obery Hendricks

Description: Please refer to Institute for Research in African American Studies for section-by-section course descriptions.

AFRS BC3550 Gay Harlem

Days and times: M 2:10 – 4:00 pm

Instructor: Richard Blint

Description: Prerequisites: This course is limited to 20 students and by permission only. This course explores Harlem’s role in the production of sexual modernity and in particular as a space of queer encounter. While much of our investigation will be devoted to the intersection of race and sexuality in African American life, we also consider Harlem’s history as a communal space for Italian, Puerto Rican, and more recent immigrants. Students will be encouraged to distinguish and connect contemporary sites of sexual culture in Harlem to the historical articulations of race and sexuality examined in the course.

CLFR UN3716 Francophone Romance, Love, and Sex

Days and times: Thurs 11:40am-12:55pm

Instructors: Madeleine Dobie

Description: Comparative Literature: French

CSER UN3922 Asian American Cinema

Days and times: Thurs 4:10pm-6:00pm

Instructor: Eric Gamalinda

Description: This seminar focuses on the critical analysis of Asian representation and participation in Hollywood by taking a look at how mainstream American cinema continues to essentialize the Asian and how Asian American filmmakers have responded to Hollywood Orientalist stereotypes. We will analyze various issues confronting the Asian American, including yellowface, white patriarchy, male and female stereotypes, the “model minority” myth, depictions of “Chinatowns,” panethnicity, the changing political interpretations of the term “Asian American” throughout American history, gender and sexuality, and cultural hegemonies and privileging within the Asian community.

CSER UN4360 American Diva: Race, Gender, and Performance

Days and times: Tuesday 10:10am-12:00pm

Instructor: Deborah Paredez

ECON BC2010 The Economics of Gender

Days and times: Thurs 10:10am-11:25am

Instructor: Homa S Zarghamee

Description: Examination of gender differences in the U.S. and other advanced industrial economies. Topics include the division of labor between home and market, the relationship between labor force participation and family structure, the gender earnings gap, occupational segregation, discrimination, and historical, racial, and ethnic group comparisons.

ENGL UN3305 Gender and Sexuality in the Irish Novel

Days and times: Tues 4:10pm-6:00pm

Instructor: Emily Bloom

Description: This course will chart changing attitudes towards gender and sexuality from the nineteenth to the twentieth century in terms of the development of novelistic genres. These genres include marriage plot novels in which the 1800 Act of Union was figured as a marriage between a feminized Ireland and a masculine England, the Big House novel—an Irish variant of the country house novel—pioneered by women writers, the gothic novel by writers like Oscar Wilde, the modernist novels of James Joyce and Elizabeth Bowen, banned books that were silenced by national censorship boards, and finally the queer Irish novel of the late twentieth century.

HIST GR8770 Household and Family in African History

Days and times: Tues 10:10am-12:00pm

Instructor: Rhiannon Stephens

Description: The household and family loomed large in the colonial ethnographies of Africa of the twentieth century. But in the imaginings of those anthropologists, household and family were eternal structures; they were institutions without history. Historical scholarship and later anthropologists have challenged that notion and shown that these were and are complicated and diverse social institutions with specific histories and consequences. This course puts the anthropological theories of household and family in Africa into conversation with historical scholarship on them. In so doing, we will explore questions of lineage, marriage, gender and kinship, which have often been invoked as explanatory factors in historical processes, but all of which need to be historicized themselves.

HIST GU4217 Women as Cold War Weapons

Days and times: Wed 12:10pm-2:00pm

Points: 4

Instructor: Victoria Phillips

Description: Cold War ideological campaigns for the “hearts and minds” abutted “hot war” confrontations between 1945 and 1991, and women engaged with both. This course has three purposes: (i) to examine the role of women in the United States as a reflection and enactment of Cold War politics; (ii) to provide an understanding of cultural forces in building ideas in foreign markets; (iii) to reframe the understanding of power as a strategy of United States Cold War battles. To this end, the class will open with a history and examination of women and the traditional narratives of the nation at “wars,” and then continue to explore the political power of women, cultural diplomacy, military operations, and conclude with two case studies. This seminar examines the history of government and private sector mechanisms used to export national ideals by and about women in order to enact American foreign policy agendas in the Cold War. To build their knowledge, students will be asked to parse primary materials in the context of secondary readings. They will do class presentations and present at a conference, and will have the opportunity to discuss their interests with leading scholars of the Cold War. The requirements include significant weekly readings, postings, attendance at discussions, a class presentation, and participation in the class conference at the conclusion of the semester.

HSEA GU4893 East Asian: The Family in Chinese History

Days and times: Tues 4:10 – 6:00 pm

Instructor: Robert P Hymes

Description: History: East Asian

HSEA GU4893 East Asian: The Family in Chinese History

Days and times: Tues 4:10 – 6:00 pm

Instructor: Robert P Hymes

MDES GR8280 Study of Gender and Sexuality in the Arabic World

Days and times: Tuesdays 4:10-6pm

Location: TBA

Call number: 98697

Points: 4

Instructor: Joseph A Massad

Prerequisites: the instructor’s permission. This course aims to familiarize graduate students with the different methods and approaches that US and European scholars have used to study gender and sexuality in other societies generally, and the way they study them in the context of the Arab World specifically. The course will also explore how Arab scholars have also studied their own societies. We will survey these different approaches, both theoretical and empirical, outlining their methodological difficulties and limitations. Readings will consist of theoretical elaborations of these difficulties and the methodological and empirical critiques that the field itself has generated in order to elaborate how gender and sexuality in the Arab World have been studied, or more accurately, not studied, and how many of these methodological pitfalls can be avoided.

MUSI GR8370 Ruth Crawford Seeger

Days and times: Monday 12:10-2pm

Instructors: Ellie M. Hisama

Location: TBA

Call number: 23043

Points: 3

POLS BC3402 The Comparative Politics of Gender Inequality

Days and times: W 2:10-4pm

Location: TBA

Call number: 04616

Points: 3

Instructor: Claire F Ullman

Prerequisites: Not an introductory-level course. Not open to students who have taken the colloquium POLS BC 3507. Enrollment limited to 20 students; L-course sign-up through eBearBarnard syllabus. Uses major analytical perspectives in comparative politics to understand the persistence of gender inequality in advanced industrial states. Topics include: political representation and participation; political economy and capitalism; the historical development of welfare states; electoral systems, electoral quotas; the role of supranational and international organizations; and social policy

RUSS GR6141 Women’s AutoBi. Prose 18th&19th Century

Days and times: MW 4:10-6pm

Location: TBA

Call number: 13306

Points: 4

Instructor: Irina Reyfman

The course examines the emergence of women autobiographical prose in the late eighteenth century and the rapid growth of women’s interest autobiographical genres in the course of the nineteenth century.  Often illiterate or semi-literate in the early modern period, women became expert writers by the second third of the nineteenth century.  The reading list includes memoirs and diaries of some of the most remarkable autobiography writers of the period, including Nadezhda Durova, who lived most of her life as a man and took part in the War of 1812; Avdotia Panaeva, Nikolai Nekrasov’s common-law wife and active participant in journalistic life of the period; Sofia Tolstaya, Leo Tolstoy’s wife and herself an outstanding writer.

PSYC BC3153 Psychology and Women

Days and times: M 11:10am-12:50pm

Location: TBA

Call number: 01841

Points: 4

Instructor: Wendy McKenna

Prerequisites: Junior or Senior standing and at least two psychology courses. Permission of the instructor required for majors other than Psychology or Women’s Studies. Enrollment limited to 20 students. Examines how female experience is and has been understood by psychologists. Through an understanding of gender as a social construction and issues raised by the intersections of gender, sexuality, class, and race, the course will analyze assumptions about what causes us to be gendered and about how being gendered affects behavior.