Women & Gender Studies Institute

Courses

GRADUATE COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

Not all courses are offered every year.  Courses are offered in the fall/winter session.

WGS1000H S  Theories, Histories, Feminisms
What is the context in which we now study histories and theories of feminism? This course will identify some themes and concepts important to feminisms of the past and evaluate them in light of new historical conditions. It will interrogate the status of feminism and examine its place and value in contemporary thought. What, for instance, can be said in the name of women? How do we understand sexual difference? And under what sign of sex? How do we understand feminism’s relationship to race and class beyond simplified analyses of intersectionality? Why the move to transnational feminism?

Instructor: Professor Michelle Murphy

WGS1001H F  Feminism, Transnationalism and Postcolonialism
Over the past fifteen years, feminist studies has been defined by a turn towards transnational and postcolonial perspectives. In this course, we will conduct a genealogy of this turn, reviewing some defining texts and reflecting on their impact. We will examine the political and theoretical milieu in which transnational and postcolonial approaches have gained currency. We will explore the kinds of questions that are facilitated, and also those that are eclipsed, by such approaches.

Instructor: Professor Lisa Yoneyama

WGS1002H F  Feminist Methodologies and Epistemologies
How do we know what we know? What are the underlying epistemological and ideological assumptions we bring to this project of knowing? What are the terms upon which we can claim that project as a particularly transnational feminist one? And what are the set of ethically grounded practices that delineate it? Why are some forms of knowledge and ways of knowing privileged over others? Where do Mystery and uncertainty fit into this project? These are some of the questions that this course takes up for examination. We will seek to understand the processes of transnational feminist knowledge production by paying close attention to the problematics of place, space, time, genealogies, multiple histories, and cross-cutting identities and the various ways these are made to matter in this thing we call knowledge.

Instructor: Professor M. Jacqui Alexander

WGS1004H F  History and Biopolitics
This course explores the current and past politics of knowing and governing human and non-human forms of life. It seeks to challenge Michel Foucault’s concept of “biopolitics” – defined as practices that imbue living-being with politics – through engagement with interdisciplinary scholarship that investigates how embodiments and environments are sites in which race, capitalism, colonialism, sexuality, property, dispossession, and technoscience are produced and entangled.

Not offered in 2013-2014.

WGS1006Y  Women and Gender Studies Practicum
This course provides students the opportunity to study, engage directly in, and reflect upon the multiple definitions of feminist social change work outside the university classroom. Students can choose from among many organizations in the Greater Toronto Area. Students will develop new understandings of the relationship between academic and activist work, thinking critically about the practice of experiential learning. Students will spend approximately 7-10 hours a week in their organization from September through February and will have scheduled progress meetings with an on-site mentor. They will gain exposure to the breadth of tactics organizations use, and will think about the politics of scale, coalition across groups/movements/borders, intersectionality and diversity, and neoliberalism. Students will learn how to conduct feminist social action research and program evaluation, and will gain practical skills in areas such as writing grant applications, press releases, outreach materials, organizational histories, and participating in community organizing. The final project is a written case study that contends with a central organizational problem or contradiction.

Instructor: Professor Judith Taylor

WGS1007H F/S  Independent Research and Reading in Women and Gender Studies
Offers students the opportunity to design a reading list, research project and/or writing assignments in their designated area of interest. Students are only permitted to conduct independent research if there is no course being offered in another department that relates to their project. Also, students must find a faculty member willing to supervise their project. Time, location and course requirements are decided in consultation with the course instructor.

Students are required to fill out a “Request for Reading and/or Research Course” form, subject to approval by the WGSI Graduate Coordinator.

WGS1009H S  Digital Networks and Transnational Activism
In the last few decades, online networking has offered women an important venue for reimagining activism and forging transnational feminist networks. The seminar will be a space for a collaborative examination of how activism is represented, experienced and performed among selected online communities of women around the world, including women in diasporic spaces.

Instructor: Professor Victoria Tahmasebi-Birgani

Lecture Time:  Wednesdays, 1:00-3:00pm

DETAILED COURSE DESCRIPTION – WGS1009HS

The seminar is a space for a collaborative examination of how activism is represented, experienced and performed among selected online communities of women around the world, including women in diasporic spaces.  Online networks offer women an important venue for reimagining activism and forging transnational feminist networks. We will draw on cyber experiences of African-American, South Asian, Latin American women, and women in the Middle East and North Africa –both at “home” and in diaspora- to examine how issues of gender, sexuality, national identity, class, race, and citizenship digitally travel across multiple borders. Central to our inquiry is how transnational feminist praxis is negotiated, and complicated via the lens of technology, and what ethical questions this cross-cultural, and disembodied networking pose for transnational feminist encounters.

We will also ask questions about the ethical and emancipatory potentials, as well as control and surveillance aspects of virtual networking among women, questions such as: Does online activism contribute to collaborative feminist praxis? What can be said for digital engagement beside clicking, liking and tweeting? Can online activism compromise “real world”, offline social movements? What are the ethical challenges in virtual, non face-to-fact encounters? In what ways, online-offline movements are becoming increasingly intertwined and co-constitutive? What are the implications of new digital surveillance techniques for women on the net?

COURSE OBJECTIVES

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

·        Discuss and synthesize key concepts and terminologies in feminist digital networking

·        Appreciate transnational feminism both as a theory and praxis

·        Assess and describe transnational women’s virtual activism

·        Analyze the relationship between Transnational feminism and women’s diasporic experiences

·        Interpret, analyze and recognize the interconnectedness of multiple forms of transnational digital networking

 Books are available at University of Toronto Bookstore, Koffler, 214 College Street.Journal articles can be accessed electronically.

Hardcopies of chapter essays will be posted on the course website

 REQUIRED TEXTS:

Gajjala, Radhika. 2004. Cyber selves: feminist ethnographies of South Asian women. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

 Everett, Anna. 2009. Digital diaspora: a Race for Cyberspace. Albany: State University of New York Press.

RECOMMENDED TEXTS:

Brah, A. 2003. Cartographies of diaspora: contesting identities. London: Routledge

 Blair, Kristine, Radhika Gajjala, and Christine Tulley. 2009. Webbing cyberfeminist practice: communities, pedagogies, and social action. Cresskill, N.J.: Hampton Press.

 Nouraie-Simone, Fereshteh. 2005. On shifting ground: Muslim women in the global era. New York:  Feminist Press at the City University of New York.

 Alexander, M. Jacqui. 2005. Pedagogies of Crossing. Duke University Press.

 Swarr, Amanda Lock, and Richa Nagar. 2010. Critical transnational feminist praxis. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

 Brabazon, T. (ed.). 2008. The revolution will not be downloaded: dissent in the digital age. Oxford, U.K. : Chandos Publishing.

 Sreberny, Annabelle, and Gholam Khiabany. 2010. Blogistan: the Internet and politics in Iran. London: I.B. Tauris.

 Braoidotti, Rosi. 2011. Nomadic Theory: The Portable Rosi Braidotti. New York: Cambridge University Press.

 Kuntsman, Adi. 2009. Figurations of violence and belonging: queerness, migranthood and nationalism in cyberspace and beyond. Bern: Peter Lang.

 Athina Karatzogianni, Adi Kuntsman (eds). 2012. Digital cultures and the politics of emotion [electronic resource] : feelings, affect and technological change. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

 Hegde, Radha S. (ed). 2011. Circuits of Visibility. New York: New York University Press.

 Paasonen, Susanna. 2005. Figures of Fantasy: Internet, Women & Cyberdiscourse. New York: Peter Lang.

 Brah,  Avtar and Coombes, E.  Annie (eds.) 2000. Hybridity and Its Discontents. London: Routledge.

WGS1010H S  Black Feminist Thought
Various discourses, theoretical frameworks and ideological proclamations have been employed to analyze, criticize and interrogate everyday lived experiences of black peoples. This course examines the multiple oppressions and social representations of black women using a black feminist theoretical framework. Part of the course will be devoted to black feminist theory — a theory developed out of black women’s experiences and rooted in their communities. The course will also examine the following issues among others: strands of feminisms with particular emphasis on feminisms as advocated by the visible minorities; the divergences and similarities of black feminisms; and the heterogeneous nature of black women’s experiences. The course will be sociological and historical in nature and will examine the intersections of race, class, gender and homophobia.

Instructor: TBA

WGS1016H S  Theorizing ‘Normal’ and ‘Deviant’ Gendered Embodiment
Based on feminist corporeal feminist theories and Foucault’s theorizing on the ‘normal’ body and ‘normal’ embodiment, the course will examine the metaphysical and normative consequences of Normalism as an axis of privilege, domination, and oppression, analyse contextualized ranges of ‘non-normal’ bodies, and critique the correlative creation of bodies classified, stigmatized, and ‘Other-ed’ as inferior, abnormal, monstrous, pathological, disabled, etc.

Instructor: Professor Kathryn Morgan

WGS1020H F  Gender and Globalization: Transnational Perspectives
This course critically examines current interdisciplinary scholarship on globalization and its intersections with gender, power structures, and feminized economies. Related socio-spatial reconfigurations, ‘glocal’ convergences, and tensions are explored, with emphasis on feminist counter-narratives and theorizing of globalization, theoretical debates on the meanings and impacts of globalization, and possibilities of resistance, agency and change.

Instructor: Professor Marieme Lo

WGS1021H  Black Diasporic Feminisms: Modernity, Freedom, Citizenship
This course introduces students to feminist genealogies of the black diaspora. It addresses the contexts and movements that generated key questions. It asks how these interventions disclose preoccupations with modernity, freedom and citizenship. Topics include history, trauma and memory, sexuality and the female body, confinement and deportation, and political communities.

Instructor: Professor Alissa Trotz
Not offered in 2103-2014.

WGS1022H S  Genders and Sexualities
This course examines anthropological approaches to sex and gender. During the first part of the course we will explore the social position of women relative to men and the arguments that have been made to account for their seemingly universal subordination. Here, emphasis will be placed on the tension that exists between the political agenda of feminist theory and the relativizing challenge posed by cross-cultural research. Through an examination of how gender configurations vary the world over, we will come to question the extent to which male and female can be taken as “natural” categories. The second part of the course will explore how more recent trends in cross-disciplinary research – including post-modernism, gay and lesbian studies, and ‘the politics of difference’ are relativizing gender studies and providing anthropologists with new ways of looking at the world.

Instructor: Professor Sanda Bamford

WGS1024H F  Women and Revolution in the Middle East
This course examines the complex and conflictual relations between women and revolutionary struggles and focuses on a number of theoretical and empirical issues relevant to the Middle East and North Africa context.

Instructor: Professor Shahrzad Mojab

WGS1026H F  Race, Space and Citizenship
How do we come to know who we are and how is this knowledge raced, as well as “embodied, engendered and embedded in a material context of place and space” (Duncan, 1996)?  Drawing on recent scholarship in critical race theory, critical geography, history and cultural studies, the course examines how we learn who we are and how these pedagogies of citizenship (who is to count and who is not) operate in concrete spaces, bodies, nations, cities, institutions. This course is intended for graduate students who wish to consider how their own research might draw upon the concepts associated with the production of racial and gendered subjects in space and time. It is organized as an intensive ten-week seminar (with readings equivalent to thirteen weeks or approximately 100 pages per week) and a mandatory day-long conference during which students present their work.

Instructor: Professor Sherene Razack

WGS1027H SV  Decolonizing the PanAm Games: Critical Topics for Educators and Activists
Toronto will host the PanAm Games in 2015. Mega-sport events, such as the PanAm Games, have significant impact on local communities while they are organized on a transnational, global scale. Modern sport developed as Western European imperial and colonial projects in the nineteenth century. The course examines how contemporary sporting mega-events are ongoing forms of colonialism within the context of globalization. The course will introduce students to debates and issues related to the PanAm Games and other mega-sport events such as gentrification and poverty, indigenous sovereignty, branding and media, the sport-military complex, racism and neocolonialism, sexuality and homonationalism, gendered regulation and violence.

Instructor: Professor Heather Sykes

WGS2000H Research Seminar in Women and Gender Studies

This credit/non-credit course (which does not count toward the program requirement FCEs) functions as the WGSI colloquium. Normally, students will enroll in the first year of their Ph.D. program. After completion of this course, we recommend students regularly attend this seminar as a crucial part of their graduate education.

All Ph.D. students and collaborative Ph.D. students are invited to present their dissertation research in the seminar at least once before graduating. Please contact the Graduate Coordinator to arrange your presentation.

The WGS Research Seminar is a student-focused monthly forum, for the presentation of work-in-progress engaged in interdisciplinary feminist studies and its many intersections. Like a departmental colloquium, the seminar’s goal is to foster friendly, yet critically engaged, conversation and to feature the excellent emerging scholarship by graduate students and faculty. The research seminar’s overarching goal is to create opportunities for regular participation in the intellectual life of interdisciplinary feminist studies research here on campus. The WGS Research Seminar is scheduled monthly on a Wednesday, from 3:00–5:00 p.m.