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Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies

Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies

Faculty and graduate students from WGSS at Northeastern University have the opportunity to take advantage of the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies, and many actively participate in its programs and seminars. During the 2014-2015 academic year, the following seminars will be offered:

FALL 2014

Workshop for Dissertation Writers in Women's and Gender Studies

A writing workshop for graduate students at the dissertation level. Classes will include presentations and discussions of students’ work-in-progress. Discussions will move back and forth between theoretical considerations and practical ones as we address three areas central to dissertation writing: archive, methodology, and interpretation. Students will be asked to reflect on the ways that feminism and gender studies have affected their views of what discourses are considered relevant, worthy, and timely. We will also consider issues of scholarly voice, clarity, and vision. The course will consider how dissertation writers speak to various audiences while maintaining a core feminist engagement. Each student will also give an oral presentation that has been consciously adapted for an interdisciplinary audience.

Faculty:
Beth Kowaleski Wallace is a Professor of English at Boston College, where she teaches eighteenth-century literature and culture, literary and cultural theory, and feminist theory. She is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory, and she has published widely in the field of eighteenth-century studies and, more recently, on popular culture.

Days: Wednesdays
Time: 5:15-8:15 PM
Location: MIT, Building and Room TBD
Period: Fall & Spring

Gender, Race, and the Construction of the American West

The North American West of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provides a fascinating case study of the shifting meanings of gender, race, citizenship, and power in border societies. As the site of migration, settlement, and displacement, it spawned contests over land, labor disputes, inter-ethnic conflicts and peaceful relations, and many kinds of cultural productions. This course explores the historical experiences and cultural productions of women in the North American West during the time it was being explored, settled, and imagined. Challenging the myths of western expansion as an exclusively male endeavor, and the formation of western myth and enterprise as exclusively male domains, the course pays particular attention to the roles of women in promoting, resisting, transforming, and constructing the trans-Mississippi West as reality and imaginary. The course uses primary sources (diaries, letters, novels, photographs) and secondary source readings to examine gender identity and practice across racial-ethnic groups, geographic region, local economies, and class lines. It does so through the lenses of social and cultural theory, history, sociology, film, literature, craft, and art. The readings consistently prompt questions about the sources of evidence -- whose voice is recorded, whose image is captured, whose art is preserved -- and how the twenty-first century scholar can interpret them. The methodological limitations of certain sources and the implications of their use will be part and parcel of our quest to understand this multi-faceted history.

Faculty:
Karen V. Hansen, a historical sociologist, teaches at Brandeis University. She studies the intersections among kinship, community, and structures of inequality in the United States, using ethnographic research and oral history interviews as well as archival sources. Most recently, she published Encounter on the Great Plains: Scandinavian Settlers and the Dispossession of Dakota Indians, 1890-1930.

Marilyn S. Johnson is Professor of History at Boston College where she teaches modern U.S. social history and the history of the American West. She is the author of The Second Gold Rush: Oakland and the East Bay in World War II, Violence in the American West: The Mining and Range Wars, and Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York Cityamong other publications. In 2002 she was co-curator of "Cowboys, Indians and the Big Picture," an exhibition of western art at the McMullen Museum at Boston College.

Lois Rudnick is professor emerita of American Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, where she chaired the American Studies Department for 26 years. Her fields of specialization include modern US culture and literature, and multi-ethnic/immigrant literatures and cultures. She has lectured and published widely on American modern art and culture, and on the Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico writer and artist communities.

Days: Mondays
Time: 5:00-8:00 PM
Location: MIT, Building and Room TBD
Period:Fall 2014



Gender, Health, and Marginalization

As the contemporary study of human health becomes increasingly multidisciplinary, social science and public health approaches now challenge prevailing individualistic biomedical models derived primarily from the West, including its dominant religious beliefs. At the same time, a paradigm shift called “global health” is underway, frequently attempting to homogenize human needs in concert with economic “globalization” policies. Such programs often elevate technocratic governmental solutions while ignoring the impact of neo-liberal ideology and economics usually underlying policies being put into place, thus aggravating their negative human rights impact. In the course we will use a feminist interdisciplinary lens and invite students to look critically at how practices like privatization, shrinking public “safety nets”, de-regulation, and the commodification of health services intersect inevitably with gender, race and class, for both men and women. These intersections, in turn, can shape the enduring and deepening health disparities now in existence, especially for those already struggling at the margins. We will draw on a blend of empirical studies, policy materials, films and guest speakers to examine specific health issues like menstrual health, corporate obstetrics, abortion, obesity, intersex, military rape and other forms of violence, mental health and stress, parent- child attachment, as well as ethics and pharmaceuticals. We expect to demonstrate specifically how dominant ideologies and practices produce marginalization and poor health outcomes. We also consider seriously how individuals and groups manifest agency, enact resistance, and practice advocacy.

Faculty:
Chris Bobel is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is the author of The Paradox of Natural Mothering, New Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation and co-editor of Embodied Resistance: Breaking the Rules, Challenging the Norms. She is currently examining menstrual health campaigns in the Global South.

Dr. Silvia Dominguez, PhD, is an interdisciplinary scholar with degrees in sociology, psychology, forensic social work, social welfare policy and specializing in areas addressing the welfare of women, children and minorities both in the United States and abroad, with additional emphasis on sexual violence, race relations, social networks, mental health and immigration. She is the author of Getting Ahead: Social Mobility, Public Housing and Immigrant Networks by New York University Press and co-editor of Mixed Methods in Social Networks by Cambridge University Press.

Norma Meras Swenson, MPH, currently teaches about women and health in global context at the Harvard School of Public Health. A founding co-author of Our Bodies, Ourselves, she is also an advocacy practitioner, working with colleagues across the world, North and South, to help define and create this changing field today.

Days:Wednesdays
Time: 5:30-8:30PM
Location: MIT, Building and Room TBD

SPRING 2015

Workshop for Dissertation Writers in Women's and Gender Studies

A writing workshop for graduate students at the dissertation level. Classes will include presentations and discussions of students’ work-in-progress. Discussions will move back and forth between theoretical considerations and practical ones as we address three areas central to dissertation writing: archive, methodology, and interpretation. Students will be asked to reflect on the ways that feminism and gender studies have affected their views of what discourses are considered relevant, worthy, and timely. We will also consider issues of scholarly voice, clarity, and vision. The course will consider how dissertation writers speak to various audiences while maintaining a core feminist engagement. Each student will also give an oral presentation that has been consciously adapted for an interdisciplinary audience.

Faculty:
Beth Kowaleski Wallace is a Professor of English at Boston College, where she teaches eighteenth-century literature and culture, literary and cultural theory, and feminist theory. She is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Feminist Literary Theory, and she has published widely in the field of eighteenth-century studies and, more recently, on popular culture.

Days: Wednesdays
Time: 5:15-8:15 PM
Location: MIT, Building and Room TBD
Period: Fall & Spring


Feminist Inquiry

Feminist Inquiry is a seminar designed to investigate the conceptual frameworks that inform practices of feminist interrogation, critique, analysis, and research across a range of disciplines. We will focus on epistemology and methodology: the types of questions asked, the assumptions that serve as foundation, the frameworks that structure the method of inquiry, the values and power relations inherent in particular approached, and the criteria used to determine what constitutes knowledge. Over the last 30 years, feminist epistemologists, theorists, and researchers have developed profound critiques of traditional constructions of Western knowledge and knowledge seeking. How are feminists to construct methods of inquiry that give voice to the multiply located perspectives of the marginalized without replicating the masculinist, racist, classist conceptual structures and methodologies that constitute traditional Western epistemologies? Different questions require different modes of inquiry. In this seminar we will examine the various paths explored by feminist scholars.

Faculty:
Jo Trigilio received her Ph.D. (1996) and her MA (1993) in Philosophy from the University of Oregon. She is the Director of the Graduate Program in Gender and Cultural Studies at Simmons College, and holds a joint appointment in the departments of Women's and Gender Studies, and Philosophy. Trigilio specializes in oppression/liberation theories, including feminist and gender theories, race theories, sexuality theory, and queer theory and has a special interest in the intersection of theory and practice.
Sabina E. Vaughtis Associate Professor of Education, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Tufts University. Dr. Vaught's scholarship examines the institutional contexts and dynamics of race, gender, education, and power. Her research is grounded in Critical Race Theory and feminist theories.

Day: Mondays
Time: 6:00-9:00 PM
Locations: MIT Building and Room TBD

Gender, Race, and the Complexities of Science and Technology

Science and Technology are relatively insulated from wider public deliberation -- art and literary criticism are familiar; but not "science criticism." Yet there is a large body of social interpretation of science and technology, to which feminist, anti-racist, and other critical analysts and activists have made significant contributions. Building on this work, this course sets out to challenge the barriers of expertise, gender, race, class, and place that restrict wider access to and understanding of the production of scientific knowledge and technologies. In this spirit, students participate in an innovative, problem-based learning approach that allows you to shape your own directions of inquiry and re-engage with yourselves as avid learners and inquirers. At the same time as you are developing critical faculties as investigators you are also learning tools and processes for teaching and engagement with wider communities. In these inquiries students are guided by individualized bibliographies co-constructed with the instructors and by the projects of the other students. Students from all fields and levels of preparation are encouraged to join and learn about gender, race, and the complexities of science and technology.

Faculty

Peter Taylor is a Professor at UMass Boston, where he directs the graduate programs on Science in a Changing World and Critical and Creative Thinking. His teaching spans biomedical and environmental sciences, science and technology studies, critical pedagogy, and reflective practice. He is the author of Unruly Complexity: Ecology, Interpretation, Engagement and Nature-Nurture? No (forthcoming), co-author of Taking Yourself Seriously: Processes of Research and Engagement, and co-editor of Changing Life: Genomes, Ecologies, Bodies, Commodities.

Kim Surkan has taught in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at MIT since 2005. Dr. Surkan does interdisciplinary work in queer, feminist, and new media studies with a humanities focus, and is currently writing a series of articles on technology and the (trans)gendered body.

Day: Thursdays
Time: 4:00-7:00 PM
Locations: MIT Building and Room TBD

About the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies

Founded in 1993, the Graduate Consortium of Women's Studies (GCWS) is a pioneering effort by faculty at eight degree-granting institutions in the Boston area. GCWS pursues its mission through an ongoing series of team-taught graduate seminars, interdisciplinary faculty development workshops, and other opportunities for scholarly and administrative collaboration. GCWS programs help to build intellectual community and offer a model for institutional change. As of July 1, 2005, the GCWS moved from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Participating Institutions:

  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Northeastern University
  • Simmons College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Massachusetts, Boston

In keeping with the collaborative tradition of women's studies, the Consortium offers interdisciplinary, team-taught seminars to students matriculated in graduate programs at our member schools. GCWS faculty explicitly integrate gender analyses with issues of class, race, culture, ethnicity, and sexualities, and the practical and public-policy implications of feminist theory and scholarship are considered. Courses are designed not only to examine existing feminist scholarship, but also to open paths to the creation of new knowledge. Graduate courses also provide crucial intellectual support for student pursuing feminist work within the framework of traditional disciplines. There is no fee for GCWS courses. Students are granted credit for participation by their home institutions.