WGS 285: Beauties and Bodies in America

This course examines the idea of feminine beauty in a modern consumer culture. Our purpose is to investigate how beauty operates and to consider how we might position ourselves individually and collectively in relation to beauty as a dominant ideology–as a system that interprets and assigns value to the spectrum of variation in female bodies. We will read beauty culture through material culture that is composed of ordinary objects, spaces, and pictures to understand the social practices and values engendered by the ideology of feminine beauty. Material culture is a broad term, but basically it means the “things” and “stuff” we create and use on a daily basis. Our explication of beauty, its practices, and its material culture will illuminate the workings of the gender, race, ability, class, and sexuality systems. 


ENG 389W: Life Writing

This course on life writing features a range of forms such as memoir, autobiography, and other life writing genres such as film, self-portrait, poetry, and performance. Our close reading and narrative analysis of these primary works focuses on how human variation is narrated in life writing genres and how the authorial voice identifies explicitly with multiple subject positions. Our analyses will reveal how literary forms give shape to the ways multiple identities intersect, conflict, and are negotiated through narrative and identity formation. Some vectors of identity we will consider in the primary texts are gender, race, sexuality, disability, health and wellness, and class.  

 

WGS 475: Feminist Disability Studies

This seminar explores feminist disability studies through a focus on several life narratives in which the authorial voice identifies explicitly with multiple subject positions. The vectors of identity in the primary texts are gender, race, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, and class. Close reading and narrative analysis of these primary works will be guided by several fundamental feminist theoretical concepts: naming and the cultural work of language, representation, subjugated knowledges, positionality/standpoint, identity/ identification, body/embodiment, sexuality, patriarchy, privilege, intersectionality, gender, normalcy, dependence/autonomy, and appearance. Our analyses will reveal how multiple identities intersect, conflict, and are negotiated through narrative and identity formation. 

 

WGS 589R Critical Disability Studies

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This graduate seminar will focus on the emerging body of critical and primary work in critical disability studies, primarily in the humanities and the arts. Our purpose is to engage this body of work thoughtfully and critically, both as individual critics and as an intellectual community. We will engage intersectional workings and multiple subject positions such as gender, race, sexuality, ethnicity, and class along with disability. Disability studies is an interdisciplinary academic field of inquiry that expands health science perspectives by examining understandings of disability from cultural perspectives such as:  civil and human rights issue; minority identity group;  social justice issue;  sociological formation;  historic community; diversity category;   category of critical analysis;  narrative and aesthetic resource;  subject of the arts.

 

ENG 789: Disability Literature

Questions about how disability influences and appears in the arts are one of the most compelling and vibrant aspects to emerge from critical disability studies. Scholars and critics are examining how disability as a fact of human life and embodiment affects artistic production across aesthetic genre, from the visual arts, music, dance, literature, to theater. Because the human variations that count as disabilities are pervasive aspects of the human condition, cultural narratives and representations of disability pervade literature.

This graduate seminar considers what constitutes disability literature. We will read works of fiction or nonfiction (not memoir) that have some kind of disability politics or positive identity consciousness (and consider what these terms mean) and that say something significant about disability and disability experience. Together we will develop a definition and criteria for what counts as disability literature. We will begin with a provisional reading list of disability literature and develop our own canon of disability literature in the course.