Gender Studies Minor
The minor in Gender Studies allows students to explore what it means to be male or female, or transgendered, gay or straight or bisexual in a world that is largely organized by and around constructions of gender. In the introductory courses students consider where our ideas about how to be a woman and how to be a man come from, what importance gender assumes when it intersects with other identity markers such as class, race, ethnicity, and religion and how notions of gender are produced and represented differently across a variety of visual and written texts, cultural contexts and realms of societies.
No more than one of the following courses may overlap with other major or minor requirements.
Minor Requirements (18 Credits)
- Required Courses:
- CLCS 200 Gender and Sexuality in a Global Context
This course presents an interdisciplinary introduction to key concepts in gender studies. Focusing on the way in which gender operates in different cultural domains, this class investigates the manner in which race, culture, ethnicity, and class intersect with gender. (This writing-intensive course counts towards the Academic Writing requirements).
- CLCS 241 Forbidden Acts: Queer Studies and Performance
In this course, queer solo performance and theater are playfully considered ''forbidden acts'' because they commonly enact a special kind of transgression. These acts give voice to and, at once, subvert a wide range of political identities conventionally defined by race, ethnicity, HIV status, class, gender, and sexual practice. Often autobiographical at their point of departure, queer performance and theater seem intent on troubling the comfort of community even as they invest in it. This rich, albeit problematic, ambivalence stems from the fact that the term queer, itself, connotes primarily a locus of refusal, an unbinding and destabilizing term of defiance, of provocation via polysemy. As such, queer performance and theater seek to open up new vistas of multiple, shifting, polymorphous identities. What political implications might these queer texts dramatize? What may be the ramifications of instilling the notion of personal identity with collective utopian aspirations? How would the students enrolled in this class spin the term queer to encompass their own sense of individual difference and empower their own vision of creative defiance? In attempting to respond to these questions, students taking this course will be invited to share their own forbidden acts: to approach theoretical refection through performative exercises, to merge the analytical realm with the autobiographical monologue, to test the limits (if there are any) between theatrical play and ideological engagement.
- CLCS 300 Masculinities in Literature and Film
This course offers an overview of different masculinities as they have been represented in literature and film for the past couple decades. Students will first explore the recent developments in masculinity studies, particularly focusing on masculinity along intersectional lines. They will reflect upon the intricate ways of defining, theorizing and conceptualizing masculinity in an age that Zygmunt Bauman has defined as liquid. They will read novels such as Tomboy by French writer Nina Bouraoui, Salvation Army by Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa and watch films such as Death Proof by American film director Quentin Tarentino, Facing Mirrors by Iranian film director Negar Azarbayjani, Boys Don't Cry by American film director Kimberly Peirce.
- Three of the following (at least one must be at the 300-level):
- CLCS 242 Representations of Poverty in Literature
This course looks at poverty as it is portrayed in contemporary literature, film, television, painting, music and street magazines. Students will explore how these representations compare to economic and social indices such as income, Living Standards Measurement surveys, welfare statistics, poverty indexes and poverty determinants. For these latter determinants the class will take Switzerland, a country in which the extremes of poverty and riches are quite subtle, as our case study. The overall goals of this course are 1) to compare different forms of representation and to recognize and be able to distinguish among the many faces and facets of poverty in a wealthy nation and 2) to critically explore the ideologies underlying mainstream representations of ''the poor'' or ''the marginalized'' and to ask how effective such representations are in triggering social change.
- CLCS 243 The Cultural Politics of Sports
This course looks at sports as a cultural, social and political phenomenon and explores some of the major concepts pertinent to the cultural studies discipline through the lens of sports such as nationalism, social class, race/ethnicity, gender, celebrity culture and its fans, ethics, and concepts of power. Students will also consider the very ideas of 'sportsmanship,' 'playing the game' and the global 'mega-events' that many professional sports competitions have become. This course will involve reading theoretical essays related to sports, class discussion of the readings, regular reading responses, and presentations. Students will be encouraged to pursue their own research interests based on a particular sport, major sports event (Olympics, European Soccer Championship, World Series) or sports infrastructure (Little-League, college sports, sports clubs) and to reflect culturally on an activity that cuts across many disciplines (e.g. business, communications, ethics, health) as well as one that they themselves may be passionately involved in, either as actors and/or as spectators.
- CLCS 330 The Politics of Mobility: Exile and Immigration
Beginning with the post-colonial theory of Edward Said, this class will examine the ideas of exile and immigration in a colonial and post-colonial context. This course will explore exile vs. expatriatism, language and power, movement across cultures, narrative agency and authority, and voices in the new immigrant narrative. By approaching the topic from a comparative perspective, students will be exposed to a polyphony of voices and the variety of experiences associated with exile and the construction of identity. Students will examine, in particular, contemporary fiction as a window to the context of this experience.
- CLCS 371 Law and Culture
This course aims to investigate law's place in culture and culture's place in law. This focus proceeds from the realization that law does not function in a vacuum but exerts a powerful influence on all manner of cultural practice and production, even as its own operation is influenced in turn by various forms of culture. Given this increasing porosity and interpermeability of Law and different forms of culture, the focus of this course is on the mutual influence between law and other discursive practices, such as literature, TV sit-coms and film. In studying a number of prominent legal cases such as Brown v the Board of Education, we will explore the following questions: What are the mechanisms by which popular representations and cultural practices find their way into legal processes and decisions? How does law in turn bleed into and influence cultural processes? Does law act as a buffer against societal assumptions about, and constructions of, gender, age, ability, sexuality and ethnicity, or does it re-enforce and re-inscribe existing social norms?
- COM 202 Fundamentals of Interpersonal Communication
This course introduces students to theories, concepts, and research in the study of interpersonal communication. From a scholarly perspective, students will gain a fundamental knowledge of how interpersonal communication processes work. In addition, students will develop skill in analyzing the interpersonal communication that surrounds them in their everyday life. (COM 105 recommended)
- COM 352 Environmental Discourses
This course examines the distinct modes of representation that have come to color how we think and act upon the natural world. Given the increasing importance of the environment in local, national, and global politics, this course is invested in helping students understand the significance of language in creating, defining, mitigating, and negotiating environmental issues and controversies. During the course of the semester, students will investigate (1) the socio-cultural history of environmental discourse, (2) the dominant discursive constructions of the environment, (3) the implications of these on, and the status of, contemporary environmental politics and advocacy, and (4) the importance of studying environmental discourse from a cross-cultural perspective. In order to explore the ideologies and attitudes at the heart of varying environmental discourses, students will analyze texts from various disciplines and spheres (e.g. political, scientific, activist, and popular), genres (e.g. films, books, newspaper articles, image events, policy briefs, and speeches) and rhetorical strategies (e.g. metaphors, tropes, and ideographs).
- FAS 100 Introduction to Fashion Studies
This course introduces students to Fashion Studies beginning with the history of the making of fashion, thus laying the groundwork for the understanding of fashion as a creative and cultural phenomenon from the Renaissance to the present day. It then examines fashion as a dynamic communication process that is based on everyday social interactions in the contemporary world. In this section, special attention is paid to media representations, interactions with cultural industries, subcultural practices, and the impact of emerging technologies, exploring how the fashion process becomes an integral part of the identity formation. Finally, the fashion process is analyzed from the business perspective with a particular focus on marketing. Taking the classic concept of product life cycle, students learn how the fashion industry and consumer behavior propagate new trends in society.
- FRE 312 Travel Writing: France and French-speaking Switzerland
This course explores the genre of travel writing in France and French-speaking Switzerland in the 20th and 21st centuries. In particular, this class will propose travel writing as a useful literary trope with which to reconsider our understandings of national literatures. Special attention will be paid to the notion of the journey, both literal and figurative, and to the traveler's gaze. Students will consider the historical and social implications of gender, race, ethnicity and social class in the various texts presented.
- FRE 320 Writing the Self: French Autobiography and Autofiction
In the mid-70s, while the literary critic Philippe Lejeune was trying to define the autobiographical genre, several writers were, through their writing practices, questioning that very same genre, offering new ways to write (about) the self. Since then, the word autobiography has been replaced by autofiction, a genre that has become so popular in France that it has lost the meaning his initiator, Serge Doubrovsky, had theorized shortly after his first autofiction was published. This course explores the evolution of the auto- biographical genre since the mid-70s and tries to answer questions such as how one writes about oneself, what it means to write about oneself, the (im)possibility to write the self through the study of writers such as Georges Perec, Serge Doubrovsky, Annie Ernaux, Camille Laurens.
- FRE 324 From Beur to Post-Beur Literature: Exile, Margins, and Re-Territorialization
This course focuses on fictional works written by authors whose identities straddle the Mediterranean. Whether they immigrated from Algeria, Tunisia or Morocco to France or were born in France to immigrant parents, these writers have found an outlet for the expression of their personal experience in writing. These fictions gives rise to a number of issues such as the important role French people of Maghreb origins have played in the cultural shaping of France since the independence of the countries mentioned above, the subsequent interior colonialism they were and are still subject to, the topographical and social divides that separate the different ethnic strata of French society, the gender issues that have developed since the ''regroupement familial'' in 1974. As a complement to the readings, students will see different documentaries and / or films that will sociologically, historically and culturally frame these issues.
- GER 374 Strangers in Paradise?: Historical and Cultural Texts on Immigration into Switzerland
This course will trace the different waves of immigration into Switzerland through the lens of cultural and political texts produced in German (or translated into German) over the last thirty years, both by those who have immigrated to Switzerland and by Swiss natives in reaction to the immigrants' presence. We will begin our examination of the various tensions immigration has engendered with Rolf Lyssy's film Die Schweizermacher, a comedy about the hurdles facing would-be naturalized citizens in the mid-seventies. Next, in a variety of literary, filmic and legal texts, we will look at the situation of Italians, Spaniards,Tamils, Turks, immigrants from Balkan countries, and, most recently, from Iraq. Finally, we will study the contemporary campaigns of the Swiss People's Party (SVP), and the heated debates fueled by their right-wing provocations about who does and does not belong in this ''paradise'' known as Switzerland. This course is taught in German.
Note: Courses may require prerequisites not included in the minor.