An interdepartmental program in Sexuality and Queer Studies

Last updated: August 27, 2014 at 3:49 p.m.

Objectives

The undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies offers students the opportunity to examine socially and historically specific experiences, meanings, and representations of sexuality and gender and the centrality of sexuality and gender to personal and collective identities in modernity. Students in the program critically consider the relationships among sex, gender, and sexual orientation, desire and identification, and erotic and affectional behavior, as these intersect with other cultural formations including gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, and class.

Learning Goals

The undergraduate interdisciplinary minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies, earned within the Women’s and Gender Studies program, offers students the opportunity to examine socially and historically specific experiences, meanings, and representations of sexuality and gender and the centrality of sexuality and gender to personal and collective identities in modernity. Students in the program critically consider the relationships among sex, gender, and sexual orientation, desire and identification, and erotic and affectional behavior, as these intersect with other cultural formations including gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, ability, age, and class.  Across our curriculum, students may study the relation of sexuality and gender; develop understanding of non-heteronormative genders (including gender non-conforming, intersex, transgender, transsexual, and genderqueer individuals and collectives); study gender and sexuality in relation to heterosexual as well as LGBTIAQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, and queer) persons; explore discrimination toward non-normative genders and sexualities and historical struggles for rights and legal representation; and analyze the normative function of all identity categories.

Knowledge: Students completing the minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies will:

  • Know the major concepts that organize the field of sexuality and queer studies;
  • Critically engage sexualities and genders (normative and nonconforming) in their historical, geographical, and cultural diversity, including the social organization and diverse cultural expression of the erotic;
  • Understand the complex and contingent relationships among sex, gender, and sexuality;
  • Be able to analyze sex, gender, and sexual orientation, desire and identification, and erotic and affectional behavior as these intersect with other cultural formations such as class, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, and ability; and
  • Know the histories and trajectories of modern sexual and gender identity movements, their intellectual and ideological underpinnings, and their social, cultural, and legal effects.

Core Skills: Students completing the minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies will:

  • Read critically, and be able to interpret within the frameworks of sexuality and queer studies, a wide variety of primary and secondary texts, data, and cultural artifacts, from a variety of disciplines, historical periods, and cultures;
  • Be able to conduct qualitative and/or quantitative research in relevant disciplines;
  • Undertake independent research and present it in oral, written, and or/digital form through intellectually rigorous presentations;
  • Create scholarly research that questions assumptions about gender and sexuality; and
  • Analyze the situations of individuals and groups and the understandings of gender and sexuality within a range of global societies and historical periods.

Social Justice:

The minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies is committed to fostering justice for all gender non-conforming, intersex, transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, and cisgender individuals worldwide.  We support and affirm our students' identifications as lesbian, gay, bisexual, heterosexual, asexual, polyamorous, and queer. Sexuality and Queer Studies is thus necessarily concerned with the structural inequalities wrought not only by sexism, homophobia, and transphobia but by racism, economic exploitation, imperialism, global traffic, religious oppression, and ableism, among other instruments or expressions of inequality. As part of the Women's and Gender Studies Program, the minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies has a primary commitment to prepare students to analyze systems of power and privilege, to examine the causes, manifestations, and consequences of institutional discrimination of every kind, and to understand and respect a range of cultural perspectives. Not only the topics in our curriculum but the writings, theories, and empirical research we assign are deliberately diverse in the ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender identity, nationality, and range of physical abilities of their authors. As a program we are committed to what has been recently identified as intersectionality: a theory that recognizes the interconnected nature of experience, discrimination, and privilege, and that explores the interactive ways in which identities intersect or converge to form patterns of dominance, subordination, exclusion and possibility.

How to Become a Minor

The program is open to all Brandeis undergraduates. Students should take the core course, SQS 6b, Sexuality and Queer Studies, as soon as possible, preferably in the first or second year. Students are required to declare the minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies no later than the beginning of their senior year, by meeting with the Undergraduate Advising Head and filling out a declaration form available from the Office of Academic Services. In consultation with the student, the Undergraduate Advising Head will assign each student an adviser, chosen from program faculty, who will assist the student in structuring a coherent course of study.

Faculty

Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman (on leave academic year 2014-2015)
(African and Afro-American Studies, English)

Bernadette Brooten (on leave academic year 2014-2015)
(Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Classical Studies, Religious Studies, Women's and Gender Studies)

Wendy Cadge
(HSSP, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies)

ChaeRan Freeze (on leave spring 2015)
(Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, History, Women's and Gender Studies)

Thomas A. King
(English, Women's and Gender Studies)

Ann Koloski-Ostrow
(Classical Studies, Anthropology, Fine Arts, Women's and Gender Studies)

Sarah Lamb
(Anthropology, Health: Science, Society, and Policy, South Asian Studies, Women's and Gender Studies)

Sue Lanser
(English, Comparative Literature, History of Ideas, Women's and Gender Studies)

Paul Morrison
(English, Film, Television and Interactive Media)

Faith Smith
(African and Afro-American Studies, English, 
Latin American and Latino Studies, Women's and Gender Studies)

Requirements for the Minor

Students enrolled in Sexuality and Queer Studies will take five semester courses, as follows:

A. SQS 6b (Sexuality and Queer Studies). Ideally SQS 6b should be taken as the first course, as it provides an introduction to critical theories of gender and sexuality, the history of LGBTIAQ activism in the United States, and methods of analysis.

B. One course focusing on the history of sexuality and gender prior to WWII or gender constructs, sexuality, and cultural systems from a comparative perspective. The following courses fulfill this requirement: ANTH 144a, ANTH 166b, CLAS 140a, COML 150b, ENG 64b, ENG 120a, ENG 153A, FA 84A, HISP 121b, HIST 142b, NEJS 29a, NEJS 148b, NEJS 166a. Note: ENG 57b may count towards the historical requirement with the addition of a paper (or equivalent project) on the topic of sexualities and/or queer studies and prior permission of the Undergraduate Advising Head.

C. Three additional courses chosen from the list of SQS Elective Courses given below. Two of these three courses must be at the 100-level.

D. Students may substitute a course from the Elective Courses (requiring a substantial paper) category listed below for one of the three required elective courses. Students taking such a course for credit toward the minor must write a paper (or undertake an equivalent project) on the topic of sexualities and/or queer studies and receive approval from the Undergraduate Advising Head prior to enrolling in the course.

E. With the approval of the Undergraduate Advising Head, students may substitute an independent study, internship, senior essay, or other capstone experience, taken under a SQS course number, for one of these four courses. Students must submit a proposal (including the project description, methodology, and working bibliography, or, in the case of an internship, the objectives, proposed written work, and criteria of evaluation) for approval by their faculty adviser and the UAH before the end of the semester preceding that in which they will undertake the project.

F. Students who wish to minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies and major in Women's and Gender Studies may count no more than two courses toward both degrees. Students who wish to minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies and minor in Women's and Gender Studies may count no more than one course toward both degrees.

G. No course with a final grade below C- can count toward fulfilling the requirements for the minor in Sexuality and Queer Studies. No course counting for the minor may be taken on a pass/fail basis.

Courses of Instruction

(1-99) Primarily for Undergraduate Students

SQS 6b Sexuality and Queer Studies
[ hum ss ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took WMGS 6b in prior years.
Examines cross-cultural and historical perspectives on sexual meanings, experiences, representations, and activist movements within a framework forged by contemporary critical theories of gender and sexuality. Usually offered every year.
Staff

Core Course

SQS 6b Sexuality and Queer Studies
[ hum ss ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took WMGS 6b in prior years.
Examines cross-cultural and historical perspectives on sexual meanings, experiences, representations, and activist movements within a framework forged by contemporary critical theories of gender and sexuality. Usually offered every year.
Staff

SQS Elective Courses: Historical or Comparative Focus

ANTH 144a The Anthropology of Gender
[ nw ss wi ]
Examines gender constructs, sexuality, and cultural systems from a comparative perspective. Topics include the division of labor, rituals of masculinity and femininity, the vexing question of the universality of women's subordination, cross-cultural perspectives on same-sex sexualities and transsexuality, the impact of globalization on systems, and the history of feminist anthropology. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Hannig, Ms. Lamb or Ms. Schattschneider

ANTH 166b Queer Anthropology: Sexualities and Genders in Cross-Cultural Perspective
[ ss ]
Explores ethnographic approaches to the study of sexuality and gender in diverse cultural contexts, such as the US, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico. Examines how sexuality intersects with other cultural forms, including gender, race, ethnicity, labor, religion, colonialism and globalization. Explores also how the discipline of anthropology has been shaped by engagements with questions of sexuality and the field of queer studies. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Lamb and Ms. Schattschneider

CLAS 140a Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Greek and Roman Art and Text
[ ca hum ]
An exploration of women, gender, and sexuality in ancient Greece and Rome as the ideological bases of Western attitudes toward sex and gender. Includes, in some fashion, Greek and Roman myth, literature, art, architecture, and archaeological artifacts. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

COML 150b Critique of Erotic Reason
[ hum ]
Explores transformations in erotic sensibilities in the novel from the early nineteenth century to the present. Works by Goethe, Austen, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Schopenhauer, Bronte, Chekhov, Garcia-Marquez, Kundera, and Cormac McCarthy. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Dowden

ENG 64b From Libertinism to Sensibility: Pleasure and the Theater, 1660-1800
[ hum ]
Investigates the exchange between performance texts and contemporaneous discussions of class, nationality, and political party. Emphasizes the emergence of modern gender and sexual roles and the impact of the first professional women actors. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. King

ENG 120a The Orlando Project
[ hum ]
Explores the uses of pastoral in queer literary history and for a queered understanding of selfhood. Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando: A Biography guides a survey of English pastoral, queer and postcolonial literary criticism, and feminist and queer ecocriticism. Pondering the nature and capacities of poetry, gendered selfhood, erotic desire, and even Nature itself, Orlando canvasses the history of English literature and criticism from the age of Shakespeare to that of Freud. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. King

ENG 153a Enlightenment of the Flesh: Reading and Writing Sex in the Eighteenth Century
[ hum ]
Reading libertine and erotic writing alongside medical and philosophical treatises and commercially mainstream fiction, we will ask how practices of writing and reading sex contributed to the emergence and surveillance of a private self knowable through its bodily sex and sensations. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. King

FA 84a Sex and Space
[ ca ]
For students 18 years of age and above.
Explores the multidimensional aspects of sex in shaping architectural myths, designs, discourses and critical theories through lectures, class discussions, student presentation of case studies, student building of architectural models, viewing of short films, and field trips in Greater Boston. Active student engagement with and participation in this course is a must. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Grigor

HISP 121b Teatro Español: Lope y Lorca
[ fl hum ]
Prerequisite: HISP 109b, or HISP 110a, or HISP 111b, or permission of the instructor.
Examines drama of Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) in the context of that of Lope de Vega (1561-1635), considering theories of theater, gender, and sexuality. Both writers were renowned during their lifetimes and mythicized afterwards for their art and their remarkable personal lives. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Fox

HIST 142b History of Sexualities in Europe
[ ss ]
Formerly offered as HIST 55b.
Explores a social history of sexualities in Europe from early modern to contemporary times. Topical emphasis on changing patterns in kinship, child rearing, gender differentiation, immodesty, and marriage. Usually offered every 3 years.
Ms. Kelikian

NEJS 29a Feminist Sexual Ethics in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
[ hum ]
Analyzes a variety of feminist critiques of religious texts and traditions and proposed innovations in theology and religious law. Examines biblical, rabbinic, and Qur'anic texts. Explores relation to U.S. law and to the social, natural, and medical sciences. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Brooten

NEJS 148b Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews and Christians: Sources and Interpretations
[ hum ]
Introduction to the classical Jewish and Christian sources on same-sex love and on gender ambiguity and to a variety of current interpretations of them, to the evidence for same-sex love and gender fluidity among Jews and Christians through the centuries, and to current religious and public policy debates about same-sex love and gender identity and expression. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Brooten

NEJS 166a Carnal Israel: Exploring Jewish Sexuality from Talmudic Times to the Present
[ hum ]
Explores the construction of Jewish sexuality from Talmudic times to the present. Themes include rabbinic views of sex, niddah, illicit relations, masculinity, medieval erotic poetry, Ashkenazi and Sephardic sexual practices, and sexual symbolism in mystic literature; the discourse on sex, race, and nationalism in Europe; debates about masculinity, sexual orientation, and stereotypes in America and Israel. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Freeze

SQS Elective Courses

AAAS 125b Caribbean Women and Globalization: Sexuality, Citizenship, Work
[ ss wi ]
Utilizing perspectives from sociology, anthropology, fiction, and music to examine the relationship between women's sexuality and conceptions of labor, citizenship, and sovereignty. The course considers these alongside conceptions of masculinity, contending feminisms, and the global perspective. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Smith

ANTH 142a AIDS: Science, Society, and Policy
[ ss ]
An examination of the AIDS pandemic from cross-cultural and anthropological perspectives. Topics include biosocial approaches to disease, epidemiology of transmission, national and international institutions, prevention and treatment, and ethical issues; case studies from the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Kammerer

CLAS 140a Women, Gender, and Sexuality in Greek and Roman Art and Text
[ ca hum ]
An exploration of women, gender, and sexuality in ancient Greece and Rome as the ideological bases of Western attitudes toward sex and gender. Includes, in some fashion, Greek and Roman myth, literature, art, architecture, and archaeological artifacts. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Koloski-Ostrow

COML 150b Critique of Erotic Reason
[ hum ]
Explores transformations in erotic sensibilities in the novel from the early nineteenth century to the present. Works by Goethe, Austen, Kierkegaard, Tolstoy, Schopenhauer, Bronte, Chekhov, Garcia-Marquez, Kundera, and Cormac McCarthy. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Dowden

ENG 64b From Libertinism to Sensibility: Pleasure and the Theater, 1660-1800
[ hum ]
Investigates the exchange between performance texts and contemporaneous discussions of class, nationality, and political party. Emphasizes the emergence of modern gender and sexual roles and the impact of the first professional women actors. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. King

ENG 87a Sex and Race in the American Novel
[ hum ]
Depictions of racial and sexual others abound in American literature of the twentieth century. Reading texts across racial, geographical, and temporal divides, this course investigates the representation of non-normative sexualities as signaled, haunted, or repaired by an appeal to race. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Abdur-Rahman

ENG 87b Queer Readings: Beyond Stonewall
[ hum ]
How have LGBTQ writers explored the consolidation, diaspora, and contestation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer personhoods since the 1960s? Texts include fiction, poetry, drama, memoirs, and film. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. King

ENG 107a Women Writing Desire: Caribbean Fiction and Film
[ hum ]
About eight novels of the last two decades (by Cliff, Cruz, Danticat, Garcia, Kempadoo, Kincaid, Mittoo, Nunez, Pineau, Powell, or Rosario), drawn from across the region, and read in dialogue with popular culture, theory, and earlier generations of male and female writers of the region. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Smith

ENG 120a The Orlando Project
[ hum ]
Explores the uses of pastoral in queer literary history and for a queered understanding of selfhood. Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando: A Biography guides a survey of English pastoral, queer and postcolonial literary criticism, and feminist and queer ecocriticism. Pondering the nature and capacities of poetry, gendered selfhood, erotic desire, and even Nature itself, Orlando canvasses the history of English literature and criticism from the age of Shakespeare to that of Freud. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. King

ENG 150a Sex and Cinema
[ hum ]
Studies the construction and representation of sexuality, both normative and deviant, in film from the 1930's to the present day. We will pay particular attention to evolving strategies of censorship and resistance to it. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. Morrison

ENG 151a Queer Studies
[ hum ]
Recommended preparation: An introductory course in gender/sexuality and/or a course in critical theory.
Historical, literary, and theoretical perspectives on the construction and performance of queer subjectivities. How do queer bodies and queer representations challenge heteronormativity? How might we imagine public spaces and queer citizenship? Usually offered every second year.
Mr. King

ENG 153a Enlightenment of the Flesh: Reading and Writing Sex in the Eighteenth Century
[ hum ]
Reading libertine and erotic writing alongside medical and philosophical treatises and commercially mainstream fiction, we will ask how practices of writing and reading sex contributed to the emergence and surveillance of a private self knowable through its bodily sex and sensations. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. King

ENG 181a Making Sex, Performing Gender
[ hum ]
Recommended preparation: An introductory course in gender/sexuality and/or a course in critical theory.
Gender and sexuality studied as sets of performed traits and cues for interactions among social actors. Readings explore the possibility that differently organized gender and sexual practices are possible for men and women. Usually offered every third year.
Mr. King

FA 84a Sex and Space
[ ca ]
For students 18 years of age and above.
Explores the multidimensional aspects of sex in shaping architectural myths, designs, discourses and critical theories through lectures, class discussions, student presentation of case studies, student building of architectural models, viewing of short films, and field trips in Greater Boston. Active student engagement with and participation in this course is a must. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Grigor

NEJS 29a Feminist Sexual Ethics in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
[ hum ]
Analyzes a variety of feminist critiques of religious texts and traditions and proposed innovations in theology and religious law. Examines biblical, rabbinic, and Qur'anic texts. Explores relation to U.S. law and to the social, natural, and medical sciences. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Brooten

NEJS 148b Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Jews and Christians: Sources and Interpretations
[ hum ]
Introduction to the classical Jewish and Christian sources on same-sex love and on gender ambiguity and to a variety of current interpretations of them, to the evidence for same-sex love and gender fluidity among Jews and Christians through the centuries, and to current religious and public policy debates about same-sex love and gender identity and expression. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Brooten

NEJS 166a Carnal Israel: Exploring Jewish Sexuality from Talmudic Times to the Present
[ hum ]
Explores the construction of Jewish sexuality from Talmudic times to the present. Themes include rabbinic views of sex, niddah, illicit relations, masculinity, medieval erotic poetry, Ashkenazi and Sephardic sexual practices, and sexual symbolism in mystic literature; the discourse on sex, race, and nationalism in Europe; debates about masculinity, sexual orientation, and stereotypes in America and Israel. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Freeze

NEJS 178a Love, Sex, and Power in Israeli Culture
[ hum ]
Taught in Hebrew.
Explores questions of romance, gender, marriage, and jealousy in the Israeli context by offering a feminist and psychoanalytic reading of Hebrew texts, works of art, and film. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Szobel

THA 145a Queer Theater: Wilde to Fabulous
[ ca ]
Explores significant plays that have shaped and defined gay identity during the past 100 years. Playwrights span Wilde to Kushner. Examining texts as literature, history, and performance, we will explore religion, poiltics, gender, the AIDS epidemic, and coming out. Usually offered every third year.
Staff

SQS Elective Courses (requiring a substantial paper)

Students taking a complementary courses for credit toward the minor must write a paper (or undertake an equivalent project) on the topic of sexualities and/or queer studies.

AMST 60a The Legal Boundaries of Public and Private Life
[ ss ]
May not be taken for credit by students who took AMST 187a in prior years.
Examine civil liberties through landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases. Explores confrontations between public interest and personal rights across four episodes in American cultural history; post-Civil War race relations; progressive-era economic regulation; war-time free-speech debates; and current issues of sexual and reproductive privacy. Close legal analysis supplemented by politics, philosophy, and social history. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Gaskins

AMST 124b American Love and Marriage
[ ss ]
Ideas and behavior relating to love and marriage are used as lenses to view broader social patterns such as family organization, generational conflict, and the creation of professional and national identity. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Antler

AMST 139b Race and Gender in the News
[ ss ]
Examines the ways in which news coverage of women and minorities has both shaped our understanding of gender and race in the United States and influenced the tone and content of public discourse on such policy matters as gay marriage, pay equity, and racial profiling. We will consider the implications of the historical under-representation of women and minorities in the nation's newsrooms for efforts to combat cultural stereotyping of blacks, women, ethnic minorities and the GLBT community. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. McNamara

ANTH 145a Anthropology of the Body
[ ss ]
Explores a range of theories that use the body to understand society, culture, and gender. Topics include how social values and hierarchies are written in, on, and through the body; the relationship between body and gender identity; and experiences and images of the body cross-culturally. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Lamb or Ms. Schattschneider

ECON 69a The Economics of Race and Gender
[ ss ]
Prerequisite: ECON 2a or 10a.
The role of race and gender in economic decision making. Mainstream and alternative economic explanations for discrimination, and analysis of the economic status of women and minorities. Discussion of specific public policies related to race, class, and gender. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Brainerd

ENG 57b Writing the Nation: James Baldwin, Philip Roth, Toni Morrison
[ hum ]
An in-depth study of three major American authors of the twentieth century. Highlights the contributions of each author to the American literary canon and to its diversity. Explores how these novelists narrate cross-racial, cross-gendered, cross-regional, and cross-cultural contact and conflict in the United States. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Abdur-Rahman

NEJS 178b Masculinity and Femininity in Israeli Film, Literature, and Culture
[ hum ]
Taught in English.
Focuses on Israeli film, literature, and culture, exploring how film and literature represent and establish masculinity and femininity. Examines the ways in which film and literature reflect the politics, religions, conflicts, and ideologies of Israeli society. Usually offered every second year.
Ms. Szobel

PHIL 108a Philosophy and Gender
[ hum ]
Prerequisite: PHIL 1a or PHIL 17a.
Explores the place of gender in the works of particular Western philosophers (e.g., Kant, Hume, and Rousseau) and uses the tools of contemporary analytic philosophy to address questions about gender equality, sexual objectification, and the nature of masculinity. Usually offered every third year.
Ms. Smiley

SOC 115a Masculinities
[ ss ]
Men's experiences of masculinity have only recently emerged as complex and problematic. This course inquires into concepts, literature, and phenomenology of many framings of masculinity. The analytic schemes are historical, sociological, and social-psychological. Usually offered every second year.
Mr. Fellman

SOC 189a Sociology of Body and Health
[ ss ]
Explores theoretical considerations of the body as a cultural phenomenon intersecting with health, healing, illness, disease, and medicine. Focuses on how gender, race, class, religion, and other dimensions of social organization shape individual experiences and opportunities for agency and resistance. Usually offered every year.
Ms. Shostak

WMGS 89a When Violence Hits Home: Internship in Domestic Violence
Combines fieldwork in domestic and sexual violence prevention programs with a fortnightly seminar exploring cultural and interpersonal facets of violence from a feminist perspective. Topics include theories, causes and prevention of rape, battering, child abuse, and animal abuse. Internships provide practical experience in local organizations such as rape crisis, battered women's violence prevention, and child abuse prevention programs. Usually offered every fall.
Ms. Hunter