Gender and Sexuality Studies

Fence with many colored slats reflected in a puddle

In 2016 the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality (CSGS) celebrated its twentieth anniversary, marking two decades of research, coursework, and programming dedicated to studying the conceptual categories of women, gender, and sexuality across disciplinary boundaries. MAPH students can choose to take courses entirely in Gender and Sexuality, but many also pursue classes in subject areas like Art History, Cinema and Media Studies, Comparative Literature, English, Philosophy, and Romance Languages and Literatures.

Selected Faculty

Portrait of Chelsea Foxwell

Chelsea Foxwell

Japanese Art (with a focus on 20th and 21st c.), history of art display and exhibition, kabuki theater
Portrait of Mark Miller

Mark Miller

Critical Theory| Gender and Sexuality| Medieval Literature| Literature and Philosophy
Portrait of Anna Elena Torres

Anna Elena Torres

Jewish Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, Anarchism and Labor History, Disability, Diaspora Studies, Religion, Translation, Yiddish

Sample Courses

GNSE 32020 - Gender, Agency, and Liberation in the Middle East: Women’s Movements in Turkey, Iran, and N. Syria (Sevda Numanbayraktaroglu)
This course critically examines gender, agency, and liberation in the Middle East. The course will begin with a discussion of human agency, its relation to sociocultural context, and the feminist literature on the issues of agency, resistance, and liberation. Then, we will explore these relationships in non-Western contexts by drawing examples from Turkey, Iran, and Northern Syria. In the cases of Turkey and Iran, we will focus on the feminist movements and women’s collective actions for the right to wear and take off the headscarf. In the case of Northern Syria, we will explore the agencies of Kurdish female guerrillas and their conceptions of empowerment. In each case, we will focus on the moral and ethical principles that guide women’s choices and trace their sociohistorical foundations.

GNSE 35700 - Sex, Gender, and Sexuality in the Middle Ages (Mark Miller)
The field of gender and sexuality in medieval Western Europe is both familiar and exotic. Medieval poetry is fascinated by the paradoxical inner workings of desire, and poetic, theological, and philosophical texts develop sophisticated terms for analyzing it. Feminine agency is at once essential to figurations of sexual difference and a scandal to them. Ethical self-realization gets associated both with abstinence and with orgasmic rapture. This course will examine these and other topics in medieval gender and sexuality through reading a range of materials including poetry, theology, gynecological treatises, hagiography, and mystical writing.

GNSE 39162 - Masquerade as Critique (Leah Pires)
Critique is most often figured as an act that reveals a reality that was previously hidden, as though one were pulling back a curtain or lifting a veil. But, as the critic Craig Owens points out, "in a culture in which visibility is always on the side of the male, invisibility on the side of the female…are not the activities of unveiling, stripping, laying bare…unmistakably male prerogatives"? This interdisciplinary seminar develops an alternate genealogy of critique informed by feminist, queer, and Black studies perspectives. It eschews the modernist drive toward transparency, instead examining tactics of resistance such as masquerade, disidentification, appropriation, drag, fugitivity, and critical fabulation.

GNSE 38230 - Fashion and Change: Theory of Fashion (Tim Campbell)
This course will offer a representative view of foundational and recent fashion theory and fashion history, with a historical focus on the long modern era extending from the eighteenth century to the present. While engaging the general aesthetic and commercial phenomenon of fashion, we will devote special attention to fashion as a discourse preoccupied with the problem of cultural change—the surprisingly difficult question of how and why change does or does not happen. We will aim for a broader appreciation of fashion’s inner workings, but we will also confront the long tradition of thinking culture through fashion, to ask how we might also do the same.

Visit the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality's course page for an extended listing of classes and descriptions.

The Gender and Sexuality Studies Option

Students who would like a more directed course of study may want to complete the MAPH Gender and Sexuality Studies Option. Students who complete the following requirements will receive a Gender and Sexuality Studies notation on their MAPH transcript:

  • The MAPH Core Course (Foundations of Interpretive Theory)
  • Three Gender and Sexuality Studies courses, one of which is strongly preferred to be  Advanced Theories in Gender and Sexuality or another approved theories course
  • An MA thesis in gender and/or sexuality studies under the supervision of a GSS-affiliated faculty member

Recent Gender and Sexuality Thesis Projects

"The Still Carnival: Queer Time, Being, and Potential in Orlando and Freak Orlando"
Yi Ying Luo, MAPH '21
Advisor: David Levin

"“Down Came the Rock”: The Intertwined Performances of Gender, Empathy, and Violence in George Saunders’s “Victory Lap”"
Ellie Winthrop, MAPH '21
Advisor: Tristan Schweiger

"Identification at Play: Gender Identification and Media Enjoyment in Digital Games"
Yining Wu, MAPH '21
Advisor: Daniel Morgan

"About Face: Female Frontality in the Khorsabad Ivories"
Rafaela Brosnan, MAPH '19
Advisor: Seth Estrin

"The Fragmented Body: Female Body in Tang Yin’s Painting"
Xuanlin Ye, MAPH '21
Advisor: Wu Hung