COLL-E 103 22725 Women’s Bodies, Women’s Selves (Kousaleos) (A & H) (3 cr.)

What does it mean to be living inside a female body in contemporary American culture? Are there many cultures within our society and how do these different cultures define the experience differently? Do contemporary cultural scripts for women include this diversity of experience? This course seeks to introduce students to diverse topics affecting gender construction for contemporary American women. The course takes a dual approach, contrasting ethnographic narratives of women’s experience with media representations of the same key topics in gender and cultural studies. Topics to be covered include: sexual violence, fashion and representations of women in popular culture, alternative spirituality, body decoration and alteration, rites of passage such as menarche, marriage, and birth, and sexuality and relationships.

The course teaches students to critically analyze the cultural construction of such concepts as femininity, beauty, and sexuality while at the same time asking them to reflect on and interrogate lived experience and the interaction between personal experience and cultural discourses. The course will train the students to use methods of applied ethnography and will develop skills of critical inquiry in mini fieldwork explorations and journaling throughout the semester. Instruction will include lecture, discussion, small group work, and in class deconstruction of popular media texts such as music video and contemporary film. There will be two essay and short answer exams.