Gender Studies | Seminar in Gender Studies: Consuming Pleasures: Gender, Sexuality & Consumer Culture
G402 | 25468 | Comella, L


Consumer culture is a key site of social participation in everyday
American life.  A number of scholars have documented the gendering
of American consumer culture, and the extent to which practices of
consumption have historically been coded as a female pursuit, a role
succinctly encapsulated by the phrase “born to shop.”  But the
relationship between gender and consumption is not as
straightforward as this adage would have us believe.  In order to
historicize and complicate this idea, this course will explore a
range of theoretical and empirical approaches to consumer culture,
with an explicit focus on the relationship between gender,
sexuality, class, and consumption.  We will examine the rise of mass
consumerism in American society, and the ways in which social
participation, identities, communities, and politics take shape
through various forms of consumerism.  Key texts may include the
following: Consumer Culture and Modernity (Slater); When ladies go a-
thieving : middle-class shoplifters in the Victorian department
store (Abelson); Selling suffrage:  Consumer culture & votes for
women (Finnegan), Hope in Jar: The Making of America’s beauty
culture (Peiss); Purchasing power:  Black kids and American consumer
culture (Chin); and Business, not politics:  The making of the gay
market (Sender).  Prerequisite:  G101 or permission of instructor.