Cultural Studies | Special Topics in Cultural Studies: Global Feminisms
C701 | 11866 | Bose


“Global Feminisms,” co-taught with Maria Bucur (History Department),
will be an inter-disciplinary course on important debates involving
the status of women and feminist agency internationally. Organized
around keywords such as “Gender,” “Subalternity,” “Resistance,”
“Citizenship,” “Sexuality,” and “Imperialism,” the course explores
these terms in different geopolitical contexts such as Europe, South
Asia, and the Middle East. Our aim is to identify patriarchal
paradigms that might be similar in these regions even as we engage
with the specificities of the histories of different geographies.
Course materials will draw from feminist theory, feminist
historiography, novels and films. In our exploration of these
materials, we will follow Cynthia Enloe’s lead to ask what a “feminist
curiosity” can reveal about national and international affairs. A
feminist curiosity raises new questions about the operations of
gender: How do imperialism and its legacy inform gender and the world
order? What role do women play in national liberation movements and
resistance organizations? How does political detention have an impact
on family relations? And how do women become more vocal about
asserting new forms of agency and challenging cultural meanings for
sexual violence and other gender-coded values? Our course materials
will consider how struggles to define masculinity and femininity in
public life are crucial means by which states and corporations advance
their agendas. A feminist curiosity can illuminate the relationship
between women and production and track changes in this relationship
before and after the Cold War. Enabling new definitions of production
itself, a focus on gender shows how national subjects in service of
and against the state are created. In addition, it makes visible the
means by which women are interpellated as both consumers and
commodities in the global economy.

Maria and I approach our scholarship from an interdisciplinary
perspective informed by our training in area studies, and appointments
in Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, History and English. Throughout
the semester, we will encourage students to reflect on the
constitution of archives, the nature of historical evidence, and the
challenges of re-constituting women’s subjectivity and agency in the
absence of voluminous documentation. We will also consider the
significance of narrative form and language in relation to the content
of specific texts, asking what narrative conventions women use in the
telling of their stories. Because some experiences exceed the limits
of language and representation, our explorations will necessarily
wrestle with the challenge of interpreting the silences and gaps in
our materials.

Students should expect to participate actively in class discussion and
produce papers that engage these debates in a
transnational/comparative framework, making use of the
interdisciplinary theoretical tools offered in the course.  Our
readings will include Cynthia Enloe, Bananas, Beaches and Bases; Joan
Scott, Parite!; Meghan De La Hunt, In the Casa Azul; Bapsi Sidhwa,
Cracking India; Sahar Khalifa, Wild Thorns; Margaretta D’Arcy, Tell
Them Everything; as well as selections from books and articles by
scholars such as Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, Gayle Rubin, Geoff Eley, Nira
Yuval-Davis, Dan Haley, and Carol Pateman.