English | Intro to Feminist Critical Studies
L663 | 7106 | Bose

L663/C701  7106/11866   BOSE  (#6)
Intro to Feminist Criticial Studies

3:35p – 5:30p M


L663 “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.