Folklore | Women's Bodies, Women's Selves
E103 | 12219 | N. Kousaleos


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.