Courses

Students enroll in the following courses (4 semester credits each) for a total of 16 semester credits:

WGST 243: Situated Feminisms: Socio-Political Systems and Gender Issues Across Europe

This course examines the historical emergence and contemporary conditions of women’s, feminist and LGBTQ activisms in four different Western and East Central European countries. We will study the impact of the European colonial heritage on the lives of women and minorities in various European communities, as well as the continuing legacies of the Second World War, the Cold War and of the EU expansion into Eastern Europe. We will zoom in onto such topics as reproductive rights, LGBT and queer politics, homonationalism, backlash against “gender ideology,” sex work, trafficking, immigrant/refugee issues, challenges faced by women of color and by Jewish people in Europe, the legacy of state socialism in Eastern Europe, as well as the implications of European feminisms in the history of colonialism. These topics will be addressed both comparatively and historically, stressing the ‘situated’ nature of women’s, feminist and LGBTQ issues and responses and taking into account the different sociopolitical national frameworks in which they occur.

WGST 244: Cross-Cultural Feminist Methodologies

This course is devoted to selected questions of (1) theory: what are the contours of feminist research in the social sciences and the humanities? and (2) practice: how does one actually conduct feminist research and, more specifically, how does one conduct feminist research cross-culturally?

We will explore some of the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between methodology and knowledge claims in feminist research?
  • How do language and narrative shape experience? How do the practices of interpretation intersect with questions of the authority of the researching subject and her respondents?
  • What are the power interests involved in keeping certain knowledges marginalized/subjugated?
  • How do questions of gender/sex/ethnicity/class, as well as of national and cultural location, figure in these debates?
  • And how is the traditional social science relationship between the researcher and the examined objects redefined within frameworks of feminist research?

We will also pay close attention to questions arising from the hegemony of English as the global language of academia and of WGS as a discipline, and will reflect on what it means to move between different linguistic communities, with each being differently situated in the global hierarchies of power. The course will be centered around feminist approaches to these epistemological and methodological cross-cultural questions, foregrounding such schools of thought and such concepts as social constructivism, standpoint theory, situated knowledges, intersectionality, queer epistemology, and cross-cultural communication as a feminist practice.

WGST 325: Continental Feminist, Queer and Trans Theories

This course frames several central debates in feminist and queer theory in the context of historical and recent local and global pressures on feminist and LGBTQ scholarship and activism across Europe. Addressing the impact of Anglo-American influences in Women’s/Gender Studies, the course examines European, including Eastern European, approaches to key gender, ethnicity, and sexuality topics, raising questions about the transfer of feminist concepts across different cultures and languages.

Some of the topics and themes explored include nationalism and gender, gendered dimensions of Western and Eastern European racisms, the historical influence of psychoanalysis on Continental feminist and queer theories, the implications of European feminisms in the history of colonialism, biopolitics of gender, homonationalism, as well as Eastern European socialist/communist theories of women’s emancipation.

Unique to the WGSE program is a focus on theories exploring symbolic (and gendered) dimensions of Eastern Europe as a location, and on Eastern European feminist responses and contributions to WGS scholarship. This course works hand in hand with the Situated Feminisms and Cross-Cultural Feminist Methodology courses taught on the WGSE program, and it centrally informs and frames the independent research that students conduct while in Europe.

WGST 391: Independent Field Research in Europe

This project is to be self-designed, and the topic and methodology as well as form of the presentation will be determined by the individual student’s major, research interests and needs. It should build on readings and work done by European women and/or sexual and ethnic minority populations, feminist and/or queer theory, feminist research, cross cultural theory and (if applicable) principles of field research. It should be transnational, cross-cultural and comparative, and ideally should involve active field work.

Students will discuss their topic of research interest with the Program Director prior to departure for Europe. This consultation will lead to the students finalizing their research topics, which will be presented in a two-page research proposal. Alterations in this project must be approved by the Program Director.

Drawing on skills developed in the feminist and queer theory and methodology seminars, students will select appropriate research methods and will conduct a sustained research project based on resources located/developed by the student in three of the countries visited. The progress of each research project will be evaluated at regular intervals in relation to parameters established in conjunction with the Program Director (or an external project supervisor if applicable).

View a list of selected independent research topics.

For course syllabi, contact Carleton Global Engagement at global@carleton.edu.