Gender and Sexuality Studies Course Descriptions

Because gender and sexuality studies is interdisciplinary, many of its courses are taught in several academic departments. These courses are approved by the advisory board and are listed on APR 2.0 with both gender and sexuality studies and the relevant department(s). Students are advised to consult each semester’s Course Catalog to review the current offering of gender and sexuality studies cross-listed elective courses. Additionally, Special Topics electives are offered most semesters.

103.        Gender and Society.

This interdisciplinary course examines gender roles, identities and institutions through their intersections with race, ethnicity, class and sexuality.

201.        Gender in Global Perspective.

Gender constructs cultural, political and socio-economic relations across class and racial lines in the Western world and throughout the rest of the world, although the concepts and structures that define gender roles can and do differ significantly. This course examines the global constructions of gender through examples chosen from indigenous and diasporic communities in Asia, Africa and the Americas; discusses the variable impacts that these constructions have had particularly on women’s lives; and introduces theories of transnational feminism. Also offered through Global Studies and Peace Studies.

224.        Global Advocacy for Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Heath

Global advocacy for women's sexual, reproductive health and rights Women are not waiting to be saved or given their rights, they act on their own behalf and advocate for others. Women-led movements have successfully changed laws and attitudes about the causes they represent and sometimes victory is denied, delayed, or arrives disguised in unexpected packages. This course will examine advocacy for women's sexual and reproductive health and rights. Students will work in groups to identify, design and implement an advocacy project to address a sexual, reproductive or rights concern on SLU campus. Project outcomes will be discussed and presented in class.

272.        Coming-Out Stories.

Among the many questions this course addresses: Are identity politics in contemporary North American culture passé, boring and irrelevant? How does the critical literature help us better engage the autobiographical pieces that lesbians write? How do lesbians negotiate the rugged terrain of feminism? How do African-American lesbians choose the oppression to which they hold allegiance? The purpose is not simply to compare and consider the profundity (and often trauma) of the experience of “coming out,” but also to define terms we think we understand or know. 

280.        Sexuality, Society and Culture.

An exploration of the cultural facets of our sexuality and how we come to understand sexuality in our everyday lives. Are sexual feelings biological, or do they emerge from particular historical and social formations? How does sexuality come to operate as something that is just natural? What does love have to do with it? How has the concept of sexuality shifted from sex acts to sexual identities? How is sexuality linked to race, class and gender? How is sexuality linked to the political? The answers to these questions provide a broad understanding of gender and sexuality studies. We rigorously examine the concept of sexuality through theoretical, empirical and creative frameworks.

290.        Gender and Feminist Theory.

This course examines theoretical explanations of gender, gender difference and gender inequality in society. The course includes introductions to some of the questions that shape contemporary feminist theory, feminist writings in multiple disciplines and feminist movements inside and outside the academy. The course focuses on how an awareness of intersections of race, class, sexuality, gender and ethnicity is vital for disciplinary and interdisciplinary study in feminist theory. Theoretical works are drawn from the humanities, arts and literature and the social sciences. Prerequisite: GNDR 103. Also offered as PHIL 290.

301.        Studies in Masculinities.

This course calls on students to investigate their own lives in relation to historically and locally dominant prescriptions of what men and women “should” be. Combining readings of “great books” with a wide range of material from the burgeoning field of critical studies of masculinity, the course also includes a field research methods component that enables students to design and carry out creative research projects into the local gender systems in which they attempt to forge their own identities. Also offered through African-American Studies.

315.        Feminist Political Theory.

This course will introduce you to some of the ways by which feminists draw from and transforms political theory, as well as how political theory may inform or help us to understand feminist claims and activism.  We will read feminist analysis from the 1980s to the present. Through our readings, we will explore concepts that are central to political theory (such as freedom, agency, citizenship, and rights) through feminist lenses, and explore how these new ways of thinking can help us to envision society in new ways. We will also explore the implications of theory for public policy and political activism.  It will be important that students read closely and carefully, and that they are prepared to engage in conversation.  Prerequisites: Students should have taken either Political Theory (GOVT 206), Gender and Feminist Theory (GNDR 290), or have permission from the instructor to enroll in this course.

318.        Gender in the Middle East

Gender constructs cultural, political, and socio-economic relations across class and racial lines in the West and throughout the rest of the world, although the concepts and structures that define gender roles can differ significantly. The aim of this course is to offer an overview of the key issues in the study of gender in the Middle East. It will provide a specific area focus for students of gender and global studies while providing a gendered understanding of prevailing discourses, ideologies, social practices, and trends for those students interested in Middle East societies, laws and politics. The course is interdisciplinary in scope; therefore the readings and theoretical underpinnings rang from history and sociology to anthropology, political science, and media studies, including contracting movies and documentaries made in the Middle East and those made in the West about the Middle East. Pre-requisite: GS-102 or GNDR-103.

334.        Feminist Philosophy.

An introduction to some of the questions that shape feminist philosophy today. What connections are there between feminist philosophy and feminist writing in other disciplines and feminist movements inside and outside the academy? Does feminist philosophy transform traditional philosophical discourse and the academy? The course focuses on how an awareness of intersections of race, class, sexuality, gender and ethnicity is vital for disciplinary and interdisciplinary study in feminist philosophy. Also offered as PHIL 334.

335.        Sex Talk.

Sex and communication have a strange relationship. Even though mediated depictions of sex and sexuality are everywhere, our cultural scripts impede frank discussions about sex. This course explores the communicative and rhetorical dimensions of sex and intimacy through a critical lens. This course defines sex and sexuality broadly and spans such topics as interpersonal communication (e.g., negotiating boundaries, consent, STI disclosures), digital communication (e.g., dating apps and pornography), & public rhetoric (e.g., survivor testimonies and stigma). This course is approved as an elective for Public Health.

352.        Transnational Feminist Activism.

This course examines social, economic, political and cultural projects throughout the world organized by women to address the concerns of women. We investigate specific groups that identify themselves as feminist as well as the various feminisms that define them. Equally important are those groups that reject or challenge the label of feminism as a Western and therefore imperialist or neo-imperialist ideology and present alternatives for women’s collective action. Finally, we explore the possibilities and practices of transnational or women’s global activism by participating in a community-based learning project with a local organization engaged in feminist activism. Satisfies one praxis requirement.

367.        Feminist Post-Colonial Theory.

Postcolonial theory addresses issues of identity, culture, literature and history arising from the social context of colonization, resistance to colonization, liberation from colonization and the formation of new nations. It crosses the boundaries of the social sciences and humanities in its approach to theory and analysis of the discourses used to constitute colonial and postcolonial subjects. We begin with some classic texts of postcolonial theory before moving to a focus on specifically feminist debates and texts within postcolonial studies. Literature and film are used in dialog with theoretical texts to examine questions about gender and women’s issues in various societies. Also offered as GS 367, ENG 367 and PHIL 367.

369.        Making Sexualities.

Sexuality culturally operates as a central trope by which we come to “know” ourselves as sexed people (that is, female or male) and how we come to understand our desire. In this course we unpack sexuality from a cultural and gendered perspective — we discuss how we have come to know sexuality culturally, materially and in our everyday lives. In doing so, we explore topics such as the invention of modern notions of sexualities, queer identity, love, pornography and sex work through reading, writing, artistic expression and research. This course is reading and writing-intensive.

479,480. SYE: Internships.

Students are required to spend eight hours per week in an internship at an agency that deals with gender-related issues and problems, such as sexual identity, domestic violence, sexual assault, the feminization of poverty, and conceptions of masculinity and femininity among students. Students reflect on their experiences in a journal that applies gender studies concepts to the experiences, attend bi-monthly service learning workshops with other campus interns, and prepare a research paper related to issues relevant to the internship. Prerequisite: GS 103 and permission of the instructor.

489,490. SYE: Independent Study.

Individual study of a topic, which must be approved by the gender and sexuality studies advisory board in the semester prior to be undertaken. Independent study may be used to satisfy the sixth course research requirement. Prerequisite: GS 103 and permission of the instructor.