Intro to Feminist Theory
This course will familiarize students with the debates, key concepts, and conflicts that have informed contemporary articulations of feminist discourse. Rather than presume the content of the term “feminist theory,” the course will interrogate the politics of what and who is attributed to this name in an effort to work through the political, cultural, economic, and academic work that this term does. Through discussion, class presentations, and research assignments, students will explore the varied ways gender, feminism, and theory are produced through constellations of nation, race, citizenship, sexuality, and class in different historical and cultural contexts. The course will foreground the relationship between theory, social justice, and activism and explore how these can be mutually-informing projects.
Topics covered will include the production of racialized, gendered, and sexualized bodies through cultural technologies; biopower; marxism and dialectical materialism; liberalism, social contract theory, and their critiques; the prison-industrial-military-education complex; feminism in/and/of war; citizenship and mobility; art and social justice projects; and the role of theory and activism in the remaking of social imaginaries. Students will be responsible for using, critiquing, and transforming the ideas presented in order to imagine, research, and articulate their own intellectual projects.
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the core feminist ideas and debates concerning gender, women and men, and their political, social and economic positions over the last two hundred years. While we will focus on the United States, there will be some engagement with global feminist perspectives on gender, race, class, and sexuality. In keeping with the activist nature of feminist theory, this course will approach “theory” as attempts to answer fundamental questions about the practices that shape our everyday lives, rather than merely a collection of texts. Theory in this sense is a tool for thinking systematically about how the world works, and for constructing arguments about how it should work. Consequently, we will pay particular attention to the (de)construction of power in both public and private relations as we critically analyze texts, discuss and present ideas in class, and complete organized written analyses that build on feminists who have come before us.