How do we perform gender identities in relation to tradition and modernity? A range of classes in LCL examine the question of gender in national and global contexts. (photo: Raúl Díaz)

CLST 319/RELG 319 Sex and Gender in Ancient Religion
Prof. Luke Gorton

This course examines the role and construction of gender (as well as how it is expressed through sexuality) in the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, including both Greco-Roman religion(s) and the religion of Jews and early Christians. Gender is a complex topic, and it cuts across boundaries to the heart of a society's conception of itself. To understand gender in ancient religion, we discuss general ideas pertaining to both before examining the role of gender in a number of areas pertaining to religion, including mythology, ritual, and magic. We then move on to a discussion of sexuality in ancient religion, discussing both laws prohibiting its expression and customs which incorporated sexuality into the very fabric of the religion.

Comparative Literature 332/Africana Studies 380/ Women Studies 397 African Women Writers  Prof. Steve Bishop

In this course we will investigate the contributions a number of African women have made to African literature.  The texts to be read and discussed do not share a geographic, linguistic, or temporal commonality.  Readings will consist of novels and short stories from places as diverse as South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, and Kenya among other places, will be originally in English or translated from French, Arabic, or Portuguese, and will be from the 1950’s through the turn of the century. Themes include, but are not restricted to: Independence from colonization, Women’s role in society, Politics, Love, Race relations, Sexuality, War, and Economics. Aside from looking at these specific issues, we will investigate to what degree their writing is “African”, to what degree it is “feminine”, and to what degree such categorizations are perhaps missing the point.

COMPARATIVE LITERATURE 432/ENGL432/FREN432 Magic, Witchcraft, And Science
Prof. Carmen Nocentelli

The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries laid the foundations of modern science. Yet the period from 1550 to 1650 also saw widespread interest in magic and the occult—and was the height of the “witch-craze” in Europe. Were these contradictory trends or complementary aspects of the same historical development? How did magic differ from witchcraft? And how did magic and witchcraft differ from science? “Magic, Witchcraft, and Science” will attempt to answer these questions through an analysis of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European sources. 

GENDER IN JAPANESE POPULAR CULTURE. JAPN 411 Topics in Japanese Literature and Culture
Prof. Lorie Brau

This seminar investigates “femininities,” “masculinities,” and a host of alternative expressions of gender that are performed in Japanese popular culture. We explore this theme in historical perspective, focusing on particular moments in the early modern, modern and contemporary periods (the seventeenth through twenty-first centuries). How is gender ideology created, performed, maintained, and challenged in popular theatres, film, anime and other Japanese media, as well as through the practices of fans of these performances?  Topics examined may include: Kabuki theatre’s onnagata (female role players) and kabuki stereotypes of femininity;  the all-women’s popular musical theatre company called “Takarazuka;” girls’ manga (shōjo manga), in particular, works that emphasize boys’ love (and yaoi), as well as their fan cultures; shōjo and the “cute” culture lifestyle; masculinity as defined in samurai and yakuza film; alternative masculinities; non-heteronormativity (LGBTI) in Japan.

Comp 580 Eighteenth-Century Women Writers
Prof. Pamela Cheek

Late Enlightenment and early Romantic women writers developed transnational personal networks and explored cosmopolitan themes in their writing in the very period in which literature began to play a crucial role in the imagining of national domestic identity. This course examines the personal and textual relationships among women writing in Britain, France, and parts of what are now Germany and Switzerland (and, to a lesser extent, North America, the Netherlands and Spain). One of our tasks will be to consider why the biography of the woman writer became ineluctably connected, in this period, to her literary production. Another will be to look at the range of “minor” literary forms relegated to women, such as the novel, letters, pedagogical manuals, and travelogues, and how writers often fused these forms in their investigations of the relation between gender, nation and cosmopolitan ideals. We will also consider the role played by national exile and revolution – conditions usually associated with male citizenship ‐‐ in the lives of women writers and of their heroines.