The Graduate Center
The City University of New York
Women’s Studies Certificate Program
Coordinator: Victoria Pitts-Taylor, Room 5116 (817-8896, 817-8905)
The Certificate in Women’s Studies is available to students matriculated in the Ph.D. programs at The Graduate Center. Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary approach to research and scholarship that draws on various disciplines, while challenging disciplinary boundaries. The general aim of the program is to offer critical reflection on the experiences of both women and men in terms of differences of gender, sexuality, race, class, ethnicity and nation. Students are prepared to teach courses and to do research in Women’s Studies and related critical approaches to the disciplines, such as those developed in Queer Studies, Postcolonial Studies, and Cultural Studies. Besides focused course work and guidance in research,
Women’s Studies offers participation in a wide range of graduate students and faculty activities, including lecture series and forums. Students are also invited to participate in the research programs and seminars at the Center for the Study of Women and Society at the Graduate Center.
WSCP 81601 -Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies: New Feminist Epistemologies and Metaphysics
GC W 4:15-6:15 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Linda Martin Alcoff 
This course will cover recent feminist work on questions of knowledge, science, methodology, gender identity, sexed difference, and embodiment. Both the sciences and the social sciences continue to advance theories with evident ideological content (examples include some of the work in evolutionary psychology, debates over female orgasms and the ‘female brain,’ explanations of women’s lower wages based on women’s ‘choices’, etc.) There has been a vigorous debate over the last decade among feminist epistemologists on the questions of androcentrism in science, how to define ‘bias’ and ‘objectivity,’ the role of feminist values in science, the concepts of ‘hermeneutic injustice and ‘epistemologies of ignorance,’ and other issues by Longino, Narayan, Code, Harding, Wylie, Solomon, Lloyd, Saul, Anderson, Medina, and Shotwell. There has also emerged a debate over the metaphysics of gender, or how to understand gender as a category of social identity. Most feminists are anti-naturalists on the topic of gender, but there are many variations between approaches that are historicist, structuralist, phenomenological, deconstructive, and existential. Recent work includes writings by Moi, Butler, Mikkola, Sveinsdottir, Warnke, Lennon, and Haslanger. Feminist metaphysics also overlaps with work in the new feminist materialisms that attempts to bridge political critique with new work in the biological and physical sciences, showing, for example, the effects of social practices on forms of embodiment and reproduction. This course will span work across analytic and continental divisions in philosophy, and also include work in feminist science studies.
WSCP 81000 –Partition, Migration, Memory
GC F 11:45- 1:45 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Meena Alexander  [Cross listed with Engl.76200]
Central to this exploration is the question of postcolonial memory, the archive it generates and function of art in a time of difficulty. We will reflect on the links between territory and text, what it means to write in a world torn by colonial and racial borders, and how the prose work or poem might serve to bring together fragments of history, some real, some imagined. The ways in which gender and sexuality enter into this task and how the body is implicated in the work of memory are important concerns. The short stories of Sadat Hasan Manto shed a fierce light on the lives of common people during the Partition of India. By the side of Manto’s writing we will set the recent novel What the Body Remembers by Shauna Singh Baldwin, and reflect on art by Zarina (Paper Like Skin) and Nalini Malani (In Search of Vanished Blood). And we will consider oral history narratives collected on a North America site. http://www.1947partitionarchive.org Issues of land and dispossession, home and homelessness in the new Indian nation state emerge in writings by Dalits (formerly known as Untouchable). In order to extend our analysis of race and embodiment, colonialism and its aftermath we will read selections from the Carribbean – from Aime Cesaire, Suzanne Roussi Cesaire Edouard Glissant and Derek Walcott. Our exploration will continue with the poems and essays of the Chicago based poet –translator A.K.Ramanujan, V.S.Naipaul’s autobiographical The Enigma of Arrival and Salman Rushdie’s incendiary Satanic Verses. In each of these, the fraught time of the migrant is clarified. Theoretical readings from Appadurai, Bauman, Burton, Das, Glissant, Guha, Huyssen, Merleau-Ponty, Pande, Spivak and others. This course will be run as a seminar with weekly readings and presentations. One mid term essay and one final long essay.
WSCP 81000 – Edith Wharton: Texts and Contexts
GC T 4:15- 6:15 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Hildegard Hoeller  [Cross listed with Engl.85000]
Edith Wharton was a great American writer, a great woman writer, and a great New York writer. Her work is extraordinary versatile—spanning from short stories to fiction, from books on interior decoration, gardening and architecture to unique female reporting and writing about World War I. Her fiction responds to several major literary traditions: sentimental fiction, realism, naturalism, and modernism. Her writing tackles most of the cultural and social concerns of her time, including issues of gender, race, nation, and class. On all of these issues, she held complicated views. Unlike most American writers, she managed simultaneously to become canonized and sell her work successfully as a professional writer. Many Wharton papers are available in reasonable vicinity from us, such as in the Beinecke Library at Yale or the Firestone Library at Princeton University. This seminar will explore Edith Wharton’s wide-ranging work, from her juvenile novella to her last unfinished novel, from her letters to her fiction, from her writing on interior decorating to her World War I writings. It will encourage critical projects that link Wharton to a wide variety of contexts, materials, and critical approaches.
WSCP 81000- Black and Bourgeois in the Flesh: Class, Sex, and the Racial Body
GC R 11:45- 1:45 p.m., Room TBA , 3 credits, Prof. Candice Jenkins [Cross listed with Engl.85500 ]
In this course we will examine how African American authors in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries grapple with the question of black class privilege, and particularly with an inherent tension between the racialized excess of embodiment that accrues to notions of “blackness,” and the tendency of privilege to mask or erase the body's traces. With this ontological dilemma in mind, we will consider how and whyAfrican American narratives of the post-Civil Rights era have articulated black bourgeois identity as a problematically embodied state—implicating interraciality's visible markers as classed signs, but also speaking beyond racial phenotype and its underlying histories, to the ways in which the intersection of "race" and "class" operates viscerally, as corporeal and even libidinal performance.
Throughout our study, we will consider how the unique sociohistorical circumstances surrounding the “black” body--circumstances that recall Hortense Spillers’ crucial distinction between body and flesh and the latter’s “vestibular” relation to Western culture--inform narrative representations of class, and particularly of class privilege, and speak to their complex relationship to corporeality for black subjects. In exploring how African American class privilege lives “in the flesh,” we will consider, as well, the vulnerability and violability of the black body, and how this vulnerability manifests in particular ways in the post-Civil Rights and “post-racial” moment and relates to the fiscal precariousness of the (post-) postmodern and what Jeffrey Nealon calls “just-in-time capitalism.”
Primary texts will include both fiction and memoir--some possibilities are Toi Derricotte’s The Black Notebooks, Percival Everett’s Erasure, Andrea Lee’s Sarah Phillips, Reginald McKnight’s He Sleeps, Toni Morrison’s Tar Baby, Michael Thomas’s Man Gone Down, and Rebecca Walker’s Black, White, and Jewish, among others--as well as films by Spike Lee and Kasi Lemmons. Critical and theoretical readings will include works by Elizabeth Alexander, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Nicole Fleetwood, Sharon Holland, Frederic Jameson, Karyn Lacy, Rupali Mukherjee, Jeffrey Nealon, Naomi Pabst, Darieck Scott, Jared Sexton, Hortense Spillers, Diana Taylor, and Lisa Thompson.
Requirements: participation, weekly discussion-board postings, oral presentation, final seminar paper. Students should read Hortense Spillers’ essay, “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s.
WSCP 81000- Discourses of HIV/AIDS
GC T 11:45- 1:45 p.m., Room TBA , 3 credits, Prof. Steven F. Kruger  [Cross listed with Engl.88200 ]
This course will look intensively at the writing that emerged during the first decade (or so) of the AIDS crisis in the United States. From its identification in 1981 as a new disease phenomenon, AIDS was associated – both in the popular imagination and in “official” scientific/medical and political discourses – with gay men and specifically anal sex, with the illegal use of intravenous drugs, and with particular ethnically/racially marked communities (Haitians, Africans). The challenge of describing, defining, responding to, and grappling with this new phenomenon, then, was – from the outset – intertwined with pre-existing discourses of gender, sexuality, and race, as well as with already established medical understandings (of immunity, infection and contagion, virality, mutation, and so forth). For the first several weeks of the course, we will read a wide range of “documentary” materials – journalism, educational pamphlets, scientific/medical writing, political/activist texts – produced in response to HIV/AIDS, with a particular attention to how these reproduce and revise such pre-existing discourses and understanding. We will then turn to consider how literary/cultural works mobilize, develop, and call into question these broader discourses. Even just for the period 1981-1992, there’s a large literature in which AIDS and people with AIDS stand at the center, but the works on the syllabus will try to represent important movements within that literature: (1) dramatic representations that focus in complicated ways on individuals, relationships, and communities (e.g., Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, William Hoffman’s As Is, Cheryl L. West’s Before It Hits Home, Wayne Corbitt’s Crying Holy, Paula Vogel’s The Baltimore Waltz, Tony Kushner’s Angels in America), (2) performance art (e.g., Diamanda Galas, David Wojnarowicz, Pomo Afro Homos, Tim Miller), (3) poetry (e.g., Melvin Dixon, Adrienne Rich, Assotto Saint, Essex Hemphill, Paul Monette, Marilyn Hacker, Dennis Cooper, David Trinidad, Gil Cuadros), (4) novels as diverse as Paul Reed’s Facing It and Samuel R. Delany’s Flight from Nevèrÿon (two of the first novels to respond to AIDS; other fiction that might be included: John Weir’s The Irreversible Decline of Eddie Socket, Sarah Schulman’s People in Trouble, Rebecca Brown’s The Body and Its Dangers, Alice Hoffman’s At Risk, Geoff Mains’s Gentle Warriors, Larry Duplechan’s Tangled Up in Blue, Tim Barrus’s Genocide: The Anthology), (5) memoir (Monette, Wojnarowicz, Fran Peavey), (6) zines (particularly Diseased Pariah News). In addition, we’ll read some of the powerful critical and theoretical work (by writers like Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Judith Butler, Cindy Patton, Simon Watney, Douglas Crimp, Ross Chambers, Paula Treichler, and Leo Bersani) that emerges in the midst of the early years of the AIDS crisis and that itself analyses and tries to (re)shape the discourses of HIV/AIDS.
Requirements: oral presentations and seminar paper (15-20 pp.).
WSCP 81000 –Representing Trauma: Literature, Theory and Visual Culture
GC W 4:15- 6:15 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Profs. Nancy K. Miller and Mikhal Dekel  [Cross listed with Engl.80600]
Representing Trauma will examine a range of artistic and intellectual engagements with traumatic events: from works by writers and visual artists who have borne witness to these events to theoretical explorations of trauma’s aftermaths. We will focus on extreme experience, ranging from genocide to illness, as represented in literary texts, film, graphic narrative, and photography. Discussing current debates within Trauma Studies as a field, we will look at the relationship between trauma and affect, trauma theory and issues of gender and sexuality, memorialization and the politics of nation, and public and private accounts of embodied suffering.
Writers include: Barthes, Beauvoir, Bialik, Butler, Caruth, Cha, Delbo, Laub, Levi, Krog, Modan, Morrison, O’Brien, Sontag, and Spiegelman.
The work for the course: seminar presentations and a 20-page research paper.
WSCP 81000 –Writing with the Body: Felt Sense, Composing Theories, and New
GC T 4:15- 6:15 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Sondra Perl  [Cross listed with Engl.79020]
Recently, scholars in different disciplines ranging from neuroscience to gender studies have begun to orient their work toward the body, calling on those of us who write (and teach writing) in the 21st century to consider a wide range of questions: What is the connection between bodies and knowing? Between self-portraits experienced by us as creators and presentations of the self viewed by others? Between our physical and virtual presence(s) as we express ourselves through various media? In this seminar, we will take up this call by studying the work of Eugene Gendlin, an experiential phenomenologist who coined the term ‘felt sense,’ and has for over 40 years called into question the Cartesian notion that the mind and the body are separate. This study of Gendlin’s work will be grounded in various experiments in composing in new media, using text, photos, video and multi-modal formats. Descriptions of bodies in motion, acting, creating, performing, and presenting will accompany the theoretical questions and will be used to speak back to current theories of composing circulating within composition studies and elsewhere. Ultimately, we will be looking to create portraits of ourselves as embodied knowers and to flesh out (pun intended) a theory of embodied knowing. Students will be asked to make two presentations: first, each student will critically analyze the work of one composition theorist (think, for example, of Cynthia Selfe or Geoffrey Sirc) or one new media theorist (imagine, among others, Lev Manovich or Katherine Hale); second, each student will create and present a final project in the form of a new media experiment that discloses the various spaces encountered by his or her body during the course of the semester.
WSCP 81000 –Rereading Jane Austen
GC M 11:45- 1:45 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Talia Schaffer  [Cross listed with Eng. 84300]
In "Rereading Jane Austen," we will focus on two aspects of Austen study: Austen's development of the form of the marriage plot that would dominate nineteenth-century fiction, and the changing trends in Austen scholarship over the past half-century. One of the arguments this course will make is that the two subjects are linked; that much Austen criticism is grounded in a desire to imagine Austen as a maritally available (or unavailable) subject, subjecting her to versions of the dynamic she herself developed in her major novels. The course will read Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, possibly Northanger Abbey and some of the juvenilia and unfinished drafts. If time permits, we may also read Victorian rewritings of Austen by Rhoda Broughton and Charlotte Yonge. We will begin the course with historical investigations of the traumatic shifts in notions of marriage and family that occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by Ruth Perry, Naomi Tadmor, Lawrence Stone, and Amanda Vickery, and study the emerging ideas of female roles in this period using Mary Wollstonecraft and Hannah More, along with critics Ellen Jordan, Eve Tabor Bannet, and Barbara Caine. As we move on to the major novels, we will pair each novel with crucial Austen critics and theorists of the marriage plot, including Alistair Duckworth, Tony Tanner, Marilyn Butler, Claudia Johnson, Nancy Armstrong, Clara Tuite, William Deresiewicz, Jill Heydt-Stevenson, Mary Jean Corbett, Eve Sedgwick, and D.A. Miller. In reading both the marriage plot and the criticism, one crucial question will be how desire gets constructed in Austen's world. Does Austen endorse erotic desire as a prerequisite for marriage, and if not, how is she constructing desire? Why has so much Austen scholarship become fixated on sexuality in Austen, and what might be at stake in this investigation? In both the fiction and the criticism, we might ask if it is possible, or useful, to imagine Austen’s marriage plot without reference to erotic desire, and if so, what might take the place of desire, or what other objects of desire might be crucial, in this model. Over all, “Rereading Jane Austen” aims to experiment with reading the Austenian marriage plot in terms of Austen’s own contemporary marital paradigms rather than our own post-Foucaultian assumptions, tracking the way Austen’s notion of marriage alters from the early 1790s novels to the late fiction of the 1810s, critically interrogating a history of Austen scholarship, and attending to the subsequent influence of Austen’s marital paradigms. Presentation, research paper, and blog.
WSCP 81000 –Black Feminism and the Civil Rights Movement
GC R 4:15-6:15 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Michele Wallace  [Cross listed with Eng.85500]
This course will look at crucial and some very recent scholarly black feminist perspectives on the long Civil Rights Movement, from the Brown vs. Bd. Of Education decision “de-segregating the schools and the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 through the early 70s-- the arrest of Angela Davis, the appointment of Aileen Hernandez as the first black president of the National Organization of Women (NOW), Shirley Chisolm’s bid for Presidency, the passage of the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Act) and the founding of the National Black Feminist Organization. At the same time, black women’s writing makes its significant appearance on the central stage of American culture with the publication of Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings, Alice Walker’s The Third Life of Grange Copeland and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.
Our texts will be Johnetta Cole and Beverly Guy Sheftall’s Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African American Communities, Paula Gidding’s When and Where I Enter: The Impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America, Barbara Ransby’s Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Vision, Jeanne Theoharis’s The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks and Danielle McGuire’s At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power. We will rely upon Claybourne Carson’s helpful illustrated overview –Civil Rights Chronicle: The African American Struggle for Freedom (2003) and the documentary series Eyes on the Prize for overall context. My own Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman (1979) may be a starting point or touchstone for some. Yet what is really impressive is how far the scholarship has come since then. Requirements for the course are weekly entries in a written journal and/or online discussion board and a final term (10 pages) or research (20) pages—your choice.
WSCP 81000 –Postcolonial African Narratives
GC T 2:00-4:00 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Barbara Webb  [Cross listed with Eng.85500]
A study of the narratives of Anglophone African writers since the period of decolonization to the present. We will examine their representations of the African struggle to transform the political and cultural legacies of colonialism and the contemporary challenges of political conflict, human rights, and globalization. We will focus on their engagements with nationalist and postcolonial discourse and discuss how issues of gender and sexuality have informed the rethinking of the concept of the nation by a younger generation of writers. Of particular interest, will be how these writers address problems of language and literary form, and how they see their roles as artists and social critics. Our readings will include novels, short stories and autobiographical essays. In addition, we will read selections by African cultural and literary critics such as Anthony Appiah, Simon Gikandi, and Obioma Nnaemeka and revisit the work of important postcolonial theorists such as Frantz Fanon, Edward Said and Spivak. Our primary texts will include: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, A Grain of Wheat and Globalectics: Theory and the Politics of Knowing; Yvonne Vera, The Stone Virgins; Nuruddin Farah, Maps; Ben Okri, The Famished Road; Zoe Wicomb, David’s Story; Christopher Abani, Graceland; and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus. Requirements: Oral presentations and a research paper (15-20 pages). This course will be conducted as a seminar with class discussions of assigned readings and oral presentations each week.
WSCP 81000 –Writing Women’s History
GC T 6:30-8:30 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Profs. Blanche Wiesen Cook and Barbara Welter [Cross listed with Hist.74300]
This course explores writings about 19th and twentieth century U.S. women. Students choose from an
extensive reading list of biography, autobiography, scholarly monographs and articles, and theory. They
are free to concentrate on topical or chronological areas of particular interest to them. Guest lecturers will
discuss their work and experience, and the students are encouraged to consider global as well as U.S.
contemporary and historical issues in women’s lives today.
Learning Objectives: The student should be able to analyze and criticize major examples of writing
women’s lives; be familiar with the trajectories of women’s lives and the influences of such traditional
“markers” of historical inquiry as religion, region, class, ethnicity and gender, which remained the same
or changed over time; be able to identify important primary sources in the historical construction of a
woman’s life, as well as major secondary sources in the field; be aware of controversies and contested
interpretations of United States history, in terms of women, the context, and their choices; and be able
to understand and be able to document the role which American women played in economic, political,
intellectual, cultural and social movements in the United States, including but not limited to the usual
The recommended text for an overview is Women’s America: Refocusing the Past. Linda K. Kerber, Jane
Sherron De Hart, Cornelia Hughes Dayton, eds. New York: Oxford University Press, Seventh Edition,
WSCP 81000 –Gender, Power, and Money
GC M 6:30-8:30 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Kathleen McCarthy  [Cross listed with Hist.72200 ]
This course will examine the historical and theoretical literature on gender, power, and money, with an emphasis on the period from 1800 to the 1930s. Historians have made invaluable contributions in rewriting history “from the bottom up” over the past half century, but in the process they have underplayed the role of elites, the exercise of power (rather than agency), and the contours and consequences of the national pursuit of wealth. Gender studies have further complicated these issues, by underscoring the differences between men’s and women’s allotted public roles. This course builds, in part, on this work and the writings of earlier theorists who wrote on the social meaning of money and the exercise of power; Thorstein Veblen, in particular, underscored the ties between masculinity and the pursuit of wealth, raising a number of questions. How has the nexus of money and masculinity developed and changed over time; how has it affected men at the lower end of the economic spectrum as well as those at the top; how has it colored professional and political considerations? What happened when money passed into women’s hands, especially as they moved into the public sphere through their business, political, social and philanthropic pursuits? How have the exercise of power, and the pursuit and uses of wealth historically differed between women and men? Although the weekly readings are historical, the course will draw on an interdisciplinary theoretical literature that spans women’s, gender and masculinity studies, sociology, and 19th and early 20th century economics. The readings are also structured in such a way that the course can be taken as a women’s studies class. Students will read one book per week for class discussion, and write a proposal for a research project to examine some aspect of gender, power, and/or money in American history. The goals are to introduce students to new areas of inquiry, and to hone their analytical and proposal-writing skills.
WSCP 81000 –Fashion Film: The Cultures of Fashion
GC R 6:30 -8:30 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Eugenia Paulicelli  [Cross listed with IDS 81610 & MALS 71200]
WSCP 81000 –Feminist Political Theory
GC R 2:00 -4:00 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Alyson Cole  [Cross listed with Pol. Sci. 80301]
WSCP 81000 –American Political Thought
GC M 4:15 -6:15 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Ruth O’Brien  [Cross listed with Pol. Sci. 82001]
WSCP 81000 –Health Psychology
GC T 9:30 -11:30p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Tracey Revenson [23735 ] [Cross listed with Psych.85300]
WSCP 81000 –Gender and Globalization
GC T 11:45 -1:45 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Hester Eisenstein [23728 ] [Cross listed with Soc. 86800]
WSCP 81000 –Sociology Construction of Illness
GC T 2:00 -4:00 p.m., Room TBA, 3 credits, Prof. Barbara Katz Rothman  [Cross listed with Soc. 83100]
WSCP 81000 -Social Welfare Policy and Planning II
H T 2:00-4:00 p.m., Room 610, 3 credits, Prof. Michael Lewis  [Cross listed with SSW 71100] Permission of the Instructor is required. Silberman School of Social Work, 2180 Third Avenue at 119th Street.
Social Welfare Policy Two focuses on research design issues for social scientists and policy analysts when they estimate effects OF social policy. The course is centered on the potential outcomes/counterfactual account of causality that has become prominent in statistics and econometrics. We consider the relevance of these issues in estimating the impact OF social policy. The course focuses on the design of studies/evaluations of the efficacy/effectiveness of policy interventions, including randomized controlled trials (RCTs), regression discontinuity designs, difference-in-differences, propensity score matching, and multivariate regression in estimating causal impacts. The course does not require knowledge of statistics/econometrics, because it will focus on research design issues and the logic of statistical/econometric approaches that estimate causal impacts of social policy. Readings center on academic and evaluation literature that serve as exemplars of the methods discussed.