This first-year seminar aims to introduce you to the rich, diverse and complex ways in which women write and perform their difference. The main question is: how do we read difference? Or what kinds of reading — and watching, and listening — help us best understand women’s work? We will discuss issues of intimacy, body, family, beauty and sexuality in works by authors or artists such as Zora Neale Hurston, Eve Ensler, Nawal El Saadawi, Mira Nair, Bernice Reagan, Ronit Matalon, and Frida Kalo. We will make connections to wider themes such as subjective narratives, literary voice, femininity and feminism. Overall, you will improve your skills of asking questions about the unique interaction of sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and class in each historical context and geographical zone, and the way it eventually helps to diversify, complicate, theorize and celebrate the so-called “female experience.”
In addition to the weekly reading and short writing assignments, students are expected to write a final paper (7-9 pages).