WOMENSTD 434 - Advanced Topics in Gender, Culture, and Representation
Section: 001 Skin Deep: Race and Beauty in American Culture
Term: FA 2018
Subject: Women's Studies (WOMENSTD)
Department: LSA Women's Studies
Requirements & Distribution:
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
May be elected twice for credit.
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:

The age-old saying, “beauty is only skin deep,” tells us that physical attractiveness does not account for more (meaningful) qualities such as character, intelligence, and goodness. But throughout American history, “beauty” has been used as a proxy to determine racial difference and at the same time, to ascertain those more meaningful personal characteristics. Throughout this course, we will examine the various ways in which Americans have used determinants of beauty (e.g., body size, skin color, height, hair texture, facial symmetry, etc.) to racialize and subsequently, rank and place value on women and men. Starting with Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia (1785) and ending with current-day discussions of beauty and race (e.g., Dark Girls documentary, the Kardashians, etc.), the course will cover several topics including the black is beautiful movement, pageants, interracial dating, colorism, plastic surgery, and debates over cultural appropriation.

Intended Audience:

Upperclass standing

Class Format:


WOMENSTD 434 - Advanced Topics in Gender, Culture, and Representation
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
MW 10:00AM - 11:30AM
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