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WMST Topics Courses for Winter 2020

Topics Courses enhance student learning by providing an opportunity to go beyond the usual curriculum, with content that varies from year to year. The Women’s Studies program is offering three such courses for Winter 2020!

WMST 303.1 Islam and Feminism

This course focuses on the political, theoretical and pragmatic dimensions of feminist consciousness in the Islamic world. Women’s rights and roles have today gained a prominent place in theological conversations and political debates amongst the elite and clergy in regards to political and Islamic reform.

We will examine the orientalist representations of women in Muslim societies as repressed and yet sexualized, and how these contributed to the stereotype of Muslim women in need of liberation. We will seek insight from within Islamic societies by looking at the relationship between these feminist movements and their nationalist movements within the context of their broader political evolution. 

WMST 305.2 Transgender Identities

The term “transgender” has come to represent a range of social identities, a political movement, and a community that had no name until the early 1990s. Although gender diverse people have a long history, and while third genders have been recorded in many societies, transgender is a term with a very short history. Despite this, it is ubiquitous in the early twenty-first century.

This main goal of this course it to begin to map out the territory of transgender in its current cultural and political articulations, as well as its historical and global prevalence. We will use a multi-disciplinary approach, from medical sexology, to sociology, history, gender studies, cultural studies, film, and autobiography. Topics range from medical regulation to understandings of gender variance to grassroots activism, law and public policy, and identities and community formation.

WMST 401.1 Pornography

Since the 1970s, pornography has been a lightning rod for feminist activism, and continues to be an important and contentious topic across all fields of gender and sexuality scholarship. Understanding how the debates about pornography are framed reveals complicated relationships across political, economic, social, cultural, and technological systems that seek to define limits to bodily sovereignty and the right to pleasure.

This course examines some of the dominant frameworks for analyzing pornography and asks how emerging frameworks from within feminist and queer pornography movements can radically alter how we define pornography’s value.

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