By Cindy Ok
August 24, 2012
This sonnet is dedicated with love and squalor to you who desire a multidisciplinary feminist education at Yale but cannot afford to read sixty-seven thousand course evaluations. We’ve done the work so you don’t have to.
“Civil Rights and Women’s Liberation” Crystal Feimster AFAM 349/AMST 326/HIST 115J/WGSS 388
Seminar T 9:25-11:15; Course Evaluation: Same/greater amount of work, excellent; Three papers of increasing length, weekly journal
A who’s-who of important women’s civil rights leaders through a history of feminist issues and movements, 1940 to present. From World War II to the ERA, from affirmative action to gay rights, this course will give you a working knowledge of where we are now and how we got here in a seminar setting. Here’s where the aforementioned swords come out, stay home if you hate conflict too much to share in debate.
“U.S. Lesbian and Gay History” George Chauncey AMST 135/HIST 127/WGSS 200 (Hu)
Lecture TTh 10:30-11:20, plus section; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, excellent; Two of three short papers, a midterm and a final
Queer history goes mainstream with Chauncey’s tour de force of a fun-but-important-feeling lecture with a cult alumni contingent on campus. The reading and class material for this intro class are easily accessible, which is awesome news for most. Some WGSS majors do find the class a distilled or dumbed-down version of the full story, but most enjoy it anyway. And to be fair, how could a one-semester course spanning “the social, cultural, and political history of lesbians, gay men, and other socially constituted sexual minorities” not be reductive? The course goes in chronological order, from execution for sodomy in colonial New Haven to Will & Grace. It would be weird if you graduated Yale never having shopped this class. We’re not judging you, we’re just telling you: it seems pretty weird.
“Work and Daily Life in Global Capitalism” Michael Denning AMST 192
Lecture w/ seminar component TTh 1-2:15; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, very good
If intro micro was too technical for you, here’s a way to get your economic education in a humanized and always relevant way. The non-literature writing credit encourages students “to develop their own research interests,” as one eval says, which means it’s up to you to take a broad class and make it specific. It’s current, it’s relevant, and it’s changing now. So make of it what you will. As long as you don’t mind a class that has what one evaluator calls “a liberal bias.” (Neither do we.)
“Critical Ethnography: Methods, Ethics, Poetics” Jafari Allen ANTH 315/AFAM 333
Seminar 1:30-3:20; Course Evaluation: Less amount of work, good; Weekly responses, fieldwork assignments, large final project
Take two of the most college terms, put ‘em together, and here you have a class on the methodology of gender, queer, and race studies—on these models in theory and then on their application in your own research. From regular observation notes to a final critical ethnography of your own, the professor encourages experiential learning. This may not be the most organized class, but if you’re willing to push yourself you can certainly make the most of this class. Anthro students could use this as an opportunity to read some foundational texts in a non-pressurized way.
“Anthropology of the Body” P. Sean Brotherton ANTH 357
Seminar M 3:30-5:20; Course Evaluation: Greater amount of work, excellent; Weekly reading responses, final paper
Highlights of this straightforwardly titled class include the mind/body problem, embodiment or alienation experiences, and the ethic of the self. It uses theory and history to unravel the implications of the gendered or medicalized body, from ownership to reproduction to aesthetics. The reading list is arresting and the class discussion consistently engaging thanks to a genuinely interested prof. Priority given to seniority for application to this undergrad/grad seminar.
“Black Women’s Literature” Jacqueline Goldsby ENGL 298/AMST 273/AFAM 279/WGSS 342
Seminar MW 4:00-5:15
Directed Studies, Major English Poets, and all other “Western Canon” classes with your fixation on the dead white men of literature: sorry we’re not sorry. New authors are in the house; they’re women, they’re black, and you won’t be falling asleep like I did when I shopped Chaucer. This is a new class, but it’ll surely draw on Goldsby’s past syllabi, famous for their awesome reading selections. The crosslisting means be prepared for continuous contextualization and historicizing of the texts, each huge pluses if you don’t want to be a robot Yalie. Just remember: you are Beloved and she is yours.
“American Literary Nationalisms” GerShun Avilez ENGL 339/AFAM 327/WGSS 336/ER&M 399/AMST 373
Seminar W 1:30-3:20; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, excellent; Midterm paper, final paper, group project
A class that brings together great novels and fun music videos, making each relevant to the other and tying them into themes of social activism. What more could you ask? Focusing on the sixties and seventies and using diverse art forms, the class covers and compares various movements of organized minority groups. It’s totally untraditional as an English class, which is the well-liked professor’s MO, but includes a lovely writing credit.
“Feminist and Queer Theory” Margaret Homans ENGL 357/WGSS 340
Seminar WF 11:35-12:50; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, very good
What it sounds like! And doesn’t it sound glorious? This beloved seminar reaches wide and stretches deep, with readings starting in the Enlightenment and students with varying levels of familiarity with the material. It’s a junior seminar in the English department that’s also a WGSS req, so Godspeed to all y’all non-English/WGSS majors and underclassmen. Five reasons it’ll be worth having class on Friday: (1) Strawberries and bananas are great, but what’s better than a strawberry-banana smoothie? Feminist theory and queer theory, you can’t have one without the other. (2) You could leave this class finally understanding what in the world Foucault has been talking about this whole time. (3) “Multiple media” required for the final essay, yum.
“The Brontës and Their Afterlives” Linda Peterson ENGL 431
Seminar T 9:25-11:15
The novels of Charlotte & Emily & Anne would be enough to make this list (I assume you’re also on a first-name basis with these ladies if you’re considering this class—and if not, get there asap). But film and contemporary fiction versions? And biographical reading? Aw, Lind, you shouldn’t have! It’s everything and more, because you can also read these nineteenth century novels with the appropriate architecture (hello Branford courtyard!). Also an easy way for English majors to pleasantly get the pre-1900 req out of the way. Senior English seminars are tough, but not impossible, to break into as a junior or non-major.
“Dynamics of Israeli Culture” Shiri Goren HEBR 156/MMES 216/JDST 405
Seminar TTh 2:30-3:45; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, excellent; Response papers, vocab quizzes, orals, midterm take home, final paper
An ideal way for Hebrew speakers to get a language credit and to piece together controversies in Israeli culture through several art and media forms. If you’re not familiar with contemporary literary stars of Israel like Etgar Keret or Yehuda Amichai, take this; if you are, I don’t have to tell you to. Major pivot points include the study of queer culture and of women in Israel—there just couldn’t be more going on here (or more potential for growth). The class is conducted in Hebrew but papers can be written in either English or Hebrew. Also, no class on Rosh Hashanah.
“Women in America from the Colonial Period to 1900″ Rebecca Tannenbaum HIST 170/ AMST 270
Lecture MW 10:30-11:20, plus section; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, very good; Three short papers and a take home final
Remember when women couldn’t vote, were basically always pregnant or nursing, didn’t go to school? Oh and they also couldn’t get abortions (wait that’s not now, is it?). This is “the class you literally have been looking for” according to one eval, and other evals make it pretty clear that “you” refers to the readership of Broads. It’s also the class that’ll make you uber grateful that you live in a world where women can go to college and do the work they choose, not to mention grateful for all the women from Native American women to suffragettes who made our world possible. Ladies and the distinctly not-ladylike, meet your predecessors: three hundred years of ladies and non-ladies.
“Roman Art: Empire, Identity, and Society” Diana Kleiner HSAR 250/ARCG 170/CLCV 170
Lecture 9-10:15; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, very good; Two midterms, final paper
A good introduction to art. More specifically, Roman art. Even more specifically, the art of women. Only a sliver of the course will actually focus on that third inner ring, but if you decide to write your paper on it you could end up actually teaching your prof how important a ring it is. This is a pretty typical art history course, but the small size may make it a better intro than, say, the Nemerov lecture (Alexander’s left us but his class is still “the Nemerov lecture” to us).
“History of the Body: Science, Medicine, and the Arts” Paola Bertucci & Courtney Thompson HSHM 455/HIST 148/HUMS 312/WGSS 460
Seminar 1:30-3:20; Five papers of varying length
Ever wondered not only about body image but about body images, the ones that are here, there, everywhere? From artistic depictions to cosmetic surgery, there’s no escaping what we literally are. This class asks what gendered body means—the sexualized or racialized one, even self-starved one—and what we are to make of those intentions and meanings. The class is new, but with a killer reading list, a writing credit, and a generally popular history prof leading the way, we stand by this multidisciplinary course’s approach to the body and to the self. Especially for you who haven’t taken a HSHM course: this is the way to do it.
“Religion, Empowerment, and the Role of Women in Nationalist Movements” Sallama Shaker REL 943/MMES 189/PLSC 455
Seminar Th 3:30-5:20; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, very good
If you want to understand the Middle East better, or religion there, or women’s roles there, this class provides a background on treatment, reaction, and current issues. It’s an explicit challenge to the conventional Western narratives about passive women in the Middle East and North Africa. The crosslists mean it could be tough to snag a spot, but if you do, don’t give it up when you find out it’s up at the Divinity School. It’ll be worth it (and this comes from a loyal LA winter abhorrer).
“Black Faith and Sexuality” Jennifer Leath RLST 270/AFAM 321/WGSS 311
Seminar W 1:30-3:20
For the cult following behind Kathryn Lofton that misses her “Religion and Sexuality” (and won’t shut up about it), this grad-student taught seminar is the perfect cure. Hone, hone, hone with this first-time class. The so-called “angle” is layered with theology, philosophy, and theory, and it’ll cover topics from sexual violence to new spiritualities. Also, she went to Harvard so come November expect some football jokes—to hear ‘em and to make some yourself. Bow wow wow.
“Social Movements” Ron Eyerman SOCY 216/EP&E 267/WGSS 314
Seminar W 1:30-3:20; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, very good; Reading responses, midterm exam, final research paper
A sociological perspective on social movements means more theory than history, so expect to talk about women’s movements and the fight for gay rights as examples, not centerpieces, for the class discussion. Grand schemes, not details, which can bug people who want to get down and dirty in comparative history. That said, this class is like a makeshift think tank for campus activists, so if you are one it could be a great way to connect with others. There will be an application to get in, and if you get in it may be difficult to turn down.
“Gender, Race, and Genetic Testing” Rene Almeling SOCY 311/WGSS 301
Seminar W 2:30-4:20; Course Evaluation: Same amount of work, excellent; Weekly responses, final research paper
The only way this class could be better is if it were a science credit. It’s not, but we promise it’s the fun kind of science—and “perfect for science and non-science majors” according to one eval. Focuses on pregnancy and genetic testing will help you actually make sense of biobanks and commercial ancestry testing. There’s a prereq but if you’re interested enough, fight the good fight y’all.
“Women Writers of Spain” Noel Valis SPAN 323/WGSS 403
Seminar 11:35-12:50; Three short papers, a midterm and a final
Spanish speakers and lovers of Yale, listen up. Éste es para tí! With a focus on the modern era, the reading list may bring you books you’ve never heard of. The class is deliberate, spending around two weeks on each book, and is sure to bring a whip-smart and excited group together. Women Readers of Spanish Lit at Yale, unite!
“Gender and Sexuality in Media and Popular Culture” Laura Wexler & Inderpal Grewal WGSS 380/AMST 402/ANTH 302/FILM 324
Small Lecture T 3:30-5:20, plus two hour lab; Course Evaluation: Greater amount of work, good
Le duh. But only if you deleted your Facebook because of metaphysical qualms or have semiotic theories about Beyoncé’s “Countdown.” Lots of theory, blog posts, and a big digital media final project. It’s a big time commitment because of the weekly digital media lab, but the team-taught culture class is the perfect intro to digital theory and also a haven for veteran cultural critics.
“Gender, Family, and Cultural Identity in Asia and the United States: A Dialogue” Geetanjali Chanda WGSS 371/AMST 322/ER&M 323
Seminar MW 1:00-2:15; Course Evaluation: Greater amount of work, very good; Five reading responses and two short papers with two drafts
Material for said dialogue will come from poetry, articles, essays, novels, films, and in-class workshops, so this popular seminar is perfect for those of short attention spans but ranging tastes. Covering the idea of home, gender identity, and popular culture’s response to Asians and Asian-Americans in America, the syllabus surely ranges and those class discussions already fire themselves.
That’s all for this semester’s roundup—good luck, guys! And keep reminding yourself that the more you pour into a class, more will come rushing out of it back to you. Always.
Cindy Ok is a sophomore in Yale College. She is a contributing writer for Broad Recognition.