Sunday, August 26, 2018

Women of the Civil Rights Movement: Sexual Grammar of Racism

"If they take you in the morning,
they will be coming for us that night"

James Baldwin to Angela Davis

Course Overview

In this section of the Anisfield-Wolf Award Book seminar concentrates on "Women of the Civil Rights Movement." Looking back into the canon of winners, we see how the Civil Rights Movement inspired and was encouraged by the A-W Awards. Yet we might notice how many of those whose names became well known through publications and awards were the men of the Civil Rights Movement. This begs the questions, where were the women? This seminar seeks to fill out the picture by looking for these "Hidden Figures," through later histories and personal accounts.

Many of the women associated with the Civil Rights Movement were not published in years later, connected also to the rise of sexual and gender liberation. For this reason, in the later part of the semester we will explore the impacts of Black Liberation and Women of Color Feminism on the LGBT Rights Movement. At the same time, we will look back at the queer sexualities and genders which were previously marginalized or scrutinized, leading to the question: why are the two most famous names of the Civil Rights Movement (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X) not only men but also heterosexual men of faith?

The semester concludes by recounting how sexism and homophobia play significant roles in the construction of white supremacy.


Selections from the Reading List

Part 1: subject v. object
racial and sexual positions

How Do We Talk About Racism and Sexism?
  • Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor (2017) (AW) 
  • Janelle Monae, Dirty Computer – Emotion Picture, 1-23 min (2018)
  • K. Young, Bunk(2017) (AW)
  • John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me(1961) (AW)
  • Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing(2017) (AW)

How Sex Moves the Civil Rights Movement
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Stride Toward Freedom(1959)(AW)
  • Malcom X, The Autobiography of Malcom X (1966)(AW)
  • Angela Davis, If They Come In The Morning(1971)
  • Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa ed., This Bridge Called My Back (1981)

Part 2: indicative v. subjunctive
racial and sexual moods

How Intersectionality Birthed the LGBTQI Rights Movement
  • M. Kasino, Youtube, “The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson” (2012)
  • L. Faderman, The Gay Revolution, “The Riots (PDF) AW) 
  • A. Lorde, Sister Outsider(1983)
  • J. Baldwin, James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965) 
  • Janet Mock, Redefining Realness (2014)

How White Supremacy Sexually Desires and Hates the Past
  • Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures (2016)(AW) 
  • J.D. Bell, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement (2018) 
  • Ava DuVernay, 13th (2016) 
  • Jodi Picoult, Small Great Things
  • D. Kahn (dir.), White Right: Meeting the Enemy (2018)


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Through the Looking Glass: Women and Mental Illness

"Who in the world am I?
Ah, that's the great puzzle"

Alice in Wonderland

Course Overview

In this section of Monsters and Disability, we will explore "The Monstrosity of Women and Mental Illness." Following a social constructionist approach to gender and disability, this seminar will unpack a range of genres and media for how women have been made to be figures of madness. Consequently, we will utilize affect and trauma theory to study how women are also literally made mad by the sexist and ableist roles they are made to play. Taken together, the mad woman has become a recognizable monster in a variety of media.

In the first half of the semester, we engage in disability in print media. We begin by reading the verse of John Donne from the play (turned film) "W;t" alongside Arthur Frank's "The Wounded Storyteller" to see how illness can function as a call to stories; narratives of chaos, restitution, and questing. Next, we turn to comics to see how sexuality and madness of abuse, cancer, dying, mania and depression are expressed through the interplay of text and image. Later, we examine the prose of memoirs and novels which show how crip individuals strive use narrative to explore the construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of their sense of self. 

In the second half of the semester, we will examine disability and film. We will explore how in fantasy films young women who just don't think like the rest are brought through trials of divergence, through rabbit holes, and left deep in the woods of depression, suicidal ideation, and undeath. In horror, women are victims who must survive the traumas of slavery, silence imposed by a threatening ableist world, and men who simultaneously desire their innocence and want to see them suffer.


Selections from the Reading List

  • J.J. Cohen, “Monster Culture (Seven Theses)” (PDF)
  • A. Frank, Wounded Storyteller (1997)
  • M. Nichols (dir), Wit (2004)

  • E. Forney, Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me (2012)
  • Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, Harley Quinn: Joker Loves Harley (2017)
    • The New Batman Adventures, 1.21, “Mad Love” (1999)
    • WhatCulture Comics, “10 Worst Things The Joker Has Ever Done to Harley Quinn”
    • Batman: the Animated Series, 1.56, “Harley and Ivy” (1993)
    • Shippers Guide to the Galaxy, “Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy Rebirth – Update”
  •  Jason Aaron, The Mighty Thor: Death of Thor (2018)

  • E. Clare, Exile and Pride (1999) 
  • M. Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night (2004) 
  • M. Russo, If I Was Your Girl (2016) 
  • J. Mangold, Girl, Interrupted (1999) 
    • Garland-Thompson, How We Look, “Social Relationship” & “Beholding”

Fantasy Film

  • N. Burger (dir.), Divergent (2014) 
    • R. Schwentke (dir.), Allegiant (2016)
    • T. Solomon, Far From the Tree, “Son” (AW) 
    • Snyder & Mitchell, Cultural Locations of Disability, “the Eugenic Atlantic"
  • Disney, Alice in Wonderland (1951)
    • N. Willing (dir), Alice (2009) 
    • T. Solomon, Far From the Tree, “Schizophrenia” (AW) 
  • S. Myer, Twilight: New Moon (2009)

Horror Film

  • J. Demme (dir.), Beloved (1998) (AW)
    • J.B. Bouson, “The Dirtied and Traumatized Self of Slavery in Beloved” (2000)
    • A. Cvetkovich, Depression: A Public Feeling
  • M. Night Shyamalan, Split (2017)
    • T. Solomon, Far From the Tree, “Disability” (AW) 
    • T. Solomon, Far From the Tree, “Crime” (AW)
  • J. Krasinski, A Quiet Place (2018)
    • T. de Cartagena, Grove of the Infirm



Many Ways to Be a Woman: Intersectional Traditions of Feminism

"Feminism is worthless without
intersectionality and inclusion"

We All Can Do it!

Course Overview

If you've ever asked, "can a person be a woman *this* way?" then this class is for you! What if she wants to be a housewife? What if she wants to be an engineer? What if she hates dresses? What if she feels powerful in skirts? This class explores the many questions and responses that surround womanhood. This seminar is designed to provide entry into the many intersectional conversations on feminism and femininity, with access points starting from where you are. That means if you do not consider yourself a feminist, you are welcome. If you are not feminine or female, you have a place at the table. If you worry about being called a "bad feminist," then this class is definitely for you. If you find feminism or femininity to be too narrow to define you, this class is excited to have you. If you take issue with feminism focusing too much on white women, cisgender women, able-bodied women, straight women, then this class needs your voice. If you want to know what the role of men in feminism can be, wonders the same thing! Historically, "feminism" as a word has challenged people's political and personal investments in different ways as they encounter issues such as voting and jobs, marriage and divorce, racism and classism, homophobia and transphobia, healthcare and disability, personal liberties and social protections. Alongside these traditions of feminism, "femininity" has been a concept that seems simultaneously ancient while also under constant revision as women of color, post-colonialism, disability, queer, transgender and intersex thinkers introduce underrepresented perspectives. Facing these reactions and reforms, some people feel disinclined to identify with either word, adding to the list of "F-words" that can raise conflict in polite company. Yet however one feels about these F-words, feminism and femininity have regularly proven important movements in public debates around government, the work-force, education, and art. This seminar seeks to connect students with intersectional and sometimes conflicting traditions in politics and gender theory in order to broaden the horizons of who or what gets to be identified with feminism and femininity.



Selections from the Reading List

Red Pills and Pink Pills
Bad Feminists, Non-Feminists, and Non-Females

  • R. Gay, Bad Feminist: Essays (2014) 
  • J. Serano, Whipping Girl, “Putting the Feminine Back Into Feminism” (PDF) (2007) 
  • E. Fletcher and R. Fruchbom, Parks and Rec. 7.9. “Pie Mary” (2015) P1 

Sex, Sexuality, and Submission

  • S. de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949) 
    • J Wootton (dir) My Little Pony 3.13 “Magic Mystery Cure” (2013) 
    • The Girls Next Door 1.8. “Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2005)
  • S.T. Johnson (dir.), 50 Shades of Grey (2015) 
  • J. Foley (dir.), 50 Shades Darker (2016) 
    • Yes Means Yes! “The Fantasy of Acceptable ‘Non-Consent’” (2008) 
    • M. Weiss, Techniques of Pleasure
  • H. Madison, Down the Rabbit Hole (2015) 

Life and Choice
Wives, Mothers, and Disability

  • B. Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (1963) 
    • J. Lucas and S. Moore (dir.), Bad Moms, 1-33 min. (2016) 
    • P. Bonerz, Home Improvement, “The Feminine Mistake” (1997) E1 
  • B. Condon, Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (5-28, 34-50.5 min) (2011) 
    • R. Gay, Bad Feminist, “The Trouble with Prince Charming” 
    • R. Gay, Bad Feminist, “The Alienable Rights of Women” 
  • M. Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Thom Fitzgerald (dir.), Cloudburst (2013) 
    • Kafer, Feminist, Queer, Crip (2013) 

Womens March
Race, Labor, and Post-Colonialism

  • C. Moraga and G.E. Anzaldúa ed., This Bridge Called My Back (1981) 
  • T. Melfi (dir), Hidden Figures (AW) (2016)
    • J.D. Bell, Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement
    • J. Mock, Redefining Realness (2014)
  • A.H. Ali, Infidel (2008) 
  • M. Yousafzai, I am Malala (2013) 

Sisters, Not Just Cisters
Intersex, Transgender, and Queerness

L. Simon, Confessions of a Teenage Hermaphrodite
M. Russo, If I Was Your Girl
J. Babbit (dir.), But I’m A Cheerleader (1999) 
L. Faderman, The Gay Revolution (AW)