introduction to women’s studies


New York University, Fall 2000

Professor Rhoda Kanaaneh

285 Mercer Street, Room 307


Office Hours:  tuesdays 2-4

Teaching Assistants: 

Kimberly Johnson <Quinn419@aol.com>

Denise Mckenna <dqm0043@is.nyu.edu>


description:  This course uses issues surrounding bodies and reproduction to introduce students to key debates in women’s studies.  It explores a wide range of topics relating to bodies and reproduction including the science of sex, the racing of bodies, the gender politics of medicine, the global stratification of reproduction, national population policies, culture and body modification, and the construction of families.  How do gender, sexuality, race and class get produced in this areas?  What do they tell us about societies, cultures and politics?


attendance and participation                       10%

journal                                                                 20%

2 short papers (5-7 pages each)                       25% each

group project                                                   20%

All readings for this course are in a packet available for purchase or on reserve at Bobst library.

attendance and participation 

In addition to biweekly lectures, you will also meet with your teaching assistant once a week in sections for discussions.  Attendance in lectures and discussion sessions is mandatory.  You are expected to complete the week’s reading assignment and write a journal entry (see below) in time for your section meetings so that you are prepared for section discussions.


The goal of the course is to introduce you to new and important questions and encourage you to seriously reflect on them.  Weekly journal entries will help in this direction.  Briefly identify central points of each week’s readings, lectures, films and engage them, evaluate them, articulate a substantial opinion of them.  Entries must be 2 typed pages per week in size 12 Times New Roman font, double spaced, 1 inch margins only.

2 short papers

You will also be required to write two essays (5-7 pages) in response to questions that will be handed out in section (Questions distributed in your section the week of 10/2 and due at the beginning of section during the week of 10/16 ; and the week of 11/6 and due at the beginning of section on the week of 11/20).  Each essay will be worth 25% of your course grade.  The questions will push you to synthesize material that you have read in preceding weeks, to take a stand on an issue and defend that position using the readings from the course.

group project   

Finally, groups of students (apx 5 people) will give presentations to the entire class at the end of the semester.  These presentations can be oral presentations, visual displays, videos, theatrical performances, etc and you are encouraged to be creative.  They must be group projects involving all members, and they are limited to 10-15 minutes each.  They should pick up on themes or issues related to the readings, films or class. Proposals (1-2 pages) for these presentations should be submitted in section the week of 10/25.

part 1:  Introductions:

terms definitions and histories

thursday sep 7

      intro class

tuesday sep 12, thursday sep 14

      gender and sex

      Anne Fausto-Sterling  from Sexing the Body

tuesday sep 19, thursday sep 21

      hetero and homo-sexualities

Siobhan Somerville Scientific Racism and the Invention of the Homosexual Body

Jonathan Katz from The Invention of Heterosexuality

film: boys don’t cry

tuesday sep 26, thursday sep 28


Sander Gilman, Black Bodies, White Bodies:  Toward an Iconography of Female Sexuality in Late Nineteenth Century Art, Medicine, and Literature

Ann Laura Stoler Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power:  Gender, Race and Morality in Colonial Asia

Rickie Sollinger  Race and ‘Value:’  Black and White Illegitimate Babies in the U.S.A. 1945-1965

part 2:  health in the body

tuesday oct 3, thursday oct 5

      medicine; gynecology

Emily Martin Medical Metaphors:  Menstruation and Menopause

Terri Kapsalis  Mastering the Female Pelvis

tuesday oct 10, thursday oct 12

      gender and U.S. health policy

Evelynn Hammonds  Race, Sex, AIDS:  The Construction of ‘Other'

Faye Harrison  “Racial and Gender Inequalities in Health and Health Care"

Ruth Hubbard  from Profitable Promises:  Essays on Women, Science and Health

tuesday oct 17, thursday oct 19


Cindy Patton  From Nation to Family:  Cotnaining ‘African AIDS’

Paul Farmer  On Suffering and Structural Violence:  A View From Below

film Voices from the front:  America 1988-1991, c1994

tuesday oct 24, thursday oct 26

      Sex Education

Cindy Patton  from Fatal Advice:  How Safe-Sex Education Went Wrong

 Susie Bright  from Susia Sexpert’s Lesbian Sex World

sexploration workshop from the NYU center for health promotion

tuesday oct 31, thursday nov 2


Ann Ducille  Toy Theory:  Black Barbie and the Deep Play of Difference

Jacqueline Urla and Alan Sewedlund  The Anthropometry of Barbie:  Unsettling Ideals of the Feminine Body in Popular Culture

Erica Rand from Barbie’s Queer Accessories

film Karen Carpenter story.

part 3:  reproductive differences

tuesday nov 7, thursday nov 9

      reproductive technologies

            Sarah Franklin  Postmodern Procreation:  A Cultural Account of Assisted Reproduction

Kath Weston  from  Families We Choose:  Lesbians, Gays, Kinship.

tuesday nov 14, thursday nov 16

      under western eyes

Chandra Mohanty  Under Western Eyes:  Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses

 Linda Gordon from The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction

tuesday nov 21


      Carla Makhlouf Obermeyer  Female Genital Surgeries: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable

Isabel Funning  Cutting through the Obfuscation:  Female Genital Surgeries in Neoimperial Culture

guest speaker:  Huda Seif

thursday nov 23

      (university holiday, no class)

tuesday nov 28, thursday nov 30

      global stratification of reproduction

Betsy Hartmann from Reproductive Rights and Wrongs:  The Global Politics of Population Control and Contraceptive Choice

Soheir Morsy  Deadly Reproduction among Egyptian Women:  Maternal Mortality and the Medicalization of Population control

film:  something like a war


tuesday dec 5, thursday dec 7

      reproducing the nation

      Victoria de Grazia from How Fascism Ruled Women

Rhoda Kanaaneh Conceiving Difference:  Planning Families for the Palestinian Nation

guest speaker Heather Paxson.

tuesday dec 12, wednesday dec 13

      student presentations and wrap-up