AMST 313
Gender, Race, and the Power of Personal Aesthetics Fall 2014
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed AMST 313 / LATS 313 / WGSS 313
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Class Details

This course focuses on the politics of personal aesthetics among U.S. women of color in an era of viral video clips, the 24-hour news cycle, and e-commerce sites dedicated to the dermatological concerns of “minority” females. With a comparative, transnational emphasis on the ways in which gender, sexuality, ethno-racial identity, and class inform personal style, we will examine a variety of materials including commercial websites, histories, personal narratives, ethnographies, sociological case studies, and feminist theory. Departing from the assumption that personal aesthetics are intimately tied to issues of power and privilege, we will engage the following questions: What are the everyday functions of personal aesthetics among women of color? Is it feasible to assert that an easily identifiable “African American,” “Latina,” “Arab American” or “Asian American” female aesthetic exists? What role do transnational media play in the development and circulation of popular aesthetic forms? How might the belief in personal style as a tactic of resistance challenge traditional understandings of what it means to be a “feminist” in the first place? Readings include works by Susan Bordo, Ginetta Candelario, Patricia Hill Collins, Amira Jarmakani, Nadine Naber, Lisa Nakamura, Frances Negrón-Muntaner, Kobena Mercer, and Catherine Ramírez, among others.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1451
Grading: OPG
Requirements/Evaluation: participation, one student-led discussion period, two written essays of 5-7 pages, final take-home exam
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis
Prerequisites: LATS 105, AMST 201, WGSS 101 or permission of the instructor; first year students are not permitted to take this course
Enrollment Preferences: Latina/o Studies concentrators, American Studies majors, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies majors by seniority
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 313 Division II LATS 313 Division II WGSS 313 Division II
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
ASAM Related Courses
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses
WGSS Theory Courses

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