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WGSS 313
Gender, Race, and the Power of Personal Aesthetics Spring 2020
Division II
Cross-listed LATS 313 / AMST 313 / AFR 326 / WGSS 313

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This course focuses on the politics of personal style among 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 standards of beauty, 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 style 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 activist strategy challenge traditional understandings of feminist political activity?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3498
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation, one student-led discussion period, two written essays of 5-7 pages, final take-home exam
Prerequisites: LATS 105, AMST 201, WGSS 101 or permission of 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
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
LATS 313 Division II AMST 313 Division II AFR 326 Division II WGSS 313 Division II
Attributes: AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
ASAM Related Courses
LATS Core Electives
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses
WGSS Theory Courses

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