AFR 326
Gender, Race, and the Power of Personal Aesthetics Fall 2024
Division II
Cross-listed WGSS 313 / LATS 313 / AMST 313 / AAS 313

Class Details

This media/cultural studies course focuses on the politics of personal style amongst women of color in the US and around the globe in the digital era. We undertake a comparative, transnational exploration of the ways in which categories of difference such as gender, disability, sexuality, class, and ethno-racial identity inform normative beauty standards and ideas about the body. The class pays particular attention to the ways in which neoliberal capitalism shapes contemporary understandings of gendered bodies and the self. We examine an array of materials from across the disciplines including commercial websites, music videos, photography, histories, film, television, personal narratives, ethnographies, and sociological case studies. Departing from the assumption that personal aesthetics are intimately tied to issues of power and privilege, we engage the following questions, among others: What are some of the everyday functions of personal style among women of color in the US and globally? How do Latina/x, Black, Arab American, and Asian American personal aesthetics reflect the specific circumstances of their creation, and the unique histories of these racialized communities? What role do transnational media and popular culture play in the development and circulation of gendered, raced, and sexualized aesthetic forms? How might the belief in personal style as an activist strategy complicate traditional understandings of feminist political activity? And what do the combined insights of ethnic studies, feminist studies, cultural studies, media studies, queer studies and disability studies contribute to our comprehension of gendered Asian American, Arab American, Black, and Latina/x bodies?
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 1576
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation, one student-led discussion period, two written essays of 5-6 pages, final written reflection.
Prerequisites: LATS 105, AMST 201, AFR 200, 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, Africana Studies majors, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies majors by seniority. If the class is overenrolled students may be asked to submit a brief writing sample.
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGSS 313 Division II AFR 326 Division II LATS 313 Division II AMST 313 Division II AAS 313 Division II
Attributes: AAS Non-Core Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
LATS Core Electives
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses
WGSS Theory Courses

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