Course information found here includes all permanent offerings and is updated regularly whenever Academic Senate approves changes. For historical information, see the Course Catalogs. For actual course availability in any given term, use Course Search in the Portal.
This course introduces students to concepts for navigating the multiplicity of experiences and knowledges at the intersections of identity categories (gender, race, sexuality, class, dis/ability, non/religiosity, nation, etc.) and structures of power. Our objects of analysis include both “the everyday”—located in our home communities, on our campus, in our virtual and mediated lives—and foundational texts and theories drawn primarily from women of color, queer, trans, and indigenous feminisms, and postcolonial thinkers. The course also engages with conceptions and practices of building communities across differences in identity and experience, using Beloit College as a lab of learning—its mission, location, histories, and asymmetries of belonging—as a way to help students develop the intellectual habits, reflective capacities, and collaborative communication skills required for equity-based interventions into their current and future social worlds. (3B) Offered each semester. Prerequisite: first-year or sophomore standing, juniors and seniors may register with instructor permission.
This introductory-level course engages students in the development of intersectional and critical thinking about identity–a core that anchors the Critical Identity Studies curriculum. Courses crosslisted as Critical Identity Studies 140 represent a diverse array of academic disciplines and show how interdisciplinary, intersectional, and social-justice approaches are embedded in a student’s education across the curriculum. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. The 3B- and 5T-domained versions of this topics course are, respectively, Critical Identity Studies 141 and 142.
This course examines the past, present, and possible future of the practice of making knowledge, especially knowledge about human identities, communities, and lifeways. Inquiry into these topics in the modern period, which developed in the context of Euro-American colonial power structures and cultural encounters, continues to shape disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities and social sciences. The course engages with such methods both constructively and critically—both as necessary tools for making knowledge and as tools that often depend upon and reproduce racialized power structures and forms of exploitation. It also looks beyond academic methods, exploring how alternative forms of knowledge creation (such as the cultivation of embodied experiences), especially as practiced in marginalized communities, might offer important correctives to disciplinary norms. (5T) Offered each fall. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This course reframes and decolonizes the study of the anthropology of religion by prioritizing how descendant communities organize their understanding of the sacred not as a bounded life category but rather as intimate to shaping their humanity and daily life practices. To accomplish this, students use writings of past and contemporary social thinkers who focus on “religion,” along with ethnographies, films, and class discussions. The evaluation is based on in-class participation, including active participation in class discussion, daily writing assignments, group presentations, and a final paper based on library research. (3B) Offered every other year.
Why is it that the ways of thinking and living that people call “religious” are often judged by outsiders to be potentially harmful forms of delusion, while those who adhere to those lifeways understand them instead as providing access to what scholar Robert Orsi calls “the really real”? The story of the ideas and events that led to this stark difference of opinion is deeply tied up with European notions of racial and civilizational superiority. This course explores that story as well as counter-narratives to it in order to assess the consequences both for the lives of people who identify as “religious” and for the ongoing power struggle over who gets to define reality and what forms of knowledge are granted legitimacy. (5T) Offered every year. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
In this course, we critically examine consumerism around the world and its impact on culture, politics, identity, and place. We explore how even the most mundane activities (shopping, eating, driving, reading, etc.) have increasingly become reorganized through capitalist-style consumption. Utilizing materials from anthropology as well as other disciplines (e.g. sociology, gender studies, cultural studies), we examine how consumption has had a dramatic effect on society and culture over the last century. Some of the topics we explore are: bottled water, romance novels, gated communities, second-hand clothing markets, national cuisine in Belize, children’s consumer choices, shopping malls, and post-industrial flanerie. (3B) (Also listed as Anthropology 309.) Prerequisite: Anthropology 100 or Critical Identity Studies 101 or Sociology 100.
This course addresses the issues of race and ethnicity in American politics through two lenses: the crafting and implementation of domestic policies (such as welfare, education, and the criminal justice system) and the framing of political decisions. After an introduction to historical, sociological, and psychological approaches to the study of race and ethnicity, we apply these approaches to studies of American public policy. The course then transitions, examining the explicit and implicit racialization of political decisions. Throughout the course, students consider the role of institutional design, policy development, representation, and racial attitudes among the general public in shaping the American political environment. (3B) (Also listed as Political Science 214.) Offered alternate fall terms. Prerequisites: Political Science 110, 130, 160, or consent of the instructor.
This course addresses various aspects of Greco-Roman medical systems: what constitutes a “healthy” body; how genetics and environment affect health status; what diseases affect humans; the relationship between symptom and cause of disease; what treatment styles are practiced/recommended; the importance of case studies, family history, and environmental factors in determining a course of treatment; and women’s (reproductive) medicine (including theories of how reproduction happens in humans and suggestions for midwives). Students engage with large selections of the Hippocratic Corpus, Aristotle, Soranus, and Galen; and shorter selections of other relevant authors (e.g., Pliny the Elder). Throughout, students are asked to use the Greeks and Romans as a way to interrogate contemporary medical epistemology: what do we “know” about the body, disease, and treatment, and how do we know it? How do we define “health?” What socio-cultural assumptions do we make about the nature of illness and people who suffer with illness? Taught in English. (5T) (Also listed as Greek, Latin, and Ancient Mediterranean Studies 215 and Health and Society 215.)
This course examines the social processes that shape the construction of racial and ethnic hierarchies, dominant ideas, and relations in the U.S. The basic objectives of the course are to understand the following: 1) major paradigms shaping how sociologists examine issues of race and ethnicity; 2) economic, political, and historical structures shaping the constructions of race and ethnicity in the U.S.; and 3) institutional structures and practices through which racial and ethnic hierarchies are produced and reproduced in the U.S. The course will explore the construction and reproduction of race and ethnicity in a variety of sectors including the labor market, education, housing, banking, sports, public policies, and wealth accumulation. (Also listed as Sociology 216.) Offered each year. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course examines the intersections of race, ethnicity, and class as categories of analysis for understanding both diverse and common experiences of inequalities faced by women in the U.S. The basic objectives of this course are to understand the following: 1) economic, political, and historical structures shaping dominant meanings of “Womanhood,” in the U.S.; 2) what it means to be a woman at different social locations of race, ethnicity, class in the U.S., and how these differing social locations shape life experiences and chances; 3) how race, ethnicity, class and gender locations constitute hierarchical relations of power. The course will explore race/ethnicity, gender, and class hierarchies and power in the context of employment/work, families, interpersonal relationships, sexuality, and identity construction. (Also listed as Sociology 221.) Offered each year. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
This course examines theoretical viewpoints on the development of gender identification and gender-typed behavior; research evidence for the existence/non-existence of gender differences; female social development across the life span; psychological aspects of women’s roles in the family and in the workplace; clinical issues relevant to women, such as depression and eating disorders; and additional topics selected by class members. Includes at least 15 hours of field experience. (3B) (Also listed as Psychology 225.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Psychology 100.
An examination of sex and gender as sociological constructs and as central organizing features of social structures. We will look at gender and gender relations as social constructions, not concentrating on biology. We will investigate how gender is embedded in U.S. institutions and see how deeply entrenched it is. We will study the mechanisms by which masculinity and femininity are created and maintained within social systems; and the variations in these constructions by class, ethnicity, race, and sexual orientation. (Also listed as Sociology 225.) Offered every other spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
Exploration of structured social inequality. What are the bases of social inequality? How are inequality variables related? How can we measure inequality? What do we know about social mobility? Exploration of some specific life changes and patterns of behavior as they are related to social inequality. (Also listed as Sociology 231.) Offered most years. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
In this course we examine the disparities, conditions, and unique pathologies that define the parameters of contemporary male morbidity, mortality, and well-being. Beyond epidemiological data, our interdisciplinary investigation encompasses an empirical look at the biology and biochemistry of maleness, coupled with analysis of masculine identities and their past and present impacts on men’s general and sexual health. Male circumcision, the clinical or ritual cutting of the foreskin, is the backdrop for our exploration of men’s health. In addition to field trips and guest lectures spanning the spectrum of health, our journey culminates in a curated exhibit, research posters, and/or performance pieces that weave the phenomenon of male circumcision into the fabric of men’s health across time, cultures, and sexual identities. (3B) (Also listed as Health and Society 235.)
As Native peoples, Africans, and Europeans came into contact with one another, their actions altered both the cultural and natural landscapes of the present-day United States. This course will focus on some of these actions, both intentional and unwitting, as we consider central questions of American environmental history from the colonial era through the present day. We will think about the ways that different cultural approaches to land, plants, and animals transform ecological systems, as well as the ways that different groups of people approach various landscapes. We will also consider environmental causes and consequences of otherwise familiar historical events, as well as the ways that class and, especially, race, affect people’s relationships with “the environment.” Additional topics include ideas and experiences of “nature”; slavery and the plantation system; the displacement of indigenous peoples; and the rise of environmentalism and its transformation by issues of inequality and justice. (5T) (Also listed as History 237/Environmental Studies 237.) Open to first-year students.
An examination of dominant demographic changes in family structure in the United States. We study major variations in family life as shaped by social class, race/ethnicity, and sexuality. Exploration of select topics such as single motherhood, childrearing practices, marriage, the division of household labor, and family policy. (Also listed as Sociology 245.) Offered every other spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150, or consent of instructor.
Families are a central institution in people’s lives. In this class we will investigate various social problems, issues, and policies as they relate to families in countries around the globe. Questions we will investigate include: What effect does China’s one-child policy have on gender distribution and future marriage patterns? How do high rates of HIV/AIDS impact family structure in Africa? How do Scandinavian welfare policies affect outcomes for children and families? (Also listed as Sociology 251.) Offered every other spring. Prerequisite: Sociology 100 or 150.
This course is an introduction to the subdiscipline of linguistic anthropology: the study of language as a cultural resource and speaking as a cultural practice. Linguistic anthropology is concerned with the study of speech communities: groups of individuals who share a way of speaking. Throughout the semester, we read and discuss various topics related to the study of language and culture: language change; bilingualism; literacy and citizenship; the use of language in describing illness and speech as performance (poetry, hip-hop, dirty jokes). We also examine how ethnographic methods can be used alongside linguistic methods to better understand the connections between culture and communication. (Also listed as Anthropology 209.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Anthropology 100 or consent of instructor.
This course focuses on the biological, social, psychological, cultural, and political factors that impact women’s experience of health and illness in the United States and around the world. Topics covered will be selected from critical topics focused on women’s experience of health and illness, including childbirth, breast cancer, aging, HIV/AIDS, and forms of psychological and physical violence. Depending on the instructors, this course may consider global issues and/or may include a significant laboratory component. (Also listed as Health and Society 252.) May be taken for credit only one time. Offered occasionally.
Topics important to the field of critical identity studies will be offered by the department to take advantage of faculty or student interest. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. (3B)
Topics important to the field of critical identity studies will be offered to take advantage of faculty or student interest. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. The 2A, 3B, and 5T domained versions of this course are, respectively, Critical Identity Studies 266, 267, and 268.
History topics important to the field of critical identity studies. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. (5T) The un-domained version of this course is Critical Identity Studies 270.
Africana philosophy is a field of study focusing on critical inquiries by thinkers from Africa and the worldwide African diaspora. It includes the philosophical efforts of Africans, African-Americans, Afro-Caribbeans, and others, whose works address a variety of problems and concerns. It does not refer to one particular school of thought, but rather a collection of approaches to questions of fundamental importance for human beings as such. The concept of ‘Africana philosophy’ is not intended to suggest that there is something that the works of all thinkers of African descent have in common, but rather that they and their inquiries are linked by a history of colonization, enslavement, and marginalization that we can reflect on critically and productively with their help. Recognizing that the concept of race is itself a result of this history, we cannot assume that there are any biological or cultural traits shared by all philosophers of African descent, but we can identify some common themes and intellectual concerns arising from shared experiences of anti-black racism and attempts to understand and overcome it. This course examines a few of these themes, such as what it means to be human, especially in the face of dehumanization; how racism should be resisted and racist societies transformed; and what will become of philosophy in a post-colonial age. Offered each year. (Also listed as PHIL 275.) Prerequisite: Philosophy 110 or 115, or consent of instructor.
This course explores the ways gender is performed on a daily basis. Though emphasis is on the art of drag, we look at the ways that we all choose to present our preferred gender and experiment with other (and othered) genders. Class time is equal parts studio practice and lecture/discussion. Studio practice includes experimentation with stereotypically Western male/female movements and gestures, make-up and padding tutorials, and the art of lip-synching. As each student develops and transforms into their drag persona over the course of the semester, they engage in ongoing reflection regarding their experience of the corporality of ‘trying on’ the movements of genders. Professional Drag Queens/Kings join as lecturers. Readings and films dealing with the politics of gender presentation round out the course. The culminating class event is an Extravaganza Show. (2A) (Also listed as Theatre and Dance 300.) Offered every year. Prerequisite: performance experience preferred.
This advanced-level course is structured to guide students in understanding the complexities of how sacred lifeways inspire social transformation within the Black Atlantic. African descendants and others who share their social positions over space and time have used such lifeways to inform strategies that assert identities that present alternative narratives to individual and collective subjugation. The course covers select geographic locations throughout the Atlantic as a way to expand how we think about the formation and implementation of national, racial projects and sustained efforts to resist racialized social exclusions. (3B) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This course explores the construction and operation of whitenesses primarily in the United States, though it also looks at non-Eurocentric notions of whiteness by examining whiteness both as a category of analysis as well as a social category. It considers how whiteness came to be understood as an unmarked category, by whom, and how it operates in conjunction with gender, sexuality, and/or class in lived experiences. (Also listed as Anthropology 302.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and Anthropology 100 or Critical Identity Studies 101 or Sociology 100 or consent of instructor.
This advanced-level course considers how power and privilege are embodied, negotiated, and challenged by masculine subjects (who may or may not be “men”). A key focus will be on how intersectional approaches to analyzing modern identities—gender, race, class, nation, region, sexuality—move us beyond the inherited borders and accepted divisions of male and female. (3B) Offered every other year. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This advanced-level course surveys a number of conversations in the contemporary academy and social movement contexts about what it means to be queer or to do things queerly. Students explore the utopic aspirations of thinking outside of normative genders, sexualities, and bodies along with the ways in which those same aspirations are embedded in dominant power relations that may thwart subversive intents and desires. Offered every other year. (3B) Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This course offers cross-cultural perspectives on the construction of gender and its social roles. It considers the usefulness of gender as a category of analysis, its relation to sex and sexuality. Throughout the semester we consider the differing ways in which gender is understood and what this means for the theoretical purchase of the term within anthropology. (Also listed as Anthropology 305.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and Anthropology 100 or Sociology 100 or Critical Identity Studies 110 or consent of instructor.
This advanced-level course explores the internal logic of race and culture and how each has been shaped by and deployed in various disciplines in order to understand the theoretical work each accomplishes. It considers the nature of the relationship between culture and race as well as whether and/or how they enable each other in various contexts. (Also listed as Anthropology 306.) Offered every third year. Prerequisite: junior standing and Anthropology 100, Critical Identity Studies 101, or Sociology 100.
Inquiry into race and racism from a philosophical perspective, in dialogue with other disciplines. What is the meaning of race? Is it a biological fact or a social construction? Should racial categories be eliminated, or are there good reasons to preserve them? Is racial color-blindness the solution to discrimination, or is it just another form of racism? This course will focus on the history of the concept of race and contemporary debates surrounding racism and racial identity. (5T) (Also listed as Philosophy 260.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Philosophy 110 or 115 or sophomore standing.
This seminar investigates the mutually constituting relationship between “secularism” and the very diverse set of contemporary movements that have come to be labeled (whether by adherents or critics) as “fundamentalist.” Recent scholarship on secularism reveals its foundations in the construction of religiosity—especially apparently “extreme” forms of religiosity—as inferior to and opposed to modernity, rationality, progress, freedom, and a whole host of other “secular” values. Students analyze media representations, polemical writings, and campus norms in light of recent theoretical work on the relationship between secularity and religiosity, in order not only to better understand the centrality of these categories in the construction of political, social, and personal realities, but also to recognize and critique our own assumptions through comparative study. In the process, students examine the relationship between secularity and religiosity on the Beloit campus. (Also listed as Anthropology 257.) Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This course focuses on the way different communities conceptualize illness and health, and the types of strategies they pursue to realign individual and community well-being. Students explore curative systems and the cosmic orientations that inform such practices through ethnographies, articles, book chapters, and videos. Some curative systems of focus include African-inspired traditions, Hindu-inspired traditions of the science of yoga and Ayurveda, Latin American variants of Curanderismo, and others. This course is not intended to be an exhaustive study of a full range of communities healing traditions. (5T) Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
Sacrifice—the kind that involves ritual violence, that is—is thought to have been all but universal in so-called “premodern” cultures, only to have been wiped out completely (or was it?) through the process of modernization. This course investigates sacrifice and its inverse, self-sacrifice, both in contemporary theory and in cultures deemed “premodern,” with a primary focus on notions of (self-)sacrifice in ancient South Asian thought and practice. Students explore what can be learned through a dialogue between past and present about modern forms of sacrifice and their relationship to gendering, racialization, and related intersections of language and bodies. (5T) Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
If “enlightenment” is a “cognitive” or “spiritual” state or achievement, why is it that it is strongly and repeatedly associated with particular forms of embodiment? This course explores this question cross-culturally, focusing on the story of the Buddha’s enlightenment and its intersection with “the Enlightenment” in modern Europe. The transformations of the Buddha biography make an especially compelling case study for this path of inquiry because the body of the Buddha has constituted such a central focus of the vastly different stories told about him in different places and times, including Modern Europe. As a result, students learn a lot about how ideals of embodiment are produced by looking at the ways in which stories of the Buddha’s enlightenment are intertwined with the triumphal story of white European Enlightenment and related colonial projects. (5T) Normally offered every second year. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
Using the atrocities and acts of courage committed by “ordinary people” during the Holocaust as the central problem to be investigated, this course explores different visions of how we should live, with and for others, through the ethical perspectives offered by particular traditions of religious thought. The course emphasizes the problems and possibilities of ethical relativism in a global context and concludes with a consideration of the value of different ethical lenses for addressing contemporary ethical problems. (5T) Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This course is designed to engage concepts and theories associated with perspectives used to understand the complexities of the socio-historical, political and sacred contexts that inform African inspired expressive forms, with an emphasis on ritual and culture as related to the construction of religious realities. The course guides students to think critically about Africa and its diaspora, the forced and semi-forced dispersal of Africans and their descendants throughout the globe over time. The selections of readings, lectures, class discussions, films, and/or other materials are intended to assist students in expanding their understanding about the complexities of the topic. (3B) Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This course examines how identity and race have been created within Cuba’s nation-making project from conquest to the contemporary moment. The course prioritizes studying identity creation by African descendants and others who have shared their social status. By focusing on the practices of these marginalized social actors, students have an opportunity to engage how distinct sacred lifeways provide alternative sites of social empowerment through identity-affirming practices. Students become familiar with different concepts and theoretical perspectives associated with examining Cuba as a multiracial society and how these assist with understanding race in a more complex and non-binary fashion. (3B) Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
This course helps students articulate their understanding of identity, assess how their liberal arts education has helped them remake knowledge (for themselves and others), and develop a plan to acquire the tools they need to build and transform communities of which they are–or plan to be–a part. It starts with deep reflection about what it has meant to be part of their Beloit College communities for the past 3.5 years. This takes place with an audience of first- and second- year students who enroll in PRAX 110 for .5 unit. Next, students survey various approaches to understanding community, conflict, equity, and justice from various cultural, activist, and spiritual contexts–past and present. Students then develop a project proposal that emphasizes “doing community” with an eye toward their future career or other post-Beloit life goals. This planning process is helped along through their encounters with Beloit College alumni by way of Channels programming. The deliverables include a digital portfolio or public-facing website, a symposium presentation, highly vetted resumes and cover letter templates, and post-graduation 1-, 3-, and 5-year plans. (CP) Prerequisites: Critical Identity Studies major, minor, or permission of instructor.
This advanced-level course takes up topics important to the field of critical identity studies and will be offered to take advantage of faculty or student interest. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 101.
Individual work under faculty supervision, with evaluation based on appropriate evidence of achievement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
The writing of a substantial paper or project based on independent study or project. Qualified students are invited to apply in the fall of their senior year.
Work with faculty in research or classroom instruction. Graded credit/no credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.
Work with faculty doing research. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.