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Critical Identity Studies Courses

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.

CRIS 165. Sex and Power (1). This course introduces students to the multiplicity of ideas at the intersections of biological sexes, racialized and sexual identities, variously marked bodies, and gendered expressions, as well as the power embedded in their various representations in popular culture. We consider various strands of feminism, divergent positions among queer theorists, and arguments drawn from other identity based fields to both survey and compare several inevitably conflicting perspectives on sex and power in U.S. contexts. Prerequisite: Freshman or sophomore standing, juniors and seniors may register with instructor permission. Offered each semester. (3B)

CRIS 204. Constructing Difference: Diversity and Education (1). This course explores the major theories and significant research on the development and explanation of individual differences and how those differences affect the education of youth. The course will explore issues of student diversity, with special attention to race, class, gender, language, and the inclusion of students with special and exceptional needs in general education. Issues are examined mainly through the lenses of history, sociology, economics, and education and youth policy. Students will critically examine how and why race, class, language, ability and disability, and gender have influenced education. Includes at least 15 hours of field experience. (3B) Offered every spring and alternate fall terms. (Also listed as Education and Youth Studies 164.)

CRIS 209. Anthropology of Consumer Society (1). 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 165 or Sociology 100.

CRIS 220. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity (1). 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.

CRIS 221. Women, Race, & Class (1). 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.

CRIS 225. Psychology of Women (1). 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. (Also listed as Psychology 225) (3B) Offered once every three years. Prerequisite: Psychology 100 and any Critical Identity Studies course, or consent of instructor.

CRIS 226. The Sociology of Sex and Gender (1). 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.

CRIS 231. Social Stratification (1). 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.

CRIS 235. Captives, Cannibals, and Capitalists in the Early Modern Atlantic World (1). This course explores cross-cultural encounters in the Americas that characterized the meetings of Europeans, Africans, and Americans in the early modern world between 1492 and 1763. During this period, the Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent land masses became critical locations for economic, biological, and cultural exchanges. This course focuses on the Americas as sites for discovery, mutual incomprehension, and exploitation. The course explores the ways that conquest, resistance, and strategic cooperation shaped peoples’ “new worlds” on both sides of the Atlantic. It also considers how colonialism framed and was framed by scientific inquiry, religious beliefs, economic thought, and artistic expression. Students interrogate primary sources–written, visual and aural–that emerged from these encounters and the secondary literatures that have sought to make sense of them. (Also listed as History 235.) (5T) Offered each fall. Open to first-year students.

CRIS 236. Men's Health (1). 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.)

CRIS 245. Families in Transition (1). 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.

CRIS 250. Global Family Issues (1). 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.

CRIS 251. Language and Culture (1). 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. Offered occasionally. (Also listed as Anthropology 209.) Prerequisite: Anthropology 100 or consent of instructor.

CRIS 252. Women’s Health: Topics (1). 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. May be taken for credit only one time. (Also listed as Health and Society 252.) Offered occasionally.

CRIS 260. Topics in Critical Identity Studies (.5, 1). 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)

CRIS 265. Topics in Critical Identity Studies (.5, 1). Topics important to the field of critical identity studies will be offered to take advantage of faculty or student interest. Recent topics include: Gendering Islam, Identity and Media, Music as History and the Histories of Western Music, Divorce in Judaism and Islam, and Classical Mythology. 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.

CRIS 269. Topics in Critical Identity Studies: History Topic (.5, 1). History topics important to the field of critical identity studies that meet the major's history requirement. Recent topics include Citizenship in U.S. History, Slavery and Abolition, and Readings in African American History. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. (5T) The undomained version of this course is Critical Identity Studies 269.

CRIS 282. Empire and Slavery: The Early History of the Caribbean (1). Although this is a history course, it takes a multidisciplinary approach to study of the Caribbean past within the context of European and U.S. empires. Topics include exploration and settlement, the development of bound labor systems, the nature of slave experiences, economic change, emancipation in local and Atlantic contexts, the construction of race and gender at various moments, and the emergence of Caribbean cultural forms. It also investigates the similarities and differences among French, Dutch, English, and Iberian Caribbean settlements. (Also listed as History 282.) (3B) Offered occasionally. Open to first-year students.

CRIS 301. Engendering Race (1). This advanced-level course examines gender and race across various historical, cultural, and institutional contexts. Conceptions of borders, margins, indigeneity, and citizenship are examined to make sense of contemporary identity formations. Offered every other year. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 165.

CRIS 302. Whiteness (1). This advanced-level course explores the construction and operation of whiteness in the United States. It considers how whiteness came to be understood as an unmarked, yet privileged, category and how it operates in conjunction with gender, sexuality, and/or class in lived experiences. Offered every third year. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and Anthropology 100, Sociology 100, or Critical Identity Studies 165.

CRIS 303. Masculinities (1). 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. Offered every other year. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 165. (3B)

CRIS 304. Thinking Queerly (1). 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. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 165. (3B)

CRIS 305. Gender and Culture (1). This advanced-level 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 in various disciplines. (Also listed as Anthropology 305.) Offered every third year. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 165.

CRIS 306. Race and Culture (1). 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 165, or Sociology 100.

PHIL 260. Critical Philosophy of Race (1). 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 Interdisciplinary Studies/Philosophy 260.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Philosophy 110 or 115 or sophomore standing.

CRIS 309. Secularism and Fundamentalism (1). This advanced-level course investigates the mutually constituting relationship between “secularism” and the diverse set of contemporary movements labeled (whether by adherents or critics) as “fundamentalist.” Media representations, polemical writings, and campus norms will be analyzed, to both better understand the centrality of these categories in the construction of political, social, and personal realities and to recognize and critique our own assumptions through comparative study. (Also listed as Religious Studies 280/Anthropology 257.) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 165, Anthropology 100, or at least one course in Religious Studies.

CRIS 310. Black Lives Matter (1). This upper-division advanced theory course introduces students to discourses of modernity and humanism that exclude black persons from human recognitions and protections. Students interrogate popular media representations that reproduce racial spectacle to ask how black lives can matter, if at all, and to further deliberate how black lives might be sexed and/or gendered. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 165.

CRIS 320. Undoing the Dimorphic Paradigm: Gender-Bending, Actual and Imaginative (1). This advanced-level course problematizes the gender system dominant in Western cultures: heterosexualized sex-gender dimorphism. It focuses on “third”-ness: figures and phenomena—e.g., queerness, cross-dressing, transgender, transsexuality, intersexuality—that bridge the divide between female/feminine and male/masculine. (Also listed as English 301) Offered every other year. Prerequisite: Critical Identity Studies 165 or consent of instructor.

CRIS 360. Advanced Topics in Critical Identity Studies (.5, 1). 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 165.

CRIS 390. Special Project (¼-1). Individual work under faculty supervision, with evaluation based on appropriate evidence of achievement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

CRIS 392. Honors Thesis (.5, 1). 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.

CRIS 395. Teaching Assistant (½). Work with faculty in research or classroom instruction. Graded credit/no credit. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

CRIS 396. Research Assistant (½). Work with faculty doing research. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.