Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Undergraduate courses that will be offered in Fall 2021:

  • CAS WS101: Gender and Sexuality I: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

    MWF 10:10 am – 11:00 am

  • CAS WS317: Gender and Crime

    W 2:00 pm – 5:15 pm

  • CAS WS325: Bombs and Bombshells: Gender, Armed Conflict, and Political Violence

    T/TH 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

  • CAS WS326: Arts of Gender

    T/TH 9:30 am – 10:45 am

  • CAS WS335: Sociology of Race, Class, and Gender

    T 12:30 pm – 3:15 pm

  • CAS WS347: Feminist Inquiry

    TH 3:30 pm – 6:15 pm

  • CAS WS377: Gender and Sexuality in Judaism

    TH 3:30 pm – 6:15 pm

  • CAS WS380: Gender and Identity in Contemporary Middle Eastern Film

    T 3:30 pm – 6:15 pm

  • CAS WS393: Technoculture and Horizons of Gender and Race

    T/TH 12:30 pm – 1:45 pm

  • CAS WS396: Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality

    MWF 12:20 PM – 1:10 pm

  • CAS WS425: Seminar: Sex and the City

    TH 12:30 pm – 3:15 pm

  • CAS WS430: Global Maternal and Child Health

    M/W 10:10 am – 11:55 am

  • CAS WS431: Seminar: Genders, Sexualities, and Youth Cultures

    T 12:30 pm – 3:15 pm


*Indicates course satisfies BU Hub capacities

*CAS WS 101 – Gender and Sexuality I: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

Introduction to women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, integrating approaches from the natural and social sciences and humanities, focused on the origins, diversity, and expression of gendered and sexed individuals. Topics include the evolutionary origin of sexes; evolution, development, and social construction of sex differences; sexual differences, similarities, and diversity in bodies, brains, behavior, and artistic and intellectual expressions. Team-taught. Students who complete both halves of the two-semester sequence WS 101/102 receive divisional studies credit for two courses, from two different divisions: Natural Science (without lab), Social Science, and/or Humanities. Neither WS 101 nor WS 102 alone carries divisional studies credit.

WS 101 satisfies Hub capacities Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Scientific Inquiry I, and the Critical Thinking Toolkit.

*CAS WS 102 – Gender and Sexuality II: An Interdisciplinary Introduction

Introduction to women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, focused on communities and institutions. Integrates approaches from the natural and social sciences and humanities, including evolutionary, historical, and cross-cultural analyses, feminist and queer theory. Topics include human reproductive biology; patriarchy and sexual violence; parenting, kinship structures, and forms of intimacy; sexual orientation; evolutionary medicine; and the relationship of academic research to social activism. Team-taught. Students who complete both halves of the two-semester sequence WS 101/102 receive divisional studies credit for two courses, from two different divisions: Natural Science (without lab), Social Science, and/or Humanities. Neither WS 101 nor WS 102 alone carries divisional studies credit.

WS 102 satisfies Hub capacities Ethical Reasoning, Social Inquiry I, and the Critical Thinking Toolkit.

*CAS WS 200 – Thinking Queerly: An Introduction to LGBTQ Studies

Explores historical and contemporary debates regarding LGBTQ identity, community, and politics through the relevant interdisciplinary (and often, competing) theories and research. Students gain skills in digital/multimedia expression through the development of a collaborative LGBTQ online magazine. Effective Fall 2018, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: The Individual in Community, Digital/Multimedia Expression.

Satisfies the Hub capacities Individual in Community and Digital/Multimedia Expression.

*CAS WS 213 – Resistance, Protest & Empowerment: Global Women’s Movements

Explores how global expressions of sexism shape all of our lives, experiences, and life chances, with particular attention to how race, class, and sexuality intersect with gender to shape social inequalities. Effective Fall 2018, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Social Inquiry I, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.

Starting Fall 2019, WS 213 satisfies Hub capacities Social Inquiry I and Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy.

*CAS WS 233 – The Evolutionary Biology of Human Variation

Addresses human biological variation. An introduction to the fundamentals of comparative biology, evolutionary theory, and genetics and considers how research in these fields informs some of our most culturally-engaged identities: race, sex, gender, sexuality, and body type. Carries natural sciences divisional credit (without lab) in CAS. Also offered as CAS AN 233. Effective Fall 2018, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Scientific Inquiry I, Ethical Reasoning, Critical Thinking.

Satisfies Hub capacities Ethical Reasoning, Scientific Inquiry I, and Critical Thinking.

*CAS WS 240/SO 240 – Sex and Social Life

Introduction to sociological perspectives on sexuality. Historical and comparative analysis of sexuality, with a focus on the social and cultural institutions that shape sexuality in the contemporary U.S. Carries social science divisional credit in CAS. Also offered as CAS SO 240.

Satisfies Hub capacities Critical Thinking Toolkit, Social Inquiry I.

*CAS WS 241 – Sociology of Gender

An introduction to the social construction of sex and gender with a focus on the economic, political, social, and cultural forces that shape gender relations. Examines gender as a social structure that patterns institutional inequalities and everyday interactions on society. Carries social sciences divisional credit in CAS. Also offered as CAS SO 241.

Satisfies Hub capacities Individual in Community, Social Inquiry II, Teamwork/Collaboration.

*CAS WS 263/AN 263 – Behavioral Biology of Women

An exploration of female behavioral biology focusing on evolutionary, physiological, and biosocial aspects of women’s lives from puberty through pregnancy, birth, lactation, menopause, and aging. Examples are drawn from traditional and industrialized societies, and data from nonhuman primates are considered. Also offered as CAS AN 263. Effective Spring 2019, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Scientific Inquiry I, Social Inquiry I, Critical Thinking.

Satisfies Hub capacities Scientific Inquiry I, Social Inquiry I, and Critical Thinking.

CAS WS 300 – WGS Topics in Literature and the Humanities

Topics in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies relevant to literature and the humanities. May be repeated for credit as topics change.

CAS WS 301 – WGS Topics in the Natural Sciences

Topics in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies relevant to the natural sciences. May be repeated for credit as topics change.

CAS WS 302 – WGS Topics in Social Sciences

Topics in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies relevant to the social sciences. May be repeated for credit as topics change.

CAS WS 303 – WGS Topics in Gender and Film

Topics in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies relevant to film and media. May be repeated for credit as topics change.

CAS WS 304 – WGS Topics in Global and Transnational Studies

Topics in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies relevant to global and transnational studies. May be repeated for credit as topics change.

CAS WS 305 – Topics in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Topics in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies relevant to literature and the humanities. May be repeated for credit as topics change.

CAS WS 325 -Bombs and Bombshells: Gender, Armed Conflict, and Political Violence

Delves into the world of Black Widows and Demon Lovers. Using empirical research, case studies, and drama, the course separates fact from fiction to examine gender and its intersections between recruitment, motivations, and conditions under which women behave violently.

CAS WS 317 – Gender and Crime

Examines social forces shaping gender discrepancies in crime. Using a feminist lens, students explore how cultural ideologies about masculinity and femininity shape criminalization, victimization, and offending. Topics include the gendered contexts of crime and punishment, gender-based violence, and intimate labor.

*CAS WS 326 – Arts of Gender

Thomas More famously used the term “utopia” in 1516 to designate simultaneously a “good place” (eu-topia) and “no place” (u-topia): while a utopian vision might offer us a powerful critique of society and tools for transforming our world for the better, it might be impossible to instantiate in practice. Indeed, it might become its obverse, a dystopia, for many of the people living in it. Thinkers about gender have found utopia and dystopia to be useful frameworks for critiquing contemporary configurations of gender and sexuality and imagining a world made different. What would it take to create spaces where women, non-binary and queer people, and other non-conformists thrive, or at least feel safe? In our current circumstances, is it even possible to imagine such worlds, or do all paths lead inexorably to a dystopian future? Our course readings, mostly from the last thirty years, draw on two very different genre traditions to explore these questions: non-fiction and science fiction. We begin by looking at some scenes of queer kinship in 1970s and 80s New York City, including drag balls and porn theatres. We then transfer our attention to speculative fiction that projects power imbalances between men and women into the future, sometimes for the better, often for the worse. Finally, we examine optimistic reconfigurations of love and family. As we read, we will relate our primary texts to broader feminist and queer critical analysis, examining both its desire for a better world and its fear of catastrophe. Authors include Delany, Atwood, DeConnick and De Landro, Nelson, and Alderman; viewing includes Paris is Burning and Pose. Fulfills the Diverse Literatures in English requirement. This course fulfills a single unit in the following BU Hub area(s): Aesthetic Exploration, The Individual in Community.

*CAS WS 327 – Immigrant Women in Literature: Found in Translation?

This course explores literature about migration created by women primarily from Eastern Europe. We read autobiographical narratives that focus on the shaping of transcultural identity with an eye to the problem of translation as a linguistic, cultural, and personal phenomenon. Effective Spring 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Historical Consciousness, Critical Thinking.

*CAS WS 328 – Madonnas, Martyrs, and MILFs: Gender and Motherhood

Examines the ways that motherhood– the roles, expectations and assumptions that shape what counts as both “good” and “bad “mothering — is currently understood. Three key questions will drive our exploration: How does culture shape mothering practices? How do mothering practices shape culture? How do race, economic class, educational attainment, and sexual orientation impact how motherhood is construed? Discussions of related topics such as fathering, maternal body image, celebrity profiles, mother blame, parenting roles, and the economic costs of motherhood will be explored. Also offered as CGS IN 300.

Satisfies Hub capacities Social Inquiry I, The Individual in Community, Critical Thinking Toolkit.

CAS WS 329 – LGBTQI+ Representation in Film

Queer films challenge norms and undermine categories of gender and sex. Drawing on scholarship from a variety of disciplines the course explores sexual identity and representation in relation to history and other constituting experiences of race, class, gender, and nationality.

*CAS WS 330 – Transforming Life: Anthropology of New Medical Technologies

Use of anthropological field methods as means of inquiry. Readings, discussion, group work, and guest lectures orient students toward independent practical work in various cultural contexts. Also offered as CAS AN 302.

Satisfies Hub capacities Ethical Reasoning, Global Citizenship and Intercultural Literacy, Writing Intensive Course.

CAS WS 335 – Sociology of Race, Class, and Gender

No one of us is one thing, one identity, nor motivated by one singular interest, nor privileged or subjugated by one singular form of power, but how do those multiple forms of ourselves affect how we are advantaged, disadvantaged, viewed, and understood by the social world? Our social world, is, by default, a vast web of social intersections between and across groups with shared, overlapping, and conflicting identities. Race, class and gender affect nearly all of our lived experiences and greatly complicate and nuance concepts of diversity and difference. Also offered as CAS AA 335 and CAS SO 335. Effective Fall 2020, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: Digital/Multimedia Expression, The Individual in Community, Historical Consciousness.

CAS WS 340 – Women, Race, and Gender in Mass Media

Develops students’ media literacy through hands-on analysis of media and pop culture representations of women, femininity, and race; their relation to women’s lived experience; and the place of “feminine” values in contemporary culture.

CAS WS 346 – Women & Film

Study of principally American films, exploring how the medium has shaped and had been shaped by cultural perceptions of women. Reading provide background for interpretation of films ranging from screwball comedy to film noir, “women’s films,” and films by women directors. Also offered as CAS CI 373.

CAS WS 347 – Feminist Inquiry

A survey of feminist theories and development of strands of feminist inquiry in the academy, movements, and politics. Considers the commonalities and contrast in gender relations across cultures and tensions between major feminist schools of thought. 4 credits.

CAS WS 352 – American Masculinities

Considers the biological and social organization of masculinities; the ways culture reproduces/articulates masculinities, particularly with regard to race and class; how masculine identities are expressed; male privilege; alternative masculinities; and what is at stake in negotiating contemporary masculinities. Also offered as CAS SO 352.

CAS WS 356 – Women and Comedy in America

Considers how comedy is marked by gender and allows women to defy the expectations of femininity and transmute aggression into humor; what women find funny; and how women use the power of humor for survival, resistance, subversion, and truth-telling.

CAS WS 375 – Growing up in Korea

Examines memoirs, prose fiction, film, television dramas, and graphic narratives to ask: how have the conventions of Korean coming-of-age narratives evolved? What does this say about changes in Korean identity? What roles have gender and sexuality played in Korean stories of growing up? Also offered as CAS LK 375.

CAS WS 380 – Gender and Identity in Contemporary Middle Eastern Film

Taught by Roberta Micallef. An exploration of representations of gender and identity in contemporary Middle Eastern films by male and female directors reflecting on the impact of modernization, globalization, war and trauma through different visual genres. Also offered as CAS XL 380 and CAS CI 380.

CAS WS 393 – Technoculture and Horizons of Gender and Race

Explores new media theory, postmodernist thought, social media, and video games to confront gender, race, and sexuality. Through critical reading, writing, and hands-on digital technology use, students consider how race, sexuality, and gender live in virtual worlds. Also offered as CAS EN 393. Effective Fall 2019, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: The Individual in Community, Digital/Multimedia Expression.

*CAS WS 396 – Philosophy of Gender and Sexuality

Analyzes notions of gender and sexuality. Questions include: Are gender and sexual identity natural, or are they social constructions? How are they related to love and desire? Also offered as CAS PH 256 and CAS PO 356.

Satisfies Hub capacities Critical Thinking, Individual in Community, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meaning.

CAS WS 403 – Seminar: Gender Stratification

Considers how the social production of gender contributes to various forms of gendered inequalities in employment, the family, dating markets, media representation, etc., with a special emphasis on how race, class, sexuality, and disability mediate the process. Also offered as CAS SO 403.

CAS WS 405 – Topics in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Topic for Spring 2021: Political and Legal Philosophy
Examination of the individual’s responsibilities under law, specifically of the idea that there is a general moral obligation to obey the law, including unjust law, and the contrasting idea of civil disobedience– the possibility of morally justified resistance to law. Also offered as CAS PO 499 and CAS PH 459.

  • Fall 2020 Topic: Seminar: Genders, Sexualities and Youth Cultures Prereq: junior or senior standing and at least two previous sociology courses; or consent of instructor. Investigates the social construction of gender and sexuality in adolescence, Engaging critical approaches to youth cultures, the course examines the structural conditions that shape gender and sexuality norms, and the ways youth navigate and redefine their social worlds. Also offered as CAS SO 493.

CAS WS 420 – Queer Theory

Surveys major texts and arguments in queer theory from Butler’s Gender Trouble to contemporary discussions of cisnormativity, homonationalism, affect, pinkwashing, crip theory, and queer-of-color critique. Explores different uses of queer theory in legal debates, literary analysis, and cultural criticism. Effective Spring 2021, this course fulfills a single unit in each of the following BU Hub areas: The Individual in Community, Philosophical Inquiry and Life’s Meanings, Critical Thinking.

CAS WS 425 – Sex and the City

Sex and the City explores the relationship between sexualities and place. Taking us from big city “gayborhoods” to rural hamlets, the course considers how sexual identities and behaviors interact with place ecologies and processes, from gentrification to suburbanization.

CAS WS 430 – Global Maternal & Child Health

Provides a global perspective on maternal and child health. Major topics include early life influences on later life health, maternity care practices worldwide, and the role of both human evolutionary history and sociopolitical structures in shaping health outcomes for women and children. Also offered as SAR HS 430.

CAS WS 431 – Genders, Sexualities and Youth Cultures

Prereq: junior or senior standing and at least two previous sociology courses; or consent of instructor. Investigates the social construction of gender and sexuality in adolescence, Engaging critical approaches to youth cultures, the course examines the structural conditions that shape gender and sexuality norms, and the ways youth navigate and redefine their social worlds. Also offered as CAS SO 493.

CAS WS 434 – Monarchy in Modern Britain

A seminar probing seminal moments in the history of modern British sovereignty, when the politics of the court intersected with the politics of the people. Particular consideration is given to how monarchy has survived as an institution. Also offered as CAS HI 434.

CAS WS 450 – Internships: Women, Gender, and Social Change

A seminar which introduces students to the practices/ideas of social change organization through local internships and weekly discussions related to class, race, sexuality, women and gender. Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing; or two prior WGS electives; or consent of instructor.

CAS WS 451 – Fashion as History

This seminar treats clothing and other products of material culture as historical documents. Explores what clothing can tell us about key developments in the modern period relating to trade and commerce, empire, gender, class, industry, revolution, nation-building, identity politics, and globalization. Also offered as CAS HI 451.

CAS WS 452 – Contemporary Debates in Sexualities Research

Taught annually by Cati Connell: Engages debates about sexual identities, practices, and communities, conceptualizing sexuality as both a social construct and an institution. Students consider how sexualities operate across social contexts, their effects on systems of inequalities, and their intersections with race, class, and gender. Also offered as CAS SO 452, GRS WS 852. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and at least two previous sociology courses, one of which must be CAS SO 240; or consent of instructor.

CAS WS 454 – Sexuality and Religion in the U.S.

Religion and sexuality in the U.S., including theoretical and historical approaches to religious and sexual desire, identity, ritual, and regulation. Possible topics include religious and sexual freedom, plural marriage, the Sexual Revolution, reproductive justice, sex and secularism, and LGBTQ rights. Also offered as CAS RN 454.

CAS WS 456 – Neurobiology of Sex and Aggression

Description Forthcoming

CAS WS 505 – Topics in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

May be repeated for credit as topic changes.

CAS WS 516 – Gender and Politics

Analyzes the relationship between gender and politics, law and policy primarily in the United States. Considers inequalities based on gender and sexuality, women’s changing political, gender- and sexuality-based political action and social movements. Also offered as CAS PO 309. Prerequisite: Junior standing or above.

CAS WS 530 – Global Intimacies: Sex, Gender, and Contemporary Sexualities

Taught by Nancy J. Smith-Hefner: Explores theoretical and ethnographic approaches to gender, sex, and sexuality as linked to globalizing discourses and transnational mobilities. Readings and discussion emphasize intersections of sex, gender, labor, love, and marriage in a globalized world. Also offered as CAS AN 530.

CAS WS 558- Biology of Human Sex Differences

Taught annually by Chris Schmitt: Why are men and women different? Adopts an evolutionary, adaptive approach to investigate sex differences in human behavior, physiology, and cognition from developmental, mechanistic, and phylogenetic perspectives. Topics include sex differences in aggression, mate choice, parenting, affiliation, and cognition. Also offered as CAS AN 558.

CAS WS 594 – Historical Traditions of Feminist Theory

Explore selected writing from the history of feminist theory, 18th century to the rise of the late-20th century feminist movement, to understand the richness of that history and the varieties of approaches theorists took in understanding and resisting gender-based oppression. Also offered as CAS PO 594.