Contacts | Program of Study | Program Requirements | Summary of Requirements | Grading | Honors | Advising | Minor Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies | Gender and Sexuality Studies Courses

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Program of Study

Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Chicago encompasses diverse disciplines, modes of inquiry, and objects of knowledge. Gender and Sexuality Studies allows undergraduates the opportunity to shape a disciplinary or interdisciplinary plan of study focused on gender and sexuality. The plan of study, designed with the assistance of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, can take the form of a gender-track in a traditional academic discipline, interdisciplinary work on a gender-related topic, or a combination thereof. Students can thus create a cluster of courses linked by their attention to gender as an object of study or by their use of gender categories to investigate topics in sexuality, social life, science, politics and culture, literature and the arts, or systems of thought.

Students in other fields of study may also complete a minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies. Information follows the description of the major.

Program Requirements

Gender and Sexuality Studies majors must take GNSE 15002-15003 Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations I-II to fulfill their general education requirement in civilization studies. If a student has taken another sequence to fulfill the general education requirement, s/he may petition to count GNSE 15002-GNSE 15003 towards major requirements.

The major requires eleven courses, a BA Essay Seminar, and a BA research project or essay that can count as a thirteenth course. The Center for Gender Studies recognizes two main paths by which students might develop an undergraduate concentration. Path A is for students whose central interest lies in the interdisciplinary study of gender and sexuality; it is designed to provide students with a range of conceptual and historical resources to pursue such study with creativity and rigor. Path B is for students whose interest in gender and sexuality is primarily organized around a specific other discipline or field such as History, English, or Political Science; it is designed to provide students with the conceptual and methodological resources to pursue Gender and Sexuality Studies within such a field. Within those goals, each path is meant to provide students with the opportunity to design a course of study tailored to their particular interests. Each path consists of one theory course, GNSE 10310 Theories of Gender and Sexuality or an approved substitute; a group of ten electives chosen in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies and the Student Affairs Administrator; a BA Essay seminar for fourth-year students; and a BA paper written under the supervision of an appropriate faculty member.

Path A: The course GNSE 10310 Theories of Gender and Sexuality or an approved substitute and ten electives, which must meet the following chronological, geographical, and methodological distribution guidelines: at least one course with a main chronological focus that is pre-1900 and at least one course with a main chronological focus that is post-1900; at least one course with a main focus that is North America or Europe and at least one course with a main focus that is Latin America, Africa, or Asia; at least two courses in the Humanities and at least two courses in the Social Sciences. Any given course may fulfill more than one distribution requirement; for instance, a course on gender in Shakespeare would count as fulfilling one course requirement in pre-1900, Europe, and Humanities.

Path B: The course GNSE 10310 Theories of Gender and Sexuality or an approved substitute and ten elective courses, five or six of which should be primary courses and four or five of which should be supporting courses. Courses in the primary field focus on gender and/or sexuality in a single discipline or in closely related disciplines and develop a gender track within that discipline. Supporting field courses provide training in the methodological, technical, or scholarly skills needed to pursue research in the student's primary field.

Research Project or Essay

A substantial essay or project is to be completed in the student's fourth year under the supervision of a Gender Studies Adviser who is a member of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Affiliated Faculty in the student's primary field of interest. Students must submit the essay by May 1 of their fourth year or by fifth week of their quarter of graduation.

This program may accept a BA paper or project used to satisfy the same requirement in another major if certain conditions are met and with the consent of the other program chair. Approval from both program chairs is required. Students should consult with the chairs by the earliest BA proposal deadline (or by the end of their third year, when neither program publishes a deadline). A consent form, to be signed by both chairs, is available from the College adviser. It must be completed and returned to the College adviser by the end of Autumn Quarter of the student's year of graduation.

Summary of Requirements

Beginning with the graduating class of 2017

GNSE 15002-15003Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations I-II200
Total Units200
GNSE 10310Theories of Gender and Sexuality *100
Ten courses distributed according to the requirements of either Path A or Path B1000
GNSE 29800BA Seminar100
GNSE 29900BA Essay100
Total Units1300

Summary of Requirements for Path A: Gender and Sexuality Studies Interdisciplinary Major

GNSE 10310Theories of Gender and Sexuality *100
Ten courses distributed according to the chronological, geographical, and disciplinary categories of Path A1000
GNSE 29800BA Seminar100
GNSE 29900BA Essay100
Total Units1300

Summary of Requirements for Path B: Gender and Sexuality Studies Disciplinary Major

GNSE 10310Theories of Gender and Sexuality *100
Ten courses distributed in one of the following ways:1000
Five or six primary courses
Four or five supporting courses
GNSE 29800BA Seminar100
GNSE 29900BA Essay100
Total Units1300

 or an approved substitute


Two of the supporting field courses may be taken for P/F grading. All other courses must be taken for a quality grade.


Students with a 3.0 or higher overall GPA and a 3.5 or higher GPA in the major are eligible for honors. Students must also receive a grade of A on their BA project or essay with a recommendation for honors from their faculty adviser.


Each student chooses a faculty adviser for their BA project from among the Gender and Sexuality Studies Affiliated Faculty listed below. At the beginning of their third year, students are encouraged to design their program of study with the assistance of the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Minor Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies

Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Chicago encompasses diverse disciplines, modes of inquiry, and objects of knowledge. A minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies allows students in other major fields to shape a disciplinary or interdisciplinary plan of study that will provide a competence in gender and sexuality studies. Such a minor requires a total of six courses:

GNSE 10310Theories of Gender and Sexuality *100
Five additional courses in Gender and Sexuality Studies500
Total Units600

 or an approved substitute

It is recommended, but not required, that students who minor in Gender and Sexuality Studies take GNSE 15002-15003 Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations I-II to fulfill their general education requirement. Students who elect the minor program in Gender and Sexuality Studies must meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies before the end of Spring Quarter of their third year to declare their intention to complete the minor. Students choose courses in consultation with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. The chair's approval for the minor program should be submitted to a student's College adviser by the deadline above on a form obtained from the adviser.

Courses in the minor (1) may not be double counted with the student's major(s) or with other minors and (2) may not be counted toward general education requirements. Courses in the minor must be taken for quality grades, and at least four of the requirements for the minor must be met by registering for courses bearing University of Chicago course numbers.

Nonmajors are encouraged to use the lists of faculty and course offerings as resources for the purpose of designing programs within disciplines, as an aid for the allocation of electives, or for the pursuit of a BA project. For further work in Gender and Sexuality Studies, students are encouraged to investigate other courses taught by resource faculty. For more information about Gender and Sexuality Studies, visit the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality website at or contact the student affairs administrator at 702.2365.

Gender and Sexuality Studies Courses

GNSE 10310. Theories of Gender and Sexuality. 100 Units.

This is a seminar-style introductory course for undergraduates. Its aim is triple: to engage scenes and concepts central to the interdisciplinary study of gender and sexuality; to provide familiarity with key theoretical anchors for that study; and to provide skills for deriving the theoretical bases of any kind of method. Students will produce descriptive, argumentative, and experimental engagements with theory and its scenes as the quarter progresses. Prior course experience in gender/sexuality studies (by way of the general education civilization studies courses or other course work) is strongly advised. (H)

Instructor(s): L. Berlant, K. Schilt     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): ENGL 10310

GNSE 11002. Medieval Masculinity. 100 Units.

This course will introduce students to concepts of masculinity in the Middle Ages, especially in the period between approximately 1000 and 1500 CE. Special attention will be paid to medieval notions of honor and to the roles that knighthood, chivalry, and monasticism played in promoting (often contradictory) masculine ideals. The course has two main goals. First, to assess and discuss recent scholarly debates and arguments about medieval masculinity. Second, to read closely a variety of medieval sources—including Arthurian literature, chronicles of the Crusades, biographical texts, and monastic histories—in order to develop new perspectives on masculinity during the Middle Ages.

Instructor(s): J. Lyon     Terms Offered: Winter

GNSE 15002-15003. Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations I-II.

This two-quarter sequence aims to expand students’ exposure to an array of texts—theoretical, historical, religious, literary, visual—that address the fundamental place of gender and sexuality in the social, political, and cultural creations of different civilizations. This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.

GNSE 15002. Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations I. 100 Units.

The first quarter offers a theoretical framing unit that introduces concepts in feminist, gender, and queer theory, as well as two thematic clusters, “Kinship” and “Creativity and Cultural Knowledge.” The “Kinship” cluster includes readings on such topics as marriage, sex and anti-sex, love and anti-love, and reproduction. The “Creativity and Cultural Knowledge” cluster addresses the themes of authorship and authority, fighting and constructing the canon, and the debates over the influence of “difference” on cultural forms.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.

GNSE 15003. Gender and Sexuality in World Civilizations II. 100 Units.

Three thematic clusters make up the second quarter. “Politics” focuses on texts related to activism/movement politics and women’s rights as human rights and the question of universalism. “Religion” contextualizes gender and sexuality through examinations of a variety of religious laws and teachings, religious practices, and religious communities. “Economics” looks at slavery, domestic service, prostitution as labor, consumption, and the gendering of labor in contemporary capitalism.

Instructor(s): Staff     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): GNSE 15002
Note(s): This sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies.

GNSE 21001. Cultural Psychology: Philosophical and Theoretical Foundations. 100 Units.

There is a substantial portion of the psychological nature of human beings that is neither homogeneous nor fixed across time and space. At the heart of the discipline of cultural psychology is the tenet of psychological pluralism, which states that the study of "normal" psychology is the study of multiple psychologies and not just the study of a single or uniform fundamental psychology for all peoples of the world. Research findings in cultural psychology thus raise provocative questions about the integrity and value of alternative forms of subjectivity across cultural groups. In this course we analyze the concept of "culture" and examine ethnic and cross-cultural variations in mental functioning with special attention to the cultural psychology of emotions, self, moral judgment, categorization, and reasoning.

Instructor(s): R. Shweder     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Graduate students. Plus limited number of advanced undergrads (3rd and 4th year only) by consent. Caveat: This will be a low tech Socratic experience., computers closed , iphones off.
Note(s): CHDV Distribution: B, C; 2*, 3*
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 33000,ANTH 24320,ANTH 35110,CHDV 31000,GNSE 31000,PSYC 23000,PSYC 33000,CHDV 21000

GNSE 21400. Advanced Theories of Gender and Sexuality. 100 Units.

Zerilli: This course examines contemporary theories of sexuality, culture, and society. We then situate these theories in global and historical perspectives. Topics and issues are explored through theoretical, ethnographic, and popular film and video texts.  Simon: Our itinerary in this course will be interdisciplinary, ranging from political theory to science studies. Topics for discussion will likely include: the gendering of reason and passion in the history of philosophy; the power, persistence, and flexibility of norms; the relationship between eros and other forms of desire; the division of labor and other economic tributaries to gendered experience; openings for and challenges to the political aspirations of sexual (and other) minorities; and the pressures exerted by technology on erotic life. Students will engage key concepts in the field, and will be encouraged to experiment with new ones.

Instructor(s): Linda Zerilli Winter 2018; David Simon Spring 2018     Terms Offered: Spring,Winter. Winter Quarter 2018 instructor: Linda Zerilli. Spring Quarter 2018 instructor: David Carroll Simon
Prerequisite(s): Undergraduates with permission of instructor

GNSE 21500. Darwinian Health. 100 Units.

This course will use an evolutionary, rather than clinical, approach to understanding why we get sick. In particular, we will consider how health issues such as menstruation, senescence, pregnancy sickness, menopause, and diseases can be considered adaptations rather than pathologies. We will also discuss how our rapidly changing environments can reduce the benefits of these adaptations.

Instructor(s): J. Mateo     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor only.
Note(s): CHDV Distribution: A
Equivalent Course(s): HIPS 22401,CHDV 21500

GNSE 22904. Theories of Sexual Violence in American Culture. 100 Units.

This course is on how legal discourse, feminist theories, and community activism have understood and politicized sexual assault in America, with a special focus on college campuses of the past generation. It attends both to the definition of rape and to movements that have sought to address rape. Along the way, we will talk about the relation between sex, privacy, and the public in contemporary America, using sexual assault as a primary lens to theorize our sexual culture.

Instructor(s): M. Dango     Terms Offered: Winter

GNSE 22905. Gendering Privacy. 100 Units.

Interest in privacy has surged in recent decades in light of the emergence of Big Data, the rise of increasingly sophisticated methods of surveillance, and the ubiquity of networked social media in everyday life. Yet privacy remains a notoriously slippery concept to pin down—across disciplines, privacy has been conceptualized variously as a legal right, a psychological state of being, a set of preferences, and a boundary-making process. In this course, we take a sociological approach to privacy, starting with the notion that privacy is at once a decidedly “micro” individual phenomenon and at the same time a product of “macro” social-structural forces. Thus, while privacy preferences can vary from person to person, the capacity to achieve privacy is shaped by social position (e.g., race, class, gender, etc.). In this course, we focus specifically on how women and men experience possibilities for privacy and how these experiences are shaped by their racial and class location. We will draw on a range of theoretical perspectives, including feminist theory, critical legal theory, and critical race theory to examine privacy through the lens of social inequality. Empirically, we will investigate how the twin systems of welfare and criminal justice present challenges to privacy for men and women living in poverty. The main questions guiding our inquiry include: Who gets to have privacy (and who doesn’t), why, and at what costs?

Instructor(s): C. Hughes     Terms Offered: Winter

GNSE 23100. Foucault and The History of Sexuality. 100 Units.

This course centers on a close reading of the first volume of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, with some attention to his writings on the history of ancient conceptualizations of sex. How should a history of sexuality take into account scientific theories, social relations of power, and different experiences of the self? We discuss the contrasting descriptions and conceptions of sexual behavior before and after the emergence of a science of sexuality. Other writers influenced by and critical of Foucault are also discussed.

Instructor(s): A. Davidson     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): One prior philosophy course is strongly recommended.
Note(s): Students should register via discussion section.
Equivalent Course(s): CMLT 25001,FNDL 22001,HIPS 24300,KNOW 27002,PHIL 24800

GNSE 23103. Women Possessed: Religion, Gender & Sexuality in Early America. 100 Units.

This course will examine American religion, gender, and sexuality from the 17th to the 19th century using the conceptual framework of possession. The course will begin in 17th-century America with the possessed bodies of young women, occupied and claimed by the devil, whose symptoms were often described in overtly sexual terms. We will attend to Quaker writings on the kinds of authority women could claim over the pulpit and their homes. We will read 19th-century erotic fiction of Protestant girls kidnapped by Catholics and Mormons and discuss the roots of the pervasive fears of these two religions as they relate to historical conceptions of femininity, marriage, sexuality, and family. We will read violent, sensational tales of the dangers of seduction and a woman’s subsequent descent into disease, degradation, or prostitution, and examine how concepts of the seducer and the seduced shift according to gender and this shift’s connection with religious ideals of self-possession and self-control in antebellum America. We will read spiritual autobiographies of American slaves and consider the way religion is woven into these narratives. We will end with spirit possession of another kind: the Spiritualist movement, which grew from the desire to communicate with those lost in the Civil War and within which young women often acted as mediums and were able to speak for the dead—sometimes men—publicly in ways they would not have been allowed to in their own voices.

Instructor(s): A. Davis, K. Krywokulski     Terms Offered: Spring

GNSE 23104. Gender, Sexuality, and Islamic Traditions. 100 Units.

This course will explore the discourses surrounding gender and sexuality in the Islamic tradition, from the early Islamic period to the present day. The course will focus on two particular themes: (1) Islamic traditions of thought on issues of gender and sexuality, and (2) The transformations that have altered the space in which these discourses take place today in the Western academy. In each class, we will focus our readings and responses through discussion questions. In this interdisciplinary course, the instructors will compare and contrast their perspectives of classical Islamic studies, text criticism, and legal theory with feminist studies, postcolonial and critical theory, and the anthropology of religion.

Instructor(s): T. Gutmann, M. Sheibani     Terms Offered: Spring

GNSE 23603. Grace, Love, and Pleasure. Painting in Eighteenth Century France. 100 Units.

The easing of political life and the relaxation of private morals which came to characterize the long reign of Louis XV (1715–1774) was mirrored by the development of a new conception of art, an art more intimate, decorative, generally amorous, and often erotic. It is these last two related dimensions which are the basis of a new visual aesthetic which constitutes the subject matter of this course. Through the exploration of contemporary novels and theater, as well as contemporary critical and philosophical writings, we will demonstrate how both the sensual and the erotic become essential components of the century’s cultural ethos. Artistic subjects, the mechanisms to represent them, their metaphorical stakes, and their phenomenological effects on the beholder will therefore be considered as the expression of a particular historical and ideological context. It is in this context that love became the symbol of a king who privileged peace against war, and where emotional pleasure triumphed over moralizing values and asserted itself as a new aesthetic category.

Instructor(s): S. Caviglia-Brunel     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Students who take this course for French credit must do the readings and assignments in French.
Equivalent Course(s): ARTH 33603,FREN 26303,FREN 36303,GNSE 33603,ARTH 23603

GNSE 27702. Gender in the Balkans through Literature and Film. 100 Units.

This introductory course examines the poetics of femininity and masculinity in some of the best works of the Balkan region. We contemplate how the experiences of masculinity and femininity are constituted and the issues of socialization related to these modes of being. Topics include the traditional family model, the challenges of modernization and urbanization, the socialist paradigm, and the post-socialist changes. Finally, we consider the relation between gender and nation, especially in the context of the dissolution of Yugoslavia. All work in English.

Instructor(s): A. Ilieva     Terms Offered: Winter

GNSE 28604. Law and Social Movements in Modern America. 100 Units.

This course traces and examines the relationship of law and social movements in the United States since 1865. We examine how lawyers and ordinary citizens have used the law to support the expansion of social, political, and economic rights in America. We also look at how the state and civic organizations have shaped and deployed law to criminalize the strategies of social reform movements and stifle dissent.

Instructor(s): J. Dailey     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): HIST 28604,HMRT 28604,LLSO 28604

GNSE 29600. Feminist Philosophy. 100 Units.

The course is an introduction to the major varieties of philosophical feminism.  After studying some key historical texts in the Western tradition (Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, J. S. Mill), we examine four types of contemporary philosophical feminism: Liberal Feminism (Susan Moller Okin, Martha Nussbaum), Radical Feminism (Catharine MacKinnon, Andrea Dworkin), Difference Feminism (Carol Gilligan, Annette Baier, Nel Noddings), and Postmodern "Queer" Gender Theory (Judith Butler, Michael Warner).  After studying each of these approaches, we will focus on political and ethical problems of contemporary international feminism, asking how well each of the approaches addresses these problems.  

Instructor(s): M. Nussbaum     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Undergraduates may enroll only with the permission of the instructor.
Equivalent Course(s): HMRT 31900,LAWS 47701,PLSC 51900,RETH 41000,PHIL 21901,PHIL 31900

GNSE 29700. Readings in Gender Studies. 100 Units.

This is a general reading and research course for independent study not related to the BA thesis or BA research.

Terms Offered: Autumn,Spring,Winter
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and director of undergraduate studies
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form. May be taken for P/F grading with consent of instructor. With prior approval, students who are majoring in Gender Studies may use this course to satisfy program requirements.

GNSE 29800-29900. BA Seminar; BA Essay.

GNSE 29800 and 29900 form a two-quarter sequence for seniors who are writing a BA essay.

GNSE 29800. BA Seminar. 100 Units.

This seminar provides students with the theoretical and methodological grounding in gender and sexuality studies needed to formulate a topic and conduct the independent research and writing of their BA essay.

Instructor(s): Jennifer Wild     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and program chairman
Note(s): May be taken for P/F grading with consent of instructor.

GNSE 29900. BA Essay. 100 Units.

The purpose of this course is to assist students in the preparation of drafts of their BA essay. An approved GNSE course may be substituted.

Terms Offered: Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring
Prerequisite(s): Consent of instructor and program chairman
Note(s): Students are required to submit the College Reading and Research Course Form signed by the faculty BA essay reader.



Administrative Contacts

Director of Undergraduate Studies
Jennifer Wild
Classics 314B


Student Affairs Administrator
Sarah Tuohey
5733 S. University Ave.