Let’s start this course description with a period: specifically Period. End of Sentence (2018), a documentary airing on Netflix that won the 2019 Academy Award. Period tells the story of a collective of women in Hapur, India who make sanitary pads from recycled materials, thus working to alleviate the silence and stigma around menstruation and in so doing to increase their own possibilities for education, mobility, and social engagement. The documentary shows not only how women might make their voices heard but also how even small changes might produce massive differences, what many term the “butterfly effect.”
Using this idea of how micro-practices might produce massive changes in behavior, thought, and the organization of cultures, this course introduces students from all backgrounds and academic majors to the field of women’s and gender studies, thinking specifically about the workings of gender both in the US context and in the cultures we’ll encounter port by port. Differences of identity—ethnicity, race, class, sexuality, religion, gender expression, and caste—will be central to the curriculum, and our readings will draw attention to social conditions that both divide and unite people today, with an eye to the tiny butterfly wings that are working to create change for the future.
Field WorkCountry: Sweden
Date: April 12, 2022