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Monday, January 8, 2007

Border Crossings and The Phallus

posted by on January 8 at 1:00 AM

A Virginia-based conservative group called Young America’s Foundation recently released its “Dirty Dozen” list of “America’s Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses.”

Charting at #6 on the list is a class being offered this Winter quarter at our very own UW called “Border Crossings, Borders: Transnational Feminist Perspectives on Immigration.” It’s being taught in the UW’s Women Studies Dept. Here’s the course description:

WOMEN 490 D Border Crossings, Borderlands: Transnational Feminist Perspectives on Immigration M W 12:30-2:20 Serena Maurer

In the United States, immigration has recently become a topic of widespread public
discussion and concern. In this course, we will use a transnational feminist perspective
to explore what is highlighted and concealed
in contemporary public debates about
US immigration.

Charting at No. #1 on the list was this class on the phallus from Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA.:


A survey of theories of the phallus from Freud and Lacan through feminist and queer takings-on of the phallus. Topics include the relation between the phallus and the penis, the meaning of the phallus, phallologocentrism, the lesbian phallus, the Jewish phallus, the Latino phallus, and the relation of the phallus and fetishism. Prerequisite: a 200-level CTSJ class.


For descriptions of all 12 classes that made the list, click on the Dirty Dozen link above. In the mean time, here’s a simple list of the course titles:

1. The Phallus (Occidental College)
2. Queer Musicology (UCLA)
3. Taking Marx Seriously: “Should Marx be given another chance?ā€¯ (Amherst College)
4. Adultery Novel (University of Pennsylvania)
5. Blackness (Occidental College)
6. Border Crossings, Borderlands: Transnational Feminist Perspectives on Immigration (The UW)
7. Whiteness: The Other Side of Racism (Mount Holyoke College)
8. Native American Feminisms (University of Michigan)
9. Mail Order Brides: Understanding the Philippines in Southeast Asian Context (Johns Hopkins)
10. Cyberfeminism (Cornell)
11. American Dreams/American Realities (Duke)
12. Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism (Swarthmore)

If you ask me, though, Young America’s Foundation gave short shrift to Olympia’s Evergreen State College. Check out Evergreen’s current course catalogue where YAF would have found this cool course on “Awareness”


Fall, Winter and Spring quarters

Bill Arney, Sarah Williams
Major areas of study include:
somatic studies, philosophy, sociology, education, feminist theory and consciousness studies.
Class Standing:
This all-level program offers appropriate support for freshmen as well as supporting and encouraging those ready for advanced work.
The faculty and perhaps some students are continuing work begun in “Awarenessā€¯ in winter and spring quarters, 2005. Any student is invited to join this program at the beginning of any quarter.

The modern university is based on a rupture, effected a millennium ago, between head and heart. This institution—the one in which we meet as teachers and students—is devoted almost exclusively to the technical and critical disciplines. Ascetic disciplines were left in the proverbial dust. Secularization rendered proverb and metaphor, even language itself, disenfleshed and idolatrized. Our task in this program is to become deeply aware of the devastation caused by this rupture, this loss. Because of what has been betrayed, we dare not simply imagine an alternative form of education, much less another new institution, devoted to the healing of this rupture or the recovery of any loss. Instead, we will, through disciplined, mutually supportive inquiry, become mindful of what we scholars participate in, here and now.

Students will begin their work by designing independent learning projects. These field studies, which will constitute half of each quarter’s work, can be anything (community service, sailing, midwifery, writing, gardening, Aikido, reading, etc.). We will begin our work together by answering these questions: What do you want to learn? How are you going to learn it? How are you going to know when you have learned it? How are you going to show others—faculty and colleagues—that you have learned it?

RSS icon Comments


so are you finally admitting that you sympathize with young republicans?

Posted by wf | January 8, 2007 1:54 AM

if you ask me, the claremont colleges all got the shaft as well. i don't really feel like perusing course catalogs right now though.

Posted by cook | January 8, 2007 2:34 AM

The party that has conrolled the national government and at least half the individuals in the country are obsessed with penises. Why wouldn't that be an appropriate subject for a stand alone course at a university. And all of those courses look as relevant to understanding the modern world as Ancient Greek History 202.

I did think it was funny that the Phallus course, CTSJ 342, had a prerequisite.

I thought the Border Crossings course looked like the most interesting one of the bunch. I'm a little baffled by Queer Musicology, but that may be a Southern California reality lost on me.

Posted by mirror | January 8, 2007 6:59 AM

I go to Lang College, part of the New School in New York City and we offer a course called, I kid you not, the "Sound of Stephen Sondheim". Oh and we're offering a course next semester called "What Type of Thing is Religion?"

Why aren't we on the list?

Posted by Linh | January 8, 2007 9:05 AM

MOUNT HOLYOKE!!!! Yeah Baby! That's where I went. I think that a class on Whiteness is important. If the young repubs think it is stupid it is probably crucial.

Posted by Papayas | January 8, 2007 10:10 AM

Bill and Sarah are great professors - I bet that program is petty good... for a core program. "All-Level" usually means freshmen, or first-year Greeners, and they can be weird to deal with.

I think the craziest program titles I had at Evergreen were "Great Works and What They're Made Of." "Out of the Cave," and "User Friendly."

I miss it! I feel intellectually lazy in the real world!

Posted by Soupytwist | January 8, 2007 10:11 AM

I call bullshit on this list. UCSC didn't make the cut and we offer more PC and academically questionable courses than I have ever seen. Plus, the Cyberfeminism course offered by Cornell is centered around the theory of Donna Haraway who is a professor at UCSC. AND we have a PhD program in the History of Consciousness featuring courses like "Imagining Pop Culture" , "Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?", "Film Fantasies", "The Gothic Imagination", and much, much more.

Posted by dewsterling | January 8, 2007 10:36 AM

Dude, the title of this post gave me an awesome idea for awful Japanese animated porn! As a way of smuggling people across a border, someone comes up with the idea of having a confused virile dude lay on the ground, with his ridiculous Asian-porn-dong coiled up and flaccid... damn, I cannot bring myself to continue typing this. It will discredit the name of Noink for eternity.

Posted by Noink | January 8, 2007 10:38 AM

I can't believe Swarthmore's "Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism" didn't rank higher. I mean, everyone knows that all you can do with terrorists (and all brown people) is shoot them.

As a point of pride, I can't believe offerings from Macalester College didn't make the list.

Posted by Brie | January 8, 2007 12:16 PM

Wouldn't it make more sense for the same college to offer both "Whiteness" and "Blackness?"

Posted by J.R. | January 8, 2007 1:11 PM

I took the adultery class at Penn and it was definitely not politically correct, unless you think discussing 17th century poems with titles like "Signior Dildo" is PC. And it doesn't even fulfill the bizarre quotient that much-- just think about how many major works of literature involve adultery, from the Iliad to the Arthurian legends to Othello to The Scarlet Letter to The Great Gatsby, and so on ad infinitum.

Definitely doesn't deserve to be anywhere near #4. Fun class, though.

Posted by Megan | January 8, 2007 2:04 PM

Oh hey, I went to Occidental! What a great place to learn about penises. All literature and theory and art history classes are phallus phallus phallus anyway, so they might as well advertise it up front.

(And J.R.: As I recall, Oxy does offer both Whiteness and Blackness--just not at the same time.)

Posted by Lindy West | January 8, 2007 2:09 PM

My senior year at Sarah Lawrence: "Sadomasochism in Literature and Film" (taught by the German teacher, of course), "Body & Soul, Cosmology & Salvation in The Ancient Mediterranean World," and "Animation."

Posted by jessiesk | January 8, 2007 3:33 PM

Wow, I considered registering for the UW class this quarter the other week when a classics course wasn't working out. It was actually the sheer bloated absurdity of the title that drew my attention.


Posted by Juris | January 9, 2007 1:22 PM

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