Course Spotlight: Freud Feminism Queer Theory

GSD 360, 37483, Freud, Feminism, and Queer Theory

By: Jacqueline Foxworth

GSD 360 Freud

Freud, Feminism, Queer Theory. Are these three things even related, you ask? Kinda, yeah, and you can find out how by reading this post and then registering for Professor Peter Rehberg’s spring course.

A little bit on Professor Rehberg that you may not learn in class: he is part of an exchange program run by the German government to bring German and European cultural studies to the U.S. through a teaching and research at American universities. He received academic training both in Germany, where he acquired his master’s, and the U.S., where he received his PhD.

So, who is Freud, and what are Feminism and Queer Theory? Freud, a neurologist who lived from 1856 to 1939, is known as the father of psychoanalysis, which is considered a method for the treatment of psychopathology through a dialogue between the patient and psychoanalyst, named the “talking cure”.

According to Professor Rehberg, feminism describes “our cultural interpretation of sexual difference [being] heavily charged with ideologies that put women into a disenfranchised position,” which overwhelmingly seems to be the norm in the West today. In the class, he wants to tackle such questions as: Why is feminism being dismissed in today’s society? Why does it have such a negative connotation? On the subject of Queer Theory, Professor Rehberg explains that it implies “not just a critique of heteronormativity, but also a critique of notions of identity.” And in terms of where these two ideas converge, he feels “feminism cannot afford to ignore the question of homo- and hetero-sexuality,” and his course will delve into why this might be.

So, where does Freud meet Feminism and Queer Theory? It is often understood that Freudianism and psychoanalysis provide an inhospitable environment for women, gays, and lesbians. But, how accurate is this interpretation? For example, was Freud misogynistic or was he just really good at explaining the misogynistic system of society? And, was Freud’s work on sexuality actually useful for queer theory? According to Professor Rehberg, we have to take a closer look at history and Freud’s writings in order to understand these contrasting views.

Finally, when I asked Professor Rehberg why it is important to understand Freud, Feminism and Queer Theory today, he responded: “I still think that psychoanalysis is the most complex discourse on sexuality and the relationship between sexuality cultures and subjectivity that we have today…It’s a cultural tradition that offers such a fantastic, fascinating understanding of how subjectivity works and what our relation to our body is…I don’t think psychoanalysis is over.” He then provided examples of ways in which psychoanalysis has infiltrated our everyday discourse, like how often we use its terms such as “symptom,” “fetish,” “neurosis,” etc. All of these are reasons why even students not in Germanic or Gender Studies would benefit from this course, so I would encourage all students to quench their curiosity and take it!

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ANS 320, 30983, Life and Love in South Indian Literature

Life Love

Take a step back, Nicholas Sparks. It is now time for modern South Indian authors to seize the spotlight and shed a different perspective on love and life, two basic yet timeless human struggles and emotions that have captured audiences of every kind.  Taught by Dr. Darsana Manayathu Sasi, “Life and Love in South Indian Literature” is a class that just might bring you to tears and appreciate life just a little bit more.

The course aims to explore modern South Indian literature and the recurrent literary themes that serve as a running coda throughout various works. Students will be reading poem anthologies, novels, and short stories.  Hopefully you will be able to leave the class with a familiar understanding of the cultural themes, literary practices, and social movements of the region. Who knows, you might even learn a few new smooth sonnets to capture somebody’s heart!

ANS 340, 30985, Jainism: Religion of Non-Violence


What does “violence” include? Where do we draw the line between what constitutes a violent act and what is a non-violent act? Is simply screaming at someone out of anger considered violence? In the practice of Jainism, which is often called the religion of non-violence, such questions are vital to address. Jainism is a South Asian religion, and one of the oldest in the world, originating in 5th century BC. It is often considered “intense” because of the discipline required by Jain monks and nuns, but the tradition is actually much more.

Dr. Don Davis focuses on Jain theology and philosophy in this new course. Students will obtain a working knowledge of the basic concepts of Jainism, including its central value, ahimsa, the concept of non-violence. Students will also work to acquire a thorough understanding of everyday life in Jain communities by looking at questions that practitioners of Jainism ask, such as “What are our obligations to others and to the natural world?” In a world today filled with plenty of violence, it may be interesting to gain a new perspective and try to understand how these people attempt to live their lives without it.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

ANS 340, 30995, Tantric Ascetics in Modern India


Today India encompasses a vast landscape of religious beliefs, and although various, many religions in India are part of an undercurrent theme, Tantra. Originating in India around the 5th century AD, Tantra is regarded as a system of transgressive ascetic practice, which means that it involves going beyond the boundaries of what is socially imposed or accepted in terms of self-discipline and abstinence.

Dr. Jishnu Shankar aims to take a broad view of present day religious followers who incorporate this severe restraint in their religious and spiritual practices. He also plans to take a deeper look at how these transgressive disciplines are evolving in our changing world and how they align their practices according to the needs of the time and place they are in.

In this course, students will study Shaiva and Buddhist practitioners of this tradition, among others, as they exist in modern times. Students will also focus on understanding Tantra’s great resilience within religious traditions through changing times and in contemporary India.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

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MAS 319, 35398, Curating Latina/o Spaces


When you think of Latino neighborhoods, what comes to mind? East L.A., In the Heights, House on Mango Street? This course will examine the experience of Latina/ o populations in U.S. cities during the 20th and 21st centuries while considering how these experiences have been portrayed. We will study how racialization, segregation and urban renewal shaped the experiences of Latinas/os and how they responded to these challenges. By studying Latina/o experiences and identity formation in the city, this course bridges political, cultural and economic boundaries through considering the complexities of popular culture, integration and assimilation, neighborhood formation, and multicultural interaction.

Students will be able to identify key similarities and differences of the Latina/o experiences in major cities; recognize the ways racial formation and place-making intersects with citizenship status, gender, class and sexuality to produce varying life experiences; and analyze cultural representations and portrayals of Latinas/os in print and visual media, music and popular culture. Throughout the course, students will consider the production and consumption of particular spaces and geographies such as stadiums, clubs and streets.

This course may be counted toward the Cultural Diversity and Writing flag requirements.

MAS 319, 35400, Latino Politics: Voter ID/Health/Education


Voter turnout… Health disparities… Graduation rates

The common thread in these headline news items is a basis in social science research. No matter what your major is, the methods learned in this class can be applied to answer questions in fields as far-ranging as medicine, marketing, political science, education, and public policy.

Want to know how Latinos may impact future elections (or why they won’t) or why older Latinas no longer have as high a life expectancy as they did a decade ago? If you’re interested in finding out the answers or have other burning questions running around in your brain, this class can help you find those answers because the final class assignment is to construct a research design of your own choosing.

This course may be used to satisfy the Cultural Diversity and Independent Inquiry flag requirements.

MAS 374, 35448, Community Research and Analysis


Regardless of the sector, students pursuing careers in community leadership or program development will be tasked with making important decisions that can have huge implications for the populations they serve. Now that we are in the age of big data, students and professionals alike are bombarded with a constant stream of information from a wide variety of sources (e.g., television, the Internet, newspapers, and magazines), which make these decisions all the more challenging.

This course provides a formal introduction to quantitative methodology and statistical analysis for Latino and Black serving professionals pursuing private, nonprofit, and public sector careers in community and/or organizational leadership. This is also an experiential learning course. In addition to learning about the nuts and bolts of applied quantitative research, we will collectively (as a class) undertake a quantitative research study for a Texas-based organization or community agency.

This course may be used to satisfy the Cultural Diversity flag requirement.

For more information on these and other courses offered by Mexican American and Latina/o Studies:

Snapshots Spring 2015

EUS 347, 35699, European Avant-Gardes

Avant-Garde paintings

Are you a rebel? Do you feel constrained by certain confounds of social norms and traditions around you? Well, if you answered yes to either of these questions, listen further because you might just have something in common with those who participated in a certain artistic movement called avant-garde. This movement, which took place in Europe during the 20th century, corresponded with artists’ aggressive attitudes toward social norms and their endeavor to break artistic taboos and destroy traditions.

The movement’s title gets its origins from the military, literally meaning “vanguard” or “fore-guard,” which represents its forward-thinking attitude that pushes the boundaries of what is currently accepted as the norm in society. Visiting Professor Erik Martin’s new course “European Avant-Gardes” explores the upheaval that defined such a movement.

During this course, students will analyze text, films, and paintings in order to better understand the nature of this movement and why it was important. So if you’ve ever pushed limits, broken the confounds of the world around you, or wanted to do either of these things, then “European Avant-Gardes” may be the perfect course for you.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

ITC 349, 36405, Italian of TV Advertising

Italian ads

Italy is often known for its iconic style. From fashion, to film, to politics, most of us have heard of Gucci, Fellini, or Mussolini and can associate a distinct appearance or way of doing things with at least one of these.  All of these have something in common, and that is the way in which the strong culture of Italy influences how their ideas or appearance are sold to the public. This new course, taught by Dr. Cinzia Russi, focuses on analyzing Italian advertising, and how the peculiarly Italian style of television advertising has changed during the past 50 years.

And no worries, you do not need to know Italian to take this course! It will also begin with a general introduction to the language of television advertising, in case you aren’t fluent in that either.

While focusing on language and socio-cultural changes in Italian television advertising, students will look at the role of women and the structure, life, and values of the ‘typical’ Italian family among other things. And all those ads you’ve had to watch should come in handy when the course gets into comparing ads broadcast in the U.S. with those broadcast in Italy.

This course may be used to satisfy the Global Cultures flag requirement.

C C 348, 32429, Death and the Afterlife in Graeco-Roman Antiquity


Throughout history, man has often wondered about the journey beyond death. Different cultures and individuals have varying ideas about what awaits when their mortal life ends. Many of us know that the Greeks and the Romans had unique beliefs surrounding afterlife, but what exactly were their mythological, religious, and philosophical views on it? Assistant Instructor James Patterson’s course “Death and the Afterlife in Graeco-Roman Antiquity” explores these and more views surrounding death and afterlife from ancient Sumeria, through Graeco-Roman antiquity, to early Christianity.

Through ancient literature and mythological accounts, students will be able to better understand those varying views concerning the afterlife and how these views influenced the way adherents approached their lives over this span of time. During this course, students will study subjects from ancient cults and witchcraft to martyrs and heaven. Students will also have the opportunity to study material culture, such as archaeological artifacts, and physical texts, such as curse tablets and papyri.