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Captive Bodies: Gender and Mass Incarceration (WGSS 2240)

Total Credits: 3
Lecture Credits: 3

Description: This course examines the reasons behind the rapidly-growing number of women and/or transgender and gender-nonconforming people incarcerated in the U.S. and globally. You will grapple with the ethical and political implications raised by mass incarceration and other such practices of discipline, punishment, and containment, focusing on issues of gender and sexuality. You will further explore the participation of communities, schools, and non-profit organizations in sometimes furthering but also in creating alternatives to incarceration.

Topical Outline:
1. Theories and origins of punishment in the context of colonization, de-industrialization, and global capitalism
2. The production of criminality, the narrative of “female criminality”
3. Critiques of slavery and the US prison system, specifically the ways these institutions have perpetuated violence against women and other gender outsiders
4. Criminalization of gender/gendered identities (women and gender outsiders living with mental health challenges, disabilities, addiction, who are migrants, who are engaged in sex work economies, etc.)
5. Eugenics, the criminalization of pregnancy, and reproductive justice
6. Gender and the school to prison pipeline. Transformative justice, legal reform movements, prison abolition, and anticarceral feminism

Learning Outcomes:
1. Describe the centrality of gender and sexuality as they intersect with race, class, dis/ability, and nationality in the growth of the prison and processes of criminalization
2. Develop a full understanding of how punishment regimes in the U.S. disproportionately target communities living at the intersections of race, gender, sex, and class marginality.
3. Demonstrate an awareness of how policing practices and the criminalization of certain acts, identities, and communities are structured by power and informed by racism, xenophobia, heterosexism, and imperialism
4. Examine the relationship of prisons and the policing women and other gender outsiders to nation-building and global capitalism.
5. Analyze their own biased assumptions about growth of punishment industries and regimes of mass incarceration
6. Demonstrate a familiarity with the range of texts, critical vocabularies, and political movements that comprise anticarceral/abolitionist feminism and engage them in their written work

Prerequisites:  Placement into ENGL 1110 or completion of ENGL 0900 or ENGA 0900 or ESOL 0051

  • Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Goal 7: Human Diversity