COVID-19: Essential Information

Laurie Essig

Director and Professor of Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

 work(802) 443-5355
 Fall 2021: Mon 3-4:30, Wed 10-12. Sign up here: or by appointment via email
 Chellis House 202

 Laurie Essig is a sociologist who teaches courses on Heterosexuality, White People, Freakishness and Feminist Blogging. Her first book, Queer in Russia: A Story of Sex, Self and the Other (Duke, 1999) considered how sexual others are imagined and thus imagine themselves in Russia. Her second book, American Plastic: Credit Cards, Boob Jobs and Our Quest for Perfection (Beacon, 2010) argued that cosmetic surgery in the US is the subprime mortgage crisis of the body, with corporations squeezing profit from working class Americans who hope a more perfect body will lead to a better future. Essig writes for a variety of publications including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and Psychology Today. Her current project is Love, Inc: The strange marriage of romance and capitalism.


Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

GSFS 0191 / SOCI 0191 / SOAN 0191 - Gender and the Body      

Gender and the Body
What is your gender and how do you know? In order to answer this question, we need to consider how gender is known through biology, psychology, consumer capitalism, and our everyday embodiment. We will also look at how the meaning and performance of gender have changed over time from Classical Greece to Victorian England to the contemporary U.S. Throughout, we will consider how gender does not operate along, but is always entangled with, race, class, sexuality, nationality, and ability. 3 hrs. lect. CMP SOC

Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2021

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GSFS 0225 / WRPR 0225 - Feminist Blogging      

Feminist Blogging
Blogging is a genre that lends itself to both feminist theory and practice because it involves writing from a particular place and a particular embodiment, about how power operates in our social worlds. Feminist theory demands intersectionality: an ability to weave race, class, gender, sexuality and other forms of power into a single theoretical approach. Feminist blogging transforms intersectionality into a single narrative arc. In this course we will think about blogging as a genre and how feminist theory can infuse that genre into a more vibrant, complex, and even transformative site. Throughout the course we will read feminist theory, analyze feminist blogs, and produce our own feminist blogs. 3 hrs. lect. AMR CMP CW LIT NOR SOC

Fall 2017, Fall 2019

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GSFS 0313 / SOCI 0313 / SOAN 0313 - White People      

White People
White people did not just appear out of nowhere. Instead, they are the result of a long history of structural and everyday racism that was always intertwined with class, sex, sexuality, and nation. We will explore how whiteness became a foundational category for citizenship in the US, especially after the Civil War when the Color Line was drawn through the legal, cultural, and spatial practices of Jim Crow. We will consider how "new immigrants" and even white "trash" became white primarily through the exclusion of Black Americans. Finally, we will look at the formation of whiteness today as a site of privilege, aggrieved entitlement, and violence. 3 hrs. sem. AMR NOR SOC

Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

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GSFS 0314 / SOCI 0314 / SOAN 0314 - Sociology of Heterosexuality      

Sociology of Heterosexuality
Most people believe that heterosexuality is natural or rooted in biology and so never look very closely at it as a product of culture. In this course we will examine the artifacts, institutions, rituals, and ideologies that construct heterosexuality and the heterosexual person in American culture. We will also pay close attention to how heterosexuality works alongside other forms of social power, especially gender, race, and class. 3 hrs. lect. AMR NOR SOC

Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

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GSFS 0425 - Men and Masculinities      

Men and Masculinities
In this course we will consider the creation and performance of masculinities in the American context.  We will ask how men are made and how that making relies on class, race, sexuality, and nation. We will begin with early capitalism and the birth of the ideal man as “market man.”  We will then look at how ideal masculinity depends on the creation of “degenerate” men, like the myth of the hyper-masculinized Black male “beast” and the creation of the mythic mannish lesbian.  We will then trace these late 19th century men and masculinities into our current moment of political machismo, trolling misogyny, bromance, feminist men, hipster men, dandy bois, transmen, and more.  Readings will include: Michael Kimmel, Guyland; C.J. Pascoe and Tristan Bridges, Exploring Masculinities: Identity, Inequality, Continuity and Change; C.J. Pascoe, Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School; Judith Halberstam, Female Masculinity, and bell hooks, We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.  (GSFS 0191 or GSFS 0200 or GSFS 0289) 3 hrs. sem. (Critical Race Feminisms)/ AMR CW HIS NOR SOC

Spring 2018, Spring 2020

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GSFS 0435 - Feminist Engaged Research      

Feminist Engaged Research
What makes research feminist? How does one conduct feminist research? How has feminist research been useful to social movements and how have movements informed feminist research? What happens to feminist research when it moves to the public sphere? In this class students learn how to produce original feminist research—how to craft research questions, write a literature review, choose relevant methodologies, and collect and analyze qualitative data. In addition to writing a research paper, students will translate their research findings into an alternative (non-academic paper) format and for an audience beyond our classroom. (GSFS 0320 or instructor approval). 3 hrs. Sem. AMR CW NOR SOC

Fall 2020

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GSFS 0500 - Independent Study      

Independent Study
(Approval required)

Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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GSFS 0700 - Senior Essay      

Senior Essay
(Approval required)

Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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GSFS 0710 - Senior Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval required)

Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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WRPR 0500 - Special Project: Lit      

Special Project: Literature
(Approval Required)

Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Winter 2022, Spring 2022

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Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

Chellis House Women's Resource Center
56 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753