GWSS Mentored Advanced Projects

GWSS Mentored Advanced Projects

GWSS majors are encouraged to explore the possibility of completing a Mentored Advanced Project. Please note that all faculty are required to submit funding proposals for Summer MAPs by the first week of February. After that deadline, faculty are not able to make plans for Summer MAPs. Students in their second or third year should approach faculty with whom they would like to complete a Summer MAP in the Fall semester to find out if the faculty member plans to submit a MAP request for the following summer. MAPs during the Fall and Spring semesters do not operate according to this same structure. Students should ask individual faculty if they are available and interested in completing a MAP during the academic year.

The following profiles of past student MAPs highlight the variety of topics that students can pursue in this unique opportunity for scholarly inquiry.

Spring 2013: Advanced Studies in Critical Race Feminisms
"The Legal Construction of Intelligence: Race, the Supreme Court and Standardized Admissions Tests" by Joe Bear '13
"Criminalizing a Woman's Body: The Legal Impact of Ferguson v The City of Charleston" by Sarah Swearer '13
Mentor: Professor Lakesia Johnson

Summer MAP 2011: Queer Television Studies
Students: Liana Eisman ’13, Elliot Karl ’12, Clara Montague ’13, Zoe Schein ’12
                 and Amanda Stromquist ‘12
Mentor: Professor Astrid Henry

During the summer of 2011, five Grinnell GWSS majors worked with Professor Astrid Henry to complete a Mentored Advanced Project in the emerging discipline of Television Studies, specifically to determine how this medium reflects and reifies variant ideologies of gender and sexuality in society. After exploring foundational concepts in this discipline—the production, content and reception of televisual texts, as well as the dynamic interplay between television, self, culture and the politics of representation—students each chose a television series to watch in-full and critically engage using a chosen theoretical lens, analytical concept or historical contextualization. Students met weekly to discuss Television Studies literature, share developments in their chosen research area, critique writing exercises and drafts, and, occasionally, watch the tube together.

Titles of student papers resulting from the MAP include:

“Raising the Stakes: True Blood’s Revival of the Vampire Trope in Response to Contemporary American Identity Politics,” by Liana Eisman

“Diggin’ the Dancing King: The Event of Showtime’s Queer as Folk and its Reification of Hegemonic Masculinity” by Elliot Karl

“Gleefully Gay: Queerness and America’s Favorite TV Musical,” by Clara Montague

“Speaking the “L” Word: Self-Reflexivity and Lesbian Televisual Representation on Showtime’s Hit Series,” by Zoe Schein

“Cracking The Egg's Shell: A Theory of Anime and It's Revolutionary Potential,” by Amanda Stromquist


Summer MAP 2011: Advanced Studies in Feminist and Queer Theory
Students: Winsome Eustace ‘12, Joe Hiller ’12, Christian Loggins ‘12, Laura Stamm ‘12
                 and Robin Wetherill ’12
Mentor: Professor Terri Geller

Also during the summer of 2011, a group of five Grinnell seniors had the opportunity to complete a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) on the subject of advanced studies in feminist and queer theory. Under the guidance of Professor Terri Geller, students set out to explore the following question: what new developments have occurred in feminist and queer theory since Judith Butler’s landmark 1990 publication of Gender Trouble? After considering materials representing several theoretical frameworks such as new materialisms, psychoanalysis and neo-Marxism, much of which had been published as recently as 2010, students deployed these frameworks in the production of independent research papers on subjects ranging from queer pedagogy to feminist wordplay.

The titles of student papers resulting from the MAP include:

"Playing Against the Machine,” by Winsome Eustace

“Haitian Hauntings; Or, Nationalist Exceptionalism’s Queer Failure,” by Joe Hiller

“Monstrous Knowledge: The Queer Pedagogy of Nicki Minaj,” by Christian Loggins

"New Queer Cinema Today: Film and the Critique of Neoliberalism," by Laura Stamm

“The Stakes Are High: How the Witch Hunt and Other Violence Against Women Are Constitutive of Modern Femininity, And Why This Matters For Queer Theory,” by Robin Wetherill

Laura Stamm, Christian Loggins and Robin Wetherill will be presenting their papers at "Indecency," the Thirteenth Annual Graduate Symposium on Women's and Gender History at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, March 1-3, 2012.


Spring MAP 2010: TransTube: Transmen, YouTube, and Biomedical Discourse
Student: Erica Hougland ‘10
Mentor: Professor Astrid Henry


During the Spring of 2010, Erica Hougland completed a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP), which explores how transmen on YouTube negotiate biomedical discourse in constructing narratives of their gender transition process. In particular, she considered the tension between the extension of the control of biomedical discourse in transmens’ gender transitions, and the simultaneous proliferation of opportunities for resignifying discourse so as to allow for more trans autonomy. YouTube video blogs ("vlogs"), which are public diaries that form a global dialogue that both extends and contests biomedical discourse, provide insight into many transmen's gender transition processes. For many transmen on YouTube, the process involves seeing a therapist to obtain the official Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis which may allow access to hormone therapy and/or surgery, and possibly financial support from health insurance companies. Many transmen therefore privilege biomedical discourse when discussing their gender identifications and transitions. Unfortunately, this process can revoke transmen's autonomy by defaulting to medical experts to decide which physical characteristics define a "man." On the other hand, transmen on YouTube constantly subvert biomedical discourse by mastering the discourse, teaching it to others, using it to obtain benefits, and redefining its contents. For example, some transmen actually know more about the Gender Identity Disorder diagnosis than their therapists, and can therefore tell the medically accepted narrative, regardless of authenticity, to obtain the hormones and/or surgery they may want.