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Critical Menstruation Studies

Location: MIT

Wednesdays 5:00PM-7:00PM

March 22, 2017 - April 19, 2017

Newsweek’s April 29, 2016 cover story on menstrual activism signaled a historic shift. A few months earlier, Cosmopolitan, NPR and the Huffington Post all dubbed 2015 “The Year the Period went Public.” Indeed, very recently, we have seen an unprecedented diversity of menstrual-positive expressions —from the artistic to the practical, the serious and the playful, local and the global. In this seminar, we will regard menstruation as a way to make sense of political, social, medical, and biological processes, and the recursive work embedded in its social construction.  Critical menstrual studies is premised upon menstruation as a category of analysis, asking how systems of power and knowledge are built upon its understanding, and furthermore, who benefits from these social constructions. In general, we will explore this question:  what knowledge is gained when menstruation emerges as a dynamic category of analysis? Students in this seminar will explore the extant literature as well as iterative questions germane to this emerging and rapidly proliferating subfield. This micro-seminar includes topics and concepts that would be relevant to students interested in body studies, gender and health (especially through the lenses of medicalization, biopolitics, global development, and neoliberalism), and feminist activism.  


Chris Bobel is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Her scholarship lies at the intersection of social movements, gender, health and embodiment, or how feminist thinking becomes feminist doing at the most intimate and immediate levels. She is the author of The Paradox of Natural MotheringNew Blood: Third Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation, and co-editor of Embodied Resistance: Breaking the Rules, Challenging the Norms.