Gender and Diversity Studies

New Course Descriptions

Xavier’s Gender and Diversity Studies Program is excited to welcome THREE new full-time, tenure-track and/or tenured faculty members to Xavier in Fall 2020. As such, we’re also thrilled to announce that we’ll be offering several brand-new classes. Here they are!

GDST 210 01: Introduction to African American Studies

Instructor: Dr. Kayla Wheeler, Assistant Professor of GDST

CRN 96129 T/Th 1-2:15pm

Attributes: Diversity Flag

Description: This course will provide a general overview of African American history from the 1500s to the present.  Additionally, the course will present key theories and intellectual debates within the field of African American Studies.  Keeping in line with African American Studies' commitment to activism and student organizing, special attention will be paid to the Black activist tradition.


GDST 270 01: GDST and Social Justice

Topic: 20th Century African American Protest Literature and Music

Instructor: Dr. ShaDawn Battle, Assistant Professor of GDST

CRN: 96130 MWF 10-10:50am

Attributes: Diversity Flag

Description: How do we situate African American music and literature in the context of protest and resistance? How, for example, might cultural critics uncover historical and thematic parallels between undergirding ideals of the Harlem Renaissance and Kanye West and Jay Z’s “Murder to Excellence?” This course is designed to investigate the relationship between late 19th-21st century African American literature and Black musical forms of expression, with respect to how both contest and have contested multiple forms of oppression. We will discuss, analyze, and critique the historical and cultural conditions that led to the production of both the literature and the music as viable modes of protest. While we will discuss the importance of the “Sorrow Songs,” the Blues tradition, and Jazz, this course will focus on arguably the most expressive art form of contemporary African American culture: hip hop. That’s right: We need to see the political utility in Lil’ Uzi Vert’s art.


GDST 310 01: Theoretical Perspectives

Topic: Comparative Feminist Literature and Theory

Instructor: Dr. Mich Nyawalo, Associate Professor of GDST

CRN: 96131 T/Th 4-5:15 pm

Description: This course introduces students to international cultures and world literatures through a feminist lens. Throughout the semester, students will examine how feminism is shaped by race, class, culture as well as sexual and national identities. The works that have been chosen for this course offer a wide sample of feminist writings by authors stemming from a variety of cultural and national backgrounds such as Guatemala, France, the French department of Guadeloupe, Australia, the United Kingdom, Algeria, Senegal, and China, among many other places.


Each of our new GDST faculty members will be offering an FYS course on topics of gender and diversity studies in Fall 2020. Here are the courses!


CORE 100-13: State-Sanctioned Violence in the U.S.

Instructor: Dr. ShaDawn Battle, Assistant Professor of GDST

CRN 92803 MWF 1-1:50pm

Description: On February 23, 2020, a Black man was gunned down for jogging while Black. His murderers insisted that they were fulfilling a civic duty. This heinous murder flew under the national radar for over a month. But why? Ida B. Wells once argued that the grotesque spectacles of anti-violence during Post-Reconstruction were so common that they “failed to have any visible effect upon the human sentiments of the people of our land.”  And still today, the ubiquitous scenes of violence enacted against Black bodies have desensitized the nation in the worst way.  This seminar will expose the multi-faceted nature of state-sanctioned, anti-Black violence in the U.S through literary representations, such as The Hate U Give; critical discourse, such as The New Jim Crow; real case examples, such as the Sandra Bland and Michael Brown murder cases; and through popular media such as 13th and When They See Us. In efforts to arouse empathetic reactions in response to state-sanctioned violence, students will become cultural curators, producing TEDTalks, zines, and protest songs. Students should also expect seminar-style discussions, resulting in the production of critical, analytical, and reflective prose.


CORE 100-14: Race in the Digital Age

Instructor: Dr. Kayla Wheeler, Assistant Professor of GDST

CRN: 92804 T/Th 11:30-12:45pm

Description: This course will take an intersectional approach to explore the role that the Internet has had on our understanding of race in the United States and beyond.  While often imagined as a post-race space, this course will show how the Internet has been central to constructing, policing, and challenging racial formations in the 21st century.  Special attention will be paid to social media, apps, virtual reality, and video games.  Topics covered include the digital divide, the Black Lives Matter movement, GamerGate, social media influencers, and the rise of TikTok.


Core 100-15: Infectious Diseases and the Cultural Politics of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality

Instructor: Dr. Mich Nyawalo, Associate Professor of GDST

CN: 92806 T/Th 2:30-3:45pm

Description: In this course, students will study representations of infectious diseases and their impact on society through an analysis of literary works of fiction, historical books, as well as ethnographic texts. Students will study how a variety of authors, stemming from different national and historical contexts, center their works on human responses to pandemics in order to provide specific political and cultural insights. Students will also explore the ways in which social attitudes, rhetoric, actions, and policies regarding the spread of infectious diseases have often been shaped by the cultural politics of race, class, gender, and sexual mores.  The course will cover the following specific topics (among others): the social impact of the 1665-1666 Great  Plague of London, xenophobic responses to the spread of the bubonic plague in San Francisco’s China Town in 1900, the impact of systemic racism in contributing to the spread of tuberculosis in urban African-American communities, state responses to the AIDS epidemic in the United States and abroad, as well as fictional representations of infectious diseases. Recent cultural analyses of COVID-19’s impact will also be presented to students.