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Susan S Heinzelman

Core FacultyPh.D., 1977, University of Western Ontario

Director, Center for Women's & Gender Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of English, College of Liberal Arts
Susan S Heinzelman



18-century women's novels; feminism, law, and literature


College: Liberal Arts

Home Department: English

Education: B.A. (Hons.), University of London; Ph.D., University of Western Ontario, Canada

Research interests:

Courses taught:


WGS 345 • Gender/Torture/State In Crisis

47130 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm PAR 105
(also listed as E 370W)

Instructor:  Heinzelman, S            Areas:  V / G

Unique #:  35615            Flags:  n/a

Semester:  Fall 2012            Restrictions:  n/a

Cross-lists:  WGS 345            Computer Instruction:  No

Prerequisites: Nine semester hours of coursework in English or rhetoric and writing.


“Torture has been widely viewed in the past in terms of pain and suffering inflicted on a person – usually assumed to be male – in the custody of the state. However, this narrow understanding excludes many forms of severe pain and suffering deliberately inflicted on women and girls. . . and denies [them] protection from the many egregious forms of severe pain and suffering deliberately inflicted . . . in an assertion of power and control by the state or with its acquiescence.”

-- Amnesty International October 2011, Gender and Torture Conference report

This course examines the various ways in which torture has been defined in the late 20th and 21st centuries with a special focus on issues related to violence against women. The course will assess national and international responses to those acts conventionally regarded as torture, as well as to the many ways in which forms of violence against women—such as rape, domestic violence, and the denial of reproductive rights—take on the characteristics of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. We will ask what happens to state accountability and the state’s responsibility both to prevent harm and to provide remedies to victims when the definition of torture is expanded to include forms of harm that are disproportionally endured by women.

We will examine legal documents, national and international reports, philosophical essays, drama, film, and fiction to reach tentative conclusions about the crisis of state power in relation to the widespread use of torture against women.

Texts: Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler, Octavia Butler, the “torture memos” (Bush Administration); The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo (A film by Lisa F. Jackson).

Requirements & Grading: In-class (group) presentation: 30%; Brief response papers: 40%; Final research paper: 30%.

WGS 391 • Foundatn II: Feminist Theories

47115 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am PAR 305

Introduction to the feminist theories and methods used in various disciplines; the ways these theories can inform interdisciplinary perspectives in the student's own field of study. Offered in the spring semester only. Women's and Gender Studies 391 and Women's Studies 391 may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Graduate standing, Women's and Gender Studies 390, and consent of the graduate adviser.

WGS 392 • Foundatn III: Rsch Smnr In Wgs

47830 • Spring 2011
Meets W 300pm-600pm MEZ 1.102

This course is designed to prepare graduate students in gender studies and the qualitative social sciences to conduct a research project for their master’s theses or similar projects. We will explore a range of research methods and traditions as well as the epistemological assumptions underlying them. We will consider what it means to conduct “feminist” research, as well as the perils and promise of the more participatory research traditions. Some of the research methods we will explore include interviewing, survey research, case studies, textual analysis, and participant observation.

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    The University of Texas at Austin
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