Women’s and Gender Studies

WGS 110. Introduction to Women’s & Gender Studies (Schrock)
This is an introductory survey course that exposes students to the current scholarship within Women’s and Gender Studies. WGS 110 specifically focuses on the diversity among women and pays particular attention to the ways race, class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and nationality affect women’s lives. Our topics of study include: a history of feminist movements and study of current feminist movements; violence against women; women and work; gender socialization; public policy; immigration; and global issues affecting women. (Group III, Diversity)

WGS 200.2. Multicultural Feminist Frameworks (Schrock)
A variable content course where students will be introduced to institutions (such as “the economy or the labor market” or “media institutions”), processes (such as “migration” or “immigration”) and communities (such as growing youth market or U.S. communities of color or immigrant communities) through the framework of multicultural feminist scholarship. For instance, the WGS 200.2 course specifically is targeted toward first and second year students (but open to all students) and is constructed in ways that facilitate and encourage future student apprenticeships/internships. Topics include: “Gender, Race and Work,” “Youth Cultures,” and “Gender, Race and the Media.” (Group I, Diversity)

WGS 250. Gender and Identity (Sokolsky, Stone-Mediatore)
What do the words “male,” “female,” “man,” and “woman” mean? Are “man” and “woman” simply nouns or (as eminent feminist theorist Judith Butler argues) are they also verbs, implying a performance of gender? Growing awareness of transgendered identities complicates simple binaries such as “man” and “woman” even further. Do these words refer to any natural bodily reality, or are they socially-constructed concepts? And what is “identity” anyway? Is it possible to “know thyself,” as the ancient Greeks exhorted us? Does a “true self ” even exist, or is the self, too, a social construction? In this class we will explore such challenging questions via the study of literature, theory, film, and other art forms from around the world, and we will examine how conceptions of gender and identity have changed over time and place. This course counts for the Women and Gender Studies major/minor. (Group III, Diversity) Also listed as CMLT 250.

WGS 300.1. Gender & Race in the Sciences (Richards, Tuhela-Reuning)
We hope the science student who has not necessarily been exposed to women’s studies, the women’s studies student who does not really think of her/himself as a scientist, and any student interested in the ways that gender, race, and the physical sciences intersect and affect our daily lives, will find these readings as enlightening as we have. Historically, students have been taught that science is free of the subjective, that proper use of the scientific method ensures a degree of objectivity. In the 1970s (and even earlier as our case study will reveal) feminist philosophers and academicians turned their gaze toward this assumption in a two-pronged approach. Part of their, and our, project involves examining the difficulties women and people of color have had in the professional science fields and to call attention to those who have been active but not adequately acknowledged. Another aspect of concern to us, like the feminists, is scientific study itself and the ways that gender and race bias can influence the interpretation of such “objective” practice. We have designed this course to be fully interactive; we want to foster a classroom atmosphere that is honest and respectful and that facilitates open discussion among students and instructors from diverse personal and academic backgrounds. No prerequisite.

WGS 300.2. Women and Media (Richards/Schrock)
This course examines representations of women in the media and concepts of female identity with an emphasis on research methodology. Feminist media theory will be used to analyze and critique print and broadcast news media, advertising, depictions of female sexuality, television and film. Analysis will consider the impact of issues such as race, class and sexual orientation; identify and evaluate stereotypes of women; and engage students to think critically about the impact of popular culture on personal and societal values. It will also explore the role of women as media consumers and the importance of women media-makers. F. (Group I) Also listed as JOUR 300.2.

WGS 300.3. Sexuality Studies (Schrock)
When and how did people get something called sexual identity? Why does sexuality, the regulation of erotic desires, and the criminalization of sexual practices carry so much importance in modern societies? In what way does the management of these rules relate to interconnected identities of gender, race, class, and citizenship? What is the relationship between sexual identity and power? The course will explore these questions by examining the literature in the emerging field of sexuality and queer studies. In particular we will study the making of identities, sexualities, communities, and practices that are variously referred to as: queer, gay, heterosexual, heteronormative, intersexed, lesbian, transgendered, transsexual, butch/femme, two-spirit, third sex, tomboys, homosexual, sissies, and genderqueer. Specific topics/debates that will be examined include: the history of sexuality; sexuality-focused liberation movements; the impact of 19th and 20th century sexology; the construction of heterosexuality; laws and policies of nation-states on sexuality; and the queering of American popular culture. The emphasis in this course is on providing students with the conceptual apparatus and historical framework to approach research topics and projects on cross-cultural sexuality and gender. (Group I, Diversity)

WGS 300.4. Special Topics in Women’s and Gender Studies (Schrock, Staff)
This course is devoted to timely and important topics in Women’s and Gender Studies not encompassed by other courses. The course might focus on a contemporary political issue, an issue pertaining to feminist public policy or the work of specific feminist authors. This course is open to all students. Topics here include: “Consumption, Gender, and Social Justice” or “Gender and International Development.” (Group I, Diversity)

WGS 340. Feminist Philosophy (S. Stone-Mediatore)
Feminist theorists from Simone de Beauvoir to Sandra Harding have identified gender ideologies at the core of our tradition’s basic philosophical concepts, including concepts of reason and knowledge, identity and autonomy, justice and power.  If this is true, then feminist analysis is not merely a women’s or “feminist” project but is a crucial theoretical lens for anyone who seeks to think critically about basic human categories. Setting off from this insight, this course engages 20th century feminist philosophy from across the globe to examine how gender ideologies have influenced our thinking and how feminist criticism can help us to approach human problems with greater thoughtfulness and rigor. Specific problems to be addressed include the cultural sources of oppression, the tension between human rights and cultural differences, the gendered character of militarism, and the political implications of our knowledge practices. F. Also listed as PHIL 340.

WGS 490. Independent Study (Staff)
Individual study, with written results, of an appropriate topic. The student should consult the faculty member with whom she or he will work and prepare a written outline with a bibliography of the study to be undertaken. This should be submitted to the coordinator for approval during the semester preceding the one in which the work is to be done. Normally, only one unit of WGS 490 or WGS 491 may be counted toward the major. F, S.

WGS 491. Directed Readings (Staff)
Individually designed reading program on an appropriate topic. The student should consult the faculty member with whom she or he wishes to work, and prepare a bibliography of the reading program. Evaluation methods will be stated in writing on the proposal. This should be submitted to the coordinator for approval during the semester preceding the one in which the work is to be done. Normally, only one unit of WGS 490 or WGS 491 may be counted toward the major. F, S.

WGS 495. Apprenticeship Program (Schrock)
Opportunity for advanced students to engage in apprenticeships in areas of academic preparation and interest. The student should consult with the faculty member who will oversee the apprenticeship and prepare a written description of the project. This should be submitted to the coordinator for approval during the semester preceding the one in which the work is to be done. Normally, only one WGS 495 may count toward the major. F, S.

WGS 499. Seminar
Normally, one of the following courses will be offered each year. Students may take a second seminar to count toward the core course requirement. These courses are open to all students (majors and non-majors).

WGS 499A. Feminist Literary Theory (Staff)
The last 30 years of feminist literary studies, working historically through the development of an array of theoretical perspectives and conflicts, and addressing issues such as: challenges to the canon; the intersections and collisions between race, class, and gender; Anglo-American and French feminisms; theories of reading; the gaze; queer theory; and masculinity. The course is designed for students with substantial experience in English and/or women’s studies who are prepared to devote in-depth attention to complex and dense material. (Group III)

WGS 499B. History of Feminist Thought (DeMarco)
How did women in the past understand their social roles (as mothers, wives, workers, artists)? Before there was such a thing as a “feminist” movement, how and why did women advocate for change (in educational opportunities, citizen rights, and cultural representation)? This course will offer a historical overview of pioneering voices on behalf of women throughout western Europe, from the Middle Ages, through the Enlightenment and the first organized movements for suffrage at the turn of the century. The class concludes with a look toward modern reform movements (including pacifism) shaped by the first World War (ending roughly at 1939). “Feminist thought” is taken broadly to include classic texts in feminist theory as well as creative explorations of women’s conditions and utopic aspirations in literary works (poems, plays) and cultural criticism (journalism, pamphlets). Works to be studied include those by Christine de Pisan, John Stuart Mill, Mary Wollstonecraft, the Grimké sisters, Harriet Jacobs, Frederich Engels, Christabel Pankhurst and Virginia Woolf. Specific topics include the politics of family and motherhood, the transformation of the household economy and work, women’s intellectual capabilities and education, religion and reformist thought, debates about contraception, and the emergence of a discourse of women’s (civil, political) rights. The historical framework of this course provides insight into the important conceptual and political backgrounds of contemporary feminist movements and theories. Also listed as ENG 415. (Group III)

WGS 499C. Feminist Anthropology (Howard)
This course considers recent theoretical issues regarding constructions of gender within the United States and around the world. We focus on power and the conditions in various gender systems that result in power and powerlessness, both personally and collectively. We examine a diversity of perspectives on gender and the experiences of people across rigid social boundaries (such as class, race, ethnicity, sexual identity and ability/disability) in search of a more humane, inclusive social change. Also listed as SOAN 375. (Group I)

WGS 499D. Feminist Theory (Schrock)
This course will provide an overview of some of the major strains, issues, and debates within contemporary U.S. feminist thought. Often U.S. contemporary feminist theory is characterized as a typology of theories (sometimes assumed to be distinct and separate from each other) that follows a linear chronology such as: liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, socialist feminism, radical feminist, ecofeminism, queer feminism, postcolonial/global feminism, postmodern/poststructuralist feminism, feminist ethnography, and critical race or “woman of color” feminism (or as first, second, and third wave feminisms). (Group III, Diversity)

WGS 499E. The Myths of the “Oriental” Woman (Sokolsky)
During the era of Western imperialism, Europeans viewed Asia, Africa, and the Middle-East in a variety of ways: dark, erotic, exotic, savage, and uncivilized. The people of these supposedly untamed lands were observed, explored, and exploited by Western imperialists. Rarely were these people given a voice of their own, and rarely were they viewed as autonomous humans on par with the “civilized” Western world. For women in these countries, their oppression was twofold. They were often second-class citizens in the patriarchal societies in which they lived, and they were also exoticized and orientalized by Western white men traveling in these lands. Such stereotypes of these women have included: the scary but seductive dragon ladies of China, the demure geisha of Japan, and the sexy belly dancers and mysteriously veiled women from the Arab world. The goal of this course is to explore these stereotypes. Why have they been created? Why do they still persist? What are women from the “Orient” truly like? And why is it dangerous to allow such stereotypes to exist? To do so, I will ask you to think about these questions as we explore literature written about and by women from Asian and Arab countries. F. (Group III, Diversity, Writing Option) Also listed as CMLT 499A.