Welcome to Women’s and Gender Studies 197-02: Introduction to Women’s Studies!

Fall 2013, MWF 10:00am-10:50pm, Xavier Hall G14

Course Description

Women’s Studies is a broad, interdisciplinary field that covers a vast range of issues. As an introductory course, this class will give introduce you to the foundational concepts and issues of the discipline, including the historical foundations, theoretical concepts, political manifestations, and social issues at stake. We will begin with an overview of the history of the discipline (or interdisciplinary approach to scholarship) of Women and Gender Studies, including the debate about subject name, and an overview of the history of the women’s movement in the U.S. and its legacy in modern feminism. We will also consider gender and sexuality as social constructions and gender as a category of analysis, with special attention to how individuals negotiate these categories on a personal level by looking literature, art, and other forms of media. We will also consider gender norms in relation to other culture practices, and how these gender norms relate to the distribution of power and the creation of systems of oppression. Part of this discussion throughout the semester will focus on multicultural, transnational, and global gender issues and activism. Finally, we will consider how feminist theory provides us tools recognize these issues, engage with them, and what might be in store for the future of gender scholarship and activism.

Course Objectives

At the completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Define and restate key terms and concepts in women’s and gender studies;
  • Understand the basic history of feminism and its relationship to women’s and gender studies;
  • Explain how different theoretical perspectives in women’s and gender studies shape feminists’ analyses of important practical issues, especially issues pertaining to social justice and systems of oppression;
  • Understand the intersections of gender/sexuality, race/ethnicity, class, and other characteristics and how they are reflected in the diversity of women’s experiences;
  • Develop critical reading, writing and thinking skills necessary for applying feminist thought to life on a practical level;
  • Incorporate classroom learning with practical experience by completing a service learning project.

Course Requirements and Assignments

Course requirements include four short response papers, a critical research paper, a group project, and participation.

Class blog                                10%

Show and Tell                         10%

Service Learning Portfolio      20%

Midterm Exam                        15%

Lead Class Discussion            10%

Critical Reflection Essay        20%

Final Exam                              15%

Required Texts and Materials

The required texts are available through the campus bookstore:

Susan M. Shaw and Janet Lee. Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions: Classic and Contemporary Readings. (McGraw-Hill: 2009). ISBN: 978-0-07-351232-7

Ursula K. Le Guin. The Left Hand of Darkness. (Ace: 1987) ISBN: 978-0-441-47812-5


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