It has been my experience that Women's Studies does differ from Cultural
Studies in the extent to which discipline is maintained or disrupted. This is partly
I think because Women's Studies in higher education, at least in part, owes its origin to grass-roots self-education projects by and for women as part of the
Women's Liberation Movement of the late 1960s and the 1970s. Cultural Studies
did not, as I note above, emerge from a similar history. Nor has the questioning of
pedagogy been as central, in Cultural Studies, to the questioning of the social relations (particularly gendered) of disciplinarity and professionalism. I would
have to add here that while the emerging members-onlyness of Cultural Studies
does not seem to differ greatly from that of many conventional disciplines
(mostly white, mostly middle-class, and mostly male), one does see a great many
women in Women's Studies! However, in most other respects, the dominant consituency of Women's Studies reproduces dominant relations of inequality (mostly
white, mostly middle-class).
University education in the United States is longer, broader, and more flexible than it is in Britain. It was therefore possible for me to begin by majoring in
political science (with an emphasis on constitutional law) at UCLA and then
transfer to Berkeley and finish with a major in Women's Studies. This is not an
atypical path, as students are not expected to 'declare a major' for the first two
years (of four or five) of their education, are required to take diverse, multidisciplinary courses to fulfil their 'general' education, and are often to be found (generally with support and encouragement from the institution) changing their
minds about their ultimate areas of focus.
TQA's are the recently introduced, and governmentally mandated, quantitative mechanisms for evaluating teaching quality, alongside research selectivity
(which quantitatively measures research quality).
These dilemmas are made particularly acute by the fact that students in my
current courses are pursuing degrees in sociology rather than having expressly
chosen interdisciplinary studies.
There is a saying: 'to travel hopefully is better than to arrive'. This is, perhaps, the preferred meaning of Cavafy ' Ithaca' and one of the paradoxical subtexts of Dorothy's (in some ways more radical) journey to, through, and finally
(disappointingly) from Oz. Like many wonder-struck viewers, I suspect, I never
understood why Dorothy left Oz. For me, the real message was that to travel
hopefully is to arrive. After all, it was through the journey to and through Oz,
that ultimately joyous, magical, multicultural Ithaca, that Dorothy learned the
meaning of oppression, the values and praxis of friendship, solidarity, collective
action, and liberation and there, not in Kansas, found her own power to move
and be moved.
This participant credited Ludmilla Jordanova with this perspective.
Bowles, Gloria, and
Renate Duelli Klein ( 1983) Theories of Women's Studies. London: RKP.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: A Question of Discipline:Pedagogy, Power, and the Teaching of Cultural Studies.
Contributors: Joyce E. Canaan - Editor, Debbie Epstein - Editor.
Publisher: Westview Press.
Place of publication: Boulder, CO.
Publication year: 1997.
Page number: 203.
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