Intro to Women's & Gender Studies

By Jones, Cara E. | Radical Teacher, Winter 2017 | Go to article overview

Intro to Women's & Gender Studies


Jones, Cara E., Radical Teacher


Welcome to Intro to Women's Studies! Right now, you might be wondering: what is Women's Studies, anyway? Asa field, Women's Studies encompasses many disciplines and points of view. In this introductory class, you will beprimarily learning how to take a gender studies scholar's perspective, a way of seeing the world that is focused on how power works in, on, and through people, communities, and institutions. This interdisciplinary course explores the basic concepts and perspectives of Women's & Gender Studies from an intersectional angle, that is, examining the ways in which gender intersects with race, ethnicity, nationality, class, sexuality, sexual identity, disability, and other categories. The concepts of gender--the roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a society considers appropriate for men and women--privilege and oppression, intersectionality, and feminist praxis will be at the core of this course. Throughout the semester, we will consider the following questions asked by feminist scholar EstelleFreedman: "What difference does gender make? For which women does it make a difference?"

Like most of the gender studies courses taught in the United States, this course is grounded in feminism(s). Feminism has always been a controversial and dangerous term. While its definition and practices continue to shift, put simply, feminism is a belief system and activist practice aimed at transforming women's experiences of themselves in families, in the workplace, in relationships, and in the educational and political arenas. Feminism is not a monolithic term: different types of feminisms advocate for different aspects of women's lives to be changed, but historically, feminists fought to create courses centered on women's experiences. It is a tribute to the past and continuing work of feminist scholars and activists that I teach this course from a feminist perspective.

Goals:

After taking this course, you will:

1. Understand the definition of feminism and the relationship between feminism, as a social movement, andthe discipline of Women's & Gender Studies

1. Know the history behind feminist activism, social movements, and field of study

2. Understand debates about theories of gender construction, including: biological essentialism, socialconstructionism, and intrinsic inclinations

3. Be able to define "privilege" and "oppression" from a WGS perspective and apply this knowledge to yourown life and experiences as well as the experiences of people who are different from you based on gender, race, class, size, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality, or ability

4. Define "intersectionality" and use it as a theoretical lens to ground feminist debates, discussions, andactivism

5. Draw on models and examples of feminist activism to design an activist project

I have designed this course with all of Hamilton's educational goals in mind, and while this course touches upon allof them, I draw your attention in particular to these five:

* Intellectual Curiosity and Flexibility * Communication and Expression * Understanding of Cultural Diversity * Disciplinary Practice * Ethical, Informed and Engaged Citizenship

Required Texts:

Launius, Christie and Holly Hassel. Threshold Concepts in Women's and Gender Studies: Ways of Seeing, Thinking, and

Knowing. New York: Routledge, 2015. ISBN: 978-1138788800

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. We Should All Be Feminists. New York: Anchor Books, 2014. ISBN: 978-1-101-91176-1

You will also be following these blogs. Please bookmark them or add them within the first week of class:

   Bitch Magazine, Weekly Reader, Blog, or Facebook Black Girl
   Dangerous, Blog, Facebook, or Twitter Colorlines, Blog, Facebook,
   or Twitter "Everyday Feminism," Web Subscription or Facebook
   "Gender & Society," Web Subscription, Facebook, or Twitter
   "Guerrilla Feminism," Web Subscription or Facebook

Finally, you will be accessing a significant number of readings through Blackboard. …

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