WGSS 100: Introduction to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
WGSS 200: Feminist Practices, Writing and Research
WGSS 300: Feminist Perspectives and Theories
WGSS 400: Senior Seminar
Six Elective Courses:
At least one from each of these four thematic categories, with two of the electives at the 300- or 400-level:
Histories, Theories, Representations
Transnational and Global Perspectives
Sexual and Gendered Pluralities
Intersectionalities, Institutions and Power
Note: Although a single course may have designations for multiple thematics, it can only count as one course toward the major or minor.
Final reflective essay
1) Histories, Theories, Representations
Introduces key histories, theoretical debates, and cultural artifacts that inform past, present and future feminist perspectives. May include: historical analysis of diverse gendered experience and social movements; distinct feminist theoretical traditions; artistic, literary or cultural movements; WGSS field perspectives on relevant phenomena such as media representation, war, memory, consumerism, colonialism, environmentalism, urbanization, online culture, technology, disability, science and incarceration.
2) Transnational and Global Perspectives
Examines how gendered, sexualized and racialized differences shape the way transnational forces create power inequalities that drive the asymmetrical flow of people, ideals, capital, discourses and institutions across and within borders. May be transnational, comparative or focused on one nonwestern perspective. Among other emphases, may encompass the interface between intersectional gender studies and: indigeneity; development; colonial pasts and postcolonial presents; international human rights; globalized economic structures; critical approaches to neoliberalism, empire and the nation-state.
3) Sexual and Gendered Pluralities
Explores how practices, identities, behaviors, and representations of diverse sexualities, erotic practices and gendered expressions shape and are shaped by political, cultural, social, religious, and economic practices of societies across time and space. Develops diverse understandings of sexual and transgender expression as they are embedded in racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, geographical, historical and political contexts.
4) Intersectionalities, Institutions and Power
Examines how interlocking systems of power shape the shifting significance of bodies, differences, opportunity, and marginalizations. Offerings may emphasize the significance of overlapping ethnic, racial, ability-based, classed, citizenship, sexual and gendered categories, as well as variations within and beyond them. Courses may also focus on how institutions such as the family, religion, nation-state, law, government, politics, and economics structure diverse gendered and sexualized power relationships.
Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies (WGSS) Minor Requirements:
WGSS 200 or 300
Four electives, at least two in two of the four thematic categories
Final reflective essay
Sexuality Studies (SXST) Minor Requirements:
WGSS 208: Introduction to Sexuality Studies
WGSS 200 or 300
Queer, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (QLGBT) Perspectives Requirement – 200- or 300-level
Two electives from the Sexual and Gendered Pluralities Thematic
One elective from WGSS or another department with WGSS approval
Final reflective essay
QLGBT Perspectives Requirement Description:
The QLGBT Perspectives requirement explores how queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans approaches complicate or rework the area of study at hand. Courses should go beyond Thematic 3 (Sexual and Gendered Pluralities) by explicitly emphasizing queer theory, evolving queer methodologies, or QLGBT perspectives on identity formation, sexualized behaviors, or erotic desires. May include QLGBT perspectives on literature, art, racialized power dynamics, national identity, ability, memoir, social movements, law and policy, history, economics and globalization, among other areas.
Suggested curricular flow through the major
The WGSS Department encourages study abroad. Early planning makes this possible. The internship may be done while abroad.
The guidelines are written for the entering student who knows they want to major in WGSS. Rather than specify the courses that you “must” have in a given semester, the following are general guidelines regarding courses that we suggest you take during each year. You should think of these guidelines as giving you a fast track into the major – this provides maximum flexibility in your junior and senior year.
First and Sophomore Years
Two or three electives from among the four thematic categories
One or two electives from among the four thematic categories, including at least at the 300- or 400-level
Possible study abroad
WGSS 400 (spring semester)
Internship and/or elective(s) as needed
A student pursuing honors must enroll for a one semester, Independent Research (WGSS 550) during the Fall of their senior year to develop a project that will be continued in their Senior Seminar. The year-long project will culminate in a well-researched, original, sophisticated, and clearly written thesis, typically ranging from 50-75 pages.
Students can self-nominate but will be officially selected based on the department faculty’s assessment of the student’s academic ability, including their performance in the major. Typically, students pursuing honors will have at least a 3.5 GPA in the major. The selection is also based on the department faculty’s assessment of the student’s potential for successfully completing the project and the strength of the proposal (see below), which must show strong promise for further development toward a thesis. If the project is accepted, the student should identify an honors committee comprised of three faculty members, including the WGSS 550 advisor and Senior Seminar instructor. Two members of the honors committee must be faculty appointed in WGSS; the third member of the honors committee must be either a faculty member in the department or a WGSS affiliate. In addition, faculty or staff with expertise in the area of the student's project may join the committee in an advisory capacity, without vote.
A student interested in pursuing honors should work with their WGSS advisor or another appropriate WGSS faculty member to start developing a 2-page project proposal with an attached bibliography in the late spring or early summer before their senior year. A final draft that defines the scope, focus and methodology of the preliminary project is due no later than August 15th at the start of the senior year. The 2-page proposal should articulate the project’s central research questions and methods, situating them in relationship to central debates, concepts and dilemmas within the WGSS field. This proposal will be read and voted upon by all members of the WGSS department.
The student will be notified by the first day of classes in the Fall semester whether the proposal has been accepted. If so, the student will enroll in WGSS 550 with the primary advisor with the intention of beginning a year-long research project. If the proposal is not accepted for honors, the student may still seek to enroll in WGSS 550 with the intention of a single-semester independent study.
If accepted, the student will work with their supervisor to refine the project’s scope and methods, as well as develop a schedule of readings, research and writing to pursue in the Fall. Pertinent writing assignments potentially may include an annotated bibliography and literature review: the exact parameters will be determined on an individual basis. By the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving break, the student should have completed a 20-25 page draft of a significant portion of their thesis and have revised their 2-page proposal to reflect the intended trajectory of the project in the Spring semester. The proposal should outline the project’s central research questions and methods, situating them in relationship to central debates, concepts and dilemmas within the WGSS field (if these have changed since the proposal was written) and the student’s writing goals during the Spring Seminar.
Prior to the final week of classes, all departmental faculty will assess the revised proposal and 20-25 page draft to determine if the project is eligible for continuation as a possible honors thesis during the spring Senior Seminar (WGSS 400). The student will be notified by the end of the Fall semester whether the project is approved to continue in pursuit of honors. If the project is not approved, or if the student chooses to discontinue the project after submitting the 20-25-page paper, the student will receive credit and a grade for the independent study. In consultation with their supervisor, the student will revise the paper so that it is a complete, stand-alone research paper. The final paper will be due during finals week.
If the project is approved, the student will continue the research as part of the Senior Seminar. The Senior Seminar requires all students to complete a 25-page capstone research project. Students pursuing an honors thesis will work in tandem with their Fall independent study advisor and the WGSS 400 instructor to adapt this and other course writing requirements and deadlines to their honors-eligible project. Students are expected to complete all assigned WGSS 400 readings as well as additional relevant projects and smaller papers (except when those smaller papers are related to the individual research projects).
The final honors thesis must be completed by two weeks prior to the last class day in the Spring semester of the senior year, so that the student and honors committee members have time to prepare for an oral defense. The thesis will be read by the three-member committee who will determine whether the student should stand for an oral defense. If the project is not so approved, then the paper will fulfill the capstone project requirement of the senior seminar.
If the project is approved to stand for honors, the student will prepare a short presentation of the paper for the committee, with the format to be determined in conversation with the project’s central advisor (usually the Senior Seminar instructor). The presentation will be followed by questions and discussion. At the conclusion of the defense, the committee will vote on honors and notify the student as soon as possible. In rare cases, a vote for honors may require some final, minor revisions to the paper due no later than a week before graduation.
Only the best projects will be granted honors and completing an honors project does not necessarily mean that honors will be conferred. Although students’ topics and methods will be diverse, faculty will evaluate each project on: an original question posed by the student; sophisticated analysis of primary source(s); effective research, demonstrating the integration of concepts and sources drawn from WGSS and other relevant fields of study; a polished, well-written paper; and a clear presentation, with proficient and fluent responses to questions during the defense.
If a student is pursuing honors in two majors through an interdisciplinary thesis, the project must be of a significant length and scope to qualify for honors in two departments. The specific criteria must be established and mutually agreed upon by the student and the advisors of both departments in the Fall semester.
All students must successfully complete an internship for transcript notation approved by the department chair and the internship office.
100 Introduction to Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course offers an introduction to central concepts, questions and debates in gender and sexuality studies from US, Women of Color, queer and transnational perspectives. Throughout the semester we will explore the construction and maintenance of norms governing sex, gender, and sexuality, with an emphasis on how opportunity and inequality operate through categories of race, ethnicity, class, ability and nationality. After an introduction to some of the main concepts guiding scholarship in the field of feminist studies (the centrality of difference; social and political constructions of gender and sex; representation; privilege and power; intersectionality; globalization; transnationalism), we will consider how power inequalities attached to interlocking categories of difference shape key feminist areas of inquiry, including questions of: work, resource allocation, sexuality, queerness, reproduction, marriage, gendered violence, militarization, consumerism, resistance and community sustainability.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, SINE Elective, Social Sciences, Sustainability Connections, US Diversity
101 Topics in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course will focus on specific topics within women’s, gender and sexuality studies in the arts and humanities.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year
102 Topics in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course will focus on specific topics within women's, gender and sexuality studies in the social sciences.
Attributes: Appropriate for First-Year, Social Sciences
135 Psychology of Women and Gender
See course description with PSYC 135 listing.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, Appropriate for First-Year, PSYC 100-level Group 3, Social Sciences, US Diversity, WGSS Sexual & Gendered Plural
200 Feminist Practices, Writing and Research
Building upon the key concepts and modes of inquire introduced in the WGSS Introductory course, WGSS 200 deepens students’ understanding of how feminist perspectives on power, experience, and inequality uniquely shape how scholars approach research questions, writing practices, methods and knowledge production. Approaches may include feminist approaches to memoir, oral histories, grassroots and online activism, blogging, visual culture, ethnography, archival research, space, art, literary analysis, and policy studies.
Prerequisite: 100, which can be taken concurrently.
Attributes: Writing in the Discipline
201 Topics in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course will focus on specific topics within women’s, gender and sexuality studies in the humanities, such as feminist philosophy, literature by women, and gender and sexuality in art.
202 Topics in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course will focus on specific topics within women’s, gender and sexuality studies in the social sciences, such as gender and transnationalism, reproductive justice, European feminism, black feminist thought, gender in Africa, Jewish masculinities and gender and politics in social movements.
Attributes: Social Sciences
206 Fat Studies
This course introduces students to an emerging academic field, Fat Studies. By drawing from historical, cultural, and social texts, Fat Studies explores the meaning of fatness within the U.S. and also from comparative global perspectives. Students will examine the development of fat stigma and the ways it intersects with gendered, racial, ethnic and class constructions. Not a biomedical study of the “obesity epidemic,” this course instead will interrogate the very vocabulary used to describe our current “crisis.” Finally, students will become familiar with the wide range of activists whose work has challenged fat stigma and developed alternative models of health and beauty.
This course is cross-listed as AMST 200.
Attributes: Health Studies Elective, NRSC Non-Div 3 Elective, Social Sciences, WGSS Hist/Theories/Represent, WGSS Intersect/Instit/Power
208 Introduction to Sexuality Studies
This course explores how practices, identities, behaviors, and representations of sexualities shape and are shaped by political, cultural, social, religious, medical and economic practices of societies across time and space. It will put sexuality at the center of analysis, but will develop understandings of sexuality as they are related to sex, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, nationality and geographical location. Students will explore the historical and social processes through which diverse behaviors are and are not designated as sexual. They will then analyze how these designations influence a range of institutional forces and social phenomena. Possible topics include: medicine, environmentalism, colonialism and nation-building, STI and HIV transmission, public health campaigns, art and literary production, visual and popular culture, community development, family structure, human rights frameworks, and law or policy.
Attributes: AMST Struct & Instit Elective, Humanities, NRSC Non-Div 3 Elective, Social Sciences
220 History of American Feminism
This course will emphasize such topics as the 19th century women's movement, the suffrage movement, radical and liberal feminism, and African-American feminism. We will pay particular attention to the diversity of women's experiences in the United States and to women's multiple and often conflicting responses to patriarchy and other forms of oppression.
Prerequisite: One course in WGSS or HIST or permission of the instructor.
Attributes: AMST Representation Elective, AMST Struct & Instit Elective, AMST US History Elective, WGSS Hist/Theories/Represent
300 Feminist Perspectives and Theories
This course deepens students’ understandings of how feminist perspectives situate power and privilege in relationship to interlocking categories of gender, race, class, sexuality, ability and nation. Through foundational theoretical texts, it expands students’ understandings of significant theoretical frameworks that inform women’s, gender, critical race and sexuality studies, as well as debates and tensions within them. Frameworks may include political activisms, materialist feminism, standpoint epistemologies, critiques of scientific objectivity, intersectionality, postcolonialism, psychoanalysis, queer theory, transnational critique and feminist legal theory. Helps students develop more nuanced understandings of the relationship between everyday experiences, political institutions, forms of resistance and theoretical meaning-making.
Prerequisite: WGSS 100 and 200, or co-requisite with permission of instructor.
301 Topics in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course will focus on specific topics within women’s, gender, and sexuality studies in the humanities.
Prerequisite or co-requisite: one WGSS course.
302 Topics in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
This course will focus on specific topics within women’s, gender and sexuality studies in the social sciences.
Prerequisite or co-requisite: At least one WGSS course; others dependent upon topic.
305 Seminar in Gender and Sexuality
See course description with Psychology 435 listing.
Prerequisites or co-requisite: 200 or PSYC 202 or 211, or permission of the instructor.
Attributes: SXST QLGBT Perspectives, US Diversity, WGSS Sexual & Gendered Plural
400 Senior Seminar
All topics will draw upon the knowledge of the history and theories of feminism and will be interdisciplinary in nature.
Prerequisite or co-requisite: 100, 200 and 300 or permission of the instructor.