course title Course Syllabus, Spring 1999

DESCRIPTION: Using the perspectives of contemporary women's studies and feminist scholarship, this course will focus on the constructed nature of gender roles, the effects of these constructions on the lives of women, and the possibilities for change and individual empowerment that a critical awareness can create. 3 credits

OBJECTIVES: Students will demonstrate

  1. an understanding of gender, particularly concepts of femininity, as a social, historical, and cultural construction rather than a natural, biological "given"; an appreciation of how gender interacts with other social constructions (race, ethnicity, class, etc.)
  2. an understanding of how definitions of femininity and familial and social roles have varied throughout history and across different cultures
  3. an ability to use the critical methodologies of women's studies and feminist scholarship to analyze how gender constructions shape the realities of women's lives, particularly in contemporary American society, including their own lives as women
  4. an understanding and validation of the achievements, experiences, and perspectives of women, acting both individually and in groups
  5. an understanding of the choices and alternatives open to women as they use their enhanced critical awareness to change gender constructions and to influence the direction of the future.

METHODS: Lecture, extensive discussion, oral presentations, audio-visual materials.



Class Participation: Completion of all assigned readings and active participation in class discussions. Because of the nature of this course, interactive participation is a significant and essential component of the class, requiring regular attendance in class and timely completion of the readings so that students are informed about the topic under consideration. All assignments and notes will be posted on the course web site, and students are responsible for due dates and materials presented in class even when absent. Class participation will therefore constitute 40% of the course grade, and each absence in excess of four, whether excused or not, will result in a deduction of 3 points from the class participation portion of the grade (all course objectives).

Please note that I will not give any “Incompletes” at the end of this course unless the student has a very serious reason which she has discussed with me in advance.

Brief Reaction Papers: Completion of numerous brief (1-3 pages) informal reaction papers—some analyses, some applications to other situations, some personal reflections. These informal papers need not be typed, but they must be neat and legible; they may be submitted via e-mail. Full credit will be given for all reaction papers that are complete and on time, and students will receive extra points for high-quality papers. Deductions will be made for papers that are handed in late, and students will lose 5 points from the class participation portion of the grade for each assignment that is not submitted at all (all course objectives).

Attendance at three events and submission of reaction papers: Students will be required to attend at least three campus events that are related to the topics of this course. These include the Salome art exhibit, the Dowell lecture, the Women & Film Series, and various other events sponsored by the Women's Studies Program; a complete list will be supplied as soon as the calendar is available. At least two of these must be different types of events—i.e., not all films or not all lectures (all course objectives).

Gender in Cyberspace Project: Working in teams of two, students will design and carry out a project exploring the way new information technologies affect gender constructions; on April 6 and 8, each team will orally present the results of their investigation to the rest of the class. Further instructions will be handed out later (objectives 1, 3, 5).

Critical Essay: Each student will write one formal critical essay employing the methodologies and theoretical frameworks learned in class. This paper must be typed or word processed and must employ correct methods of citation and documentation. Further instructions and due dates for the various stages of this assignment will be described on a separate assignment sheet, but the final paper will be due on May 4 (objectives 2, 3).

Final Project: Each student will create a scenario for the kind of changes she would like to see in the lives of American women of the twenty-first century, including a description of some of the steps that would be necessary to bring about these changes (objective 5). Due May 20.



Castle 315 (extension 5399)
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