WMS 150 Spring 2012
Since the 1970s, Women’s Studies has been an interdisciplinary academic field aimed at identifying, understanding, and challenging ideologies and institutions that knowingly or unknowingly oppress and exploit others, or deny fundamental human rights. Growing from this discipline has been the emergence of gender studies, which seeks to examine the ways that ideas about the social relations of women and men structure our politics and culture and the ways in which we all experience our world. Encouraging individuals to develop to their fullest potential, women’s studies uses feminist and interdisciplinary methods to teach, conduct research, and expand existing bodies of knowledge. Critical thinking, the production of theory, and the assumption of community and global responsibility are integral to these methods. In this class we will explore these ideas while understanding the interrelationship between the personal and political.
After taking this course, students enrolled in WMS 150 will:
- Know issues and ideas relevant to gender locally, nationally, and globally.
- Be aware of the socialization and media processes through which we “learn” gender and construct a gendered identity.
- Understand how categories such as class, ethnicity, religion, age, and sexual orientation further influence male and female experience.
- Understand how gender dynamics underlie health, environmental, political, and social oppressions.
- Learn effective ways to create social and political change.
- Develop skills of critical thinking, information literacy, reading complex texts, and effective written and spoken communication.
- Understand how feminism can enhance the lives of men and women.
An introduction to gender and women’s studies is a broad topic that we will be discussing through a variety of theoretical lenses. Relying on foundational texts as well as emerging scholarship, we will engage a diversity of voices and perspectives. Therefore, we will not have one standard text. Instead, a variety of readings will be posted for students on-line through Sakai (our course’s password protected site). All readings are required and the dates in which they are due are noted on the class schedule.
Grading and Assignments:
- Attendance/Participation (10%)
- Responses and Quizzes (20%)
- Midterm (20%)
- Shero Project (15%)
- Action Project (15%)
- Final Exam (20%)
As much as possible, I would like this class to be discussion based, and therefore, regular attendance and participation is expected. Although I will take attendance at the beginning of each class, it is not enough to just “show up.” Students will be expected to have read the required reading before class and be prepared to participate meaningfully in each class discussion. I encourage students to feel free and open to discuss a wide range of topics. That being said, please remember to be mindful and respectful of the opinions of your fellow classmates. As part of this respect I expect each of you to show, silence all electronic devices upon entering class. Any interruptions, such as a ringing cell phone, will be considered a breach of this contract, and will reflect negatively in your participation grade.
Responses and Quizzes (20%)
One to two page typed responses to the day’s assigned topic and/or readings will be due throughout the semester and are noted on their specific dates below. Additionally, four quizzes will be given, at random, throughout the semester. Quizzes will be given at the beginning of class; if you are late or absent, there will be no make-ups for unexcused absences. Each quiz will consist of multiple choice and/or short answer questions, and will test your knowledge on the assigned readings for that day of class. You will be allowed to use your notebook and any handwritten notes (but not copies of the assigned reading) on quizzes. I will drop your lowest quiz grade, and your top three scores along with response grades will count toward 20% of your final grade.
Shero Project (15%)
The term “shero” was coined by Maya Angelou to refer to women heroes. The goal of this project is to recognize a shero in your own life. This could be a family member, friend, teacher, or mentor. You will develop a set of at least 15 questions used to interview your shero. This project should let you not only celebrate this special woman in your life, but also give you the opportunity to know her on a deeper level. Papers should be 4 pages (12 pt. font, standard margins) in length and should provide a vivid picture of your shero – who she is and why she is important. In addition to the paper, you will also need to hand in the questions you used to interview your shero and a 1 page write-up on the interview process (time; setting; details; and most important, your reflections on the assignment). DUE FEBRUARY 28th
Action Project (15%)
Activism is often related to feminism in the desired goal to bring about positive social and political change. For this project, you will be thinking about an issue related to gender that you would like to see changed. Specifics of the project will be detailed in a separate hand-out, but briefly, you will identify an issue and develop a project plan; research other similar projects on a local, national, and global scale; implement your project; and summarize and report on your project in writing and to the class. Further details and ideas for getting started on your project can be found on the assignment handout. DUE APRIL 19th
**NOTE: Assignments are due at the beginning of each class. Late assignments will be accepted, but are subject to a late penalty of 10% per day, including Saturdays and Sundays.
Midterm Exam (20%)
The midterm exam will cover the material and readings from the first half of the semester. Questions will include multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, definitions, and essays.
Final Exam (20%)
The final exam will follow the same basic format as the midterm. Although it will focus heavily on materials covered during the second half of the semester, it is a cumulative exam in the sense that it will build on knowledge from the first half of the course.
Accommodation for Disabilities
Any students with documented disabilities should speak with the instructor to arrange any necessary accommodations to help insure their optimal performance in the class. As defined by URI’s Disability Services office, “Students with qualifying disabilities may be eligible, under the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA), for reasonable accommodations that will support equal opportunity and inclusion in university programs and services.
Documentation from a credentialed examiner is required to substantiate the presence of a possible disability and to establish the possible need for accommodations at the University of Rhode Island.” For more information please refer to URI Disability Services at: http://www.uri.edu/disability/dss/documentation/index.html.
The Academic Enhancement Center
Students are invited to seek any necessary outside help on papers, projects, or studying from the Academic Enhancement Center. AEC tutors can answer questions, clarify concepts, check your understanding, and help you study. You can make an appointment or walk in anytime during office hours – Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For a complete schedule, including when tutors are available specifically for this class, go to http://www.uri.edu/aec, call (401) 874-2367, or stop by the fourth floor in Roosevelt Hall.
URI has strict policies against cheating and plagiarism. Students are expected to hand in their own, original work for all assignments in this class. Any breaches in academic honesty will be treated seriously. I reserve the right to fail a student for ANY (this includes rough drafts) assignment that is not properly cited, is the work of another student, or violates any form of academic integrity. Should this happen, the incidence of cheating will be reported to the WMS department chair as well as your department chair (who will notify your advisor). I will also report any incidences of cheating to the appropriate academic dean(s), who with me has the option to fail you in the course and possibly expel you from the University. For a full listing of the University’s policies and procedures regarding this, please refer to the URI Student Handbook (http://www.uri.edu/judicial/studenthandbook.pdf).
Occasionally there are cases when, due to weather conditions, URI may choose to cancel classes. If that is the case, students are required to check our class course page on Sakai for an updated syllabus and alternate assignments.
January 24 – Introductions
January 26 – What is Gender and Women’s Studies?
- Shaw, Susan and Janet Lee “ Women’s Studies: Perspectives and Practices”
- Rich, Adrienne “Claiming an Education”
- Kimmel, Michael “Men and Women’s Studies: Premises, Perils, and Promise”
DUE: Response #1 – Why did you take this course? What are you hoping to gain from taking Women’s Studies 150? What do you think will be the most interesting aspect(s) of this course for you and why? What do you think will be the most challenging aspect(s) of this course for you and why? What are two or three things you will do to help you meet these challenges?
January 31 – What is feminism?
- hooks, bell. “Feminist Politics: Where We Stand”
- Johnson, Allan G. “Patriarchy, the System: An It, Not a He, a Them, or an Us”
- Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. “Declaration of Sentiments”
*Shero Projects will be introduced in class today.
February 2 – Learning Gender
- Lorber, Judith “‘Night to His Day’: The Social Construction of Gender”
- Kimmel, Michael “What are Little Boys Made of?”
DUE: Response #2 – What things have you done since last class that make you conscious of your sex and/or gender?
February 7 – Learning Gender, cont.
- Henley, Nancy and Jo Freeman “The Sexual Politics of Interpersonal Behavior”
- Richardson, Laurel “Gender Stereotyping in the English Language”
- Rosenberg, Debra “(Rethinking) Gender”
DUE: Response #3 – Study the speech patterns, body postures, styles of dress, and other nonverbal cues communicated by your friends during a social occasion (meal, party, club meeting, etc.), trying not to let your friends know you are observing them. Using these observations, write an essay in which you analyze the behavioral cues used by your friends. *Please be prepared to share your observations with the class.*
February 9 – Gender and the Body
- Wolf, Naomi “The Beauty Myth”
- Chernik, Abra Fortune “The Body Politic”
- Rodriguez , Graciela “Breaking the Model”
February 14 – Gender and the Body, cont.
- Kilbourn, Jean “Beauty and the Beast of Advertising”
- Katz, Jackson “Advertising and the Construction of Violent White Masculinity”
* In class screening: Jean Kilbourne’s Killing Us Softly
February 16 – Intersections of Gender, Race, and Class
- Collins, Patricia Hill. “Towards a New Vision: Race, Class, and Gender as Categories of Analysis and Connection”
- McIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege and Male Privilege”
DUE: Response #4 – Analyze one article and one advertisement from a fashion magazine (Cosmopolitan, Glamour, etc.). Please attach your article and advertisement to your response.
February 21 – Class and the Body
- Ransby, Barbara “Katrina, Black Women, and the Deadly Discourse on Black Poverty in America”
- Allison, Dorothy “A Question of Class”
February 23 – Gender, Race, Class and the Media
- Raymond, Diane “Popular Culture and Queer Representation”
- Nelson, Mariah. “I Won. I’m Sorry.”
- Pozner, Jennifer L. and Jessica Seigel “Desperately Debating Housewives”
- Douglas, Susan. “Signs of Intelligent Life on TV”
February 28 – Shero Project Presentations
- DUE: Sheroes project
March 1 – Midterm Review
- Please come to class prepared with questions.
March 6 – Midterm Exam
March 8 – Creating Change
- Kirk, Gwyn and Margo Okazawa-Rey “Creating Change: Theory, Vision and Action”
- Taylor, Verta et al. “The Women’s Movement: Persistence Through Transformation”
- Wellner, Alison Stein “A Chain Letter Reaction”
Spring Break – NO CLASSES HELD
March 20 – Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights
- Boston Women’s Health Collective, “The Politics of Women’s Health in the United States”
- Rivera, Lourdes “Uninsured, Exposed and at Risk – But Not Powerless”
- Ehrenreich, Barbara “Welcome to Cancerland”
March 22 – Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights, cont.
- Willis, Ellen “Abortion: Is a Woman a Person?”
- Males, Mike “Parental Consent Laws: Are They a ‘Reasonable Compromise’?”
- Fried, Marlene Gerber “Abortion in the U.S.: Barriers to Access”
March 27 – Relationships, Family, and Households
- Walker, Rebecca “Lusting for Freedom”
- Ochs, Robyn “Bisexuality, Feminism, Men and Me”
- Morrison, Melissa “Bridal Wave”
- Bravo, Ellen. “What this National Really Thinks of Motherhood”
- Shulman, Alix Kate “A Marriage Agreement”
- Gerson, Kathleen “Moral Dilemmas, Moral Strategies, and the Transformation of Gender”
DUE: Response #5 – Please respond to one of the issues raised in the readings. What surprised you? What didn’t? What is your conception of family?
March 29 – In-class screening of Miss Representation
- MacKinnon, Catharine. “Law in the Everyday Life of Women”
April 3 – Relationships, Family, and Households, cont.
- Older Women’s League “Older Women: The Realities”
- Hesse-Biber, Sharlene and Gregg Lee Carter “ A Brief History of Working Women”
- National Committee for Pay Equity “Questions and Answers on Pay Equity
- Mainardi, Pat “The Politics of Housework”
- Critterdon, Ann “The Mommy Tax”
April 5 – Violence Against Women
- Jones, Ann “Battering: Who’s Going to Stop It?”
- Fisher-Hertz, Lanette “Protecting Male Abusers and Punishing the Women Who Confront Them”
April 10 – Violence Against Women, cont.
- Griffin, Susan “Rape: The All-American Crime”
- Carr, Joetta L. “Campus Sexual Violence”
- Copelon, Rhonda “Rape and Gender Violence”
April 12 – Global Feminism – Presentations by the students in WMS 400
April 17 – Global Feminism.
- Neuwirth, Jessica “Unequal: A Global Perspective on Women Under the Law”
- Bunch, Charlotte “Bringing the Global Home”
April 19 – Action Project Presentations
- DUE: Action Project
April 24 – Action Project Presentations, cont.
April 26 – Final Exam Review
Please come to class prepared with questions.
Final Exam – Thursday, May 3, 11:30 – 2:30