Course Offerings

Winter 2015

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Social Inequality and Fair Opportunity

PHIL 242 - Bell

An exploration of the different range of opportunities available to various social groups, including racial, ethnic and sexual minorities, women, and the poor. Topics include how to define fair equality of opportunity; the social mechanisms that play a role in expanding and limiting opportunity; legal and group-initiated strategies aimed at effecting fair equality of opportunity and the theoretical foundations of these strategies; as well as an analysis of the concepts of equality, merit and citizenship, and their value to individuals and society.

Gender and Sexuality

SOAN 280 - Novack

An anthropological and sociological investigation of sex roles in preliterate and modern societies. Special consideration is given to the role of innate sexual differences, cultural variation, technology, and power in determining patterns of male dominance. Emphasis is placed on real and mythical female and male power in the context of changing relationships between men and women in American society.

Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies and Feminist Theory

WGS 120 - Verhage

This course introduces students to the fields of feminist theory and women's and gender studies by focusing on key theoretical concepts and surveying a range of topics that have been central to the academic study of women and gender. Such topics are likely to include the family as a social institution, gender in the workplace, beauty norms, violence against women, the history of feminist activism, and/or women's achievements in traditionally male-dominated fields such as sports, art, science, or literature. Students learn to approach such topics using gender as an analytical tool that intersects in complex ways with other categories of social power, such as race, class, and sexuality. The course is interdisciplinary in approach and presents a plurality of feminist perspectives in order to offer a rich understanding of the development of feminist thought over the past several decades. Course assignments encourage students to use such thought to analyze their other academic pursuits, as well as the non-academic environments in which they live, including thinking critically about their own experiences as women and men in contemporary society.


Fall 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Reproductive Physiology

BIOL 255 - Parker

An examination of sex as a biological phenomenon with consideration of the genetic (chromosomal), embryological, endocrine, and neurological bases of sexual development, differentiation, and identity.

Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales

ENGL 313 - Kao

This course considers the primary work on which Chaucer's reputation rests: The Canterbury Tales. We pay sustained attention to Chaucer's Middle English at the beginning of the semester to ease the reading process. Then we travel alongside the Canterbury pilgrims as they tell their tales under the guise of a friendly competition. The Canterbury Tales is frequently read as a commentary on the social divisions in late medieval England, such as the traditional estates, religious professionals and laity, and gender hierarchies. But despite the Tales' professed inclusiveness of the whole of English society, Chaucer nonetheless focuses inordinately on those individuals from the emerging middle classes. Our aim is to approach the Tales from the practices of historicization and theorization; that is, we both examine Chaucer's cultural and historical contexts and consider issues of religion, gender, sexuality, marriage, conduct, class, chivalry, courtly love, community, geography, history, power, spirituality, secularism, traditional authority, and individual experience. Of particular importance are questions of voicing and writing, authorship and readership. Lastly, we think through Chaucer's famous Retraction at the "end" of The Canterbury Tales, as well as Donald R. Howard's trenchant observation that the Tale is "unfinished but complete." What does it mean for the father of literary "Englishness" to end his life's work on the poetic principle of unfulfilled closure and on the image of a society on the move?

History of Women in America, 1870 to the Present

HIST 258 - Senechal

A survey of some of the major topics and themes in American women's lives from the mid-19th century to the present, including domestic and family roles, economic contributions, reproductive experience, education, suffrage, and the emergence of the contemporary feminist movement. The influence on women's roles, behavior, and consciousness by the social and economic changes accompanying industrialization and urbanization and by variations in women's experience caused by differences in race, class, and region.

Philosophy of Sex

PHIL 246 - Bell

This course explores questions related to contemporary conceptions of sexuality and its proper role in our lives. Questions addressed include: What is the purpose of sex? Are sexual practices subject to normative evaluation on grounds of morality, aesthetics, and/or capacity to promote a flourishing human life? We consider the relation between sex and both intimacy and pleasure, viewed from the perspective of heterosexual women and men, and gay men and lesbians. What are our sexual practices and attitudes toward sex? What should they be like?

Stereotyping, Prejudice, and Discrimination

PSYC 269 - Woodzicka

This course examines cognitive and affective processes involved in stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination. Causes and social implications of prejudice involving various stigmatized groups (e.g., African-Americans, women, homosexuals, people of low socioeconomic status, overweight individuals) are examined. Participants focus on attitudes and behaviors of both perpetrators and targets of prejudice that likely contribute to and result from social inequality.

Feminist Anthropology

SOAN 275 - Goluboff

This course covers the complex and sometimes "awkward" relationship between feminism and anthropology. We explore topics such as the place of feminist theory and politics within the discipline of anthropology, the problems involved in being a feminist and an anthropologist, and the creation of feminist ethnography.

Advanced Seminar in Women's and Gender Studies

WGS 396 - Le Blanc

This course provides an opportunity for advanced students to explore in detail some aspect of women's studies. Specific topics may vary and may be determined, in part, by student interest. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.


Spring 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Beauvoir and The Second Sex

PHIL 235 - Verhage

The Second Sex (1949) is Simone de Beauvoir's most well-known work in philosophy. It is a deep and urgent meditation on a true hope that is still elusive for many of us: to become, in every sense. one's own. It weaves together philosophy, history, social studies, economics, and biology to analyze the notion of "woman" and to explore the making and the power of gender and sexuality. Newly translated, The Second Sex is an important philosophical and political document about inequality and enforced otherness. In this course, we read this text together with recent work in the field and discuss it both as an important historical document and as a still relevant work on our gendered being in the world.

Women in Sport

WGS 150 - Levine

In this course, students use feminist theories and women's studies to examine many aspects of women's participation in sport in the United States. Students examine a range of topics including women's achievements in sport; Title IX and associated arguments for and against its implementation; social and cultural influences on women's participation; gender stereotypes associated with sport; and the role of the media in reinforcing gender-based stereotypes.