WOST 201: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES IN WOMEN'S STUDIES
FALL 2001
Banu Subramaniam

Tu, Th 9:30 - 10.45: School of Mgt Bldg, Rm. 5
Office Hours: Tu, Th: 11-12 and by appointment, Bartlett 381
Phone: 577-3164; email: banu@wost.umass.edu

What do we mean by the category "woman"? Are there essential/innate characteristics that define all women? What of our many differences? How do we incorporate other social categories such as race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, and nationality? This course will explore theories about women and gender through interdisciplinary analyses, as well as disciplinary lenses such as biology, history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, and literary studies. What is gained in developing identities such as Woman, African-American, Latino, Arab-American, Native American, Working-class, Asian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer? What are the consequences of developing politics through the use of identity? How do we incorporate the complexities of multiple identities? This course will explore some of the important theorists, thinkers, writers and activists who have grappled with the inextricable interconnections of gender, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity and nationality. We will grapple with how to conceptualize the category "woman" to reflect all the similarities as well as the many substantive differences.

REQUIRED BOOKS:
Women of Color in U. S. Society,
Maxine Baca Zinn and Bonnie Thornton Dill, eds. 1994. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Feminism and Race, Kum-Kum Bhavnani, ed. 2001. Oxford University Press.
Course Pack/Reader of Additional Reading (referred to as Reader)

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

  1. Social Positionality Paper: This 2-3 page paper will not be graded but IS required. Despite the lack of the grade, I consider this assignment to be vitally important and expect your serious consideration and effort. You will be graded down if you do not complete the assignment. (Due 10/9)
  2. One Descriptive Paper: One paper summarizing your understanding of one of the theoretical articles we will read. The paper will count for 10% of your grade. (Due 9/25)
  3. Two Analytic Papers: Two papers of 5 pages each on topics to be announced. These papers will require you to do an analytic work of the material for this course, rather than doing library research on topics not addressed in class. Each paper will count for 15% of your grade. For the first analytic paper due 10/30, you will exchange papers with a fellow student, comment and grade each other's paper (comments due 11/6 and the comments count for 10% of your grade). (Due 10/30, 11/6 and 11/20)
  4. Group Project: Students will work in groups in doing a research project. Topics will be discussed in class. Oral presentation on the project will count for 15% of your grade and the final written report for 15% of your grade. (Presentations 12/4 or 12/6; Due 12/13)
  5. Class Participation: The issues we will be discussing this semester have both academic and personal implications. In order to grapple with this material it is vital to read the assignments carefully and on time, come to class with questions, opinions, and analyses (agreements and disagreements) -- in other words to be prepared to participate in an intellectual debate. Class participation (quality not quantity!) counts for 10% of your grade.
  6. Occasional In- Class Writing: Several times during the semester I will include in-class writing assignments. Two of your best grades will count for 10% of your grade (5% each).
Grading:
One Descriptive Paper & Comments: 10%
Analytic Paper # 1 & Comments: 25%
Analytic Paper # 2: 15%
Group Project-
Class Presentation: 15%
Written Report: 15%
Class Participation: 10%
In-Class writing (2): 10%

SCHEDULE OF TOPICS AND READINGS:

Thursday, September 6: Class Intro
Gloria Steinem, "If Men Could Menstruate." Ms Magazine, October 1978. (in-class reading)

Week One: Conceptualizing Difference

Tuesday, September 11
Carol Tavris, "Measuring Up," in The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex, Or the Opposite Sex," 1992. New York: Simon & Schuster. (hand-out)
Leith Mullings, Images, Ideology, and Women of Color (Zinn & Dill)

Thursday, September 13
Ama Ata Aidoo, Edna Acosta-Belén, Amrita Basu, Maryse Condé, Nell Painter, and Nawal El Saadawi speak on feminism, race, and transnationalism, Meridians: feminism, race, transnationalism, 2000, vol. I, no. 1, 1-28. (Reader)
Dorothy Allison, "A Question of Class," in Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature, 1994. Ithaca, New York: Firebrand Books. (Reader)

Week Two: Challenging Universal Woman/Feminism

Tuesday, September 18
Bell Hooks, Black Women: Shaping Feminist Theory. (Bhavnani)
Valerie Amos and Pratibha Parmar, Challenging Imperial Feminism. (Bhavnani)
Teresa L. Arnott & Julie A. Matthaei, "Race, Class, Gender and Women's Works: A Conceptual Framework" in Race, Gender and Work: A Multi-cultural Economic History of Women in the United States., Teresa Amott & Julie Mattaei eds., 1996, Boston: South End Press. (Reader)

Thursday, September 20
Elizabeth Spelman, Gender and Race: The Ampersand Problem in Feminist Thought. (Bhavnani)
JeeYeun Lee, "Beyond Bean Counting," in Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation. Barbara Findlen, ed., 1995 Washington, DC: Seal Press. (Reader)
Trina Grillo & Stephanie Wildman, "Obscuring the Importance of Race: The Implications of Making Comparisons Between Racism and Sexism [or Other-isms}," in Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge. Richard Delgado, ed., 199. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. (Reader)

Descriptive Paper Due, September 25 Write a 3-4 page paper summarizing your understanding of any of the following articles we have read: Hooks, Amos & Parmar, Arnott & Matthaei, Spelman, or Grillo & Wildman. (Focus on your understanding of the ideas in this article - not your opinion about them for this paper)

Week Three: Social Positionality and Location

Tuesday, September 25
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "Cartographies of Struggle: Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism," in Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism, Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo, and Lourdes Torres, eds. 1991. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (Reader)
Maxine Baca Zinn & Bonnie Thornton Dill, "Difference and Domination" (Zinn & Dill).

Thursday, September 27
June Jordan, "Report from the Bahamas," On Call: Political Essays. 1995. Boston: South End Press. (Reader)
Peggy McIntosh, "White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences Through Work in Women's Studies," in Race, Class and Gender, Anderson & Hill Collins, eds., 1992. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. (Reader (Poem: Pat Parker, "For the white person who wants to know how to be my friend," in Making Face, Making Soul, Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, Gloria Anzaldúa ed., 1990. (Reader)

Week Four: Identit(ies)

Tuesday, October 2
Lola Young, 'Race', Identity and Cultural Criticism (Bhavnani)
Trinh T. Minh-Ha, Bold Omissions and Minute Depictions (Bhavnani)
Jewelle Gomez and Barbara Smith, "Taking the Home out of Homophobia," Out/Look, Spring 1990. (Reader)

Thursday, October 4
Audre Lorde, The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House (Bhavnani)
Gloria Anzaldúa, La conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New consciousness (Bhavnani)
Evelynn Hammonds, Black (W)holes and the Geometry of Black Female Sexuality (Bhavnani)

Social Location Paper Due, October 9: Write a 2-3 page paper outlining your placement on the axes of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality. This paper will not be graded, but is required.

Week Five: Constructing Difference

Tuesday, October 9
Video, TBA;
Brainstorming for Research Projects

Thursday, October 11: Scientific Construction of Difference
Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose & Leon J. Kamin, "Legitimation of Inequality," in Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature. 1984. Pantheon Books. (Reader)
Donna Haraway, The Persistence of Vision. (Bhavnani)
Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, People or Population: Towards a New Ecology of Reproduction (Bhavnani).
Anne Fausto Sterling, "Why do we know so Little About Human Sex?" Discover 28, June 1992. (Reader)

Week Six: Difference and Diversity

Tuesday, October 16
Mary Maynard, 'Race', Gender and the Concept of 'Difference' in Feminist Thought (Bhavnani)
Molara Ogundipe-Leslie, Moving the Mountains, Making the Links (Bhavnani)
Avtar Brah, Difference, Diversity, and Differentiation. (Bhavnani)

Thursday, October 18
Short excerpts from A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution, Karen Green & Tristan Taormino, eds., 1997. New York: St. Martin's Griffin AND Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation. Barbara Findlen, ed., 1995. Washington, DC: Seal Press (Reader)
(Read Findlen, Chambers, Sandata, Carland, Higginbotham, Morgan and Airborn).

Week Seven: The Constraining Walls of Social Location

Tuesday, October 23
Linda Grant, Helpers, Enforcers, and Go-Betweens: Black Females in Elementary School Classrooms (Zinn & Dill)
Elizabeth Higginbotham, Black Professional Women: Job Ceilings and Employment Sectors (Zinn & Dill)
Ruthy Zambrana, Puerto Rican Families and Social Well-Being, (Zinn & Dill).

Thursday, October 25
Paula Gunn Allen, Angry Women are Building: Issues and Struggles Facing American Indian Women Today (Bhavnani)
Gerda Lerner, Black Women in White America (Bhavnani)
Angela Y. Davis, Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Racist (Bhavnani)

Analytic Paper #1 due October 30: Reflect on the content we have learnt in class to this point. Choose two or three points that stand out for you to help focus your responses and/or critique and write a critical analysis on those points - take risks, and incorporate your ideas about the subjects, but remember to include the content from the class readings. Discuss insights gained or limitations in the analysis. I want to know that you have read, understood, and analyzed the class reading material. (5 pages)

Comments on paper, Due November 6: You will exchange your paper with another student. Critically evaluate the paper. Has s/he understood the material? Do you agree or disagree with their reading of the material? Please be constructive and encouraging. What grade would you give the paper? (1 page evaluation)

Week Eight: The Politics of Difference

Tuesday, October 30
Vilma Ortiz, Women of Color: A Demographic Overview. (Zinn & Dill)
Denise Segura, Inside the Work Worlds of Chicana and Mexican Immigrant Women, (Zinn & Dill).
Karen Hossfeld, Hiring Immigrant Women: Silicon Valley's Simple Formula (Zinn & Dill).

Thursday, November 1
Short excerpts from A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution, Karen Green & Tristan Taormino, eds., 1997. New York: St. Martin's Griffin AND Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation. Barbara Findlen, ed., 1995. Washington, DC: Seal Press. (Reader)
(Read Green & Taormino, Delombard, Neuborne, Lamm, Midons, R.G, and Mary).

Week Nine: Resistances

Tuesday, November 6
Bonnie Thornton Dill, Festive Kin, Paper Sons, and Compadrazgo: Women of Color and the Struggle for Family Survival (Zinn & Dill)
Regina Arnold, Black Women in Prison: The Price of Resistance. (Zinn & Dill)
Jennie Joe and Dorothy Miller, Cultural Survival and Contemporary American Indian Women in the City. (Zinn & Dill)

Thursday, November 8
Esther Ngan-Ling Chow, Asian Women at Work (Zinn & Dill)
Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, "If it Wasn't for the Women": African American Women, Community Work, and Social Change. (Zinn & Dill)
Nazli Kibria, Migration and Vietnamese American Women: Remaking Ethnicity. (Zinn & Dill)

Week Ten: Postcoloniality

Tuesday, November 13
Aihwa Ong, Colonialism and Modernity: Feminist Re-presentations of Women in Non-Western Societies. (Bhavnani)
Ruth Frankenberg & Lata Mani, Crosscurrents, Crosstalk: Race, 'Post-coloniality' and the Politics of Location (Bhavnani).

Thursday, November 15
Chela Sandoval, US Third World Feminism: The Theory and Method of Oppositional Conscriousness in the Postmodern World. (Bhavnani)
Marnia Lazreg, Decolonizing Feminism. (Bhavnani)

Analytic Paper #2 Due November 20 : Reflect on the content we have learnt in class since your last paper to this point. Choose two or three points that stand out for you to help focus your responses and/or critique and write a critical analysis on those points - take risks, and incorporate your ideas about the subjects, but remember to include the content from the class readings. Discuss insights gained or limitations in the analysis. I want to know that you have read, understood, and analyzed the class reading material. (5 pages)

Week Eleven: The Construction of Knowledge

Tuesday, November 20
Pat Hill Collins, The Social Construction of Black Feminist Thought. (Bhavnani)
Ann Phoenix, Practicing Feminist Research: The Intersection of Gender and 'Race' in the Research Process. (Bhavnani)
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "On Race and Voice: Challenges for Liberal Education in the 1990's," in Between Borders: Pedagogy and the Politics of Cultural Studies, Henry Giroux, & Peter McLaren, eds., 1994. NY, London: Routledge. (Reader)

Thursday, November 22: Thanksgiving Break

Week Twelve: Feminist Utopias

Tuesday, November 27: Feminist Fantasies
Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, "Sultana's Dream," in Sultana's Dream and Selections from The Secluded Ones. 1988, New York: Feminist University Press. (hand out)
Gerd Bratenberg, "Bram, the director and her family," "The Maidmen's Ball," "Ruth Bram and her housebond - for better or worse." The Daughters of Egalia. 1985. Boston: South End Press. (Reader)

Thursday, November 29
Video, TBA

Week Thirteen:
Tuesday, December 4: Student Presentations

Thursday, December 6: Student Presentations

Week Fourteen: Rethinking Feminism

Tuesday, December 11:
Jacqui Alexander & Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Genealogies, Legacies, Movements. (Bhavnani)
Maxine Baca Zinn, Feminist Rethinking from Racial-Ethnic Families. (Zinn & Dill)
June Jordan, "Where is the Love?" Making Face, Making Soul, Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, Gloria Anzaldúa ed., 1990. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books.

Thursday, December 13: Conclusion and Summary

Final Report Due