Professor Alexandrina Deschamps

Women's Studies, 208 Bartlett, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA. 01003
Office: Bartlett 7B » Office Hours: Mo 1:30-4:00pm & By Appointment
Telephone: (413) 545-1958 » Fax: (413) 545-1500 » Email: afd@wost.umass.edu

Womensst 187 Introduction to Women's Studies Fall 2003
  Mo & We: 10:10-11:00am at Bartlett 65
Fri: Discussion Sections
 
Teaching Assistants: Mirangela Bugs, Kirsten Isgro, Shelly Perdomo, Chizu Sato, Beverly Weber

Course Information

Description

Placing women's experiences at the center of interpretation, this class introduces basic concepts and key areas of women's lives both historically and contemporaneously. It is an inter-disciplinary, trans-disciplinary, and cross cultural study of women's roles and relations but it is also an overview of theoretical perspectives on gender and its intersection with other social constructs of difference (race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, and age). The central aim is to foster critical reading and thinking about these inter-locking systems which have shaped and influenced the historical, cultural, social, political, and economical contexts of our lives. Specific attention will be given to women's resistance of these gendered inequalities, and the various ways they have worked to create new systems of change by engaging in national and global transformational politics.

Requirements

Written Assignments and Exams

Grading

Final grades will be computed as follows:

Ground Rules

Despite the size of this class, we are concerned about the quality of your experience. To that end we will try to foster as much active participation in the course as is possible. Lectures will include time for questions as they arise, and discussion sections have been designed to continue the dialogue. Make use of office hours to continue class discussions, clarify confusions or to discuss any other academic problems you are having with the course.

Discussion Groups

Discussions sections are not optional or add-ons. They are designed to be an integral part of the course and to provide an opportunity to clarify issues in your readings, films and lectures. We expect you to have completed and thought about all of the readings for that week and to be ready to engage in meaningful dialogue. I will sometimes provide you with pertinent and relevant questions to help guide your understanding and discussions of the readings and concepts.

Discussion Sections

Section Time Room T/Assistant
AD01 9:05 Bart 212 Kirsten Isgro
AD02 9:05 Bart 202 Beverly Weber
AD03 10:10 Bart 202 Beverly Weber
AD04 10:10 Bart 201 Shelly Perdomo
AD05 10:10 Bart 301 Chizu Sato
AD06 10:10 Bart 61 Mirangela Buggs
AD07 11:15 Bart 212 Chizu Sato
AD08 11:15 Bart 207 Mirangela Buggs
AD09 11:15 Bart 201 Shelly Perdomo
BD01 10:10 Bart 206 Kirsten Isgro

Academic Honesty

Our assumption is that students are generally honest. Necessary action will be taken against students who commit academic dishonesty in compliance with official guidelines. Read and familiarize yourselves with the Undergraduate Rights and Responsibilities booklet. Plagiarism of any kind will be detrimental to your tenure at the University. Please do not use written papers from the internet.

Books

[Required]: Arlene Avakian & Alexandrina Deschamps,
A Transdisciplinary Introduction to Women's Studies. ISBN: 0-7872-9375-X. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2002.
[Highly Recommended]: Howard Zinn,
A People's History Of The United States 1492-Present. (Twentieth Anniversary Edition). New York. Harper Perennial, 2001.

Books are available at Food For Thought Bookshop, 106 North Pleasant Street, Amherst.

Topics and Questions to Be Covered for the Semester

The Social Construction of Gender, Race, Class & Sexuality, Diversity & Difference

What is "Women's Studies" and who are the "women"? How is "woman" defined? Does "objective knowledge" exist? In what ways do social, cultural, political and economic forces determine knowledge? Is there a "woman's perspective"? If there is, how do race, class and sexual orientation impact that perspective? How are women alike? How do women differ? Where is the intersection of our "Different Similarities? Does the common experience of patriarchy unite us across our differences? As a concept, oppression has had a long history in feminist scholarship. What does it mean? Why is it important to think about it? What are some of the tensions today? What has changed? Will the regular methods of scholarship and science be adequate for the task of understanding the diversity between women? Will new tools of analysis be necessary ? How do we encourage women and men to relate at the points of their "different similarities" to promote growth, creativity, and social change?

   What is the ideological foundation of the United States? What is the importance of history? How were European American women's lives shaped by the social, legal, religious and economic forces of the time? How has our knowledge of American Indian women been limited? What are some of the contemporary fields of research of American Indian women? What is the economic foundation of slavery? What was the experience of African American women in slavery? What were the economic and political reasons for the internment of Japanese Americans? How did this affect the experiences of Asian American women?

Social & Political Movements: Abolition & Women's Rights, The Civil Rights Movement, The Second & Third Waves Of Feminism

What is abolition? Who were the people involved in the movement? What were the roles of men and women of different races? Was gender an issue? What was the relationship between African American and European women in the abolition movement and the women's rights movement? What were the economic and political bases for lynching? How has lynching impacted and continues to impact gender and race relations? How do societal attitudes towards African American men and Caucasian women contribute to the justification for lynching? What were the goals of the civil rights Movement (CRM)? What were the Jim Crow laws? What was the role of women in the CRM? What did the CRM accomplish? Why was the CRM seen as the "Borning Struggle"? How was the women's movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s shaped by social expectations for women? What can we learn from the successes and mistakes of the movement? What still needs to be done? Where shall we put our greatest efforts? What should be our priorities? How do we revitalize the energy, optimism, and power of the women's movement, and where shall we take it into the future? How do we build allies across gender lines?

Institutions that Shape Women's Lives-Work

How has women's work been historically and traditionally defined? How is this related to societal expectations for women? How do race, class, age, and disability impact definitions of women's work as well as access to wage work? Where are women in the economy today? Do education, individual talents, skills and effort determine women's placement in the work force? Are there still obstacles to women in the work force? What are the consequences and remedial strategies? Are current economic problems de-gendering definitions of work? What are some of the consequences of this phenomenon for women, men, families, children, and our society?

Institutions that Shape Women's Lives-The Family, Gender, Violence & Recurring Issues

How is family defined? What are cross-cultural and historical differences in family forms? What are the roles of women in the family? What has been and is the role of the state in maintaining family systems? How do class and race shape family life? How do economic, political, and social pressures impact families? What roles do racism and sexism play in shaping public policy on the family? What are the strategies women of color have developed to ensure survival of their families? What is the connection between women and poverty? What is the current debate about single mothers, poverty, welfare and marriage? Who are single mothers? What's wrong with current poverty policies and what's the unfinished agenda? What is heterosexism and how does it impact on same sex families? How are definitions of family related to cultural assumptions about sexuality, race, gender and class? What is the current debate and discourse about same sex relationships, same sex families, and same sex unions?

   What is the societal basis of violence against women? What are some major contemporary issues in youth violence? How are gender and masculinity linked to violence? What significant changes have the women's movement made to change issues of gendered violence? Women in this culture live with the reality of rape, what are cultural myths about rape? What is the relationship between rape and cultural definitions of aggressive sexuality for males and passivity for females? How has the activism of feminists affected treatment of rape victims by police and the judicial system? How are men engaging in the national and global resistance of violence against women and the culture of violence?

Institutions that Shape Women's Lives-Health Care, Media, Public Policy, Legal System

What is the basis of our health care system? Who are the main beneficiaries? What are the ways in which gender, race and class impact the quality and kind of health care received? What changes in the health care system have resulted from the efforts of women activists? What are the major contemporary issues with our Health Care system? How is youth and gender tied into patriarchy, the media, and profit? What are the links between media representation and health issues? Why does abortion continue to be a major issue for women? Has abortion always been illegal? What are the consequences of denying women access to abortion? What do we mean by reproductive health and reproductive rights? Is sterilization justified? What are the connections between sterilization abuse and population control nationally and globally?

Resistance, Alliance and Coalition Building: Platforms for Action

What is resistance and how has this been impacted by gender, race, class, age, disability, and sexuality? How do we continue to work for social change that can begin to reverse the inequities and inconsistencies in this age of "Globalization" by challenging and transforming the way in which we look at ourselves in relation to each other and to the world? What is consciousness raising? How do we raise awareness and understanding, our own and others, for social action and change? How can alliances be built across our differences? How can men organize around these issues?

Course Calendar

Wed September 03

Introduction to Course: Implications for Women & Men

Syllabus, Requirements, Expectations, Guidelines, Introductory Questions

Mon September 08

The Focus of Women's Studies: Key Concepts and Perspectives

Lecture and Discussion

Wed September 10

Theories, Theorizing, and Ways of Knowing

Readings:

[Handout]-Gwyn Kirk & Margo Okazawa-Rey, pp. 7-19.

Mon September 15

Social Identities and Social Locations: Micro, Macro, Levels

Readings:

[Handout]-Gwyn Kirk & Margo Okazawa-Rey, pp. 49-59.

Wed September 17

Social Construction of Gender: Issues of Equality and Equity

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 3-14 & 25-41.

Social, Economic, Political Histories, & the First Wave of the Women's Movement - Suffrage & Feminism

Mon September 22

Women's Lives: Indigenous People, Foundations of U.S. Society, and Consequences of Slavery

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 17-20 & 45-51.

[Recommended]-Howard Zinn, Chapter 1.

Wed September 24

European American Women: Colonial and Early National Periods, Republican Motherhood and the Cult of True Womanhood

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 59-68.

[Recommended]-Howard Zinn, Chapter 6.

Mon September 29

Movements and Ideologies in The 19th Century: Abolition and the First Wave of the Women's Movement, Black Women and Slavery

Guest Lecture: Professor John Bracey, Afro-American Studies

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 73-86.

[Web Resource]-Not For Ourselves Alone.

Wed October 01

Intersectionalities: Gender, Race, Class, Sexuality, Industrialization

Video Screening: Ida B. Wells. A Passion for Justice or Guest Lecture By Professor Paula Giddens, Smith College

Readings:

[Website assignment and study questions will be given].

Fri October 3

***Examination in Discussion Sections***

Mon October 06

Industrialization and Immigrant Women's Work: 1890-1924

Guest Lecture: Professor Arlene Avakian, Director of Women's Studies

Readings:

[Handout]-From A Century of Women, pp. 7-39.

Social Change, Social Justice, Civil Rights & The Second Wave of the Women's Movement

Wed October 08

Women in the Civil Rights Movement and the Second Wave of the Women's Movement

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 113-133.

Mon October 13

Holiday - Columbus Day

Wed October 15

Women at the Fore front of the Second Wave: Alliances, Coalitions, and Conflicts

Film Clips from A Century of Women

Readings:

[Handouts].

Contemporaneous Issues: The Ongoing Debates

Mon October 20

Women and Work: Feminization of Poverty, Occupational Segregation

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 137-170.

[Web Resource]-American Association of University Women.

Wed October 22

Women, Work: Solutions and Actions - Redefining the Issues

Guest Lecture: Professor Nancy Folbre or Labor Center Representative

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 175-186.

Fri October 24

***Examination in Discussion Sections***

Mon October 27

Women, Work, & Realities of the Global Economy

Video Screening: Made in Thailand or The City (La Ciudad)

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 87-90 and 219-241.

Wed October 29

Socio-Cultural Concepts of the Family 1: Public Policy and Motherhood

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 245-256 & 271-285.

[Web Resource]-www.unmarried.org/rings.html.

[Web Resource]-www.pbs.org/americanfamily/series.html.

Mon November 03

Socio-Cultural Concepts of the Family 2: Lesbian and Gay Families

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 259-267.

Wed November 05

Gender, Violence, and Masculinity

Video Screening: Tough Guise

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian and Deschamps, pp. 291-317.

Mon November 10

Gender and Violence: Culture, Femicide, Family

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian and Deschamps, pp. 321-335.

[Web Resource]-No Safe Place.

Wed November 12

Gender and Violence: Myths and Realities of Domestic Violence

Invited Panel Discussions

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 341-347 & 351-358.

Fri November 14

***Written Assignment Due***

Mon November 17

Gender, Violence, Sports, Sexuality

Documentary: It Takes a Team - Making Sports Safe for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Athletes and Coaches

Guest Facilitator: Lisa Dawn Thompson

Readings:

[Web Resource]-The Women's Sports Foundation.

Wed November 19

Gender, Women, and Medicalization

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 361-374.

Mon November 24

Women's Bodies: Reproductive Health, Reproductive Freedom

Guest Lecture: Dr. Marlene Fried, Hampshire College

Readings:

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 403-421.

[Handout]-Roe vs. Wade, 410 U.S. 113. 1973.

Wed November 26

Thanksgiving Recess

Mon December 01

Women's Bodies: Representations, and the Cult of True Womanhood

Media Clips

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 377-399.

Wed December 03

Women's Bodies: Sexuality, Contradictions, and Double Standards

Guest Lecture: Kirsten Isgro, PH.D Candidate and TA

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 425-432.

Mon December 08

Feminism and Activism: Young Women and Feminism. Can Men be Feminists? The Third and Fourth Waves

Student Panel

[Text]-Avakian & Deschamps, pp. 436-442.

Wed December 10

Dialogues, Discussions, Closing Exercises, Reviews