University of Massachusetts, Amherst
WOST 201 H: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES IN WOMEN'S STUDIES
FALL 2003
TUESDAY & THURSDAY 9:30 - 10:45 AM
301 BARTLETT HALL

Viera Wallace-Lorencová
Office Hours: Tue & Thu 8:30-9:15 & by appointment
Office: 208 C Bartlett
Phone: 545-1922
Mailbox: 208 Bartlett

This course provides students with analytical tools for a critical understanding of women's lived experiences within a global context. It also offers an opportunity to engage in the process of self-reflection and to acquire a hands-on experience with designing, implementing and/or participating in a small group action/community project.

Some of the key questions we will consider are: Who are the "women" as the subject of feminist theorizing? How can we conceptualize the category "women" so that it is reflective of the similarities as well as differences among us? What makes women and men distinct in different cultures and time periods? How are femininity and masculinity naturalized (assumed to have a basis in nature)? How is heterosexuality naturalized? Why and how have women been historically excluded from the production of knowledge? How are identities formed? How do we become aware of social dimensions of our identities? How do bodies speak (perform)? What is the salience of bodies in constituting identities? How are women's bodies sites of oppression and resistance? How is sex repressed, produced, performed and felt differently over time? How have sex-positive feminists appropriated the logic of consumer capitalism as a means of advancing social change? How do hierarchies constructed around categories of race, class, sexuality, religion or nationality affect women's lived experiences, their identities and behaviors? How are different groups of women affected by globalization? What are some of the advantages of identity politics for political organizing? What are some of the traps of identity politics? What are some of the advantages and limits of coalitions? What factors contribute to social change? In what ways can art be used to produce knowledge of structures of power? Could mainstream media be appropriated to contribute to social change? How could alternative media contribute to social change? What is the relationship between feminist theory and practice? What is the relationship between knowledge, desire and empowerment?

REQUIRED TEXTS:

An Introduction to Women's Studies: Gender in a Transnational World. Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan. Eds. McGraw Hill. 2002. [Referred to as TEXT]
A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution. Karen Green and Tristan Taormino, eds. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. 1997.
Course Reader comprised of additional required readings. Fall 2003. [Referred to as READER]
Books are available at Food For Thought Books, North Pleasant Street, Amherst, 413-253 5432 The Reader will be available at Paradise Copies, 30 Crafts Avenue, Northampton, 413-585-0414 Books and reader will be available on reserve in the UMASS Library (3rd floor).

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

Class participation: It is essential that you come to class prepared to discuss the readings. Please keep in mind that this is an honors course (4 credits) that requires additional class preparation, as well as extra written work. It's not enough to simply give the material a quick once-over. You need to spend time absorbing and thinking critically about the readings, so you can fully participate in class discussions. Class attendance and participation are required and will count for 10% of your grade.

In-class summary: Each student will be responsible for summarizing key points from one of the assigned readings. This summary (1 typed page minimum) will count for 5% of your grade. In preparation for this assignment, follow these guidelines:

  1. Browse through the chapter (set of articles) before reading closely the selected article.
  2. Identify and outline the key concepts as you read the selected article.
  3. Read carefully and read ahead - this will allow you to digest it before writing a summary.
  4. Think about how the article relates to the corresponding theme/unit. How does it relate or address other topics we have discussed in the course so far? What new questions or issues does this article address?
  5. Remember, you are not responsible for addressing everything in the readings! Just identify the main arguments, themes, and present some highlights you believe are worth discussing in greater detail.
  6. Some questions you might try to answer when summarizing the readings are: What is the author's main point of argument? Summarize it in one or two sentences. Is the author trying to argue against a particular approach or position? If so, what is it? What was for you the most valuable aspect of the reading? Did it give you a new perspective? If so, in what way is that perspective valuable?
  7. Make sure to print out two copies of your typewritten summary, so you can keep one.

In-class writing: We will begin some of our classes with in-class writing. In response to a question derived from the readings assigned for a given day, we will take ten minutes or so to write. Each response will be worth 5% of your grade. This assignment cannot be made up if you are absent. The five highest grades will be counted, total max. 25%.

Social Positionality Paper: This 3-page paper will require you to write about yourself. In order to describe social dimensions of your identity (your positionality), you should focus on answering the following questions: Who am I? How do I position myself in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, class and sexuality? When and how did I become aware of social dimensions of my identity? How has my identity changed? Which of the social dimensions of my identity provide power and privilege? Which provide less power and disadvantage? This paper is due 10/23 and will count for 15% of your grade. Late papers will be graded down.

Analytic paper: This 5-page paper will require you to do analytic writing focusing on the material you have read for this course. Further details about this assignment will be announced. This paper is due November 25 and will count for 25% of your grade. Late papers will be graded down.

Group Project: Students will work in small groups to design, implement and/or participate in an action/community project. Topics will be discussed in class, but groups will have to meet outside of class to work on their project. Some class time will be reserved for group meetings and for students to share their progress and to receive feedback from each other. Oral presentations of the project will count for 10% of your grade, and the final written report for 10% of your grade. Final written report due December 11.

GRADING:

Attendance
In-class summary
In-class writing
Positionality paper
Analytic paper
Group Project:
10%
5%
25%
15%
25%
20%

SCHEDULE:

Week One: Introduction

09/04 The F-Word
Neuborne, Ellen. "Imagine My Surprise." In Listen Up: Voices from the Next Generation. Barbara Findlen, Ed. Washington, D.C.: Seal Press. 1995.

I. BODIES

Week Two: Sex Differences Across Cultures

09/09 Part I, Section I: A, B, C [Text]
Fausto Sterling, Anne. "The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough."
The Sciences, March/April 1993, 33(2):20-25. [Reader]

09/11 Part I, Section 1: D, E [Text]
Carol Tavris: "Measuring Up." In The Mismeasure of Woman: Why Women Are Not the Better Sex, the Inferior Sex or the Opposite Sex. New York: Simon & Schuster. 1992. [R]

Week Three: The Rise of Western Science

09/16 Guest lecture: Banu Subramaniam, Assistant Professor in Women's Studies, UMASS
Part I, Section 2: A, B, C, D, E [Text]
Goodman, Allan H. "Bred in the Bone?" The Sciences, March/April 1997. [Reader]

09/18 The Making of Race, Sex, and Empire
Part I, Section 3: A, C, D, E [Text]

Week Four: Medicine and Reproductive Rights

09/23 Part I, Section 4: B, D, E [Text]
Part I, Section 5: A, B, C [Text]

09/25 Body, Knowledge , Power
Part I, Section 6: A, B, D, E [Text]

II. IDENTITIES AND COMMUNITIES

Week Five: Identity Formation

09/30 "Identities and Social Locations: Who Am I? Who Are My People?" In Women's Lives: Multicultural Perspectives. Kirk, Gwyn and Margo Okazawa-Rey, eds. 2001. [Reader]

Lorber, Judith: " 'Night to His Day,' The Social Construction of Gender." In Feminist Frontiers. Richardson, Laurel, eds. et al. New York: Mc Graw Hill. 2001. [Reader]

Arnott, Teresa L. and 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. Arnott, Teresa L. and Julie A. Matthaei, eds. Boston: South End Press. 1996. [Reader]

10/02 Part II, Section 2: B [Text]

Allison, Dorothy. "A Question Of Class." In Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books. 1994. [Reader]

Hallett, Nicky. "Lesbian Lives in the Later Twentieth Century," In Lesbian Lives: Identity and Auto/Biography in the Twentieth Century. London: Pluto. 1999. [Reader]

Spelman, Elizabeth V. "Gender and Race: The Ampersand Problem in Feminist Thought." In Feminism and Race. Kum-Kum Bhavnani, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000: 74-88. [Reader]

Week Six: New Social Movements and Identity Politics

10/07 Part II, Section 3: A, B, C, D, E [Text]

Nestle, Joan. "The Will to Remember: My Journey with the Lesbian Herstory Archives," and "Narratives of Liberation: Pluralities of Hope." In A Fragile Union: New and Selected Writings. San Francisco: Cleis Press. 1998: 55-68 and 97-106. [Reader]

10/09 Part II, Section 4: A, B, D [Text]
Part II, Section 5: A, E [Text]

Week Seven: Social Locations

10/14 Grillo T., and S. M. Wildman. "Obscuring the Importance of Race: The Implication of Making Comparisons between Racism and Sexism (or Other -isms)." In Critical Race Theory: The Cutting Edge. Delgado, Richard, ed. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 1999. [Reader]

McIntosh, Peggy. "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 and Hill Collins, Eds. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 1992. [Reader]

Stein, Arlene." Introduction" and "The Year of the Lustful Lesbian." In Sisters, Sexperts, Queers: Beyond the Lesbian Nation. Plume Books. 1993: 13-34. [Reader]

Smith, Barbara. "Homophobia, Why Bring it Up?" Abelove, H. Eds. et al. New York: Routledge. 1993: 99-102. [Reader]

III. REPRESENTATION, CONSUMER CULTURE AND POLITICS

10/16 Representational Practices Part III, Section 1: A, B, C [Text]
Part III, Section 2: A, C [Text]
Part III, Section 3: A, C, D, E [Text]

Week Eight: Representing Women in Colonial Contexts

10/21 Part III, Section 4: A, B, C, D [Text]

10/23 Consumer Culture and the Business of Advertising
Part III, Section 5: A, B, C, D [Text]

Social positionality paper due October 23

Week Nine: The Business of Politics: Selling Sexual Liberation

10/28 Guest lecture: Lynn Comella, Ph.D. candidate in Communication, UMASS

Vance, Carole S., "Pleasure and Danger: Toward a Politics of Sexuality," In Pleasure and Danger: Exploring Female Sexuality, Carole S. Vance, Ed. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul. 1984:1-27. [Reader]

Loe, Meika. "Feminism for Sale: Case Study of a Pro-Sex Feminist Business." Gender and Society, Vol. 13, no. 6, 1999: 705-732. [Reader]

Woodhul, Jennifer. "What's This about Feminist Businesses?" Feminist Frameworks: Alternative Theoretical Accounts of the Relations between Women and Men. Eds. Alison M. Jagger and Paula Rothenberg Struhl. 1978: 196-204. [Reader]

10/30 The Beauty Culture Part III, Section 6: A, B, C, D, E, F, G [Text]
Lamm, Nomy. "It's a Big Fat Revolution." In Listen Up: Voices from the Next Generation. Barbara Findlen, Ed. Washington D.C.: Seal Press. 1995. [Reader]

IV. THE EFFECTS OF GLOBALIZATION

Week Ten: Forced Relocations and Removals

11/04 Part IV, pp. 409-413
Part IV, Section 2: A, B, C, D, E [Text]

11/06 Diasporas Part IV, Section 3: A, B, C, D [Text]

Week Eleven:

11/11 - Holiday - Veteran's day

11/13 Work, Immigration and Politics of Economic Globalization
Part IV, Section 4: A, D [Text]
Part IV, Section 5: A, B [Text]
Part IV, Section 6: C [Text]

V. KNOWLEDGE, DESIRE, EMPOWERMENT

Week Twelve: Cyberculture

11/18 Part III, Section 7: A, B, C [Text]
A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution. Karen Green and Tristan Taormino, eds. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. 1997. (Start reading)

11/20 Group Project-in-Progress Meetings

Week Thirteen: Zine Revolution

11/25 A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution. Karen Green and Tristan Taormino, eds. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. 1997. (Continue reading)

Analytic paper due November 25

11/27 Holiday - Thanksgiving

Week Fourteen: Desire as a Force for Change

12/02 Group project presentations

Lorde, Audre. "The Uses of the Erotic, the Erotic as Power." In The Lesbian And Gay Studies Reader. Abelove, H. Eds. et al. New York: Routledge. 1993: 339-343. [Reader]

Jordan, June. "Where is The Love?" In Making Face, Making Soul, Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color. Anzaldua, Gloria, ed. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books. 1990. [Reader]

12/04 Agency
Group project presentations

A Girl's Guide to Taking Over the World: Writings from the Girl Zine Revolution. Karen Green and Tristan Taormino, eds. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. 1997 (Finish up)

Findlen, Barbara. "Introduction." in Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation. Washington, D.C.: Seal Press. 1995. [Reader]

Week Fifteen: Subjectivity

12/09 Group project presentations

Chambers, Veronica. "Betrayal Feminism." In Listen Up: Voices from the Next Generation. Barbara Findlen, Ed. Washington, D.C.: Seal Press. 1995. [Reader]

Delombard, Jeannine. "Femmenism." In To Be Real: Telling The Truth and Changing the Face of Feminism. Walker, Rebecca, ed. New York: Anchor Books. 1995. [Reader]

12/11 Empowerment

Group project presentations

"Conclusions: Feminist Futures: Transnational Perspectives" [Text] pp. 531-547.

Action project reports due December 11

Syllabus subject to change, pending on snow accumulation and other unforeseeable circumstances.