WOST 187   Introduction to Women's Studies   Instructor: Banu Subramaniam  
Fall 2004   M,W 10:10-11:00 at Bartlett 65   Friday: Discussion Section  
Office Hours
(Bartlett 229)  
M,W 2-3:00 p.m. & by appointment   Telephone: 577-3164
E-mail: banu@wost.umass.edu  

Section #1   9:05 a.m. Friday   127 Bartlett Hall   Beverly Weber  
Section 2   9:05 a.m. Friday   205 Bartlett Hall   Chizu Sato  
Section 3   10:10 a.m. Friday   35 SOM Building   Mirangela Buggs  
Section 4   10:10 Friday   307 Tobin Hall   Mitch Boucher  
Section 5   10:10 a.m. Friday   126 SOM Building   Shelly Perdomo  
Section 6   10:10 a.m. Friday   204 Tobin Hall   Chizu Sato  
Section BD01   10:10 a.m. Friday   109 Hasbrouck Lab   Beverly Weber  
Section 7   11:15 a.m. Friday   201 Bartlett Hall   Shelly Perdomo  
Section 8   11:15 a.m. Friday   206 Bartlett Hall   Mirangela Buggs  
Section 9   11:15 a.m. Friday   125 Bartlett Hall   Mitch Boucher  


Course Description

Women's Studies is a vibrant interdisciplinary field today, spanning the humanities, social, natural and physical sciences. Scholars in women's studies have developed frameworks, theories and methods used to study and understand our natural and social worlds. Placing women's experience at the center of interpretation, this class introduces basic concepts and perspectives in Women's Studies. Focusing on both historical and contemporary women's issues, we will examine women's lives with a particular emphasis on the intersections of gender and race, class, sexuality and ethnicity. The central aim is to foster critical reading and thinking about "gender" and the ways in which the interlocking systems of colonialism, racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, ageism and heterosexism shape women's and men's lives; and how women have resisted these inequalities and worked to create new systems of change.

Course Requirements

We will follow all univeristy policies on issues of Academic Honesty, Grading, Attendance, Examinations, and Absences due to Religious Observance.

Written Assignments and Exams

  1. Two MIDTERM EXAMS are scheduled in discussion section on Fri, Oct 8 and Fri, Oct 29
  2. One ANALYTIC PAPER ( 4-5 page paper) due Nov 19. Guidelines will be given out. Papers must always be typewritten and double spaced. Handwritten papers will not be accepted. Papers must be handed in on the due date. Late papers will be graded down.
  3. A FINAL EXAM scheduled during finals week. Do not make plane reservations or plans to leave before you check the final exam schedule. Note: Final exam is not cumulative, and will include material from the midterm on.
  4. Five (very) short written assignments on Women In Popular Culture (Sep 24); Essay Outline (Nov 5), Women's History (by Nov 19), Women' Health (Dec 3) and Activism/Activists that inspire (by Dec 10). Details on the website and in class. Each is worth 2% of your grade.
  5. Discussion groups are integral part of the class. Attendance and participation in discussion sections are factored into the final grade. Two unexcused absences will result in your grade being marked down. Non-attendance will result in an "F."If you have an excused absence, you must submit a two page reflection paper based on the readings assigned for that week. The paper is due the next class day.
  6. Incompletes will not be given unless there are unusual circumstances. Speak to your TA as early as possible.

Final grades will be computed as follows:
Discussion group (attendance, class participation and assignments): 20%
Mid-term Exam I: 15%
Mid-term Exam II: 15%
Analytic Paper (4-5 pages due Nov 18): 20%
Written assignments in discussion section: 10%
Final Exam: 20%

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. In addition to their strictly academic function, sections are also places where students may talk about the ways in which the topics we address in this course may have touched their lives. Attendance and participation in discussion groups will be 20% of the course grade.

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.

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 problems you are having with the course. Because of the class size and the nature of the subject matter, it is necessary to set some ground rules:

Required Books

Gwyn Kirk, and Margo Okazawa-Rey, Women's Lives: Multicultural Perspectives. 3rd edition. McGraw Hill, 2004.
Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States 1492-Present. (20th Anniversary Edition). New York. Harper Perennial, 2003.
Articles available online through e-reserves and the web as indicated.

Available at Food for Thought Book-shop, North Pleasant Street, Amherst.


Thirty years ago, there were only a few universities and colleges across the country that had women's studies departments or programs. Today the majority of institutions offer courses in women's studies. Feminist scholarship spans academic disciplines across the humanities, social sciences, physical and natural sciences. Scholars have challenged traditional paradigms and knowledge within disciplines as well as developed new interdisciplinary frameworks, methods and theories. What is the field of women's studies? Who are the scholars? What do they study? Why is it important? How have they transformed our knowledge about the natural and social worlds? What frameworks do feminist analyses bring to our discussions? This course introduces basic concepts in women's studies by focusing on select topics.


What is "Women's Studies" and who are the "women"? How is "woman" defined? Is there a "woman's" perspective? If so, how do race, class, and sexuality impact that perspective? How are women alike and how do they differ? Do we share a common bond that unites us across our differences? As a concept, oppression has had a long history in contemporary feminist scholarship. What does it mean? Why is it important? What are some of the tensions today?


Is knowledge political? Do the inequities that stratify society shape the construction of knowledge? Who gets to produce knowledge and what are the frameworks and concerns that shape disciplinary knowledge? Why did Women's Studies as an academic field emerge? What frameworks does Women's Studies offer? What are the intellectual frameworks, theories and methodologies that inform feminist scholarship? How has Women's Studies transformed the disciplines? Does "objective knowledge" exist? In what ways do social, economic, cultural and political forces determine knowledge?


What ideological, political and economic forces shape the history 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 is the economic foundation of slavery? What were the experiences of African American women in slavery? 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 Jim Crow laws? What were the economic and political bases for lynching? How did lynching impact and continue to impact gender and race relations? How did WWII transform the lives of U. S women? What were the economic and political reasons for the internment of Japanese Americans? What were the goals of the civil rights movement? What role did women play? What did it accomplish? How was the women's movement in the late 1960's and early 1970's shaped by social expectations for women? What can we learn form the successes and mistakes of the movement? What still needs to be done? Where should we put our greatest efforts?? How do we revitalize the women's movement, and how do we build allies across gender, race, class, sexuality and national lines?


Many institutions have shaped and continue to shape women's lives. We will examine some key institutions such as the political system/government, public policy, healthcare, media, laws and the legal system. When did women get the vote? What legal rights did and do women have? Do women experience equity in the legal, public, media and health care arenas? How has the state and the legal system historically treated women? How has women's work been historically traditionally defined? How is this related to societal expectations for women? How do race and class impact on definitions of women's work? Where are women in the economy? Do education, individual talents, skills and efforts determine women's placement in the work force? Are there still obstacles to women in the work force? How have production and the labor markets changed over time? What is the basis of our health care system? Who does it benefit? What are the ways in which gender, race, class, impact the quality and kind of health care received? What changes in the health care system have resulted form the efforts of women activists? Why does abortion continue to be a major issue for women? Has abortion always been legal? 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 and population control nationally and globally?


This course is largely focussed on the United States. However, the world is increasingly interconnected and intertwined. Many of our products are made in other countries. In this election year, "outsourcing" and the loss of U. S jobs are major issues. Why are jobs exported? Who are the workers? How does outsourcing affect jobs and the prices of goods in this country?What are the relations between jobs and work in this country and those in other countries? Should we move to create a "global" economy? Who does it benefit? Why and how? What are its consequences for women here and abroad? Can we envision a progressive transnational politics that benefits everyone?


What is resistance? What are the ways in which resistance is impacted by gender, race, class, age, disability and sexuality? How do we continue to work for social change that begins to reverse the inequities and inconsistencies in this age of "globalization?" How do we challenge and transform the ways in which we look at ourselves in relation to each other and to the world? How do we raise awareness and understanding, our own and others, for social action and change?


Wed, Sep 8
What is Women's Studies: Why should we care?
What is Women's Studies? Who are the scholars? What do they study?
Slides for lecture

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Introduction, pp. 1-7

Friday, Sep 10

Discussion Sections begin: In preparation for this discussion:
Ask five people you know for their definition of feminism. Record their answers. In addition to their words, note their tone of voice and facial expressions.

Mon, Sep 13
Theories, Theorizing and the Politics of Knowledge
Slides for lecture

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter One, pp. 1-20

Wed, Sep 15
Nature/Culture and Science/Society: Terms of the Debate
What is Sex/Gender/Race/Ethnicity/Class/Sexuality? What determines them?
Slides for lecture

[Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter One, pp. 21- 57
Also, http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/eugenics/

Mon, Sep 20
Intersectionality: Integrative Frameworks for Analysis

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter Two, pp. 60 - 69, Readings, 9, 10, 14
Slides for lecture

Wed, Sep 22
Representation: Media and Women's Bodies
Guest Lecture: Beverly Weber, Comparative Literature, UMass
Notes from lecture

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 3, pp. 111-141

Fri, Sep 24
Writing Assignment #1 (Women in Popular Culture) Due In Section
Writing Assignment (Word) Due in Section

Mon, Sep 27
Sexuality as Site of Differences: Contradictions and Double Standards
Guest Lecture: Kirsten Isgro, Communications, UMass
Slides from lecture Key Sexuality Terms and Concepts
Teens and Sexual Pleasure
Resnick Sexual Pleasure Siecus Report

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter Four, pp. 143 - 152,

Wed, Sep 29
Men, Masculinity and Violence
Video Screening: Tough Guise

[Course Website] - pdf Study Guide for the film, or

Mon, Oct 4
Violence Against Women
A Panel Discussion with members of the Everywoman's Center, UMass
Event flyer - Why Our Vote Matters

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter Four, pp. 226 - 239

Wed, Oct 6
Women, Politics, and the Political Process
Guest Lecture: Laura Jensen, Political Science

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 13, 521 - 533, 563-577.

Fri, Oct 8
Review Slides

Mon, Oct 11 -- HOLIDAY

Wed, Oct 13
Topics in U. S. Women's History: Native Americans, Imperialism and Democracy Guest Lecture: Alice Nash, History, Umass

[Text] - Zinn, Chapter 1; also on [Ereserve]0
[Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 2, Reading 8, 70-77
[Web] - Sally Roesch Wagner, "The Untold Story of Iroquois Influence on Early Radical Feminists." : http://www.awakenedwoman.com/iroquois_women.htm

Mon, Oct 18
Topics in U. S. Women's Lives: Consequences of Slavery
Guest Lecture: Bernie Jones, Legal Studies, UMass

Readings: [Text] - Zinn Chapters 2, 3

Wed, Oct 20
Topics in U. S. Women's Lives: Movements and Ideologies of the 19th Century: Abolition and the First Wave of the Women's Movement
Slides for lecture

[Text] - Zinn Chapters 6; also on [Ereserve]
[Web] - Barbara Welter, "The Cult of True Womanhood 1820-1860" at http://www.pinzler.com/ushistory/cultwo.html
[Web] - "Coverture": http://search.eb.com/women/articles/coverture.html
[Web] - Sarah Grimke, "Legal Disabilities of Women"
[Web] - The Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions
http://www.pbs.org/stantonanthony/resources/index.html?body=dec_sentiments.html[Web] - Sojourner Truth, "Ain't I a Woman?"

Mon, Oct 25
Women and Globalization
Guest Lecture: Stephanie Luce, Labor Studies, UMass

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 9, pp. 372- 388

Wed, Oct 27
The Human Face Behind the Global Economy: Bangladeshi Women Garment Workers Speak

Readings: [Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 9, 388 - 411; Chapter 13, Reading 82

Fri, Oct 29

Mon, Nov 1
Topics in U. S. Women's Lives: Gender, Race, Class, Sexuality and Industrialization
Video: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice;

[Text] - Zinn, Chapter 9
[Web] - http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/wells.html

Wed, Nov 3
Women and Difference: How History Shapes Us
Guest Lecture: Mirangela Buggs, Education, UMass
Slides for lecture

[E-reserve] - Angela Davis, " The Anti-Slavery Movement and the Birth of Women's Rights."
[E-reserve] - Angela Davis, "Racism in the Woman Suffrage Movement."

Fri, Nov 5
Writing Assignment #2 (Essay Outline) Due In Section

Mon, Nov 8
Topics in U. S. Women's Lives : Industrialization and Immigrant Women's Work: 1890-1924
Guest Lecture: Arlene Avakian, Women's Studies, UMass

[Text] - Zinn, Chapter 11, 253-278
[Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 2, Reading 13
[Web] - Jeanne Boydston, "Women in Labor Force:"
[Web] - Louise Mitchell, "Slave Markets in New York City"
[Web] - The Strikes for Bread and Roses in Lawrence
[Web] - "Letters to Michael and Hugh From P. M. Newman"

Wed, Nov 10
Topics in U. S. Women's Lives : World War II: Women Work, and Patriarchy
Slides for lecture
Guide for Writing Essay

[Text] Chapter 16, Reading 61
[Web] - Gina Palm, "Domestic Soldiers,"
[Web] - Rosie the Riveter:www.rosietheriveter.org and
Women and WWII: www.tn-humanities.org/01080701.htm
Rosie the Riveter and other WW II women heroes: www.u.arizona.edu/~kari/rosie.htm
Posters Used in WW II: www.archives.gov/exhibit_hall/powers_of_persuasion/powers_of_persuasion_home.html
Anti-Japanese propaganda: mcel.pacificu.edu/as/students/propaganda/top.html
Japanese internment camps: www.asian-nation.org/internment.shtml
Executive Order 9066: www.pbs.org/childofcamp/history/eo9066.html

Mon, Nov 15
Topics in U. S. Women's Lives : Civil Rights Movement/Second Wave Women's Movement
Guest Lecture: Alex Deschamps, Women's Studies
Slides for lecture

[Text] -Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 13, Reading 77, 78, 81
[Web] - Mary King, "Sex and Caste: A Kind of Memo"
[Web] - NOW's Statement of Purpose
[E-reserve] - William Chafe, "The Revival of Feminism"

Wed, Nov 17
Women and Work: Wages, Pay Equity and Occupational Segregation

[Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 8, pp. 317-330, Readings: 48, 49, 50, 52

Fri, Nov 19
Analytic Essay Due; Writing Assignment #3 Must be Completed by this time
Writing Assignment 3 in Word

Mon, Nov 22 Thursday Schedule- No Class

Wed, Nov 24
Third Wave Feminism and the state of feminism today

[Web] - Rebecca Walker, "Riding theThird Wave"
[Web] - Surfing the Third Wave: A Dialogue between two third wave feminists"
Hypatia, v. 12, No. 3, http://iupjournals.org/hypatia/hyp12-3.html
[Web] - Third Wave Foundation:
[E-Reserve] - Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman, Introduction: "Colonize This! Young
Women of Color on Today's Feminism"

Fri, Nov 26 Thanksgiving Break - No Discussion Section

Mon, Nov 29
Women and Medicalization: Delivery and Access
Slides for lecture

[Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 5, pp. 187-219,

Wed, Dec 1
Women's Health: Reproductive Health, Reproductive Freedom
Guest Lecture: Marlene Gerber Fried, Civil Liberties & Public Policy Program, Hampshire College

[Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 5, pp. 173- 187
[Web] - Roe vs Wade, 410 U. S. 113, 1973: http://www.roevwade.org/court.html
[E-reserve] - Angela Davis, "Racisim, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights."

Fri, Dec 3
Written Assignment #4 Due In Section

Mon, Dec 6
Women's Activism in the U. S: Action & Resistance
Slides for lecture
Panel Discussion with Student Activists

[Text] - Kirk & Okazawa-Rey, Chapter 13, pp. 522 - 533

Wed, Dec 8
Summary, Review
Slides for lecture

Fri, Dec 10
Writing Assignment #5 Must be Completed by this date

Mon, Dec 13
Future Visions: Activisms/Activists that Inspire
Discussion Section Presentations