CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES IN WOMEN'S STUDIES
WOST 201
SPRING 2001
Tuesday, Thursday 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Professor Kanthie Athukorala
Bartlett 73
413-545-2433
Office Hours: T, Th 12:45 - 2:15 p.m. and Wednesday a.m. by appointment

COURSE DESCRPITION

This course explores various ways of analyzing and reflecting on current issues and controversies in feminist thought within a context sensitive to class, race, and sexual power concerns. Serious examination of the multifaceted dimensions of women's lived experiences (Euro-American women, women of color, Third World women): of the production of knowledge and critical thought; crucial debates of feminist activity; women's agency and their pragmatic activism which addresses those issues deemed injurious to the well-being of all women. Consciously and deliberately address the need to reconcile the contradictions between subjectivity and objectivity, between experiences within the academy and outside; between the individual and the group; between theory and practice.

COURSE OBJECTIVES

Specific course objectives within the focus indicated above are that the students will:

Develop an understanding of how "gender" is socially constructed.

Develop an understanding of how we construct our own gender identities, how we perfoffil within "gendered scripts", and with what outcomes. Examine way ofhow gender creates and is created in relationships between people, and consider how our gendered performances influence the patterns and dynamics of our relationships.

Develop awareness of, and skills to, explore/investigate/question socially constructed concepts such as (and not limited to): gender, race, class, sexuality, sexual politics, sexual violence, identity, power, change, etc.

Understand to what extent are there conflicts between preserving indigenous cultural traditions and achieving women's rights.

Understand the intersection of gender, race, and class oppression, and how these structure sexuality, reproduction, and sexual violence.

Grasp the imperative to democratize the sphere of the family, production, and social life.

METHODS Readings: which include a range of women thinkers explicitly grounding the analysis in multiple voices to highlight the diversity , richness, and power of women' s ideas but also reflecting diverse theoretical traditions such as Afrocentric philosophy, feminist theory , Marxist social thought, and the sociology of knowledge.

Out-of-class activities: Direct field observations of and reflecting on activities related to women' s experience and social change.

Instructor commentary and presentation

Use of Video

Class participation: discussions, debates, and dialogue.

Group work: work in groups and class presentations.

Written assignments

COURSE REQUIREMENTS
Required Books:

Andersen, Margaret. (1997) Thinking About Women: Sociological Perspectives on Sex and Gender. Allyn & Bacon.

Naples, Nancy. (1998) Community Activism and Feminist Politics: Organizing Across Race, Class, and Gender. Routledge.


WOST 201 COURSE SCHEDULE

WEEK 1

January 30 Introduction to Course
Syllabus
Introductory exercises and questions


February 1 Oral Reports
Current and contemporary critical women's issues (Student contributions)


WEEK 2

February 6 Studying Women: Feminist Perspectives. Pp. 1-17 (Anderson Text)

February 8 Difference and Domination.Zinn and Dill, in Zinn and Dill (1994) Women of Color in U.S. Society. Pp 3-12 (HANDOUT)
Whose Feminism, Whose History (Chapter 1, Naples Text)

MANDATORY ATTENDANCE AT EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS
The documentary about the historic unionization of strippers at the Lusly Lady Theater in San Francisco. The Producer and Co-Director of the documentary Julia Query will speak followign the screening. February 8 @ 7:30 p.m. Place: Mahar Auditorium


WEEK 3

Discussion of the Documentary and speech "Live Nude Girls Unite" (1-2 page reaction paper on this is due in class today.)
February 13 Social Construction of Gender. Pp. 19-50 (Anderson Text)

February 15 Images, Ideology, and Women of Color. Mullings in. Zinn an Dill, in Zinn and Dill (1994) Women of Color in U.S. Society pp. 265-289


WEEK 4
February 20 MONDAY CLASS SCHEDULE

February 22 Images of Gender: Women and the Social Construction of Knowledge Pp. 53-75 (Andersen Text)

Picture is Political. Marshment in Robinson and Richardson (1997) Introduction Women's Studies, pp. 125-151. (HANDOUT)

WEEK 5

February 27 Video: Dream World

March 1 Responses/Reactions (paper due) Discussion of the Video

WEEK 6

March 6 Sexuality and Intimate Relationships. Pp. 78-96 (Andersen Text)

March 8 Sexuality and Feminism. Richardson in Robinson and Richrdson (1997) Introducing Women's Studies. Pp. 152-174 (HANDOUT)


GENDER AND SOCIAL INSTITUTIONS WEEK 7
March 13 Women and Work Pp. 99-42 (Anderson Text)

Women and Work Anne Witz in Robinson and Richardson (1997) Introducing Women's Studies Pp. 239-257 (HANDOUT)

March 15 Internship Panel

SPRING BREAK - MARCH 17-25
WEEK 8
March 27 Women and Families. Pp. 145-184 (Anderson Text)

March 29 Women, Health, and Reproduction. Pp. 187-220 (Anderson Text)

WEEK 9
April 3 Women and Religion. Pp. 223-248 (Andersen Text)

March 29 Women, crime, and Deviance. Pp. 251-279 (Anderson Text)

WEEK 10

April 10 Women, Power, and Politics. Pp. 282-314 (Anderson Text)

April 12 Women, Violence, and Male Power. Maynard and Winn in Robinson and Richardson (1997) Introducing Women's Studies Pp. 175-197


WEEK 11

April 17 Reconceptualizing Agency (Naples Text pp. 81-106)

Challenging Power (Naples Text pp. 129-150)

April 19 Conversations, Research, and Struggles. Naples Text pp. 107-128)

Producing Battered Women (Naples Text pp. 151-174)

WEEK 12

April 24 Class, Gender, and Resistance in the Appalachian Coalfields (Naples Text pp. 213-236)

Gender, Race, and Community Activism. (Naples Text pp. 237-256)

April 24 Women's Community Activism (Naples Text pp. 327-349)

FEMINIST THEORY AND SOCIAL CHANGE
WEEK 13
May 1 Women and Social Reform: Liberal Feminism (Naples Text pp. 317-338)

May 3 Socialist Feminism. (Andersen Text pp. 341-367)


WEEK 14

May 8 Radical Feminism. (Andersen Text pp. 370-381)

May 10 Old Lenses, New Directions. (Andersen Text pp. 370-381


WEEK 16
May 15 Course Evaluations and Closure (Naples Text pp. 327-349)

Wednesday May 16 - Last Day of Classes

TOPICS AND GUIDELINES FOR FINAL ASSIGNMENT

Choose ONE topic from ONE of the categories, and write a 8- 10 page paper. As already indicated, all papers must be typed, double-spaced, paginated, and must include a cover page. Also, your paper must include citations (within the text), bibliographic references and other sources of information such as internet addresses, class notes/discussions, texts, films/videos, public events etc. at the end of the paper. (Due on May 15th)

Be sure to consult with me (during my office hours or by appointment) on your choice of topic by April 15th.

CATEGORY: LEARNING AND DOING GENDER

Identify some aspect of popular culture (current children' s films or cartoons, television sitcoms, media advertising). Develop a systematic way to observe the gender images portrayed. Discus the following: What do these images convey to the audience? Using the theoretical frameworks used to explain the depiction of women in the media, how would you explain the presence of .these images? How do these images and messages continue to foster and perpetuate binary modes of gender socialization?

CATEGORY: CONTEMPORARY WOMEN'S ISSUES, INSTITUTIONS OF SOCIAL CONTROL, AND ACTIVITIES OF SOCIAL CHANGE

Attend two public events (one on-campus and one off-campus either in any town or any four colleges) that address contemporary women's issues.

Address the following

(A) what was the issue, who presented this as an issue (race, ethnicity , sexual orientation, religion, class, age etc. of the group, individual). How did they frame the issue (how did they describe this as an issue, what did they propose as changes necessary to address this issue, what did they propose as methods by which social changes can be made to eliminate this issue, were they inclusive, exclusive.

(B) which feminist framework(s) best illustrate the content of this event as an issue for women? From the point of view of these feminist framework(s) what would they suggest as change needed to eliminate this issue for women? What are the limitations of these approaches to addressing this issue? In your opinion how could the limitations of these approaches be addressed?

( c ) Would you identify this (the issue presented at the public event) as an issue for women (elaborate ). If you were to take action to change this situation, which theoretical framework(s) would you draw from and why? And what would be you venue and activity and why?

II. CRITICAL RESPONSE PAPERS

  1. Write your reaction/response to the event/content and the presentation of the speaker of the event "Live Nude Girls Unite." (Due in class on Tu. Feb. 13)

  2. Reflect on the content we have learnt in class from March 15thth through April 12th. Choose two or three points that stand out for you to help focus your responses and/or critique, and (B) 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. (Due Th. March 15th)

  3. Reflect on the content we have learnt in class from March 15th through April 12th. Choose two or three points that stand out for you to help focus your responses and/or critique, and (B) 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. (Due in class on April 17)

III. SOCIAL POSITIONALITY PAPER

Reflect on what we have learnt so far in class. Utilizing this knowledge and drawing from the class material describe your "social positionality." Critically examine the implications of your social positionality for yourself, and for others. Indicate the insights you gained from this exercise. (Due in class on Tu. February 22)

APPENDICES

Appendix 1 Class Attendance

Regular attendance is an absolute. Excused absences are for illnesses and extenuating circumstances only. Having to study for a test or helping a friend who is going through a difficult time, for example, will not constitute excused absences. Written documents must be submitted for excused absences. Bear in mind that it is your responsibility to submit all necessary documentation for excused absences. Three unexcused absences will result in your grade being marked down a full letter. Six unexcused absences will result in a D. more than six unexcused absences will automati<:ally result in a failing grade.

Appendix 2 In-Class Participation

It is extremely important and you are required to read assigned readings prior to each class. You are expected to demonstrate grasp of reading material by contributing to discussion in class. Viewing films or videos in class is a must. No shows for viewing films or videos is considered unexcused absences. Home work assignments must be completed before classes so that you are able to participate in class discussions. No free-rides in class! Everybody must be well read and well prepared to offer thoughts, ideas, critiques, and analysis where necessary in class.

Format of the Cover page

Your name Course # and Title Assignment Type and # ( e. g. Short Paper 1, or Final Paper Outline, or Final Paper , etc.) Due Date

Title of the Assignment

Date of Submission