WOST 201: CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES IN WOMEN'S STUDIES
SPRING 2002
Banu Subramaniam

Tu, Th 9:30 - 10.45; Bartlett 127
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)

The Required books are for sale at: Food for Thought Books--E. Pleasant Street, Amherst Course Reader is available at: Collective Copies, S. Pleasant Street, Amherst.

Books and Reader are On Reserve in the Library and the Women's Studies Office, (Bartlett 208).

COURSE REQUIREMENTS:

  1. 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. (Paper due 2/21)
  2. 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 4/4)
  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 3/7, you will exchange papers with a fellow student, comment and grade each other's paper (comments due 3/14 and the comments count for 10% of your grade). (Due 3/7, 3/14 and 4/18)
  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 10% of your grade and the final written report for 15% of your grade. (Presentations 4/30, 5/2, OR 5/7; Paper Due 5/14)
  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. In-Class Summary: Each student (individually or with another student) will be responsible for summarizing the readings assigned and developing questions for class discussion for one class during the semester. Questions are due one week before class and students will present a summary of the readings and initiate class discussion.
  7. Occasional In-Class Writing: Several times during the semester I will include in-class writing assignments. This will count for 10% of your grade.

ATTENDANCE: It is essential that you complete and reflect upon reading assignments before coming to class, and be prepared to contribute to the discussion. Your attendance and participation are required for the entire session of each class meeting. More than three unexcused absences will negatively affect your grade by at least one letter grade.

Grading:
One Descriptive Paper & Comments:
Analytic Paper # 1 & Comments:
Analytic Paper # 2:
Group Project- Class Presentation:
Written Report:
Class Participation:
In-Class Summary:
In-Class writing:
10%
25%
15%
10%
15%
10%
5%
10%


SCHEDULE OF TOPICS AND READINGS:

Week One: Introduction

Tuesday, January 29: Class Intro

Gloria Steinem, "If Men Could Menstruate." Ms Magazine, October 1978. (in-class reading)

Thursday, January 31: Definitions and Background

Marilyn Frye, "Oppression." In The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory. The Crossing Press Feminist Series, 1983. (Reader)
"Fierce, Funny, Feminists." Interview with Gloria Steinem and Kathleen Hanna. BUST, Issue 17, Spring 2001. (Reader)


Week Two: Conceptualizing Difference:

Tuesday, February 5:

Anne Fausto Sterling, "The Five Sexes: Why Male and Female Are Not Enough." The Sciences, March/April 1993. (Reader)
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. (Reader)
JeeYeun Lee, "Beyond Bean Counting," in Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation. Barbara Findlen, ed., 1995 Washington, DC: Seal Press. (Reader)
Thursday, February 7: Movie: Ethnic Notions


Week Three: Challenging Universal Feminism Tuesday, February 12:
Bell Hooks, Black Women: Shaping Feminist Theory (Bhavnani)
Valerie Amos and Pratibha Parmar, Challenging Imperial Feminism (Bhavnani)
Dorothy Allison, "A Question of Class," in Skin: Talking About Sex, Class & Literature, 1994. Ithaca, New York: Firebrand Books. (Reader)

Thursday, February 14:

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


Week Four: Social Positionality and Location

Tuesday, February 19: Presidents Day (Monday schedule)

Descriptive Paper Due, February 21: Write a 3-4 page paper summarizing your understanding of any of the following articles we have read: Frye, Hooks, Amos & Parmar, Allison, Lorde, Anzald˙a, Hammonds. (Focus on your understanding of the ideas in this article - not your opinion about them for this paper)

Thursday, February 21:

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)
Gerda Lerner, Black Women in White America (Bhavnani)
(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 Anzald˙a ed., 1990. (Reader)


Week Five: Intersections of Oppressions

Tuesday, February 26:

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)
Urvashi Vaid, "The Politics of Intersection: Moving the Movements Together." ofourbacks, June 1990, 9 -12.
Maxine Baca Zinn & Bonnie Thornton Dill, "Difference and Domination" (Zinn & Dill).

Thursday, February 28:

Elizabeth Spelman, Gender and Race: The Ampersand Problem in Feminist Thought. (Bhavnani)
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)


Week Six: Constructing Ident(ies)

Tuesday, March 5:

Leith Mullings, "Images, Ideology and women of color." (Zinn & Dill).
Mervat F. Hatem, "The Invisible American Half: Arab American Hybridity in Feminist Discourses in the 1990's." In: Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age. Ella Shohat ed., Cambridge, MIT Press. (Reader)

Thursday, March 7:

Lola Young, 'Race', Identity and Cultural Criticism (Bhavnani)
Homa Hoodfar, "The Veil in Their Minds and on Our Heads: Veiling Practices and Muslim Women." In The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital, Lisa Lowe and David Lloyd eds., Durham: Duke University Press, 1997. (Reader)


Week Seven: Difference and Diversity

Analytic Paper #1 due March 12: 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 March 14: 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? What grade would you give the paper? (1-2 page evaluation)

Tuesday, March 12:

Mary Maynard, 'Race', Gender and the Concept of 'Difference' in Feminist Thought (Bhavnani)
Avtar Brah, Difference, Diversity, and Differentiation. (Bhavnani)
Richard Lewontin, S. Rose & L. J. Kamin, "The Determined Patriarchy," in Not in Our Genes: Biology, Ideology, and Human Nature, 1984.Pantheon Books. 135-163. (Reader)

Thursday, March 14:

Short 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 Eight: Spring Break


Week Nine: Feminist Utopias: Tuesday, March 26:
Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, "Sultana's Dream," in Inventing Women: Science, Technology, and Gender. Gill Kirkup and Laurie Smith Keller eds., The Open University Press, 1992. (Reader).
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, March 28: Girl Toys

Jacqueline Urla and Alan C. Swedlund, "The Anthropology of Barbie: Unsettling Ideals of the Feminine Body in Popular Culture." In Deviant Bodies, Jennifer Terry and Jacqueline Urla eds., Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 1995. (Reader)
Suzanne de Castell and Mary Bryson, "Retooling Play: Dystopia, Dysphoria, and Difference," In From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games." Justine Cassel and Henry Jenkins eds. (article can be found online: http://www.educ.sfu.ca/gentech/retooling.html)


Week Ten: The Constraining Walls of Social Location

Tuesday, April 2:

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)
Paula Gunn Allen, Angry Women are Building: Issues and Struggles Facing American Indian Women Today (Bhavnani)

Social Location Paper Due, April 4: 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.

Thursday, April 4:

Regina Arnold, Black Women in Prison: The Price of Resistance. (Zinn & Dill)
Angela Y. Davis, Rape, Racism and the Myth of the Black Racist (Bhavnani)
Angela Y. Davis and Cassandra Shaylon, "Race, Gender, and the Prison Industrial Complex: California and Beyond." Meridians, vol 2, No. 1, 2001.


Week eleven: The Politics of Difference

Tuesday, April 9:

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

Thursday, April 11:

Bonnie Thornton Dill, Festive Kin, Paper Sons, and Compadrazgo: Women of Color and the Struggle for Family Survival (Zinn & Dill)
Jennie Joe and Dorothy Miller, Cultural Survival and Contemporary American Indian Women in the City. (Zinn & Dill)
Esther Ngan-Ling Chow, Asian Women at Work (Zinn & Dill)


Week Twelve: Resistances

Tuesday, April 16:

Cheryl Townsend Gilkes, "If it Wasn't for the Women": African American Women, Community Work, and Social Change. (Zinn & Dill)
Maxine Baca Zinn, Feminist Rethinking from Racial-Ethnic Families. (Zinn & Dill)

Analytic Paper #2 due April 18: 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)

Thursday, April 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 Green & Taormino, Delombard, Neuborne, Lamm, Midons, R.G, and Mary).


Week Thirteen: Construction of Knowledge

Tuesday, April 23:The postcolonial "Other":

Aihwa Ong, Colonialism and Modernity: Feminist Re-presentations of Women in Non-Western Societies. (Bhavnani)
Maria Mies and Vandana Shiva, People or Population: Towards a New Ecology of Reproduction (Bhavnani).

Thursday, April 25: Deconstructing the Racial "Other":

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)
Patricia 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)


Week Fourteen: Class Presentations

Tuesday, April 30: Group Presentations

Thursday, May 2: Group Presentations


Week Fifteen: Presentations and summary Tuesday, May 7: Group Presentations

Thursday, May 9:

Jacqui Alexander & Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Genealogies, Legacies, Movements. (Bhavnani)
June Jordan, , "Where is the Love?" Making Face, Making Soul, Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists of Color, Gloria Anzald˙a ed., 1990. San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books. (Reader)

May 14: Conclusion and Summary


GROUP PROJECT DEADLINES:

March 5: One page abstract of your group project

March 28: One page abstract of your individual sub-project

April 16: Three page group abstract and Three page individual abstract.

April 25, April 30 & May 7: Group Presentations.