WOST 201
CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES IN WOMEN'S STUDIES

Jeannine M. Marks
Spring 2002
Office Hours: Tuesday 2:30-3:30 (208A Bartlett)
TuTh 1:00-2:15
Email: jmarks@complit.umass.edu
Bartlett 127

Who are the "women" of Women's Studies? What characteristics of women are and should be examined in Women's Studies and feminist thought? Can "women" be studied as a category or group? If so, how can we conceptualize this category so that it is reflective of all the similarities among us as well as our differences between us? If not, is the study of women justifiable or necessary? The ultimate question then becomes what is Women's Studies? Is there a prevailing type of feminist thought or Women's Studies? Who has a powerful voice, who is ignored and for what reasons?

Some of the issues to be examined in this course are concepts of gender, race, class and sexual orientation. More specifically we will try to answer the following questions: Can we say that all women are oppressed, when some of us benefit from combinations of white privilege, class privilege, heterosexual privilege and even language privilege? What effect do our identities and conversely peoples perceptions/prejudices have on feminist politics? What is the importance of claiming a multiplicative identity? What is the effect of claiming identities such as Woman, African-American, Latina, Native American, Arab-American, Asian American, Gay, Bisexual, Heterosexual, and Working class?

Social identity and position strongly influence our perspective of women and consequently our political action regarding women. Every one of us is part of the systems of power and hierarchy that we are going to be studying. Let us not forget that. Incorporating this reality into our examination of women will deeply affect our personal assumptions and wider political realities. We are each tied to the larger picture. For example, our discussion of race will not, and cannot be limited to women of color. Race, more specifically white supremacy (in its various forms), has informed American culture and politics since the inception of the United States. Part of our effort is to realize our difficulties in seeing a reality we have been trained our entire lives not to see. Part of your education in this class will entail personal examination so that we can discover what blocks our ability to hear/learn new information, our ability to realize, accept, and integrate difference.

REQUIRED BOOKS (books are available at Food For Thought in downtown Amherst)

Women of Color in U.S. Society (Maxine Baca Zinn and Bonnie Thornton Dill, eds).
A Small Place (Jamaica Kincaid)
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (bell hooks)
Course Reader (available in WOST office: 208 Bartlett)

OPTIONAL BOOK

Sweatshop Warriors (Miriam Ching Yoon Louie)

COURSE REQUIREMENTS

  1. Social Positionality paper: This is a 3 page minimum paper. This assignment is vitally important and deserves your intense consideration and effort. You will be sharing this paper with members of your research group as part of your final project. This paper will effect your outlook and ability to learn throughout the course. 10% of grade. Due 3/5

  2. Descriptive Paper: One paper (3-page minimum) summarizing your understanding of one of the theoretical articles we will read. 15% of grade. Due 2/14.

  3. Analytic paper: One paper of 5 pages will be required during the semester on a topic to be announced. This paper will require you to do an analysis of a topic found in the material for this course, rather than doing library research on topics not addressed in class. 15% of your grade. Due 4/4

  4. Class participation: The issues discussed this semester will 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). Otherwise said, be prepared to participate in debate. Class participation is quality not quantity. Your presence does not qualify as participation. 10% of grade.

  5. Reading Analysis: Four (4) short papers assigned with the intent of helping you to sharpen your skills of analysis. For five course readings throughout the semester, you are required to write a (1-2)-page paper examining an aspect of the article/chapter. Do not repeat the information of the article, but examine a point, its meaning, relevance and whether you agree or disagree, stating why. Personal connections are welcome, but should be used as support, not as subject. Each paper is worth 5% of your grade/20% total.

  6. Group Project: Students will work in groups doing a final research project. Topics will be discussed in class and must be course material related. Your group will chose together which topic to examine and how you will tackle this. Your social positionality papers will be part of this decision and research process. Part of the purpose of this project is to examine how 1) women work together accounting for their differences and 2) how despite or because of differences women still have common goals to achieve. An oral presentation on the project will count for 15% of your grade and the final written (10 pages minimum) report for 15% of your grade (due 5/15).

NOTE: Some of the reading may be difficult for students who have not experienced theoretical material. You are strongly encouraged to keep a list of words you do not understand and look them up. You are likely to encounter these words in the future. Write down any questions you may have and bring them to class. Someone else is likely to have the same question. This class is about your LEARNING experience, not about hiding what you do not know!!!!!


1/29 -- Course Introduction

1/31 -- Introduction (con't)

Reading: hooks: introduction & chapter 1
Aidoo, Acosta, etc "Counterpoints" (reader)

2/5 -- Conceptualizing Oppression

Reading: Ortiz (Zinn & Dill)
Weber, "Laying the Foundations" (reader)

2/7 -- Conceptualizing Oppression (con't)

Reading: Berger, "Whose Feminism, Whose History?" (reader)
Amott & Mattaei, "Race, Class, Gender" (reader)

2/12 -- Intersections: Race & Gender

Reading: Tatum, "Defining Racism" (reader)
hooks: chapter 10
hooks, "Black Women" (reader)
Lorde, "The Master's Tools" (reader)

2/14 -- Identity: Defining "Self"

Reading: Wing (handout)
Tatum, "The Complexity of Identity" (reader)
DESCRIPTIVE PAPER DUE IN CLASS

2/19 -- NO CLASS (Monday Schedule)

2/21 -- Social Positionality: Race & Whiteness

Reading: Tatum, "The Development of White Identity" (reader)
McIntosh, "White Privilege" (reader)
Mary, "things I'm gonna stop doing with my white privilege" (reader)
READING ANAYLISIS DUE IN CLASS

2/26 -- Social Positionality: Conceptualizing Self, personal accounts

Reading: Gunn Allen, "Angry Women Are Building" (reader)
Lerner, "Black Women In White American" (reader)
Anzaldua, "La conciencia de la Mestiza" (reader)

2/28 -- Social Positionality: Conceptualizing Self, personal accounts (con't)

Reading: Mohanty, "On Being South Asian" (reader)
Chambers, "Betrayal Feminism" (reader)
Lee, "Beyond Bean Counting" (reader)
Morgan, "Strongblackwomen" (reader)

3/5 -- Social Positionality: Class

Reading: hooks: chapter 7
Sklar, "Imagine a Country" (reader)
Mantsios, "Class in America" (reader)
Orleck, "If it wasn't for you" (optional/reader)

SOCIAL POSITIONALITY PAPER DUE IN CLASS

3/7 -- Social Positionality: Lesibianism, Homophobia and Heterosexism

Reading: Taylor & Rupp, "Women's Culture" (reader)
Gomez & Smith, "Taking the Home Out of Homophobia" (reader) hooks: chapter 16
Ettlebrick (reader)

3/12 -- Social Positionality: Lesibianism, Homophobia and Heterosexism

Reading: Stein, "Intoduction" & "Year of the Lustful Lesbian" (reader)

3/14 -- Breaking The Stereotypes

Reading: Hill Collins (handout) (recommended)
Sandata, "Asian Fucking Stereotypes" (reader)
Mullings, "Images, Ideology, and Women of Color" (Zinn & Dill)

3/15-3/24 -- SPRING RECESS

3/26 -- Global Perspectives

Reading: Kincaid, A Small Place (first half)

3/28 -- Global Feminisms

Reading: Kincaid (second half)
READING ANALYSIS DUE IN CLASS ON KINCAID SUBJECT MATTER

4/2 -- Global Feminisms (con't)

Reading: Reddock, "Movements in the Commonwealth Caribbean" (reader)
Ford-Smith, "Sistren" (reader)

b>4/4 -- Global Feminisms (con't)

Reading: Jordan, "Report from the Bahamas" (reader)
hooks: chapter 8

ANALYTIC PAPERS DUE IN CLASS

4/9 -- Immigrant Women

Reading: Hossfeld (Zinn & Dill)
Louie, Sweatshop Warriors: Intro & Chapter 1 (optional reading)

4/11 -- Immigrant Women (con't)

Reading: Segura (Zinn & Dill) hooks: chapter 9 Louie: Chapter 2 & 3 (optional reading)
READING ANALYSIS DUE IN CLASS

4/16 -- GROUP MEETINGS IN CLASS

FIND TOPIC FOR RESEARCH PROJECT & PAPER

4/18 - Work

Reading: Higgenbotham (Zinn & Dill)
Chow (Zinn & Dill)

4/23 -- Family

Reading: Dill, "Fictive Kin." (Zinn & Dill)
Kibria, "Migration" (Zinn & Dill)
Louie: Chapter 4 (optional reading)

4/25 -- Family (con't)

Reading: Zamrana, "Puerto Rican Families" (Zinn & Dill)
Joe & Miller, "Cultural Survival" (Zinn & Dill)
Hooks: chapter 13

READING ANALYSIS DUE IN CLASS

4/30 -- Other Issues of Importance: Reproductive Rights & Domestic Violence

Reading: hooks: chapter 5,11,14 & 15

5/2 - TBA

(Possibly GROUP MEETINGS IN CLASS - EACH GROUP TO MEET WITH ME REGARDING PROJECT)

5/7 - PRESENTATIONS
5/9 - PRESENTATIONS
5/14 -- FINAL CLASS - COURSE SUMMARY
5/15 -- GROUP PAPERS DUE FOR PROJECT COMPLETION