The Women's and Gender Studies Program offers students an opportunity to engage in two important and interrelated areas of study. Students in the concentration will examine those aspects of experience—e.g., the lives and works of women, the experiences of gays and lesbians—that have traditionally been underrepresented (if not invisible) in academic studies.
Students will also examine gender as a cultural phenomenon: as a system of ideas defining "masculinity" and "femininity," delineating differences between "the sexes," as well as "normal" expressions of sexuality. In the process, students will encounter some fundamental methodologies of women's and gender studies, and work toward an increasingly rich understanding of gender as a social construction, one that intersects with class, race, age, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and sexual identity. In addition, students will explore the methods and concepts of women's and gender studies in a variety of academic disciplines, integrating, for instance, sociology, psychology, literature, the biological sciences, and art history.
From the debates between Wollstonecraft and Rousseau to the homosocial worlds of Walker's Color Purple and Melville's Moby Dick, from Barbara McClintock's work in genetics to the gendered symbolism of Mozart's "Magic Flute," students will come to understand how questions of gender are deeply embedded in the liberal arts tradition.
The Women's and Gender Studies Program encourages and enables students to take responsibility for their own learning. Toward this end, courses in the program will invite students to participate in a range of collaborative work. This culminates in the senior seminar, where students determine the content and intellectual direction of the course as a whole. Ultimately, students are encouraged to acquire a sophisticated insight into the consequences of the social construction of gender for both women and men, an insight that empowers them to engage and question the pervasive role of gender in their own lives and communities.