The major and concentration in Women's and Gender Studies offer students an opportunity to engage in two important and interrelated areas of study. Students will examine aspects of experiences that have traditionally been underrepresented (if not invisible) in academic studies--for example, the lives and works of women, the experiences of gays and lesbians. Students will also examine gender as a cultural phenomenon: as a system of ideas defining "masculinity" and "femininity" and 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 The 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 major and concentration encourage and enable students to take responsibility for their own learning. Toward this end, courses will invite students to participate in a range of collaborative work. This culminates in the Senior Colloquium, 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. Students construct their major by choosing courses from the offerings of both the Women's and Gender Studies Program and more than fifteen other departments and programs across the College.
WGS 111-Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies is a wide-ranging interdisciplinary course designed to help students develop a critical framework for thinking about questions relating to gender. Students will examine the historical development of gendered public and private spheres, the relation of biological sex to sociological gender, and the difference between sex roles and sexual stereotypes. They will attempt to understand how racism, heterosexism, and homophobia intersect with the cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity, and consider ways to promote more egalitarian gender relations. Students are also encouraged to explore more specialized areas of gender studies in courses specifically designed for students at all levels, including first-year students. These include WGS 121 , WGS 221, and WGS 232. Students completing WGS 111 can enroll in WGS 242 to explore gender studies in a more global context.
Courses in the Women's and Gender Studies Program may count toward students' collegiate diversification requirements in either social sciences or humanities.
WGS 111 plus one other WGS course would count for either the social sciences requirement or the humanities requirement, based on the combination of courses. Pairings and their designations are as follows:
WGS 111 and WGS 121: Human Sexualities ( Social Sciences)
WGS 111 and WGS 221: Gender and Film (Humanities)
WGS 111 and WGS 330: Feminist Theory (Social Sciences)
WGS 111 and WGS 331: Gender, Power and Knowledge: Research Practices (Social Sciences)
WGS 111 and WGS 232: Topics in Masculinity (Social Sciences)
WGS 111 and WGS 242: Transnational Feminisms (Social Sciences)
Credits: 6 units will be required for the major.
1. Introductory requirement: .5 unit
WGS 111 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies
2. Mid-level requirements: 1 unit
WGS 330 Feminist Theory
WGS 331 Gender, Power and Knowledge: Research Practices
3. Diversity and globalization: 1 unit
Students must take two courses that focus on the social and cultural issues of U.S. and/or world peripheral communities. Consult the director for a list of courses that may be applied to this requirement.
4. Cluster: 2 units
Majors will be required to declare in writing a cluster of related courses that will form the foundation of their major. These clusters might be largely disciplinary (Spanish area studies, English literature, psychology), or they might be interdisciplinary (sexuality, international studies, American studies, biosocial sexual study of gender). Upon supplying a justification and obtaining permission of the program director, students may count .5 unit of non-WGS courses toward this cluster requirement. Some examples of clusters chosen by majors include Women, Law, and Politics; Queer Theory; Women and Islam; Gender and the Environment; and Gender, Class, and the State.
5. Open electives: 1 unit.
6. Senior Colloquium: .5 unit
WGS 481 (Senior Colloquium) examines a topic central to feminist thought. It includes current feminist texts and incorporates multidisciplinary analyses of race, class, and sexuality, in addition to gender. The course culminates in a public presentation by colloquium members. Senior majors and concentrators will meet in the fall to design the colloquium, which will be offered spring semester.
7. Senior Exercise (see below)
The Senior Exercise for the major in women's and gender studies consists of:
The major who wishes to participate in the Honors Program must have an overall GPA of 3.33, and 3.5 in the major. The candidate in honors will complete all requirements for the major as well as the Senior Exercise. He or she will take two semesters of independent study and will design and complete a research project. This project should integrate both feminist theory and methodologies, as well as the student's chosen disciplinary or interdisciplinary cluster. Each honors student will prepare an annotated bibliography on her or his chosen project during the fall term. After approval, the senior honors project will be undertaken in consultation with a project advisor.
We encourage students to think boldly and innovatively about the kinds of projects they undertake and about how those projects interact with and benefit their communities. Senior honors projects might include gender-focused sociological or historical studies undertaken locally; exhibitions, productions, or installations of gender-exploratory art, music, or theater; or political, social, and/or environmental service-oriented or activist work. Students will be closely mentored throughout their projects and, in the spring, will be evaluated by an external evaluator and by faculty in the program and in relevant disciplines. The evaluators will assess the strength of the students' overall work, as well as the strength of their self-designed, project-appropriate public presentations of that work.
Credits: 3 units of courses in women's and gender studies
The Program in Women's and Gender Studies typically accepts transfer credits from other colleges and universities for courses that meet College requirements for transfer credit. We especially encourage students to take courses that are not regularly offered in our curriculum. We do not permit students to earn transfer credits through online evaluation or two-week special courses offered during winter breaks. All transfer credit must be approved by the program director.