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Gender Studies

Interdisciplinary Minor


Cristina Casado Presa, Director

Erin Anderson

Jennifer Benson

Cristina Casado Presa

Melissa Deckman

Richard De Prospo

Richard Gillin

Ryan Kelty

Alisha Knight

Kathryn Moncrief

Matthew McCabe

Pamela Pears

George Spilich

Aileen Tsui

Christine Wade

Carol Wilson


The Gender Studies minor offers students the opportunity to concentrate on the ways gender is analyzed in a variety of fields in the liberal arts. In order to complete this interdisciplinary minor, students will take six courses. One course, either Sociology of Gender (GEN 213/SOC 213) or Sex, Gender, and Culture (GEN 215/ANT 215), is required. Five more courses may be taken as electives from regular or special topics offerings in a number of departments: Art; Theatre; English; Modern Languages; History; Philosophy and Religion; Political Science; Psychology; and Sociology and Anthropology. Other courses which are not cross-listed as Gender Studies may be applied to the Gender Studies minor after consultation with the instructor and the program director in order to set up specific Gender Studies requirements.  Students planning to complete the Gender Studies minor should consult with the program director on their course selection. Students whose senior capstone experience focuses on the issue of gender may also apply that credit toward the minor. Courses regularly offered that apply toward the Gender Studies minor include:

GEN 194.  Introduction to Women’s Studies

GEN 212.  Sociology of the Family

GEN 213.  Sociology of Gender

GEN 215.  Sex, Gender, and Culture

GEN 220.  Human Sexuality

GEN 302.  Renaissance:  Age of Elizabeth

GEN 305.  Romanticism

GEN 312.  Contemporary Francophone World

GEN 317.  Women’s Literature

GEN 319.  The African-American Novel

GEN 321.  Women and Politics

GEN 343.  History of American Women

GEN 348.  Gender in Western Civilization to 1600

GEN 355.  Women in Medieval Europe

GEN 374. Main Divisions In American Culture: Race, Gender, Sexual Preference, Generation, Class

GEN 375. Body Language: Representation and Transgression from Theodore Dreiser and Claire Chopin through  Nicholson Baker and Brett Easton Ellis

GEN 376.  Culture of the Old/Cultures of the Young

GEN 377. 2PACalypse Now! The Cult of Heart of Darkness among White Male Anglophone Intellectuals

GEN 399.  Gender Studies Seminar

GEN 425. Women Artists and Feminist Art History (Honors)


Course Descriptions

194: Introduction to Women’s Studies

This course serves as an introduction to the cross-disciplinary field of Women’s Studies. We will explore issues relevant to women from a variety of fields, including history, politics, law, media and communication, sexuality, literature, and economics. We will also study the concepts of gender and sex from psychological, anthropological, and sociological perspectives. The class will focus mainly on the lives of women in the United States, but will pay particular attention to diversity—ethnic, racial and class—within our nation.


  1. Sociology of the Family

Study of the family as a social institution. Comparative family systems, history of the family, and theory and research dealing with courtship, marriage, and disorganization of the modem family. Prerequisite: Sociology 101


  1. Sociology of Gender

Gender as a social construction. Sex and gender. Effects of gender on individuals’ statuses and opportunity structures. Focus on contemporary American responses to sex and gender. Gender roles and definitions earlier in U.S. history and in other societies. Prerequisite: Sociology 101.


  1. Sex, Gender, and Culture

The study of the biological differences of sex in relationship to the cultural construction of gender. The importance of modes of production and ideology in forming gender concepts for all human societies. Cross-cultural issues of gender identity, roles, relationships, and equality or inequality. Prerequisite: Anthropology 105 or permission of the instructor.


  1. Human Sexuality

A biological approach to the study of human sexuality. This course emphasizes topics such as the anatomy and physiology of the human reproductive system, conception and contraception, STDs and infertility, and then continues on to discuss the influences that shape sexual attitudes as well as the values and behavior systems that influence human sexual behavior. An overview of attitudes towards sexuality across cultures is included.


  1. Renaissance: Age of Elizabeth

The literature and culture of the Tudor period focusing on the age of Elizabeth. Poetry, prose, and drama including Kyd, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Sidney, Spencer, More, and Whitney.


  1. Romanticism

The movement from the late eighteenth century to 1832 considered as a revolution in the aims and methods of poetry. Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats.


  1. The Contemporary Francophone World

Taught in English, this course provides an introductory historical and cultural study of the contemporary Francophone world. Designed as a survey of the non-European Francophone world, the course will offer for study both literary and cultural documents from the Caribbean, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Canada. Initially students will be provided tools for cultural interpretation via critical texts, media analysis (including print and internet sources) and the analysis of Francophone films; they will then apply them to the cultural history of Francophone world. We will explore French colonization, the process of decolonization, and subsequent independence movements. We will examine social, political, and economic roles of both women and men, changing gender roles, and contemporary divisions of labor. Finally, we will reflect on the political, historical, and socio-cultural situations of post-colonial Francophone nations.


  1. Women’s Literature

A study of women writers with an emphasis on nineteenth- and twentieth-century works. Essays, fiction, poetry, and drama.


  1. African American Novel

This course examines the origin and development of the African-American novel. We will begin with the earliest novels and conclude with an analysis of contemporary novels by African-American writers. We will examine novels from multiple genres and give careful attention to the intersection of race, gender, class, and environment in representative novels of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Prerequisite: Any combination of two 200-level English courses, or permission of the instructor.


  1. Women and Politics

This course examines the role of women as voters, citizens, candidates, and leaders in American politics, grounded in theories of gender. Attention will also be given to the history of the women’s movement and the current status of women’s organizations. The course also focuses on how various public policies, including workplace issues, family issues, education issues and reproductive rights, affect women and their legal rights.


  1. History of American Women

Examines the private lives and public roles of women throughout American history, from colonial settlement to the present. Social attitudes and laws and policies affecting women will be studied, as well as women’s daily lives, experiences, and accomplishments. Attention will be given to women of different races, classes, and ethnic backgrounds. Topics include women’s right to vote; involvement in reform movements; family life; education; birth control and abortion; and economic activities. Prerequisite: One year of introductory history required.


  1. Gender in Western Civilization to 1600

A survey of the differing social roles, legal status, and day-to-day lives of women and men in Mediterranean and European societies from the earliest Near Eastern civilizations through the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation. Prerequisite: One year of introductory history or permission of the instructor.


  1. Women in Medieval Europe

A seminar exploring the lives of women and their role in society from the fifth through the fifteenth centuries. Topics include legal status, economic activity, marriage and family, and women in religion. Readings include both traditional and feminist-influenced secondary works, medieval works about and for women, and the writings of medieval women themselves. Discussion is a major component of the course. Prerequisite: One year of introductory history or permission of the instructor.


  1. Main Divisions In American Culture: Race, Gender, Sexual Preference, Generation, Class

Ever since the Harvard-educated Midwestern American Studies founder V.L. Parrington identified the Main Currents in American Thought, the tendency of most influential scholars has been synoptically to emphasize the commonalities that unite “We, the people,” since even before the founding of the U.S. conflictual approaches to American culture have been pursued mainly from the margins—by African-American, Latina/o, feminist, queer, and Marxian critics. Playing on the title of Parrington’s book, this course will pay attention to what divides us, still, approaching a century after Main Currents first appeared back in 1927.


  1. Body Language: Representation and Transgression from Theodore Dreiser and Claire Chopin through Nicholson Baker and Brett Easton Ellis

A study of how bodies have been transformed from soma into vox in modern and post-modern culture. Curriculum will be a catholic mixture of a variety of genres and media, including standard school texts, literary and feminist theory, popular music, still images and video, and journalism. Readings will include fiction that has been labeled transgressive, and in all but the very latest examples for a time banned in the U.S.; theory from De Beauvoir to Judith Butler; and various works associated with the pornography debate from Katherine MacKibbon and Andrea Dworkin through Madonna and Linda Williams.


  1. Culture of the Old/Cultures of the Young

Whereas what once seemed controversial topics—race, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, borderlands—have become mainstream in college and university American Studies and English courses, one, arguably major category of cultural difference remains relatively understudied—at least in the humanities. The study of generation, like that of all of the topics listed above, is potentially subversive, and it may be neglected because of the fact that most college and university professors (admittedly with increasingly numerous exceptions) are members of the single, for some time now and for some time to come, dominant generation. The Baby Boom runs the same risks as do white people in the U.S., white Anglo-Saxon-Protestant people in the U.S., men everywhere, and heterosexuals everywhere when it acknowledges that the products of (sub)cultures other than its own are as worthy of becoming college and university curricula as its own traditional canon. The course will try to distinguish in a variety of ways the belated, frequently plaintive, cultures of the young from that of the Baby Boom.


  1. 2PACalypse Now! the Cult of Heart of Darkness among White Male Anglophone Intellectuals

The course explores Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness to understand what it is that has attracted so many white male Anglophone intellectuals—and prompted the condemnation of one African writer, the mockery of one black rapper, and, perhaps, the rivalry of a prominent, brown, novelist—over the more than hundred years now since its original publication in 1899 in England in Blackwood’s Magazine. Class texts will include Conrad’s novella, Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, Tupac’s TUPACalypse Now, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, Chinua Achebe’s essays, V.S. Naipul’s A Bend in the River, and other sources, plus some theorizings of race and gender that shed light on the book’s long-standing appeal to a relatively homogenous  cohort of readers and adaptors.


  1. Gender Studies Seminar

A special topics course that offers opportunities for courses on gender that are trans-disciplinary in nature or are co-taught. Examples are Gender and Multiculturalism, and Women in Sport and Society: 1850-present.


  1. Women Artists and Feminist Art History (Honors)

In recent decades, growing scholarly attention has been brought to the previously neglected productions of female artists. This seminar will examine the variety of approaches that feminist art historians have taken in studying art made by women in the modern period. We will be concerned both with the historical analysis of the visual productions of particular female artists and with an exploration of how feminist theories, practices, and political commitments have affected, and can continue to change, the discursive and institutional construction of the history—or histories—of art and visual culture. Prerequisite: Art 200 or permission of instructor.


294, 394, 494. Special Topics in Gender Studies

Offered occasionally, these courses provide focused study of specialized topics in gender. Contents will vary according to the instructor.  Examples include Philosophy, Feminism, and the Body; Human Rights and Social Justice; Post-1945 Revolutions in Art and Theory; and American Women Playwrights.