Second, this course asks that we bring a healthy degree of skepticism to our work, re-examining what we had thought to be true. The French semiotician Roland Barthes once described ideology as opinion or belief naturalized as truth: if one grows up thinking that a social convention is a natural fact, one may assume that the structures of society are inevitable, immutable, and therefore impervious to challenge. For example, in the nineteenth century, the medical establishment thought that higher education was injurious to women's health; successful scientists such as Marie Curie, of course, proved them wrong.
Third, an interdisciplinary approach--that is, a method not confined by the traditional boundaries of the disciplines--better enables us to examine and interpret significant values, events, ideas, and cultural phenomena that have shaped our understanding of women and men. By bridging traditional categories of knowing we can more thoroughly explore the objects of our study.
A brief sketch of the class plan reflects this philosophy: We will first discuss how education, advertising, the media, and science shape our beliefs and values about sex, gender, and sexuality. Next, we will travel through a history of women in America, focusing on religion, politics, law, and work. We will then explore the evolution of feminist theories through what have come to be known as the First Wave, Second Wave, and Third Wave of feminism. Finally, we will reflect on Women's Studies as a discipline.
Class Participation and Attendance: You will be asked to participate regularly in class discussions and in collaborative learning groups. Your attendance is therefore important. You will not be penalized for your first two absences; thereafter, your class participation grade will drop one grade increment (i.e., B+ to B) for each day missed. Excessive unexcused absences (five or more) will adversely affect your final course grade and will lead to your failure in the course. While I appreciate your offering explanations for absences, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from your dean or an official notice of illness from the Health Center.
Quizzes: You will have about 10 quizzes over the course of the class; a quiz will have five questions, and each question will be worth one point. Your grade for the reading quizzes will be averaged at the end of the course according to the following scale: 5 = A, 4=B, etc. (I will drop the lowest quiz grade before calculating the average.) Should you be absent on the day of a quiz, you will receive a zero, unless the absence is excused. I will offer some extra credit options.
Papers: You will write two short papers. The papers are due at the time the class meets. Late papers will be penalized one full grade (i.e., B to C) for each day late. More information about these two papers follows the syllabus.
Daedalus Sessions in ECTR110: Our class is a pilot course for the use of the Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment software in Women's Studies at the College of Charleston. As noted on the syllabus, some of our classes will meet in the computer lab classroom, Education Center 110. Go directly to ECTR 110 on those class days. Your preparation for and participation in these class sessions should follow the guidelines noted above for "Reading" and "Class Participation and Attendance."
Women's Studies Listserv: Beginning the second day of class, we start using our listserv; directions for using the listserv were handed out in class. You should post at least two comments a week in response to the materials we're studying in class; that said, I also encourage you to post responses whenever you have something to contribute. I will monitor these discussions and assess a grade based on the thoughtfulness of your comments, their ability to foster discussion among your classmates, and their responsiveness both to our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the listserv. Your postings do not need to be long; however, they need to be substantive: they must be long enough to convey clearly the problem you are taking up and your point of view, connecting your comment to others' comments, as appropriate. I will offer models of helpful postings early in the class. Postings to the listserv will count towards your class participation grade.
Examinations: You will have a midterm and a final exam for the course.
Night Screenings of Movies: I will schedule screenings of the two films we will discuss. You are required to see the films before our discussion. If you cannot attend the scheduled screenings, please notify me; you must then arrange to see the films on your own by the time we discuss them in class.
Conferences and Email: There are no mandatory conferences
for this course. I encourage you, however, to stop by during office
hours, particularly before an assignment is due. Please see me
to make an appointment if my office hours are not convenient for
you. I am always available over email, too; I check my email at
least once during the day and once again around 10 p.m., barring
A few notes on the web
version of this syllabus . . .
June T 8
Introduction: Devor, "Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes"
(X); Stoltenberg, "How Men Have (a) Sex" (X); Martin,
"The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance..."
T 15 Sapiro, from Chapter 6 "Normal Gender: Health,
Fitness, and Beauty" (194-202); Wolf, "The Beauty Myth"
and "Hunger" (CP); Quindlen, "Barbie at 45"
(X); Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema"
F 18 Midterm Exam
T 22 Sapiro, from Chapter 2 "Societal-Level Approaches..."
(global perspective: 56-59), from Chapter 9 "Law and Policy..."
(281-286), from Chapter 11 "Consenting Adults..." (390-400),
and from Chapter 14 "Feminism and the Future" (491-507);
"Married Women's Property Act of 1848," Lucy
"Address...1860", "Married Women's Property Act
of 1860," and Stanton's "Solitude of Self" (MS1),
"Ain't I a Woman"; Anthony
(MS1); "Declaration of Sentiments" (MS1) and "Declaration of
R 24 Sapiro, from Chapter 2 "Societal-Level Approaches..."
(global perspective: 40-47), from Chapter 11 "Consenting
Adults?: Personal and Sexual Relationships" (378-390), from
Chapter 13 "Work,..." (employment discrimination: 471-474)
and from Chapter 9 "Law, Policy, Government, and the State"
(Tailhook: 288-294); Kimmel,
"Clarence, William, Iron Mike, Tailhook, Senator Packwood,
Spur Posse, Magic,...and Us" (CP); Brumberg, from "The
Disappearance..." (CP); Susan Brownmiller, Anita Hill (MS2)
F 25 Sapiro, from Chapter 9 "Law, Policy..."
"Traffic in Women" (MS1); Ginsburg (MS2); Discussion
of Thelma and Louise and Boys on the Side
M 28 Sapiro, from Chapter 2 (global perspective: 34-40)
and from Chapter 12 "Reproduction, Parenthood, and Childcare"
Willis, "Abortion: Whose Right to Life is It Anyway?"
T 29 Sapiro, from Chapter 13 "Consenting Adults?..."
(356, 360-1, 371-377); Millett, from Sexual Politics (to
p.237 in MS2); Dworkin,
Koedt (MS2); Palac,
"How Dirty Pictures Changed My Life" (CP)
F 2 Sapiro, from Chapter 11 "Consenting..."
(361-371); Vasquez, "Appearances" (CP); Rich (MS2);
Forman, "Stoplight Politics" (X); Collins, "Black
Women and Motherhood" (CP)
M 5 No Class -- Independence Day Holiday
T 6 Naylor, Mama Day
R 8 Final Exam
One approach to this assignment is to think about the first
time you realized that sex or gender was, in some way, significant.
How did this realization occur? What was your reaction? How has
this realization affected your thinking? Another approach is to
consider how your life decisions so far have been related to social
constructions of sex or gender. Whatever approach you choose,
be creative, but be honest. While this essay may be informal and
anecdotal, it must be grounded in specific
details--do not offer vague generalizations. Wherever possible,
analyze why you have reacted and felt
the way you have about sex and gender, and how
your attitudes have been informed by the culture in which you
live--by media, family, friends, teachers, ethnicity, nationality,
religion, race, socio-economic class, for example.
-- What is implied by the ad--that is, in addition to what is shown?
-- How intertexual is the ad? For example, does it make reference to other ads, to art, to history, to popular culture?
-- Who is the intended audience of this ad?
-- What effect does the ad have on you? Do you think this is
its intended effect? How does the ad produce this effect? Do you
have any desire to work against the ad's effect--to resist its
implications? Why or why not?
Note: Be sure to staple your ad to your paper, and to
note on the ad or in your paper the title and date of the magazine
in which the ad appears.