Images of Women: WS 150/HUM 156, Section 3

Spring 1998, 11:10 - 12:00 noon
Professor Karin Westman
425 Benson Hall; 322-2328
Office Hours: MW 1-2 pm, TR 11-12 noon, and by app't.
Required Texts:
Class Pak (Rand Campus Copy)
Xeroxes (Reserve, Heard Library); handouts (in class)
Douglas, Where the Girls Are (Random House)
Berger, Ways of Seeing (Penguin)
Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Everyman)
Woolf, A Room of One's Own (HBJ)
Naylor, Mama Day (Vintage)
Atwood, A Handmaid's Tale (Fawcett)
Course Description and Objectives:
In this course, we will explore how visual and textual images shape our beliefs and values about sex, gender, and sexuality. As we analyze and discuss images of women, we will be necessity address images of men as well. We begin the semester by studying that part of American culture most readily at hand: the images of femaleness and femininity presented in advertisements, popular music, television, and film. Next, stepping back for an historical perspective, we investigate how we have acquired our late-twentieth century ideas and ideals. Finally, we will consider how race, ethnicity, class, and sexual orientation further revise our definitions and understanding of the social roles available to women and men in American culture.
Requirements and General Expectations:
Readings: You are expected to complete each reading assignment before coming to class. You are further expected to think carefully about what you read and to make notes in your book prior to each class meeting. Bring the appropriate book or articles to class each day and additionally mark passages that we discuss; this process will help you understand, remember, and review.
Class Participation and Attendance: Although this is a large class, 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 three 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. I appreciate your offering explanations for absences; however, the only way to excuse an absence is to provide me with an official letter from your dean.
Quizzes: I reserve the right to administer reading quizzes as necessary. Grades from reading quizzes will be part of your class participation grade; should you be absent on the day of a quiz, you will receive a zero, unless the absence is excused.
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 papers one and two follows the syllabus.
Daedalus Sessions in Garland Lab: Our class is a pilot course for the use of the Daedalus Integrated Writing Environment software in Women's Studies at Vanderbilt. Some of our classes will meet in the Garland Computer Lab. Because the lab cannot accommodate a class of our size, we will divide into discussion sections on lab days, designated as Group A and Group B on the syllabus. **You must come to the lab on the day assigned to your section.** You may not attend the other section's lab without obtaining my permission in advance of the lab session. On the days when one section of the class meets in the lab, the other section meets in our usual classroom. Your preparation for and participation in Daedalus sessions should follow the guidelines noted above for "Reading" and "Class Participation and Attendance."
Daedalus Electronic Bulletin Board: Beginning the second week of class, I'll establish a conference each week in which you can post comments about the materials we're studying in class. Each student is required to make at least one comment each week. I will monitor these discussions and assess a grade (at the end of the semester) 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 bulletin board. 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 comments early in the semester. Directions for posting can be found here.
Examinations: You will have a midterm and a final exam for the course.
Night Screenings of Movies: I will schedule screenings of the three films we will discuss. You are required to see each film before our discussion. If you cannot attend the scheduled screenings, please notify me; you must then arrange to see the film on your own by the time of its discussion in class.
Conferences: 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 also consider stopping by during the first few weeks of class for a brief (and very informal) conference. If you have any specific questions or concerns about the course or the readings, bring them with you, but no agenda is necessary: this is simply a way to get to know each other. Please see me to make an appointment if my office hours are not convenient for you.
Teaching Assistant: This class is fortunate to have Laura Patterson as its teaching assistant. She and I will be sharing the grading of your papers, quizzes, and exams. If you feel there is a problem with a grade which Ms. Patterson assigns, see her first. If the two of you cannot solve the problem, I will be happy to meet with the two of you together. If you feel there is a problem with a grade that I assign, come directly to me rather than seeing Ms. Patterson.
Paper #1
Paper #2
Class Participation
Midterm Exam
Final Exam

[Unless otherwise indicated by (x) for xerox or (h) for handout,
articles are found in your Class Pak or required book.]
W 7 Introduction
F 9 Devor, "Gender Role Behaviors and Attitudes" (h)
M 12 Tannen, "How Male and Female Students Use Language Differently" (x); Sadker and Sadker, "Higher Education" (x)
Note: Group A: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
Group B: Meet in classroom
W 14 Lyman, "The Fraternal Bond as a Joking Relationship" (x); Kimmel, "Clarence, William, Iron Mike, Tailhook, Senator Packwood, Spur Posse, Magic,...and Us" (x)
Note: Group A: Meet in classroom
Group B: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
F 16 Walker, "The Many Faces of Feminism"; Barracca, "How Many Feminists Does It Take..."; Kimmel, "Real Men Join the Movement" (x) Paper #1 Due
M 19 Douglas, Chp. 7 and Chp. 8 (139-91)
Desiring Bodies and Ideal Selves
W 21 Douglas, Introduction (3-20); Berger (7-81)
F 23 Berger (129-55); Douglas, Chp. 11 (245-68)
M 26 Barthel, "A Gentleman and a Consumer" and "Appendix"; "Magazines Reassess..."; Dobosz, "Thicker Thighs by Thanksgiving" (x)
W 28 Wolf, "The Beauty Myth" and "Hunger"; Prager, "Our Barbies, Ourselves" (h); Quindlen, "Barbie at 45" (h)
F 30 Douglas, Chp.1 and Chp. 2 (21-60); Paper #2 Due
Note: Group A: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
Group B: Meet in classroom
M 2 Douglas, Chp.3 (61-81); Barson and Heller, "Dating Do's and Don'ts--and Maybe's" (x); Minot, "Lust" (x); Palac, "How Dirty Pictures Changed My Life"
W 4 Douglas, Chp.'s 4, 5, and 6 (83-138)
Note: Group A: Meet in classroom
Group B: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
F 6 Douglas, Chp.9 and 10 (193-244); Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" (x)
M 9 Discussion of "Thelma and Louise" and "Boys on the Side"
W 11 Review for Exam #1
F 13 Exam #1
How Did We Get Where We Are Today?
M 16 Genesis 1:1 to 3:24; Genesis 39:1-23; Leviticus 12:1-8 and 15:19-30; Ruth 1:1 to 4:22; I Corinthians 11:1-16 [Note: You may read these selections in any translation, but try to glance at the King James Version, too, for comparison.]
W 18 Armstrong, "The Rise of the Domestic Woman" (x)
F 20 Wollstonecraft, Introduction, Dedication, Chp. 1 and 9
Note: Group A: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
Group B: Meet in classroom
M 23 Wollstonecraft, Chp. 4 and 5
Note: Group A: Meet in classroom
Group B: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
W 25 Stanton, "Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls" (1848); Jefferson, "Declaration of Independence" (1776) (h)
F 27 Glaspell, "Jury of Her Peers"
M 9 Willis, "Abortion: Whose Right to Life Is It Anyway" (x); from Faludi, Backlash (x)
W 11 Gilbert and Gubar, "The Queen's Looking Glass" (x)
F 13 Woolf, Chp. 1-3
Note: Group A: Meet in classroom
Group B: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
M 16 Woolf, Chp. 4-6
Note: Group A: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
Group B: Meet in classroom
W 18 Rich, "When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision"
Revisions: Race, Ethnicity, Class, and Sexuality
F 20 MacIntosh, "White Privilege and Male Privilege"; Jenious, "The Problem of African American Feminism"; Yamada, "Asian Pacific American Women and Feminism"
M 23 Gage, "Reminiscences...of Sojourner Truth"; Waller and Razaf, "(What Did I Do to Be So) Black and Blue" (h); Forman, "Stoplight Politics" (h)
W 25 Walker, "In Search of Our Mother's Gardens"
F 27 Collins, "Black Women and Motherhood" (x)
M 30 Naylor, Mama Day (1-165)
W 1 Mama Day (166-312)
Note: Group A: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
Group B: Meet in classroom
F 3 Mama Day
Note: Group A: Meet in classroom
Group B: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
M 6 Cofer, "The Story of My Body" (x); Yamada, "Invisibility Is an Unnatural Disaster"
W 8 Vasquez, "Appearances"; Discussion of Jordan, The Crying Game
F 10 Discussion of The Crying Game, continued.
Back to the Future?
M 13 Atwood, A Handmaid's Tale (1-135)
W 15 A Handmaid's Tale (136-253)
Note: Group A: Meet in classroom
Group B: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
F 17 A Handmaid's Tale (254-395)
Note: Group A: Meet in Garland Computer Lab
Group B: Meet in classroom
M 20 Douglas, Chp. 12 (269-94) and Epilogue (295-316); Review for Exam #2

Guidelines for Papers
General Instructions
Papers should follow the general rules of composition and be typed or word-processed with standard double-spacing, 1-inch margins, and either 10- or 12-point typeface. Title pages and covers are unnecessary. Pages should be numbered, stapled together, and spell-checked. Because this is not an English class, errors in grammar and punctuation will be marked but will not be factors in the grading of the paper unless the mistakes are so numerous or egregious as to distract from the argument. Papers are due at the time the class meets; late papers will be penalized one grade (i.e., B to C) for each day late.
Paper #1
Your first paper is a personal essay (3-5 pp.) in which you reflect upon what it means to you to be female or male, or feminine or masculine, in the culture in which you live. The purpose of this assignment is to encourage you to think analytically about how sex and gender make differences in the ways we relate to school, work, goals, family, friendships, intimate relationships, and/or life choices.
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.
Paper #2
Your second paper (4-5 pp.) is an analysis of an advertisement. The purpose of this assignment is to encourage you to think critically about the constructions and assumptions of sex and gender that inform advertisements. Pay attention to visual images and text, if your ad includes both, and focus on analyzing these elements and their (intended) effect on a viewer. Where appropriate, your analysis should engage the techniques that John Berger explains in Ways of Seeing. Your analysis should be specific, and your ideas should be carefully supported by evidence from the ad. Some points to consider as you choose your ad:
--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.

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Last updated 27 April 1998.