Dr. Philip Nel
Office: 74 George Street, Room 101
Office hours: MW 10 am - 12 pm, & by appointment.
Virtual office hours: nelp@cofc.edu philnel@ksu.edu.
Office phone: 953-5658.
Women's Studies 200, Sec. 2
Maybank 320
MWF 9:00-9:50 am
On-line: http://www.cofc.edu/~nelp/
Women's Studies 200: Introduction to Women's Studies

Objectives | Requirements | Computing | Grading | Assignments
Required Texts:
Sapiro, Virginia. Women in American Society: An Introduction to Women's Studies. Fourth Edition. Mayfield Publishing Company, 1999.
Schneir, Miriam, editor. Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings. 1992. Vintage, 1994.
Schneir, Miriam, editor. Feminism: The Essential Writings, World War II to the Present. Vintage, 1994.
Naylor, Gloria. Mama Day. 1988. Vintage, 1993.
Class Pack. Available at SAS-E Ink, 79 Wentworth Street.
3 Movies, all shown at 7 pm: in Maybank 112, Some Like It Hot (1/17); in Maybank 112, Thelma and Louise (3/21); in ECTR 118, Boys on the Side (3/22)
      Three main ideas motivate this course, the first of which is that Women's Studies does more than study women. To quote the statement of purpose for the College of Charleston's Women's Studies Program, "Women's Studies courses serve both female and male students by enabling them to become more aware of gender roles and relations, women's cultural contributions, the social, political, and economic status of women, the intersection of race, class and gender issues, and theoretical concerns about the relation of gender to knowledge."
      Second, it 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. For example, if one grows up thinking that a social convention is a natural fact, that person 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 comprehend the object(s) of our study.
      A brief sketch of the class plan reflects this philosophy. In the first month of the course, we will discuss how education, advertising, the media, and science shape our beliefs and values about sex, gender, and sexuality. During the following month and a half, the course will travel through a history of women in America, focusing on religion, politics, law, and work. Generally speaking, the final month will 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, at semester's end, we will reflect on Women's Studies as a discipline.
Requirements: Reading | Class Participation and Attendance | Papers | Quizzes
Reading: Read everything, and come to class prepared to talk about what you have read. Be an active reader: mark your text, underlining important ideas and making notes in the margins.
Class Participation and Attendance: In this class, education will not be a passive experience: I expect discussion, debate, and exchanges of ideas. This requires that you not only be present but that you be an active presence. To encourage this attitude, class participation will count for 15% of your final grade. So, contribute to class discussion to offer an insight, amplify a point, raise a question, explain, and/or disagree. When not speaking, you should remain critically engaged with the discussion or lecture. And, to encourage you to remain engaged with the materials we're studying, discussion will continue on a listserv (explained below, under "Computing").
      Attend every class. If you choose to miss class, please let me know in advance and meet with me immediately after you return. Please note: You cannot earn credit for work missed in class. If you miss class, it is up to you to discover what went on that day. "I didn't know because I wasn't in class" is never an acceptable excuse.
Papers: You will write two short papers. The papers are due at the time class meets. Late papers will be penalized one full grade (i.e., B to C) for each day late. The paper assignments are attached to the syllabus.
Approximately 12 times during the semester, there'll be a quiz. Sometimes the quiz will be announced, and sometimes it won't. But it will always address the reading for that day. Because everyone can have a bad day, I'll drop the lowest quiz grade.
Computing -- the Internet, Email, and the Listserv:
      The Internet: For your reference, a hyperlinked version of this syllabus can be found on-line, through http://www.cofc.edu/~nelp/choose.courses.html. When possible, I have linked authors' names to relevant webpages and works' titles to on-line versions; when applicable, I will link class days to handouts for that day. Professor Karin Westman and I have assembled a page of Gender and Women's Studies Links; we hope you find them useful.
      Email: My email address is nelp@cofc.edu. If you need help establishing an email account and learning to use email, please visit Academic Computing to find out what you have to do. Although I will not require you to use email, I encourage you to use email as a way of touching base with me. You can send me queries, an outline for an essay, or anything else that could be handled with a quick exchange of messages. I tend to check email from home first thing in the morning, and again in the evening (probably several times).
      Listserv: Starting the week of January 18, I will establish a listserv, creating a conference through which you can respond to what we're studying. Each student is required to make at least one comment per 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 to both our readings and to your classmates' comments in class and on the listserv.
      Your postings do not need to be long, but they must be substantive -- 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. Instructions for using the Listserv are attached to the back of the syllabus.
      You can access the web, email, and your listserv (via email) from the library and various computer labs around campus.


Paper #1
Paper #2
Midterm Exam
Class Participation        
 (includes listserv)
Final Exam
In class: 2/26
In class: 5/7, 8:00 - 11:00 am

Schedule of Assignments
(subject to change)
[CP] = Class Pack. [R] = On Reserve (Library). [X] = Xerox copy.
[MS] = Miriam Schneir's Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings.
[MS2] = Miriam Schneir's Feminism in Our Time: The Essential Writings World War II to the Present. 
Remember: bring to class the texts under discussion, including any Xeroxes.

A few words on the web
version of this syllabus...
  • Web Resources listed below are
    recommended but not required.
  • Note: you have to register to access
    the New York Times' website, but
    use of the site is free.

F 15
Introduction: Sex, Gender, Sexuality.
Su 17
M 18
W 20
F 22
Screening of film: Some Like It Hot (1959), 7 pm in Maybank 112.
Sapiro, Chapter 3: "Individual-Level Approaches to Understanding Women's Lives"
& Chapter 10: "Gender, Communication, and Self-Expression"
Discussion of film: Some Like It Hot (1959)
Web Resource: Feature on Billy Wilder at the New York Times
Sapiro, Chapter 2: "Societal-Level Approaches to Understanding Women's Lives."
M 25
W 27
F 29
McIntosh, "White Privilege and Male Privilege" [CP]; Sapiro, Chapter 4:
"Commonality and Difference Among Women"
Sapiro, Chapter 5: "Education: Learning to Be Male and Female."
Discussion of Children's Literature & Disney. [No assigned reading.]
Paper #1 Due.
M 1
W 3
F 5
Media and the Body
Berger, excerpt from Ways of Seeing [X]; Douglas, Introduction from Where the
Girls Are [CP] Sapiro, Chapter 8: "Gender and the Institutional Media of
Advertising & Women's Magazines [No assigned reading: work on your papers]
Advertising & Men's Magazines
M 8
W 10
F 12
Naomi Wolf, "The Beauty Myth" and "Hunger" from The Beauty Myth [X]
Sapiro, Chapter 6: "Normal Gender: Health, Fitness, and Beauty"
Boston Women's Health Collective, "Our Bodies Ourselves" [MS2]
Web Resources: Women's Health site at the New York Times, & Health links
Music & Women [No assigned reading.]
Paper #2 Due.
M 15
W 17
F 19
History: You've Come a Long Way...Maybe
Sapiro, Chapter 7: "Women and Religion"; from the Bible, Genesis 1:1 to 3:24
and Genesis 39:1-23, Leviticus 12:1-8 and 15:19-30, Ruth 1:1 to 4:22,
I Corinthians 11:1-16 [use any translation but bring the translation with
you to class]; Lucretia Mott [MS1].
Abigail Adams, Mary Wollstonecraft, Married Women's Property Act of 1848,
Lucy Stone, Elizabeth Cady Stanton on "Solitude of Self" [all from MS1];
Sapiro, pp. 281-86 from Chapter 9, pp. 390-400 from Chapter 11.
Declaration of Sentiments [MS1] & Declaration of Independence [X].
M 22
W 24
F 26
Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton's "Address to the New York
Legislature, 1860," Married Women's Property Act of 1860 (in New
York State); Sojurner Truth's "Ain't I a Woman," Victoria Woodhull
& Tennessee Claflin [all MS1].
Web Resource: History links
Midterm Exam
M 1
W 3
F 5
History: Law, Employment, and Rights in and outside of the Home
Sapiro, Chapter 13: "Work, Employment, and the Economics of Gender"
Thorstein Veblen [MS1]
Report of the President's Commission on the Status of Women (1960), Betty
Friedan [both from MS2]
Web Resource: Workplace links



M 15
W 17
F 19
Sapiro, pp. 356-90 from Chapter 11: "Consenting Adults? Personal and Sexual
Relationships"; Adrienne Rich [MS2]
Kimmel, "Clarence, William, Iron Mike, Tailhook, Senator Packwood, Spur
Posse, Magic,....and Us" [CP]; Susan Brownmiller, Anita Hill, Ruth
Bader Ginsburg [all from MS2]
Sapiro, pp. 286-318 from Chapter 9: "Law, Policy, Government, and the State"
Web Resource: Politics links
Su 21
M 22
W 24
F 26
Screening of film: Thelma and Louise (1991), 7 pm in Maybank 112.
Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" [X]
Discussion of film: Thelma and Louise (1991)
Screening of film: Boys on the Side (1995), 7 pm in ECTR 118.
Discussion of film: Boys on the Side (1995)
M 29
W 31
F 2
Sapiro, Chapter 12: "Reproduction, Parenthood, and Childcare"; Ellen Willis,
"Abortion: Whose Right to Life Is It Anyway?" [CP]; Susan Faludi,
chapter 14 from Backlash [R]
Web Resources: Health links & Politics links
Millett, from Sexual Politics (to p. 237) [MS2]; Dworkin, "Pornography: Men
Possessing Women" [MS2]; Palac, "How Dirty Pictures Changed My
Life" [CP]
Feminisms: Feminist Theories
Sapiro, Chapter 14: "Feminism and the Future"
M 5
W 7
F 9
Emma Goldman's "The Traffic in Women," Virginia Woolf [MS1]
Hayden and King, NOW Statement of Purpose, Steinem [MS2]
An SDS Statement on the Liberation of Women, Beverly Jones, Redstockings
M 12
W 14
F 16
de Beauvoir (pp. 3-6 only), Greer, Koedt [MS2]
Faludi, Introduction to Backlash [MS2], Vasquez, "Appearences" [X]
Forman, "Stoplight Politics" [X]; Collins, "Black Women and Motherhood" [CP]

M 19
W 21
F 23
Gloria Naylor, Mama Day (1988)

M 26
W 28
Women's Studies
Sapiro, Chapter 1
F 7
Final Exam. 8:00 - 11:00 am.

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: DUE in class, January 29.
      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: DUE in class, February 12.
      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:
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.

How to Use the WMST200-002 Listserv
Here are instructions on how to use the WMST200-002 Listserv. Use your handout "Using Your UNIX Account on Edisto" for instructions on how to log on to Edisto and how to use electronic mail. In all the examples, the E-mail software, Pine, is being used. This E-mail software is currently being used on Edisto and is described in the handout also.
Subscribing to the list:
To become a member of the mailing list, WMST200-002, you must first subscribe to the mailing list by sending a message to WMST200-002-Request@cofc.edu. WMST200-002-Request is used anytime that you are asking the mail server to do something. It is the mail server that actually subscribes you to the list, WMST200-002. Below is an example of how you would subscribe to the WMST200-002 mailing list.
To: WMST200-002-request@cofc.edu
----- Message Text -----
Unsubscribing from the mailing list:
If you decide that you no longer want to be on the mailing list you have to tell the mail server to take you off the list or unsubscribe. You once again have to use the address WMST200-002-Request@cofc.edu to do this. Below is an example or how to unsubscribe to the list WMST200-002.
To: WMST200-002-request@cofc.edu
----- Message Text -----
Using the mailing list:
Now that you have subscribed and you are member of the mailing list, you will want to send messages to the group. You send your message to the address WMST200-002@cofc.edu, because you are sending the message to everyone in the list and not requesting that the mail server do something.
To: WMST200-002@cofc.edu
Subject: Response to discussion about gender and education
----- Message Text -----
In the body of the message, you would type the message you want to
send to the entire group.
If you need help using this list, you may call Academic Computing at 953-5569 and ask for Sue Dowd.


Gender and Women's Studies: Links
Objectives | Requirements | Computing | Grading | Assignments

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Department of English and Communication | Women's Studies Program | College of Charleston

This page was last updated on 4 April 1999.