Curriculum Overview 

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary major in which students learn how social constructions of gender and sexuality shape both academic discourses and lived experiences. In their coursework and independent research, students learn to apply feminist theories, queer theory, and other critical theories to reflect on women's and men's experiences within a variety of contexts: historical, economic, and cross-cultural. The courses in the major help students to analyze critically the ways gendered perspectives inform fundamental concepts like race, class, or ethnicity. The major augments more traditional approaches to studying women and gender by having students engage current scholarly inquiry into sexuality and into the diversity of global perspectives on gender and sexuality.

A major in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies consists of 10 courses.

Three courses are required:

WGS 210 (Gendered Perspectives)

300-level WGS course in feminist theory

400-level WGS Senior Capstone

One course that focuses on sexuality within a women's and gender studies framework, chosen from the following group:

WGS 242 (Gender, Sexuality in Antiquity); WGS 245 (Constructing Sexualities), WGS 356 (European Sexualities), or WGS 355 (The Body)

One non-western course in WGS, which emphasizes "non-Western cultures and societies, including indigenous, colonial, and post-colonial contexts." Courses may be chosen from the following group:

WGS 260 (Gender and Global Childhoods) or WGS 282 (Women, Culture and Development).

The chairperson may also approve another WGSS course with substantial cross-cultural or transnational framework for this requirement.

Five courses in the major must be at or above the 300 level.

Courses in the major must be chosen from two different divisions (humanities, natural sciences and social sciences).

A minor in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies consists of 6 courses.

Three of these are mandatory:

WGS 210 (Gendered Perspectives)

300-level WGS course in feminist theory

400-level WGS Senior Capstone

The other three are electives.

Courses in the minor must be chosen from two different divisions (humanities, natural sciences and social sciences).

Joint majors and minors in the Women’s and Gender Studies Program have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: Advanced Studies in England Program in Bath, England; Butler University (IFSA) National University of Ireland in Galway; SIT Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development, SIT Netherlands: International Perspectives on Sexuality and Gender, and SU Abroad Florence, Italy.

The program also encourages students to consider IFSA Argentina: Advanced Argentine Universities Program (Concentration in Diversity, Minority and Gender Studies) and DIS: Prostitution and the Sex Trade Program. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered 

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement; (W) Writing requirement.

210. Gendered Perspectives. (S)

Focusing on issues related to women’s experiences in the contemporary United States and in other societies around the globe, this broad core course in women’s, gender and sexuality studies explores basic concepts, methods of inquiry, empirical studies and symbolic interpretations from a feminist perspective. WGS 210 is required for the WGSS major or minor and Joint Majors. Students who are considering a WGSS major or minor or Joint Major are urged to take WGS 210 early in their college career.                                                                                                                                      Luttrell-Rowland, Kibler

213. Black American Film. (A)

An introduction to film studies using black film as a genre of Hollywood and independent film. Covers the work of Oscar Michaux through the “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s and beyond. Explores films as social commentary in their particular historical contexts. Particular attention is given to screen analysis of segregation, sexuality, class differences and more. Same as AFS/AMS/TDF 213.                                                                                                                                            Willard

231. Women Writers I. (H)

A study of the experiences of women as presented in selected British and American literature from the Middle Ages through the 19th century, as presented from a variety of cultural perspectives. We will consider various readings of the texts, including those that emphasize feminist theory and historical context. Among others, we will be reading Jane Austen, Aphra Behn, Anne Bradstreet, the Brontës, George Eliot and Mary Wollstonecraft. Same as ENG 231.                                                Hartman

233. Women Writers II. (H)

A study of the changing world of American and British women in the 20th century as portrayed by women writers. The critical emphasis will be on feminist theory and the political, social and cultural background of the times. Among others, we will read works by Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton, Edith Wharton and Virginia Woolf. Same as ENG 233.                                                                                                                                                                                           Hartman

244. Women in the Economy. (S)

An analysis of the roles women and men have historically played and continue to play in the economy, both within and outside of the labor market. Topics include the historical conditions under which dominant gender ideals emerged, the value of unpaid work and national accounting, occupational segregation and labor market discrimination. Economic and interdisciplinary approaches are used. Prerequisite: ECO 100 and 103, or permission of the instructor. Same as ECO 244.                                                                                                                                                                       Nersisyan

245. Constructing Sexualities: LGBTIQ Life, Theory and Culture. (H)

Is same-sex attraction “natural”? What is the difference between “transgender” and “intersex”? What is “heteronormativity”? What does it mean to “queer” a bar or an academic discipline? Can we say that there were “gay” Greeks and Romans? Why do we use all these letters? In this team-taught course, faculty from the natural sciences (Psychology, Biology), social sciences (Law, BOS, Anthropology), and the humanities (Classics, Linguistics, Comparative Literary Studies) will help students better understand issues surrounding gender and sexual orientation that we encounter in academic discourse, popular culture, and everyday life.                                                                           Bentzel

250. Witchcraft and Sorcery in a Global Context. (S)

In this course we will consider how the categories of “witchcraft” and “sorcery” have been used in Anthropology, both to describe mystical acts (particularly mystical attacks) and as an ethnographic metaphor to discuss the pressures of communal life for individuals. Course content will consist of, but not be limited to, witchcraft and sorcery as a “social strain gauge,” witchcraft and sorcery as expressions of symbolic power, the gendered name of witchcraft and sorcery, as well as witchcraft and sorcery under conditions of Western-style modernity. Same as AFS/ANT/RST 250.         Bastian

256. African American Literature I. (H)

Significant writers from the colonial period through the 19th century are studied to establish the Black literary tradition in the developing nation. Same as AFS/AMS/ENG 256.                           Bernard

257. African American Literature II. (H)

Selected writers from the Harlem Renaissance through the Black Aesthetics movement compose the modern study of the Black literary tradition in America. Same as AFS/AMS/ENG 257.            Bernard

260. Gender and Global Childhoods. (NW) (S)

This course introduces students to gender and childhood studies. We examine the historical and theoretical foundations to the construction of childhood in a comparative and international perspective. We will focus on how gender, time, and place, shape understandings of childhood.  Topics covered include child labor, militarization, children's rights, citizenship and displacement, and the burgeoning field of girlhood studies. Same as IST 260.                                         Luttrell-Rowland

282. Women, Culture and Development. (NW) (S)

Role of gender in different cultures across the non-industrialized world and impact of economic development on the position of women and gender relations in these societies. Women’s contribution to economic and social change and the extent to which conventional methods of analysis in development economics can be applied to their situations. Examination of the development of the “Third World woman” in the development literature. Prerequisite: ECO 100 and 103, or permission of the instructor. Same as ECO 282.                                                                                                         Zein-Elabdin

310. American Masculinities. (S)

This course explores the importance of masculinity and its various constructions in American history and the contemporary period. We begin by examining the theoretical and historical foundations of American masculinities. We will focus on key ways in which men (and women) sustain and recreate masculinities. Topics include manhood and the workplace, politics, sports, courtship, fatherhood, military, immigration and ethnicity, crime and prisons and religion. Same as AMS/HIS 310.                                                                                                                                                      Deslippe

320. Women in American Society and Politics since 1890. (S)

An interdisciplinary study of the various ways women have participated in American society and politics. Topics include the suffrage movement, modern modes of political participation and the New Deal and World War II. Critical analysis of the meaning of feminism and special attention to the post-1945 period. Same as AMS/HIS 320.                                                                                               Stevenson

322. Gender and Politics from a Global Perspective. (S)

This course explores how gender impacts politics and how the political system impacts women’s equality in the United States and around the world. The first part of the course evaluates theories and evidence from the political science scholarship about the “gender gap” in women’s political participation, preferences, leadership, and policy influence. The second part of the course focuses on women’s access to health care, education, employment, and legal/political rights in the developing world. We also consider how globalization, migration, religion, and conflict/wars impact the status of women around the world. Same as GOV 322.                                                                                       Hasunuma

325. Gender at Work. (S)

What is women's work? How has it changed over the course of American history? How is it valued? This course explores the world of women's work by comparing it to "men's" work. We will focus on wage earning, caregiving, sex work, housework, "double days," and "glass ceilings."  We will especially consider women's strategies of survival and resistance from various demographic, racial, and ethnic groups. Same as AMS 325.                                                                                                                                Deslippe

345. Sociology of Sexuality. (S)

This course examines the idea that sex is not a natural act; instead, sex and human sexuality are socially constructed. We will examine how power—in a variety of forms—is at play in our social and cultural understandings and experiences of sex and sexuality. We will examine a variety of approaches to the study of sexuality as we consider sex, gender and sexual orientation, sexual relationships, the body, race/ethnicity, the commodification of sex, reproduction and contraception, and sexual violence. Prerequisite: SOC 100. Same as SOC 345.                                                          Faulkner

350. Sociology of Gender. (S)

An examination of the transmission of gender expectations and their impact on women’s and men’s educational and employment patterns, interpersonal relationships, psychological traits, family patterns and sexual behavior. Consideration of the role of biology, the intersection of gender with other variables such as social class and the impact of micro- and macro-scale change. Prerequisite: SOC 100. Same as SOC 350.                                                                                                                                 Auster

351. Politics of Gender in Contemporary Art. (A)

An advanced seminar examining the challenges posed by the modern political movement of feminism to traditional ways of thinking about, looking at and making art. Emphasis is placed on work made during the last three decades of the 20th century. Questions considered include the feminist challenge to the cultural stereotype of “Artist”; women’s efforts to define a “female” aesthetic (or, is there such a thing?); the feminist critique of visual representation. Prerequisite: ART 103 or permission of the instructor. Same as ART 351.                                                                                  Aleci

355. The Body. (S)

Examines contemporary theoretical and ethnographic discussions relating to the human body. Topics covered will include social constructions of gender, reproduction and reproductive technologies, cultural ideologies of sexuality, social inscriptions on the body, “the body in extremis,” cultural depositions of the corpse and what some might call hybrid, cyborg or even virtual bodies. Prerequisite: ANT 200 or permission of the instructor. Same as ANT 355.                                      Bastian

356. European Sexualities. (S) (E)

This course explores the transnational history of European sexualities from the 18th century through the present with special focus on the intersection of sexuality with politics and Foucauldian, performance, and queer theories.  Important themes, including gendered citizenship, dictatorship, democracy, dechristianization, and racialized sexualities, provide a framework within which specific topics such as female political activity, prostitution, homosexuality, bisexuality, pornography, the new woman, pronatalism, sexual revolution, and fertility are examined. Same as HIS 356.      Mitchell

365. Queens, Goddesses and Archaeology. (S)

This course will consider how archaeologists examine gender and interpret the roles of women in ancient subsistence economies, politics and religions. To achieve this goal we will discuss the roles of women in egalitarian and stratified societies and explore the actions and status of both high-ranking and everyday women in the ancient world. Prerequisites: ANT 100, ANT 102, ANT 200 or permission of the instructor. Same as ANT 365.                                                                                                      M. A. Levine

388. Public Health Research: Pregnancy Outcomes in American Women. (S)

This interdisciplinary seminar will explore women’s health and pregnancy outcomes through the lenses of both science and social analysis. In addition to reading and discussion on influences on pregnancy outcomes, students will examine results of surveys of Amish women in Lancaster County, African American and Hispanic women in Lancaster City and women of child-bearing age in central Pa. This course is supported by funds from the PA Dept. of Health. Prerequisite: any course that includes methods of data analysis or permission. Same as PUB/STS/GOV 388.                             Everett

403. Selected Studies in Modern European History. (S)

Readings and research in selected aspects of the political, social, and cultural history of Modern Europe. Seminar topics include “Gender in Modern Europe,” “Social Discipline and Social Deviance: The Construction of Modern European Subjectivity,” “The French Revolution,” “The Politics of Memory,” “Human Rights and Civil Rights,” and “Urban History.” Some of these courses have prerequisites (see relevant departmental offerings). Same as HIS 403.                        Schrader, Mitchell

410. Girl Culture. (H)

This class explores the popular culture of American girls. We consider the representation of girls in American popular culture and the cultural constructions of “girlhood” itself. We follow girls as consumers, spectators, readers and producers of popular culture in contemporary and historical contexts. We are particularly interested in the role that popular culture plays in several contemporary problems associated with American girls: self-esteem, early sexualization, eating disorders, and violence. Our main case studies are dolls, children’s television, the quinceanera, and girl zines. Prerequisites: WGS 210 or AMS 100 or permission. Same as AMS 410.                            Kibler

462. Toni Morrison. (H)

Permission of the instructor required. Same as ENG 462.                                                                     Bernard

490. Independent Study.

Permission of chairperson.                                                                                                                                      Staff

Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2015-2016 

  •  Feminist Theory.
  • Madonnas, Mothers, Virgins. ​