Curriculum Overview 

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary program, offering a major and a minor, 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 program help students to analyze critically the ways gendered perspectives inform fundamental concepts like race, class or ethnicity. The major and minor augment 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 (Gender, Sexuality and Power )

WGS 373 (Feminist Theory)

WGS 473 (Senior Seminar)

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).

For the classes of 2017 and 2018, a minor in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies consists of six courses, chosen in consultation with the chairperson: four courses in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies chosen from at least two different divisions (humanities, natural sciences and social sciences); WGS 210; and an advanced seminar or independent study.

Beginning with the class of 2019, a minor in Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies consists of six courses.

Three of these are mandatory:

WGS 210 (Gender, Sexuality and Power )

WGS 373 (Feminist Theory)

WGS 473 (Senior Seminar)

The other three are electives.

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

Majors and minors in the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality 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. Gender, Sexuality and Power. (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

212. Sex, Lies, Shakespeare, and U. (H)

This course provides a general introduction to Shakespeare’s language and dramatic literature: we will read comedies, tragedies, and histories; discuss text; analyze film adaptations; consider Shakespeare's relationship to modern culture; and attend a live performance. Meets pre-1800 English major requirement.                                                                    


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.           


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.  


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.  


242. Gender and Sexuality in Antiquity. (H)

The aim of this course is to explore the cultural constructions of gender and sexuality in the ancient societies of Greece and Rome. We will approach questions such as the status of women and the context of misogyny, the societal role of same-sex relations, the presentation and visualization of sexuality, desire and the body. We will examine archaeological, visual and literary evidence through assigned reading and class discussion. This interdisciplinary approach will allow us to gain an understanding of gender and sexuality in antiquity and will offer insights into the shaping of our own cultural and personal attitudes. Same as CLS 242.                                                                                          


244. Gender 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. 


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, History) 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.    


247. History of Fashionable Dress. (A)
A survey of the history of fashionable dress in Europe and America from the Renaissance to the present, examining men’s and women’s clothing in the context of artistic, historical, and cultural change in the modern period. This course will be divided into three units: Chronology; Object/Theory; and Interpretation. Students will select an interpretative context in which to situate their final project: cultural history, art history, or gender studies. Prerequisite: ART 103, ART 241, WGS 210, or permission of the instructor. Same as ART 247.                                    


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.           


256. African American Literature I: Declarations of Independence and the Narratives of Slavery (H) (NW)

This course covers African American narratives of slavery from the colonial period through the early 19th Century. The Declaration of Independence, the founding narrative of American selfhood and agency, provides the discursive background of the course. The Declaration did not mention Slavery, thereby erasing Slaves' experiences in the American narrative about peoplehood. We will engage the logic, rhetoric and contradictions of the document by pluralizing "declaration" to broaden and then examine how Slaves' oral narratives (the Spirituals, etc.) and texts (by Phyllis Wheatley, Oladuah Equaino, etc.) were figurative and literal declarations of independence that simultaneously question the Declaration's principles and ideology and affirm its transcendent meanings in the writers' discourses on Slavery, Black humanity and selfhood, race, the American Dream, etc. Same as AFS/AMS/ENG 256.


257. African American Literature II: Meaning of the Veil and African American Identity. (H, NW)

In The Souls of Black Folk (1903), the African American writer W. E. B. Du Bois introduces two concepts--the "veil" and "double-consciousness”--to explain the black experience in America. This course, which covers African American literature from Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance, the Black Aesthetic/Black Power movement and beyond, will examine the recurrence of the veil metaphor (and its synonyms) generally and engage Du Bois's formulation of the concept specifically in the cultural and historical contexts that frame this period's literature. We will explore how writers (Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, etc.) engage topics (race, gender, music, identity, etc.) that reinforce, expand and/or complicate Du Bois's metaphor. Same as AFS/AMS/ENG 257.           


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.           


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.            


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.              


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.     


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.       


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.     


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.      


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.          


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.       


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.            


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.


364. Sociology of the Family. (S)

Sociologists argue that the family occupies a contradictory location—as both a very private and public institution. In this course, we examine the family and its changing nature through a sociological lens. We focus on the diversity of family forms and family experiences, particularly across race-ethnicity, class, and gender lines. We consider family theories and historical variations in American family forms. We also analyze varieties in childbearing and childrearing experiences both in the U.S. and abroad. Prerequisite: SOC 100. Same as SOC 364.          


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

367. Women and Gender in Italian Literature. (H)

This course focuses on Italian women writes from the nineteenth century to the present. Authors may include Aleramo, Banti, Morante, Ginzburg, Maraini, and Ferrante, among others. Literary analyses of the texts will be placed in the context of Italian cultural history, the history of Italian feminism and post-feminism, and the tradition of Italian feminist philosophy, allowing for a deeper understanding of the ever-changing role of gender roles and dynamics in modern Italy. Taught in Italian. Prerequisite: ITA 310 or permission of the instructor. Same as ITA67.  

Faleschini Lerner

383. Sex, Lies and Book Burning: Life and Work of Wilhelm Reich. (S)

Upper level seminar: A survey of the life and work of famous psychoanalyst, controversial laboratory scientist Wilhelm Reich. The course reviews a wide range of Reich’s writings from psychology, political science, to biology and physics (95% primary source readings). We also survey the historical context of Austria and Germany 1918-1939 and the U.S. 1939-1957. Finally we look in depth at Reich’s clash with the U.S. government over whether scientific work can be judged in a court of law and the government-ordered burning of his books in 1956 and 1960. Same as HIS/STS 383.                  


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

In this interdisciplinary seminar, students explore women’s health and reproductive outcomes while learning how to conduct meaningful research on public health topics. Students will consider complex issues related to conducting research, then explore known and/or hypothesized relationships between behavioral, biological, sociopolitical, psychological, and environmental variables and pregnancy outcomes. Students will ultimately design research centered on pregnancy outcomes in American women. Prerequisite: Any course that includes methods of data analysis and permission. Same as GOV/PBH/PUB/STS 388.        


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

425. Mujeres nuevas, viejas ideas: la construcción de la feminidad en la II República española y la dictadura franquista. (H)

This course analyzes the existing contradictions in the construction of femininity during the Spanish Second Republic and the Francoist dictatorship through a variety of texts, genres, and women authors. It pays special attention to education, children’s literature, and the figure of the female teacher, due to their relevance in gender construction. Fulfills the Peninsular literature requirement. Prerequisite: SPA 261. Taught in Spanish. Same as SPA 425.              

Caamaño Alegre

462. Toni Morrison. (H)

Permission of the instructor required. Same as ENG 462.        


490. Independent Study.

Permission of chairperson.      


Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2016-2017 

  • Feminist Theory.
  • Islamic Law, Gender and Sexuality.
  • Queer Politics and Culture.
  • Senior Seminar.