Introduction to Women’s Studies [CRN 29365]

Discipline: Women's Studies
Instructor: Pitts-Taylor
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1530
End: 1650
Field Work: Day 1 | February 28, 2018 | India
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

Introduction to Women’s Studies is an interdisciplinary course that addresses the categories of sex and gender from critical perspectives. The course will question how well the category of “women” operates as a platform for critical understanding and advocacy, and explore the commonalities and differences in women’s experiences across ethnicity, race and class and across cultures. We will begin by exploring 19th and early 20th century ideas about women’s rights in relation to the suffrage and the abolitionist movements, and address the internationalization of women’s rights at the turn of the century. We will examine the establishment of conceptions of universal women’s rights at the League of Nations and the United Nations, and trace the development of so-called “second wave” feminism, addressing the idea of gender as the social construction of sex.  We will then move on to late 20th century and contemporary writings – including queer theory, intersectionality, and transnational and postcolonial feminism. We’ll explore the debates in different eras of feminist thought, and pay attention to the multiplicity of feminist vantage points. Assignments will draw from a variety of sources, and include critical essays, literature/poetry, memoir, and film.  The course will pay special attention to global, postcolonial and transnational perspectives on sex/gender and sexuality, and include readings from feminist scholars and activists of the Global South.

Learning objectives:

  1. Understand the history of the contemporary feminist movement and its relationship to other social movements
  2. Explore gender as a social institution that is intersectional and varies across cultures
  3. Understand the relationship between gender and other forms of inequality
  4. Explore global and transnational perspectives on feminism and women’s rights


Field Work

Country: India
Day: 1
Date: February 28, 2018

This Field Class will visit a family planning organization to learn about issues of girls’ and women’s empowerment in South India, including the issues of reproductive rights and reproductive health.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about pressing human rights issues for Indian women and girls.
  2. Learn about local efforts to promote gender equality in South India.
  3. Explore the role of transnational non-governmental organizations and the relationships between local and transnational actors in social change efforts.