Approved by Univesity Studies Sub-committee.  A2C2 action pending.

University Studies Course Approval

Unity and Diversity: Critical Analysis

 

Department or Program Women’s Studies
Course Number 373
Semester Hours 3
Frequency of Offering Spring semester (1 section of 25 students)
Course Title Feminist Theory/Process
Catalog Description This course seeks to understand the creation and perpetuation of gender inequalities and their relation to other systems of inequality. This course will seek a broad understanding of the historical development of various strands of Western feminist thought and the range of interpretive possibilities such thought has opened up. Interdisciplinary readings investigate how feminist theory and process have affected our lives and our understanding of literature, philosophy, political science, law, science, film, history, sociology and medicine.
This is an existing course previously approved by A2C2: Yes
This is a new course proposal: No
Proposal Category: Unity and Diversity: Critical Analysis
Departmental Contact: Tamara Berg
Email Address: tberg@winona.edu

 

The proposed course is designed to satisfy the requirements in Unity and Diversity: Critical Analysis

 

Catalogue Description

This course seeks to understand the creation and perpetuation of gender inequalities and their relation to other systems of inequality. This course will seek a broad understanding of the historical development of various strands of Western feminist thought and the range of interpretive possibilities such thought has opened up. Interdisciplinary readings investigate how feminist theory and process have affected our lives and our understanding of literature, philosophy, political science, law, science, film, history, sociology and medicine.

General Course Information

This course is a University Studies Course in the Unity and Diversity Core that satisfies 3 credits of the Critical Analysis University Studies requirement.

This course is an interdisciplinary examination of the roots of feminist theory in a dream of radical social change, its rising influence on (and acceptance/containment in) the academy, and the conflicts and contradictions it has embraced, repressed, and endured. This course will examine feminism’s connections and disconnections with other global critical discourses, including poststructuralism, postcolonialism and cultural studies, as well as such emergent fields as gender studies and gay and lesbian studies.

A major goal of this course is to confront controversies over race, reproduction, sexuality, economics and identity while resisting reductive theories, arguments and opinions. Additionally, students will be asked to examine attempts to discredit feminism; to evaluate the relation of academics to activism, theory to practice; to assess the challenges and the problems facing feminism as it moves into the twenty-first century; and to offer strategies for change.

Course objectives:

Increase awareness of the multiplicity of feminist theories

• Further the ability to critically examine theoretical assumptions

• Develop the ability to synthesize and assess theoretical arguments

• Stimulate the use of written and oral communication as a means to express ideas in a theoretical discussion

• Encourage the envisioning of social changes which might bring about gender equality

• Increase awareness of how feminist theories relate to our lives

 

Course outline of the major topics and subtopics:

I. Sexuality and Gender

a. Theories of gender/sexuality

b. Commodification of race, gender, sexuality

c. Women’s studies vs. gender studies

II. Theories of Difference

a. Mechanics of constructing "otherness"

b. Critique of claims of objectivity in social sciences and tendencies to marginalize, totalize and objectify the "subject"

c. Subject written vs. writing/speaking subject

d. Identity politics/epistemological and ideological assumptions

e. Activism/adopting identities that resist racism, homophobia, sexism

III. The Status of Science, Technology, Academic Disciplines

a. Feminism and the transformation of the academy

b. Recovering invisible women; testing paradigms (analyzing race, class, gender connections)

c. Myth of objectivity, bias in "hard" science, social science and the arts

d. Analysis of subject positions (how the subject of science is constructed)

e. Deconstruct binary oppositions that structure scientific inquiry

f. Feminist literary criticism

IV. Feminist Issues, Activism and the National Scene

a. Race, class, sexuality

b. Women and medicine

c. Reproductive issues

d. Sex equality under law

V. American Feminism in an International Frame

a. Ethnocentric/phallocentric biases

b. Interrelationships of nationality, masculinity and femininity—"the personal is international"

c. Gendered politics in the national arena: migrant workers, proxy brides, Mexican labor unions, feminists against militarization, global prostitution

d. Nationalism, war and peace

 

Rationale for Unity and Diversity: Critical Analysis University Studies Course Designation

Critical Analysis University Studies Course Objective (a). Students will evaluate the validity and reliability of information. bulletStudents examine and analyze different strands of Western feminist thought and the range of interpretive possibilities such thought has opened up. Students investigate how feminist theory and process have affected our lives and our understanding of literature, philosophy, political science, law, science, film, history, sociology and medicine. Students read a variety of theoretical essays encompassing a broad range of feminist thought, including but not limited to readings that address gender identity, sexuality, race, class, violence, human relationships, and science and ways of knowing. Students analyze, compare and critique theoretical readings in a variety of formats: discussion, journaling, exams and quizzes, an oral interview project, and collaborative group projects. bulletStudents also examine and analyze some of the conflicts and contradictions within the "canon" of feminist theory while considering feminism’s connections and disconnections with other major critical discourses, including poststructuralism, postcolonialism and cultural studies, as well as such emergent fields as gender studies and gay and lesbian studies. bulletStudents demonstrate knowledge of these theories through discussion, journaling, written examination, and oral presentation of their ideas, arguments, explanations and theories.

 

Critical Analysis University Studies Course Objective (b). Students will analyze modes of thought, expressive works, arguments, explanations, or theories. bulletThis course presents students with a body of reading loosely grouped under the rubric "feminist theory." Put most simply, feminist theory is a body of writing that attempts to describe, explain, and analyze the conditions of women’s lives. Feminist theories examine and try to explain the causes and conditions in which men are more powerful and men’s production, ideas, and activities are seen as having greater value and higher status than woman’s. For may feminist theorists this comes to mean examining and explaining all structures of domination, whether based on gender, race, class, age, sexuality, nation, or some other difference. Students read widely, centering on U.S. feminist theory produced in the last two hundred years. Readings include some British, French, and Third World theorists who have been particularly important to the development of feminist theory in the United States. bulletStudents focus their analysis of the material through discussion, journaling, written examination, and oral presentation of their ideas, arguments, explanations and theories.

 

 

Critical Analysis University Studies Course Objective (c). Students will recognize possible inadequacies or biases in the evidence given to support arguments or conclusions. bulletStudying complex and varying strains of feminist thought provides students with diverse models for critical analysis—feminist theory itself is focused on recognizing possible inadequacies or biases in the theories, arguments, and assumptions that underlie patriarchal American society and that serve to define structures of domination. bulletFurthermore, students will be exposed to a range of feminist thought that, when analyzed as a whole, calls into question possible inadequacies or biases within the theories themselves. For example, psychoanalytic feminist theories locate the sources of gender asymmetry in the familial and psychosexual processes that form individual psyches. Materialist feminist theories pay more attention to the ways that concrete economic an social conditions contribute to gender inequality. Feminist theorists of color ground their theory in the assumption that women’s lives cannot be understood without also understanding the role of race/ethnicity in shaping their experience. Through discussion, journaling, written examination, and oral presentation of their ideas, arguments, explanations and theories, students will learn to recognize the assumptions that underpin each theory and to understand how they affect the theory’s explanation of women’s situation—students will analyze both strengths and weaknesses.

 

Critical Analysis University Studies Course Objective (d). Students will advance and support claims. bulletStudents will advance and support claims by demonstrating their knowledge of these theories through discussion, journaling, written examination, and oral presentation of their ideas, arguments, explanations and theories.

 

 

 

 

UNIVERSITY STUDIES COURSE PROPOSAL SAMPLE SYLLABUS

 

 

WS373: Feminist Theory/Practice

General Course Information

This course is a University Studies Course in the Unity and Diversity Core that satisfies 3 credits of the Multicultural Perspectives University Studies requirement. The outcomes listed for the University Studies Social Science Requirement specify that the course include requirements and learning activities that promote students’ abilities to...

(a) evaluate the validity and reliability of information;

(b) analyze modes of thought, expressive works, arguments, explanations, or theories;

(c) recognize possible inadequacies or biases in the evidence given to support arguments or conclusions; and

(d) advance and support claims.

 

Requirements and learning activities that facilitate these outcomes are highlighted in bold underline script throughout this syllabus.

 

 

 

Required Texts

American Feminist Thought at Century’s End. Linda S. Kauffman, ed. Cambridge & Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. 1993.

 

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Audre Lorde. Trumansburg, NY: Crossing Press. 1984.

 

This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color. C. Moraga and G. Anzald�a, eds. New York: Kitchen Table Press. 1981.

Supplemental Texts

*Distributed weekly, these texts will vary widely, be of topical interest and will include short stories, journal articles, popular magazine articles, print advertisements, popular music, television advertisements and/or clips from tv shows. (I will provide many of these texts; however, when you are team-teaching, you will be required to contribute pertinent supplemental texts.)

 

Other Requirements

*A two-pocket folder (a "portfolio") in which you will be asked to keep all course-related material (written assignments, Q-Cards, team teaching material, etc.). Please bring portfolios to all conferences!!! Portfolios will be turned in to me with your final paper for the course and will be returned after I have assigned final grades.

*A bound notebook, no smaller than 5" x 8". This will become your course log, or journal, and you will write in it 2 times per week, responding to assigned readings and class discussions and detailing the things you have been thinking about in connection with this class.

 

 

Course Description

While much of the theory we learn in school arises from traditional academic disciplines, feminist theories often come from places between and outside those boundaries. Feminist theories are connected to (and work to explain) women’s experiences, their representations and their relative positions in societies. Therefore, the personal is not only political, it is theoretical.

In this class, we will seek a broad understanding of the historical development of different strands of Western feminist thought and the range of interpretive possibilities such thought has opened up. We will investigate how feminist theory and process have affected our lives and our understanding of literature, philosophy, political science, law, science, film, history, sociology and medicine.

We will examine the roots of feminist theory in a dream of radical social change, its rising influence on (and acceptance/containment in) the academy, and the conflicts and contradictions it has embraced, repressed, and endured. We will consider feminism’s connections and disconnections with other major critical discourses, including poststructuralism, postcolonialism and cultural studies, as well as such emergent fields as gender studies and gay and lesbian studies.

 

 

Course objectives:

Increase awareness of the multiplicity of feminist theories

• Further the ability to critically examine theoretical assumptions

• Develop the ability to synthesize and assess theoretical arguments

• Stimulate the use of written and oral communication as a means to express your ideas in a theoretical discussion

• Encourage the envisioning of social changes which might bring about gender equality

• Increase awareness of how feminist theories relate to our lives

 

 

 

 

Course Policies and Procedures

Participation

This is an advanced undergraduate course. You are expected to learn from every possible source--from your readings, your peers, your life experience, your professor.

Discussion

Participating in discussions is one of the best ways to learn. You are expected to contribute your insights to the class. The culture of the class will encourage self-expression and everyone’s contributions will be treated with respect. Doing excellent written work is not enough to demonstrate adequate performance in an advanced university course. Accordingly, I will encourage (even call on!) people to participate in discussion. Preparation is obviously a key to succeeding in this course. Come to class ready to discuss the readings, your opinions, and your experiences.(a,b,c,d)

Attendance and Q-Cards

Attendance is a requirement of the course, as is active participation in the classroom. To help you organize your participation and preparation, and to allow you to help set the agenda for discussion, you are required to maintain a collection of Q-Cards. On a file card (I will provide these), write your name on one side. On the other side, keep a neatly-written record of key questions about the readings. Date each question and be sure to give a specific page reference. You may ask questions of fact, context, clarification--anything that gives articulate form to your curiosity and engagement with the text(s). If your Q-Card is drawn, you will usually be asked to elaborate on the content of your card. This will get easier as we go along.

 

Sample Q-Card content:

What does Hogeland mean when she refers to a "click!" moment? (Ms. p. 20)

I think that Olive Shriner’s argument that woman would "end war when her voice is fully, finally, and clearly heard..." has not panned out. Look at the drive for women to enter the Citadel, receive equal treatment within the military, and serve our country. (from Women and Labor, MF p. 20.)

What does Woolf mean when she says "Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses"? (from A Room of One’s Own, MF p. 23.)

 

At the beginning of every class, I will collect the Q-Cards, which we will use to shape the discussion (I will call randomly on people from the submitted questions). I will take attendance by checking the Q-Cards. Over the course of the quarter, you are allowed two "passes"--you may withdraw from the question pool by not handing in a question, or you may decline to answer if you are called on.

Attendance is mandatory. If you have more than 4 classes for which I have no recorded questions (either because you "passed" or because you were physically absent), you will automatically receive an "F" in the course.

Q-Cards are not due for sessions where your one of the team teachers (see below).

 

Assignments

Journal Entries (20 pts) 10%

Please make 2 entries per week, detailing the reading you have been doing and the things you have been thinking about in connection with this class. Your journal entries can be polished or rambling as long as they deal with something related to the class. Entries should be 1 to 2 pages long. (a,b,c,d)

Bulletin Board Postings (20 pts) 10%

To begin the second week of class--further instructions to come!!! (d)

Written Report (80 pts) 40%

The final project in this course will ask you to focus on a particular issue or problem in feminist theory. You will choose to research your topic, by doing "scholarly" research (i.e., library research or other academic research) and "field" research (i.e., conducting interviews, volunteering at a women’s shelter or Planned Parenthood, analyzing your own "cultural" experience). Your final paper will be 12-15 pages. (a,b,c,d)

Outline and Supplementary/Annotated Bibliography (20 pts) 10%

An outline of the paper, along with a supplementary bibliography, is due during the sixth week of class. We will discuss this project as the quarter progresses. (a,b)

Oral Presentation (30 pts) 15%

You will present a 20-minute synopsis of the major arguments structuring your paper and the conclusions you have drawn to the class as a whole (beginning in week eleven). (a,b,c,d)

Team Teaching (30 pts) 15%

You and a colleague will team up to lead class once during the quarter. You will be asked to historically and theoretically situate the reading for that day and facilitate discussion (you will have all Q-Cards at your disposal). (a,b,c,d)

Evaluation

Grades are based on a point system. A total of 200 points are possible. Your final grade will be based on the total points you earn out of the possible 200 (=90% is an "A"; 80-89% is a "B"; 70-79% is a "C"; 60-69% is a D; fewer than 60% is an "F").

 

Conferences and Office Hours: During Week e we will be meeting for individual conferences. During these scheduled conferences we will discuss completed work, work in progress, and anything else you would like to go over. Please bring portfolios to all conferences!!!

 

I hope to see all of you in my office before and after scheduled conferences. Feel free to drop by to discuss any aspect of the class or to just say hello!

Women’s Studies 348/Berg

Winter 1996/7

 

Herstory: From Olive Schreiner to the "Second Wave"

Week 1:

Introductions

Receive handouts:

• "Bringing Together Feminist Theory and Practice: A Collective Interview"

• "Let’s Get Real About Feminism"

• "Fear of Feminism"

 

 

Week 2:

Discuss handouts

Discuss Humm, pp. 1-15

Supplemental showing: excerpts of Naomi Wolf discussing her book, The Beauty Myth

 

 

Week 3:

Meet in Computer Lab (exact location TBA)

An Introduction to Electronic Bulletin Boards

Discuss Humm, pp. 16-34

Receive handouts

• Assorted popular culture "texts"

 

Discuss Humm, pp. 35-50

Examine historical reviews/reception of Simone de Beauvior’s The Second Sex (published 1949)

Receive handout

"Simone de Beauvoir and Women: Just Who Does She Think ‘We’ Is?" (Elizabeth Spelman)

 

 

Week 4:

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss de Beauvior, Spelman and Humm, pp. 323-345 ("History")

 

 

Week 5:

Theories, Politics, Documents and Debates: "The Second Wave"

Discuss Humm, pp. 51-74

Journals due

 

 

 

Week 6:

Discuss Humm, pp. 75-86

Supplementary Viewing: Dream Worlds II

 

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss Humm, pp. 346-366 ("Culture")

Receive handouts (TBA)

Week 7:

Riding "The Third Wave"

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss Humm, pp. 87-121 (Socialist/Marxist Feminism)

Discuss handouts

1/16 (Thursday):

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss Humm, pp. 260-295 ("Sexuality and Reproduction")

Receive handouts (TBA)

Week 8:

SCHEDULED CONFERENCES

Midterm Exam

Receive handouts

• Selections from This Bridge Called My Back

• "The Race for Theory" (Barbara Christian)

 

 

Week 9:

Discuss handouts

Discuss Humm, pp. 122-141 ("Asian, Black, and Women of Color Lesbianisms/Feminisms")

Receive handout

"Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" (Adrienne Rich)

 

 

Week 10:

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss Humm, pp. 142-175 ("Lesbian Feminism")

Discuss handout

DUE: 1-page project proposals/abstracts

 

 

Week 11:

Discuss Humm, pp. 181-192 ("Liberal Feminism"); pp. 251-258 ("Nature"); pp. 296-303 ("Peace")

Receive handout

"Laugh of the Medusa" (H�l�ne Cixous)

 

 

 

 

Week 12:

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss Humm, pp. 193-226 ("Difference")

Discuss handout

Receive handouts on poststructuralism (TBA)

 

 

Week 13:

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss Humm, pp. 367-388 ("Language and Writing")

Receive handout

"The Claims of a Common Culture: Gender, Race, Class, and the Canon" (Elizabeth Fox-Genovese)

 

Team teachers: ___________________________________________________________

Discuss Humm, pp. 389-403 ("Feminism and Education")

Discuss handout

 

 

Week 14: Research Presentations (papers due)

 

Week 15: Research Presentations (papers due)

 

 

***Final Exam: See Schedule of Classes for time and location.