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Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of women's and gender studies. It will provide students with critical frameworks for thinking about the social construction of gender at the personal and institutional levels.
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  Women's and Gender Studies 111 * Spring 2012 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies Meeting time: TR 2:40-4:00 PM Meeting place: Ascension 201 CRN: 10036 Instructor: Holly Donahue Singh E-mail: Office location: Palme 105 Office hours: M 11:00-1:30, T 9:30-11, R 9:30-11 and by appointment Course Summary: WGS 111 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies Credit: 0.5 This course will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of women's and gender studies. It will provide students with critical frameworks for thinking about the social construction of gender at the personal and institutional levels. Through a focus on a series of cultural artifacts, students will examine the historical development of gendered public and private spheres, the relation of biological sex to sociological gender, the difference between sex roles and sexual stereo-types. They will attempt to understand how racism, heterosexism, and homophobia intersect with the cultural constructions of masculinity and femininity, and consider ways to promote more egalitarian gender relations. Emphasis will be placed on diverse women's significant contributions to knowledge and culture; to other areas of gender studies, including men's studies, family studies, and the study of sexuality; and to the intersections of various forms of oppression both within and outside of the U.S. Required texts  (available at the Kenyon College Bookstore):    Joni Seager, The Penguin Atlas of Women in the World   (Penguin 2009)    Michael Kimmel, Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men (Harper, 2008)    Elizabeth Fernea, Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village  (Anchor, 1969)    France Winddance Twine, Outsourcing the Womb: Race, Class, and Gestational Surrogacy in a Global Market   (Routledge, 2011)    Barbara Ehrenreich and Arlie Hochschild, eds. Global Woman: Nannies, Maids, and Sex Workers in the New Economy (Holt Paperbacks, 2004)    Other readings available on Moodle (marked with M)  Page 2 of 7 WGS 111 Spring 2012 Syllabus Course Requirements: 1.   2 exams 35% (15%, 20%) 2.   Service project and presentation 30% 3.   Beyond the classroom 10% 4.   Analysis of "Project Bolo" 10% 5.   Attendance and Participation 15% 1.   Exams: The exams will be of mixed format and may consist of short answer, identifications, quote comparisons, and/or short essay questions that will cover readings, in-class films, lecture, and in-class discussions. Exams may include a take-home component that will be due at the scheduled exam time, as well as an in-class component. One exam may also include an oral component. 2.   Service project and presentation: Women's and gender studies as a field is concerned with the application of theory and research into practice. To help you ground what you are learning, you will be required to do a service project with an organization of your choosing. More information will be posted on Moodle. In brief, you will volunteer with a community organization for a total of 15 hours and write fieldnotes (similar to, but distinct from, a  journal) about the time you spend there. More information will be provided about how to compose fieldnotes. You will be expected to produce at least ½ a page (double-spaced) of fieldnotes for each hour of volunteer time. You will then do research on an organization working on similar issues in a different context (i.e., in another country or with a different rural/urban/racial/ethnic focus). You will write a 5-page paper comparing your experiences with the work of the organization about which you conduct research using a variety of library, internet, and other resources available to you (at least 5 outside references). During our final class meetings, you will give a presentation of about 8 minutes describing the work you have done over the semester. You will submit a final portfolio of your project, including your fieldnotes and your paper, which will be evaluated along with your presentation in determining your final grade for the project. The complete portfolio should be submitted no later than 4 pm on Friday, May 4 th  [extended to Wednesday, May 9 th  at noon] 3.   Beyond the Classroom: Report and Critique of Public Event Throughout the term, I will inform you (typically in class and/or via e-mail and Moodle) of on-campus or nearby events related to course content. Please let me know if you heard of something that might be appropriate. You are required to attend 1 event of your choosing and produce a 2-3 page report and critique of the event you attended. You are welcome to write on an event I didn't inform you of, provided that I approve it in advance. Nearly any event centered on women, gender, sexuality, race, class, age, disability, ethnicity, and immigration will qualify. After you attend the event, you should write a report and critique. Provide a brief summary of the event—the who, what, when, where, and why. Be very clear about who organized this event and why. Find out what the organizers hoped to accomplish by holding the program. Discuss what you learned. What was the major "take away" information for you? Connect or reflect on the event in light of the readings and discussions we have had in class. You should also provide a brief critique of the event. Was it useful? Comment on the speaker(s) or performer(s), the setting, the support materials (if any). Comment on the  Page 3 of 7 WGS 111 Spring 2012 Syllabus audience's reactions as one indicator of the event's impact. What was especially effective about this event? What could have been improved? Did the organizers achieve their aim? Why or why not? This assignment is due any time during the term, but no later than April 17th. 4.   Analysis of Project Bolo: You and another student in the class will watch two interviews of your choosing from the internet resource Project Bolo (Project Speak), a collection of oral histories of LGBT persons from South Asia at You will draw on class readings to compare and analyze (not psychoanalyze) the ways that people interviewed present their life stories. You and your partner should meet and discuss the interviews, then collaboratively write a 2-3 page paper that you will turn in and that you will use as a resource during class discussion. You may need to do some outside research to understand parts of the interview that are unfamiliar (for example, referring to legislation governing sexual practices in India). If so, you should cite these resources in your paper. You will receive a group grade for this assignment. You may (and should) indicate in your writing points about which you and your partner agreed or disagreed. This assignment will be due on February 21st. 5.   Attendance and participation: Attendance and participation comprise a portion of your grade for the course. Pop quizzes on reading assignments, writing assignments given during class time, and other activities will count towards your grade in attendance and participation. In order to encourage participation and preparedness, I may occasionally ask that you to come to class with 2 or 3 written questions on the day’s readings/topics. If you are not in class, you cannot participate in these activities and you will not have the opportunity to make up the work. If you have an absence excused because of participation in an approved off-campus event or because of illness, you may be excused from having that particular assignment count towards your grade. Excessive absences (more than 2) will negatively impact your grade; extremely excessive absences (more than 6 without documentation) will lead to automatic failure in the course. Please note this important information from the Office of the Registrar: Instructors are responsible for setting deadlines for the submission of course work. However, they may NOT accept work after 4:30 p.m. on the last day of the semester (Friday, May 11 th ) unless an Incomplete Contract has been granted by the Dean of Students or the Dean for Academic Advising. Instructors do not request or grant Incompletes. Course policies : Equity and Respect : Throughout the term, I challenge you to critically think about the body, power, gender, race, sexuality, etc. I expect class to be dynamic and, at times, controversial. Please ask questions of and challenge your classmates and instructor through meaningful comments. As you experience self-discovery and learn about your classmates, I encourage you to respect and appreciate differences. This classroom needs to be open and hospitable to all class members. I discourage the use of laptops in class. If computer usage becomes a distraction from our collective engagement, I will ask you to put away computers. Please do bring paper and a writing implement, which you may need for note-taking or in-class assignments.  Page 4 of 7 WGS 111 Spring 2012 Syllabus Academic Honesty : It is the responsibility of every student to familiarize him or herself with the contents of the Student Handbook's discussion on academic honesty. I will use these guidelines in determining if you are being dishonest and will adhere to the prescribed procedures and penalties. If you are uncertain about the definition of plagiarism, I have included below a document that offers a brief introduction to the topic. Individual Challenges  (summary courtesy of the Coordinator of Disability Services): If you have any sort of physical, psychological, medical, or learning disability and feel that you may have need for some type of academic accommodation in order to participate fully in this class, please feel free to discuss your concerns with me in private and also contact Erin Salva, Coordinator of Disability Services at PBX 5453 or via e-mail at Students with disabilities who will be taking this course and may need academic accommodations are encouraged to make an appointment to see me as soon as possible. Also, you are required to register for support services with the Office of Disability Services in the Olin Library, Center for Innovative Pedagogy. Please contact Erin Salva at 5453 or email Learning Goals of Women's and Gender Studies 1.   Both in speech and writing, students should demonstrate an understanding of gender as a pervasive social construction and of how it intersects with other social and cultural identities, such as class, race, age, ethnicity, nationality, and sexuality. 2.   Students should be able to apply this gender analysis to questions raised in disciplines across the liberal arts curriculum. 3.   Students should be able to use a gender analysis to integrate seemingly disparate elements (disciplines) across the liberal arts curriculum. 4.   Students should increasingly take more responsibility for their own learning. 5.   Students should demonstrate an ability to collaborate with others in learning. 6.   Students should be able to effect change both in their own lives and in their communities. Class Format:  This class will be student driven. This means discussion and even leadership by students is built into the course. My job is not to fill your minds with information; you can look that up on your own. My job is to provide you with the tools to process new information and to make up your own minds about gender issues. If you assume that you can passively absorb information in this course you will be sorely disappointed. If, however, you participate fully and attempt to make order out of it, you will remember much more information than you would have through passive methods of teaching. Because this course is student driven, every student needs not only to attend class but to contribute to the class's project of constructing knowledge. To this end we will use several techniques to involve members of the class in organizing and creating knowledge.  Page 5 of 7 WGS 111 Spring 2012 Syllabus COURSE OUTLINE (All Readings Should Be Completed Prior to Class on the Date Listed. Dates and topics are tentative, so please pay attention in class and on Moodle for updates.) January 17 Introductions -- Who needs this stuff?  In-class film: The F word Readings: M bell hooks (1984), "Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression" Women in the World January 19 Women in the World M Still Needing the F Word M Can Men be Feminist? M Psychology Today: Feminism is Evil and Unnecessary M Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Feminism M Di Leonardo, "Women, Culture, and Society Revisited" January 24 Is Biology Destiny?  M Emily Martin, (1991) "The Egg and the Sperm: How Science has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles." M S.J. Gould, (1980) "Women's Brains." M Helmreich and Paxson, (2005) "Sex on the Brain:  A Natural History of Rape and the Dubious Doctrines of Evolutionary Psychology" M G. Steinman. "If Men Could Menstruate." January 26 What does it mean to be a man?  Kimmel, Guyland   chs. 1-3 M Lillian Robinson, "A Good Man is Hard to Find: Reflections on Men's Studies" January 31 Kimmel, Guyland  , chs. 4-6 February 2 Kimmel, Guyland  , chs. 7-9 In-class film: Dream Worlds 3 – Desire, Sex and Power in Music Videos February 7 Kimmel, Guyland  , chs. 10-12 M Sanday, "Rape-Prone versus Rape-Free Campus Cultures" February 9 M Scott Kugle, selections from  Homosexuality in Islam: Critical Reflection on Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Muslims  (Chapter 1 and conclusion) *Events with Professor Scott Kugle Sunday, February 12 th  – time and location TBA Monday, February 13 th , 7:00 pm. You are strongly encouraged to attend the lecture by Scott Kugle at the Community Foundation Theater in Gund Gallery.
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