The Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies program (WGSS) examines how power operates in relation to the body and socially constituted categories such as “woman,” “man,” “homosexual,” and “heterosexual.” Courses in WGSS explore how diverse people’s experiences and identities are shaped by, and shape, the intersectionalities of the categories of gender, race, class, nation and sexuality. WGSS also analyzes how identity is communicated by and reinforced within ideological, economic and political domains. The critical inquiries undertaken in WGSS courses are historically and geographically contextualized, with an eye to the contemporary moment and an emphasis on the generative debates within the field. Because the WGSS program involves both explorations across a broadly defined area of inquiry, as well as an examination of the methods and knowledge of specific disciplines, it is a richly interdisciplinary program.
The focus on contemporary and historical circumstances, set within a framework of a commitment to social justice, demands that WGSS students learn to link academic work and activism, theoretical inquiry and practical experience. While the WGSS program is grounded in a political commitment to feminism, its curriculum is not limited to the presentation of any single doctrine, methodology or position. Instead, students are encouraged to think critically and develop their own positions on the entire spectrum of questions that inform the curriculum.
WGSS majors are prepared to be nuanced analytical thinkers, inventive problem solvers and strong communicators, and therefore are qualified for a wide range of occupations and graduate work.
Courses that fulfill
General Education Requirements:
- (A-AP) = Arts - Applied
- (A-TH) = Arts - Theoretical/Historical
- (A-AR) = Analytical - Abstract Reasoning
- (A-QR) = Analytical - Quantitative
- (D-D) = Diversity - Domestic
- (D-I) = Diversity - International
- (D-L) = Diversity - Language
- (ES) = Earlham Seminar
- (IP) = Interpretive Practices
- (SI) = Scientific Inquiry
- (W) = Wellness
- (WI) = Writing Intensive
- (AY) = Offered in Alternative Year
*WGSS 150 EARLHAM SEMINAR II (4 credits)
Offered for first-year students. Topics vary. (ES)
*WGSS 246 EUROPEAN WOMEN'S AND GENDER HISTORY (3 credits)
An examination of women's and gender history in the 19th and 20th centuries across a range of European countries with particular focus on politics, gender roles, sexuality, and culture. Allows students to question narrow (national, disciplinary, epistemological) boundaries, think critically about the gendered constructions of European society, and reflect upon the distinctive contributions of women's history. Also listed as HIST 246. (D-I) (AY)
*WGSS 303 WOMEN AND LITERATURE (4 credits)
An introduction to the study of literature by and about the lives of women, written in a variety of genres and periods, from a number of cultural traditions. Explores ways in which a study of a writer's ideas and techniques and a text's background (e.g., biography of the author, political climate, religious tradition) can lead to greater appreciation and understanding of a work, a writer, a reader and a time. A variety of critical points of view with particular attention to Feminist and Womanist theories. Prerequisite: An Earlham Seminar or consent of the instructor. Also listed as ENG 303. (WI, D-D)
*WGSS 305 RADICAL QUEERIES (4 credits)
An advanced introductory examination of women's and men’s lives, attending to commonalities and differences of experience in terms of gender, race, class, age, culture, nation, sex, sexuality dis/ability, etc. People live at the intersections of these categories, and so we will examine what scholars talk about as: Intersectionality, The Prism of Difference, Borderlands. The course focuses on “Socially Lived Theorizing,” “a theoretical framework / methodology that allows us to see the diversity of women’s [and men’s] lives and the structures of power, inequality, and opportunity that shape our experiences” (Kirk and Rey, 55). (D-D)
WGSS 343 WOMEN IN GERMAN LITERATURE AND CULTURE (4 credits)
Critical reading of representative works. Focuses on the contributions of women to the literary life and cultures of German-speaking countries. Also explores myths and misconceptions regarding women by addressing questions of image and reality. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. Also listed as GER 343. (AY)
*WGSS 357 GENDER AND SEXUALITY IN THE ANCIENT WORLD (3 credits)
This course explores ways the ancient Greeks constructed notions of gender and sexuality. Students examine a wide range of primary evidence (such as drama, poetry, philosophy, science or medical treatises, court documents, art, architecture and daily artifacts) in order to uncover Greek attitudes and practices. By confronting the assumptions of a culture that was in many ways radically different from our own, we address some of the fundamental ways that ideas about gender and sexuality inform and shape societal expectations and institutions, from personal identity and forms of self-expression to the legal, medical and political mechanisms that govern society. Knowledge of a classical language is not required. Prerequisite: An Interpretive Practices course or consent of the instructor. Also listed as ANCS 357. (WI)
WGSS TBA READINGS IN AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN’S HISTORY (4 credits)
Explores select topics in the history of African American women from the era of antebellum slavery to the present, using such primary sources as slave narratives, autobiographies, documents and historical monographs. Topics include gender relations in the slave community, the gendered nature of slave resistance and rebellion, the politics of economic emancipation, women’s activism in the struggle against racial violence and segregation and the role of women in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements.
*WGSS 364 PSYCHOLOGY OF WOMEN (3 credits)
Examines women’s lives and experiences through the lens of psychological research. Includes a variety of psychological perspectives and issues in women’s lives, as well as discussions about gender as a social framework. Prerequisite: PSYC 115 or WGSS 305, and Sophomore standing or above. Also listed as PSYC 364. (D-D)
*WGSS 365 WOMEN, GENDER AND SEXUALITY (4 credits)
Critically examines the discursive construction of a presumed natural link between sex, gender and desire, emphasizing connections between the naturalization of heterosexuality and the formation of nations and empires. (D-D or D-I)
*WGSS 367 WOMEN AND MEN IN AMERICAN SOCIETY (3 credits)
A survey of U.S. social history from 1607 to the present, focusing on the historical contours of female/male sex roles and the family. Topics include marriage, the family, child rearing, work, education, sexuality and gynecology, and reproduction. Analyzes the effects of war, racism, slavery, immigration, industrialization and consumerism, along with abolitionism, temperance, feminism, civil rights and other social protest movements. Prerequisite: Earlham Seminar II, HIST 121 or 122, or consent of the instructor. Also listed as HIST 367. (D-D) (AY)
WGSS 368 HUMAN SEXUALITY (3 credits)
Sexuality is central to our lives. It is involved in many of our most fundamental relationships and engages some of our strongest emotions. This course provides an examination of human sexuality (encompassing sexual behaviors, sexual identity, social norms/attitudes, etc.) and the psychological, physiological and sociocultural influences upon human sexuality. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Also listed as PSYC 368. (AY)
WGSS 375 FEMINIST THEORIES (4 credits)
An interdisciplinary and intersectional examination of major feminist theories. The course emphasizes a diversity of perspectives, highlights generative debates and considers the implications of theoretical frameworks for people's lives and experience. Prerequisite: WGSS 305.
WGSS 440 FEMINIST / WOMANIST THEOLOGY (4 credits)
Traces the histories of women in the church and explores the emergence of feminist/womanist theology in the 20th century. Focuses on current feminist/womanist thought and action in today's societies. Also listed as AAAS 440 and REL 440. (AY)
WGSS 481 INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES AND OTHER FIELD EXPERIENCES (1-3 credits)
*WGSS 482 SPECIAL TOPICS (3-4 credits)
Selected topics determined by the instructor for upper-level study. Examples of recent and future offerings include Queer Histories: Dissident Sexualities in U.S. History, Women and the Civil Rights Movement, Women Writers and the Color Line, Lesbian Literature and Culture, Feminist Friendship, Asian Immigrant Women, Public Policy and Women, Feminist Ethics, Womanism and Toni Morrison, and Feminist Film.
WGSS 483 TEACHING ASSISTANTS (1-3 credits)
WGSS 484 FORD/KNIGHT RESEARCH PROJECT (1-4 credits)
Collaborative research with faculty funded by the Ford/Knight Program.
WGSS 485 INDEPENDENT STUDY (1-3 credits)
Investigation of a specific topic conceived and planned by the student in consultation with a faculty supervisor. Culminates in a comprehensive project such as a report prepared in the style of a thesis or research paper, a performance or public presentation, etc.
WGSS 487 SENIOR DEMONSTRATIVE PROJECT (2 credits)
Part of the Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies Senior Comprehensive. The project requires students to synthesize the theory and practice and to demonstrate a nuanced understanding of an issue or problem relevant to the Earlham community. Students present their demonstrative project to the Earlham community in spring semester of the senior year. Recent projects include an investigation and discussion of abortion narratives in film, slam poetry, organizing a lecture series on minority women's health issues, and creating one-woman art shows.
WGSS 488 SENIOR CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE (4 credits)
Focuses on a question or theme selected by the instructor in consultation with the Senior students. Provides an opportunity to integrate the breadth of Women's, Gender, Sexuality Studies experiences and to make plans for living out a life that includes the intersection of our personal, intellectual and activist commitments. Recent seminar topics include women and violence, the limits of language, reproductive technologies, abortion, postmodernism and working-class women. Prerequisite: WGSS 375.