Women's and Gender Studies Course Descriptions
WGST 201. Introduction to Gender Studies. 3 Units.
This course introduces women and men students to the methods and concepts of gender studies, women's studies, and feminist theory. An interdisciplinary course, it covers approaches used in literary criticism, history, philosophy, political science, sociology, anthropology, psychology, film studies, cultural studies, art history, and religion. It is the required introductory course for students taking the women's and gender studies major. Offered as ENGL 270, HSTY 270, PHIL 270, RLGN 270, SOCI 201, and WGST 201. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. Prereq: ENGL 150 or passing letter grade in a 100 level first year seminar in USFS, FSCC, FSNA, FSSO, FSSY, FSTS, FSCS.
WGST 207. Women and Religion. 3 Units.
Examination of feminist perspectives on religion, such as the status of women in Western and non-Western religions, the nature and purpose of religious beliefs and practices from the standpoints of religious and non-religious feminists, the current status of feminist philosophies of religion, and the efforts of feminists to transform traditional religions and to create new religions. Offered as RLGN 207 and WGST 207.
WGST 222. Gender in U.S. Society. 3 Units.
The focus of this course is on unique and convergent experiences of men and women in U.S. society. Different social expectations and opportunities encountered by men and women in the context of marriage and the family, work settings, and in informal organizations will be addressed. Legislation and social policy dealing with gender issues will be considered. Offered as SOCI 222 and WGST 222.
WGST 228. Sociology of Sexuality. 3 Units.
This course analyzes the issues of sex and sexuality from a sociological point of view. It is centered on the notion that what we consider to be 'normal' or 'natural' about sex and sexuality is, in reality, socially constructed. One's viewpoint on the issues surrounding sexuality are influenced by the social context in which they live, as opposed to the purely biological viewpoint that presupposes some sense of normalcy or naturalness regarding sexual relations. A range of topics will be covered, including readings that discuss the variations of sexuality and the notions of sexual ''deviance" in order to explore the cultural and societal variation that exists along the lines of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age and disability. Offered as SOCI 228 and WGST 228.
WGST 268. Women in the Bible: Ethnographic Approaches to Rite and Ritual, Story, Song, and Art. 3 Units.
Examination of women in Jewish and Christian Biblical texts, along with their Jewish, Christian (and occasionally Muslim) interpretations. Discussion of how these traditions have shaped images of, and attitudes toward, women in western civilization. Offered as RLGN 268, WGST 268, and JDST 268.
WGST 301. Women, Creativity and the Arts. 3 Units.
WGST301/ETHS301 is one of two core courses for the program in Women's and Gender Studies and an elective course for the ETHS minor. All WGST majors are to take one course concentrating on the subject of women and the arts specifically. This course also fulfills the cultural diversity requirement. In this course, students will focus on two areas of study: a) women and creativity and b) women and activism through the arts. A history of women in the arts will be covered, but the general focus of the course is on women in the arts since the 1960s in particular, and on artwork that reflects or provokes social change. "Arts" are defined in the broadest of sense. That is , students will study women's production in painting, photography, graphic design, sculpture, dance, film, music, and theater. A variety of learning techniques will be applied: Students will look at feminist theories on art, be introduced to the notion of cyberfeminism, study actual artwork and its reproductions, understand the role of are in feminist activism and how women "create" differently from men, and work closely with several feminist artists/activists through various programs on campus and the community in order to facilitate the planning and carrying out of artistic production. Subsequently, students will interact with children in Cleveland schools in conjunction with these artists giving master classes, and be exposed to art exhibits abroad through videoconferencing with the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris and locally through University Circle Institutions. Offered as WGST 301 and ETHS 301. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 304. Representations of Black Women and Religion in Film. 3 Units.
In this course we will explore cinematic representations of black women and religion in film. Each week we will view a film in class. We will begin the class with the film Imitation of Life and then the course with The Help. Throughout the course we will analyze the ways in which notations of gender, sexuality, intimate violence, and modern notions of race and color, have informed representations of black women and religion in film. In addition, we will discuss how these representations, in turn, have influenced cultural ideas about black women in the Americas. Offered as RLGN 304, RLGN 404, WGST 304, and ETHS 304. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 312. Women in the Ancient World. 3 Units.
The course offers a chronological survey of women's lives in Greece, Hellenistic Egypt, and Rome. It focuses on primary sources as well as scholarly interpretations of the ancient record with a view to defining the construction of gender and sexuality according to the Greco-Roman model. Additionally, the course aims to demonstrate how various methodological approaches have yielded significant insights into our own perception of sex and gender. Specific topics include matriarchy and patriarchy; the antagonism between male and female in myth; the legal, social, economic, and political status of women; the ancient family; women's role in religion and cult; ancient theories of medicine regarding women; paderasty and homosexuality. Offered as CLSC 312 and WGST 312.
WGST 315A. International Bioethics Policy and Practice: Women's Health in the Netherlands. 3 Units.
This 3-credit course allows students to familiarize themselves with social policies and practices related to women's health in the United States and the Netherlands. Issues covered in the course include birth control and family planning, abortion, prenatal testing, childbirth, health care disparities, cosmetic surgery, prostitution and trafficking in women. This course also addresses the US and Dutch national policies regarding the public provision of health care for women. The course places an emphasis on the ways in which social norms shape policies over time, which political actors are involved in shaping women's health policy, and the balance between women's health as a matter of the public good or individual responsibility. This course substantively explores gender-specific cultural values and practices in relation to women's health in the United States and the Netherlands and will help students develop the analytical skills necessary for evaluating social policy and ethical issues related to women's health. Offered as BETH 315A and BETH 415A. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 318. History of Black Women in the U.S.. 3 Units.
Chronologically arranged around specific issues in black women's history organizations, participation in community and political movements, labor experiences, and expressive culture. The course will use a variety of materials, including autobiography, literature, music, and film. Offered as ETHS 318, HSTY 318, and WGST 318.
WGST 325. Philosophy of Feminism. 3 Units.
Dimensions of gender difference. Definition of feminism. Critical examination of feminist critiques of culture, including especially politics, ideology, epistemology, ethics, and psychology. Readings from traditional and contemporary sources. Offered as PHIL 325 and PHIL 425 and WGST 325.
WGST 326. Gender, Inequality, and Globalization. 3 Units.
Using a sociological perspective, this course examines how major societal institutions, including the economy, polity, medicine, religion, education and family, are structured to reproduce gendered inequalities across the globe. Attention is given to the intersections of race/ethnicity, social class, gender and sexuality in social systems of power and privilege. Of critical importance is how gender figures in the relationship between Economic North and Economic South countries. We will elucidate how gender norms vary by culture and exert profound influence on the daily, lived experiences of women and men. The course will be informed by recent scholarship on feminism, women's movements, and globalization. Offered as SOCI 326 and WGST 326. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement. Prereq: SOCI 101 or permission of program director.
WGST 335. Women in Developing Countries. 3 Units.
This course will feature case studies, theory, and literature of current issues concerning women in developing countries primarily of the French-speaking world. Discussion and research topics include matriarchal traditions and FGM in Africa, the Tunisian feminist movement, women, Islam, and tradition in the Middle East, women-centered power structures in India (Kerala, Pondichery), and poverty and women in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Guest speakers and special projects are important elements of the course. Seminar-style format, taught in English, with significant disciplinary writing in English for WGST, ETHS, and some WLIT students, and writing in French for FRCH and WLIT students. Writing assignments include two shorter essays and a substantial research paper. Offered as ETHS 335, FRCH 335, WLIT 335, WGST 335, FRCH 435 and WLIT 435. Counts as SAGES Departmental Seminar. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 337. Women in the Arab World. 3 Units.
The purpose of this course is twofold: It is a course that allows students an in-depth look at the diverse women who represent a number of cultures in the Arab world in nations from the Mashrek to the Maghreb. The second primary goal of the course is to study such women through the eyes of leading Arab women theorists who have made an impact not only in their own countries, but also on disciplines intersecting with women's studies worldwide. We will study the Arab woman's place in her respective society, in political and economic systems, in education, and in the family. We will also analyze her contributions to art and literature as well as to the sciences. The course will provide an overview of the Arab woman throughout history, from her origins to her place within recent movements within the Arab Spring and other current world events. As Arab women are Muslim, Christian, and Jewish, views of women within these major world religions will also be taken into account as we study the Arab woman as well as religion's impact on culture in the Middle East and in the Maghreb in particular. In the course, we will utilize theoretical texts, but also case studies as well as examples from media and the arts. During the semester, we will take advantage of teleconferencing opportunities between CWRU and two major academic units for Women's Studies in the Arab world: The Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World (IWSAW) in Beirut, Lebanon, and the University of Jordan's Center for Women's Studies in Amman. Offered as FRCH 337, FRCH 437, ARAB 337, ETHS 337 and WGST 337.
WGST 339. Black Women and Religion. 3 Units.
This course is an exploration of the multidimensional religious experiences of black women in the United States. These experiences will be examined within particular historical periods and across diverse social and cultural contexts. Course topics and themes include black women and slave religion, spirituality and folk beliefs, religion and feminist/womanist discourse, perspectives on institutional roles, religion and activism, and spirituality and the arts. Offered as: ETHS 339 and RLGN 338 and WGST 339. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 342. Latin American Feminist Voices. 3 Units.
Examination of the awakening of feminine and feminist consciousness in the literary production of Latin American women writers, particularly from the 1920s to the present. Close attention paid to the dominant themes of love and dependency; imagination as evasion; alienation and rebellion; sexuality and power; the search for identity and the self-preservation of subjectivity. Readings include prose, poetry, and dramatic texts of female Latin American writers contributing to the emerging of feminist ideologies and the mapping of feminist identities. Offered as SPAN 342, SPAN 442, ETHS 342, WGST 342, WLIT 342, and WLIT 442. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 343. Language and Gender. 3 Units.
This course introduces students to the study of language and gender by exploring historical and theoretical trends, methods, and research findings on the ways gender, sexuality, language, and discourse interact with and even shape each other. Topics may include "grammatical" versus "biological" gender, feminine ecriture, the women and language debate, speech acts and queer performativity, nonsexist language policy, discourses of gender and sexuality, feminist stylistics, and LGBT sociolinguistics. Offered as: ENGL 343, ENGL 443, and WGST 343. Prereq: ENGL 150 or passing letter grade in a 100 level first year seminar in USFS, FSCC, FSNA, FSSO, FSSY, FSTS, FSCS.
WGST 346. Women and Politics. 3 Units.
Women and Politics involves a critical examination of the impact of gender on the forms and distributions of power and politics, with primary reference to the experience of women in the United States. Major concerns of the course include what we mean by "sex," "gender," and "politics"; the relationship between women and the state; how women organize collectively to influence state policies; and how the state facilitates and constrains women's access to and exercise of political power. The course is organized around four foci central to the study of women and politics. The first section of the course focuses on what we mean by "women," "gender," and "politics." In this section, we will consider how these concepts intersect and the ways in which each may be used to deepen our understanding of the workings of governments and political systems, and of women's relative political powerlessness. The second section of the course employs these concepts to understand the (re) emergence of the US feminist movement, its meanings, practices, and goals, and its transformation across US political history. In the third section, we turn to conventional electoral politics, focusing on women's candidacies, their campaigns, and women's voting behavior. In the final section of the course, we consider those general factors that might provide for increased gender equality and improved life status for women, in global, comparative perspective. Offered as POSC 346 and POSC 446 and WGST 346. Counts as SAGES Departmental Seminar.
WGST 352. African Feminisms. 3 Units.
This course traces the history of African feminism from its origins within traditions through to a more contemporary theoretical analysis of gender, marriage, and motherhood seen from a Afrocentric perspective. Approaches studied are those that pertain to anthropology, history, literature, sociology, and culture. African feminist theory of scholars such as Filomina Steady, Cheikh Anta Diop, Buchi Emecheta, Ifi Amadiume, Obioma Nnameka, Oyeronko Oyewumi, and Calixthe Beyala will be studied and there will be some comparative analysis of Western theories to show how African feminisms are clearly distinct. Theories on these feminisms will be presented, and in the process, students will look at cases of women in Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal. It is commonly believed that African women were defined for a long time according to constructs of Western anthropology. This course will thus look at social institutions such as woman-to-woman marriage, matriarchy, and various women's rituals in order to identify African constructs of gender, family, kinship, marriage, and motherhood. Offered as ETHS 352 and WGST 352. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 353. Women in American History I. 3 Units.
The images and realities of women's social, political, and economic lives in early America. Uses primary documents and biographers to observe individuals and groups of women in relation to legal, religious, and social restrictions. Offered as HSTY 353, WGST 353, and HSTY 453.
WGST 354. Women in American History II. 3 Units.
With HSTY 353, forms a two-semester introduction to women's studies. The politics of suffrage and the modern woman's efforts to balance marriage, motherhood, and career. (HSTY 353 not a prerequisite.) Offered as HSTY 354, WGST 354, and HSTY 454.
WGST 363. Gender and Sexuality in America. 3 Units.
This multicultural seminar uses a mixture of historical text, gender theory, personal biography, and artistic expression to explore changing notions of gender and sexuality over the past two centuries in the United States. Offered as HSTY 363, HSTY 463 and WGST 363.
WGST 365. Gender and Sex Differences: Cross-cultural Perspective. 3 Units.
Gender roles and sex differences throughout the life cycle considered from a cross-cultural perspective. Major approaches to explaining sex roles discussed in light of information from both Western and non-Western cultures. Offered as ANTH 365, ANTH 465 and WGST 365.
WGST 370. Women in Organizations. 3 Units.
The purpose of this course is to explore the unique challenges of life for women in their twenties as they increase understanding of the issues surrounding women, ambition, and success in a variety of organizations and professions. At this stage of life there are many choices women can make regarding careers and relationships. This course will broaden understanding of the context of work in women's lives and help women and men understand the leadership and managerial issues that will surround them in organizations. Offering more complex understandings of issues women face in the workplace related to race and gender, the course will help increase self knowledge about personal identity and direction, values, and abilities including the enhancement of leadership capabilities. It will also facilitate career development, improving the ability of individual women to be choiceful about the quality of integration of both a personal and professional life. Offered as ORBH 370 and WGST 370. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.
WGST 372. Work and Family: U.S. and Abroad. 3 Units.
Covers the impact on human lives of the interface between work and family; the different ways gender structures the experience of work and family depending upon racial and ethnic background, social class, age, and partner preference; the impact of historical context on work-family experiences; work-family policies in the United States and other countries. Offered as SOCI 372, WGST 372, and SOCI 472.
WGST 373. Advanced Topics in American Women's History. 3 Units.
This advanced seminar is designed to allow students to investigate aspects of American women's history that are not deeply explored in other courses. The two central purposes of the course are to move students forward in their study of American women's history and to provide advanced study for graduate students and other students interested in women-focused topics. The topic is subject to change, but may be any of the following or something similar: women and medicine, images of women in popular culture, growing up female, women and political movements, women and war, etc. Recommended preparation: HSTY 353/453 or HSTY 354/454. Offered as HSTY 373, WGST 373, and HSTY 473.
WGST 383. Gender Issues in Feminist Art: The 20th/21st Century. 3 Units.
This course aims at understanding the myriad ways issues of gender have been encoded and/or played out in 20th and early 21st century art. A variety of paintings, sculpture, photographs and performances by women, gays and other marginalized groups, especially those that engage in "the discourse of the body," will be examined through a gender-oriented focus. Analysis of a variety of provocative readings will provide methodologies useful for assessing aesthetic and political meanings in modern and contemporary art across national boundaries. Special emphasis will be placed on women artists who have recently begun to integrate gender and ethnicity. Offered as ARTH 383, WGST 383 and ARTH 483.
WGST 396. SAGES Capstone. 3 Units.
Capstone experience in the fields of Women's and Gender Studies for an in-depth, independent project of particular interest to the student. Students are strongly encouraged to work with a WGST program faculty member, but some projects may be supervised by faculty in other areas or by other qualified professionals. All capstones require a WGST faculty advisor's approval of the proposal prior to registration. Open to juniors and seniors majoring in Women's and Gender Studies. Counts as SAGES Senior Capstone. Prereq: WGST 201; Junior or Senior standing with major/minor in WGST.
WGST 399. Independent Study. 1 - 3 Unit.
Independent research project in the fields of Women's and Gender Studies. Project proposals must be approved by a WGST faculty advisor. Students are strongly encouraged to work with a WGST program faculty member, but some projects may be supervised by faculty in other areas for by other qualified professionals with a WGST faculty advisor's approval. Credit varies with the scope and depth of the project. Prereq: WGST 201.