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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Women's and Gender Studies View this department's website

Feminist scholarship, which arose in the late twentieth century in response to the historically masculine bias of the academy, explores the important but often hidden ways that gender and gender inequality have shaped, and been shaped by, our cultural, social, and personal worlds. In recent years, scholars in the field have increasingly recognized that gender and gender inequality cannot be understood in abstraction from other axes of social identity and power, especially those of race, class, sexual orientation, and nation. Thus, the program in Women's and Gender Studies offers students the opportunity to examine, from both disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives, gender's intersections with other dimensions of social power and identity. In addition to addressing these intersections, courses may focus on developments within feminist thought, on applications of feminist scholarship to a particular field of study, or on selected topics concerning gender and gender inequality. All Women's and Gender Studies classes encourage students to think systematically and critically about gender and to confront the challenges of moving toward a more equitable world.

Structure of the Program

Courses counting towards the Women's and Gender Studies Major and Minor fall into one of three groups.

Group A: Basic courses focusing on traditions of feminist thought or activism

  • WGS 245 Feminism, Gender, and Society (1)
  • WGS 342 Topics in Feminist Analysis (1)*
  • WGS 353 (W) Feminist Theory (1)
  • WGS 390 Independent Study in Women's and Gender Studies (1)*
  • WGS 499 Senior Thesis (1)

Group B: Courses that emphasize the intersection of gender with some other axis of social power or identity

  • ENGL 438 Literature and Sexuality (1)
  • RHET 350 Race, Gender, and the Public Sphere (1)
  • SOC 324 Gender and Development (1)
  • SOC 358 Special Topics in Sociology (.5 or 1)
  • WGS 342 Topics in Feminist Analysis (1)*
  • WGS 390 Independent Study in Women's and Gender Studies*

Group C: Courses that examine particular disciplines or issues from feminist perspectives as well as other relevant courses on gender or women

  • ANTH 345 Gender Issues in Anthropology (1)
  • CLAS 247 (IT; 4th Sem) Women in Roman Literature and Life (1)
  • CLAS 260 (IT; 4th Sem) Gender and Sexuality in Greek Society (1) [Crosslisted with WGS 260]
  • ENGL 355 (W) Feminist Criticism (1)
  • FREN 437 (IT) Female Voices in African Literature and Film (1)
  • HIST 262 American Women's History (1)
  • IDS 260 (NW; W) Women Naturalists of the Western Americas (1)
  • POLI 351 Women in American Politics (1)
  • PSYC 354 (US) Psychology of Women and Gender (1)
  • REL 336 Women in World Religion (1)
  • RHET 355 (US) Gender and Communication (1)
  • SOC 121 (W) Gender Roles in Society (1)
  • SOC 358 Special Topics in Sociology (.5 or 1)
  • SPAN 435 Contemporary Latin American Women Writers (1)
  • SPAN 438 Contemporary Spanish Women Writers (1)
  • WGS 256 (IT) Goddesses and Ghosts: Images of Women in Chinese Traditions (1)
  • WGS 258 Women in the Arts (1)
  • WGS 336 Philosophy and Feminism (1)
  • WGS 342 Topics in Feminist Analysis* (1)
  • WGS 351 (W) Women in American Politics (1)
  • WGS 390 Independent Study in Women's and Gender Studies (1)*

* WGS 342 and WGS 390 will count as Group A, B, or C depending on the specific topics studied.

Requirements for the Women's and Gender Studies Program Major (8 Credits)

Students will complete eight courses, including:

  • WGS 353 (W) Feminist Theory (1)
  • WGS 499 Senior Thesis (1)
  • One course from Group B
  • An additional course from either Group A or Group B
  • Any four electives from Group A, B, or C which can include up to two courses by petition**

** Courses that may be counted by petition for the major are those that are offered one time only or have variable emphasis but that, in a given semester, focus on scholarship in Women's and Gender Studies.

Requirements for the Women's and Gender Studies Program Minor (5 Credits)

Students will complete five courses, including:

  • WGS 353 (W) Feminist Theory (1)
  • One course from Group B
  • One additional course from Group A or Group B
  • Two additional courses from Group A, B, or C which can include one course by petition**

** Courses that may be counted toward the minor by petition are those that are given one time only or have variable emphases but which, in a given semester, focus on the analysis of gender and gender inequality and which draw on current scholarship in Women's Studies.

Faculty

  • Nathaniel Cordova, Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Media Studies

  • Rebecca Dobkins, Associate Professor of Anthropology

  • Carol J. I. Doolittle, Professor of Sociology

  • Meredyth Goldberg Edelson, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • 
Ortwin Knorr, Associate Professor of Classics
  • 
Thabiti Lewis, Assistant Professor of English

  • Carol S. Long, Professor of English, and Dean, College of Liberal Arts 

  • Sally Markowitz, Professor of Philosophy 

  • Melissa Buis Michaux, Assistant Professor of Politics

  • Frann Michel, Associate Professor of English
  • Pamela A. Moro, Associate Professor of Anthropology

  • April Overstreet, Assistant Profesor of Spanish

  • Sharon L. Rose, Professor of Biology
  • Patricia E. Varas, Professor of Spanish
  • 
Xijuan Joanna Zhou, Associate Professor of Religious Studies

    Course Listings

    WGS 245 Feminism, Gender and Society (1)

    This interdisciplinary course will explore the ways that gender inequality structures aspects of personal lives and social institutions. We will examine a variety of feminist perspectives on work, family, sexuality and culture and will consider the role of class, race and ethnicity in feminist thought. Emphases will vary with instructor.

    • Offering: Fall
    • Instructor: Michel, Markowitz

    WGS 256 (IT) Goddesses and Ghosts: Images of Women in Chinese Tradition (1)

    [Crosslisted with REL 256]

    This course examines images of women represented in various forms of texts including Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist scriptures, novels, poetry, Chinese art and films. Through close reading of these texts from 600 BCE to modern times, the course seeks to explore women's power, spirituality, and gender roles in different periods of Chinese history. The course will also focus on a comparison between the "woman" as an ideological construct and the actual living experiences of women, and between images constructed by male and female writers.

    Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts; Asia Cluster

    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Zhou

    WGS 258 (TH) Women in the Arts (1)

    This seminar in women's history examines the lives and contributions of women in the fine arts primarily in Western Europe from the medieval period through the twenty-first century. A series of case studies facilitates historical understanding of women fine artists in the church, in secular society, in the domestic sphere, and in popular culture. Topics include: women's artistic products (music compositions; works of visual art; literature and poetry; videos); women's lives as fine artists in their respective historical period, demographic, and cultural milieu; women's representations of themselves as fine artists in letters and other documents; and present-day biographical narratives of women fine artists.

    Mode of Inquiry: Thinking Historically

    • Offering: Spring
    • Instructor: Duerksen

    WGS 260 (IT, 4th Sem Lang Req) Gender and Sexuality in Greek Society

    [Crosslisted with CLAS 260]

    This course explores Greek attitudes towards gender roles and sexuality, drawing on primary medical texts, tragedy, comedy, didactic poetry, forensic speeches, the romance novel, philosophy, early lyric poetry, and secondary scholarship about these texts. Topics include gender construction, misogyny, hysteria, virginity, marriage, rape, seduction, inheritance, female and male desire, homosexuality, and rites of passage.

    Mode of Inquiry: Interpreting Texts; Fourth Semester Language Requirement

    • Offering: Spring every three years
    • Instructor: Bachvarova

    WGS 336 Philosophy and Feminism (1)

    [Crosslisted with PHIL 336]

    Do traditional philosophical theories promote ways of thinking that perpetuate gender inequality? We will evaluate feminist criticisms of epistemology, ethics, social theory and aesthetics. We will also examine feminist alternatives to traditional philosophical perspectives.

    • Offering: Alternate years in fall
    • Instructor: Markowitz

    WGS 342 Topics in Feminist Analysis (1)

    This course provides an opportunity for qualified students to examine, from an interdisciplinary perspective, a particular topic in feminist analysis. Seminar topics and staff will change from year to year. Closed to freshmen. May be taken a second time.

    Prerequisite: Two previous courses focusing on feminist scholarship or instructor's permission

    • Offering: Spring
    • Instructor: Markowitz

    WGS 351 (W) Women in American Politics (1)

    [Crosslisted with POLI 351]

    This course examines the full range of women's participation in American political life through voluntary organizations, social movements and electoral politics. We explore the relationship between the two strains of feminism that have motivated women to political action: difference feminism and equality feminism, and reflect on the uneasy alliance between the struggle for racial equality and gender equality. Contemporary "women's issues" are covered: abortion, welfare, and pay equity. More generally, this course raises questions about the theory of representation and the nature of American politics through the lens of women in politics.

    General Education Fulfillment Requirements: Writing-Centered

    Prerequisite: POLI 210 or consent of instructor

    • Offering: Annually
    • Instructor: Buis, Michaux

    WGS 353 (W) Feminist Theory (1)

    This interdisciplinary course will examine such basic issues as gender difference and its relationship to women's subordination; the intersections of gender with other dimensions of social identity and power (e.g., class, race/ethnicity, sexuality, nation); the way gendered discourse shapes social reality. These issues will be discussed from a variety of feminist theoretical perspective (e.g., those influenced by liberalism, Marxism/socialism, psychoanalysis, radical feminism, post-modernism, and post-colonialism). Closed to freshmen.

    General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

    Prerequisite: One previous Women's Studies course

    • Offering: Spring
    • Instructor: Staff

    WGS 354 (US) Psycology of Women and Gender (1)

    [Crosslisted with PSYC 354]

    An examination of the psychological literature with a focus of how our knowledge of human behavior, which was initially developed from the exclusive study of males, evolved to include the study of females. Issues of sexism in psychological research, biological influences and socialization affecting females and males, and the effect of societally-constructed gender roles on human behavior. Specific topics include: Cognitive abilities, morality, achievement, interpersonal violence, and mental illness.

    Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

    Prerequisite: PSYC 210 or consent of Instructor

    • Offering: Alternate Falls
    • Instructor: Edelson

    WGS 390 Independent Study in Women's and Gender Studies (1)

    Qualified students will undertake a program of independent research with a Women's and Gender Studies faculty member. Closed to freshmen.

    Prerequisite: WGS major or minor and consent of instructor

    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Staff

    WGS 499 Senior Thesis (1)

    Senior Women's and Gender Studies major will research and write senior papers on topics of their choice.

    Prerequisite: Senior Women's and Gender Studies majors

    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Staff