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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

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

  • ANTH 258 (US) Women in Isalm (1)*
  • ENGL 116 Topics in Am Lit: Peculiar Intimacies (1)*
  • ENGL 438 Literature and Sexuality (1)
  • HIST 131 (TH) Historical Inquiry: Gender and Society in East Asia (1)*
  • HIST 131 (TH) Historical Inquiry: Gender and Power in Modern Africa (1)*
  • RHET 350 Topics in RHET: Race, Gender and the Public Sphere (1)
  • RHET 350 Topics in RHET: Rhetoric of U.S. Women's Rights I (1785-present)
  • SOC 358 Special Topics in Sociology (.5 or 1)

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

  • ANTH 345 Sex and Gender in Anthropological Perspective (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)
  • ENGL 355 (W) Feminist Criticism (1)
  • FREN 437 (IT) Female Voices in African Literature and Film (1)
  • HIST 262 American Women's History (1)
  • HIST 306 History through Biography: Women in World History (1)
  • PHIL 335 History, Sexuality and Power (1)
  • POLI 303 (AR) Topics in Political Theory: Politics of Sexuality (1)*
  • POLI 351 Women in American Politics (1)
  • PSYC 354 (US) Psychology of Women and Gender (1)
  • REL 256 (IT) Goddesses and Ghosts: Images of Women in Chinese Traditions (1)
  • REL 336 Women in World Religion (1)
  • RUSS 345 From Russia With Love: Family and Sexuality in 20th Century Russian Culture
  • SOC 121 (W; US) Gender in Society (1)
  • SOC 358 Special Topics in Sociology: Sexualities (1)
  • SOC 430 (W) Families (1)
  • SPAN 435 Contemporary Latin American Women Writers (1)
  • SPAN 438 Contemporary Spanish Women Writers (1)
  • SPAN 445 Topics in Medieval and Early Modern Spanish Literature (1)
  • WGS 258 Women in the Arts (1)

Courses that may be in Group A, B or C depending on the content of the specific Topic

  • WGS 342 Topics in Feminist Analysis (1)
  • WGS 358 Topics in WGS (1)
  • WGS 390 Independent Study in Women's and Gender Studies (1)
*Topics courses with multiple iterations. Please only count the listed topics for WGS.

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

Students will complete eight courses, including:

  • WGS 245 Feminism, Gender and Society or SOC 121 Gender in Society
  • WGS 353 (W) Feminist Theory (1)
  • WGS 499 Senior Thesis (1)
  • One course from 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 245 Feminist Theory or SOC 121 Gender in Society
  • WGS 353 (W) Feminist Theory (1)
  • Three 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.

Indicators of Achievement

Student Learning Outcomes for the Women's and Gender Studies Major

  1. Identify and analyze a diverse range of historical and contemporary feminisms
  2. Articulate and apply theories of feminism and gender to a variety of social, political, and cultural issues
  3. Recognize and analyze intersections between gender and other axes of social identity and power such as race, class, or nation
  4. Integrate knowledge, perspectives, and/or methods from multiple academic disciplines
  5. Experience community engagement on behalf of gender equity

Faculty


Course Listings

WGS 134 (AR) Thinking Sex (1)

This course examines assumptions, arguments, evidence and underlying values about biological sex differences, sexuality and gender construction and asks: Who is a woman? Is sex a stable category? What is the future of sex and why does it matter? Drawing on interdisciplinary perspectives and approaches, we further analyze the packaging of sex by consumer culture, global markets and social movements with the goal of exposing some of the varied uses of sex and the implications of what we view as sex differences.

Prerequisite: Open to 1st and 2nd year students only.

General Education Requirement: Analyzing Arguments, Reasons, and Values

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Staff

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, Dunlap

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 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 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 358 Topics in Women's and Gender Studies (1)

This course enables faculty and students to focus on a specific topic in Women's and Gender Studies within an interdisciplinary framework. Topics will involve an exploration of some combination of sex, gender, sexuality. Designation of specific topics and relevant cases and theories will be made at the time of course offering.

Prerequisite: One credit in Women's and Gender Studies or consent of instructor.

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Staff

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