Women's and Gender Studies

The Women's and Gender Studies Program provides an interdisciplinary meeting ground for exploring questions about women and gender that are transforming knowledge across disciplinary lines in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Its goal is to include gender, along with class, sexuality and race, as a central category of social and cultural analysis. Courses focusing on women and gender are offered by the departments of Asian Languages and Literatures, Classics, English, German and Russian, French and Spanish, History, Cinema and Media Studies, Music, Religion, Philosophy, Political Science, Art, Sociology and Anthropology, as well as Women's and Gender Studies itself. Carleton offers both a Major and a Concentration in Women's and Gender Studies that allows students to complement their major field with an interdisciplinary focus on women and gender. All courses are open to all students, if they have fulfilled the prerequisites.

Women's and Gender Studies 110 or Women's and Gender Studies 112, entry points to the major, are topical introductions to the field. Women's and Gender Studies 200 and 234 provide the theoretical and methodological tools for advanced work on women and gender. The capstone course offers students the opportunity to study a topic in depth and to produce a substantial research paper. The major culminates in a senior comprehensive project, directed by advisers from two disciplines, that builds on the skills and interests developed in previous coursework in Women's and Gender Studies. Each student devises an appropriate program of courses in consultation with the major adviser.

Requirements for a Major

Total of 66 credits

  • One introductory course, Women's and Gender Studies 110 or 112
  • One methodology course, Women's and Gender Studies 200 or 234
  • One capstone seminar, Sociology/Anthropology 325, Women's and Gender Studies 310
  • Comprehensive Exercise, Women's and Gender Studies 400
  • In addition to these 24 credits, students must complete an additional 42 credits from the Women's and Gender Studies offerings listed below. Of these 42, no more than 12 credits should be at the 100-level and at least 12 credits should be at the 300-level. Ordinarily, no more than 18 credits may be applied to the major from outside of Carleton.

Students will plan these courses in consultation with the Program Director or a designated faculty adviser when they declare their major, and review their plan each term. The major they design should provide both breadth of exposure to Women's and Gender Studies across fields and depth of study in one discipline (normally at least two courses in one area or from one department).

Women's and Gender Studies Courses

WGST 110 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies This course is an introduction to the ways in which gender structures our world, and to the ways feminists challenge established intellectual frameworks. However, because gender is not a homogeneous category but is differentiated by class, race, sexualities, ethnicity, and culture, we also consider the ways differences in social location intersect with gender. 6 credits; HI; Winter, Spring; A. Igra, I. Jusová
WGST 112 Introduction to LGBT/Queer Studies This course is an introduction to the interdisciplinary examination of sexual desires, sexual orientations, and the concept of sexuality generally, with a particular focus on the construction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender identities. The course will look specifically at how these identities interact with other phenomena such as government, family, and popular culture. In exploring sexual diversity, we will highlight the complexity and variability of sexualities, both across different historical periods, and in relation to identities of race, class, and ethnicity. 6 credits; HI, IDS; Winter; K. Bashore
WGST 130 Politics of Sex The politics of sex are everywhere--in media, law, medicine, and everyday life. To say that sex is political is to imply that sex intersects with other interests--nation and market building, globalization, and so forth. In this course, we will explore various "sex panics," as they ask us to revisit the boundaries of the "normative" in relation to sex and its intersections with race, class, gender, sexuality, nation, and ability. Sex panics--and, as we'll also explore, "sex scandals" occasion not only the revision of discourses on sex but on identity, politics, and cultures more broadly. 6 credits; NE, IDS; Spring; K. Bashore
WGST 200 Gender, Power and the Pursuit of Knowledge In this course we will examine whether there are feminist ways of knowing, the criteria by which knowledge is classified as feminist and the various methods used by feminists to produce this knowledge. Some questions that will occupy us are: How do we know what we know? Who does research? Does it matter who the researcher is? How does the social location (race, class, gender, sexuality) of the researcher affect research? Who is the research for? How can research relate to efforts for social change? While answering these questions, we will consider how different feminist researchers have dealt with them. 6 credits; SI, IS; Fall; M. Sehgal
WGST 205 The Politics of Women's Health This course will explore the politics of women's health from the perspective of women of different races, ethnicities, classes and sexual orientations in the U.S. The organization of the health care system and women's activism (as consumers and health care practitioners) shall frame our explorations of menstruation, sexuality, nutrition, body image, fertility control, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. We will cover basic facts about the female body and pay particular attention to adjustments the body makes during physiological events (i.e. menstruation, sexual and reproductive activity, and menopause). We will focus on the medicalization of these processes and explore alternatives to this medicalization. Prerequisite: Women's and Gender Studies 110. 6 credits; IDS, SI; Not offered 2016-17
WGST 210 Sexuality and Religious Controversies in the United States and Beyond From pulpits to political campaigns, notions of sexuality are deployed in religious discourse to develop definitions of morality, ethics, family, marriage, gender, citizenship, civil liberties, righteousness and sinfulness. Religious concepts have also been used as creative tools to repress, liberate, legislate, and re-vision various conceptions of sexuality. This course will examine the ways in which religious ideologies, theologies, motivations, and practices function in both public and private contexts in debates over a range of topics, including homosexuality, abortion, and public comportment. We will consider questions about how ideas of sexuality are established as normative through scriptural, ritual, and rhetorical devices. 6 credits; HI, IDS; Not offered 2016-17
WGST 220 LGBTQ Movements in the U.S. In this course we will examine what constitutes an LGBTQ social movement in the U.S. today. We will analyze the popular understandings of LGBTQ social movements by linking the context, goals, and outcomes of movements to the dynamics of race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, immigration status, and geography. Our goal will be to understand the ways that LGBTQ social movements have helped influence as well as been influenced by existing social and governmental institutions. How have these relationships determined the perceived legitimacy of such movements? We will also examine several contemporary issues that have inspired LGBTQ organizing and advocacy. 6 credits; SI, IDS; Not offered 2016-17
WGST 234 Feminist Theory Feminism has to do with changing the world. We will explore feminist debates about changing the world using a historical framework to situate feminist theories in the context of the philosophical and political thought of specific time periods and cultures. Thus, we will follow feminist theories as they challenged, critiqued, subverted and revised liberalism, Marxism, existentialism, socialism, anarchism, critical race theories, multiculturalism, postmodernism and post-colonialism. We will focus on how theory emerges from and informs matters of practice. We will ask: What counts as theory? Who does it? How is it institutionalized? Who gets to ask the questions and to provide the answers? 6 credits; SI, IS; Not offered 2016-17
WGST 240 Gender, Globalization and War This course examines the relationship between globalization, gender and militarism to understand how globalization and militarism are gendered, and processes through which gender becomes globalized and militarized. We will focus on the field of transnational feminist theorizing which both "genders the international" and "internationalizes gender." We will take up the different theoretical and disciplinary approaches to this project, as well as the perspectives and methods put forth for studying gender, race and class transnationally. We will explore how economic development, human rights, and the politics of resistance (particularly in the NGO sector) are gendered. 6 credits; SI; Not offered 2016-17
WGST 241 India Program: Gender & Sexuality in India This course explores gender and sexuality as key institutions that structure and stratify Indian society through intersections with other systems of stratification (like class, caste, and region). We will focus on family and gender relations, heteronormativity, homosociality and queer subversions as well as feminism, women's and queer movements--situating these historically and regionally in South Asia. We will also consider how gender and sexuality in India have been represented in the western imagination. Toward the end of the course, we will pay close attention to the gendered and sexualized politics of globalization, economic development and tourism in India. 6 credits; SI, IS; Winter; M. Sehgal
WGST 265 Black Feminist Thought: The Everyday World When sociologist Dorothy Smith coined the phrase "The Everyday World as Problematic," she set about to argue for the importance of theorizing from one's everyday life. In this course we will explore the ways in which black feminists have used the everyday as a point of departure for their theorizing. We will draw on the many ways in black feminists produce knowledge (e.g. critical texts, fiction, plays, music, poetry). Further, as we examine how black feminists have theorized the "everyday," we will engage the many valences of the word "problematic," as a thing to be studied and as a locus of difficulty. 6 credits; NE, IDS; Fall; M. Rowley
WGST 266 Caribbean Queer Matters: Exploration & Research Caribbean Queer Matters invites students to think about the complexities, contradictions and activist possibilities of gender non-conforming and same-gender desiring individuals in the English-speaking Caribbean. The course will serve as an incubator where students will develop the skills to understand and analyze these non-U.S. contexts, all the while foregrounding attention to the local, regard for difference and a commitment to issues of justice. The course will draw on a range of genres and disciplinary vantage points. Students will engage film, biographical narratives, music, critical texts, poetry, as well as the fields of Caribbean Studies, Women's Studies, Critical Race and LGBT Studies. 6 credits; HI, IS; Fall; M. Rowley
WGST 285 Gender Violence & Feminist Self-Defense Around the globe, feminist advocacy networks and social movements have led efforts combating violence against women. Recently, a campus anti-rape movement has highlighted the prevalence of sexual assault against college women. This course will focus on the theories and praxis feminists have put forth to resist gender and sexual violence. We will explore cases of feminist self-defense in order to understand how it differs from militarized notions of self-defense, and examine how it supports initiatives for peace and conflict resolution. Class members will participate in self-defense programs and reflect on feminist theories of resistance in the context of personal experience. 6 credits; SI, IS; Fall; M. Sehgal
WGST 310 Asian Mystiques Demystified This class will focus on the topic of Asian sexuality and gender, considering traditional, transnational, and transgressive representations of Asian sexualities, femininities, masculinities and bodies. Often associated with paradoxical images of sensuality, spirituality, repression, and femininity, Asian sexuality has a long history, shaped by enduring colonial imaginaries and our transnational, capitalist present. Tracing a genealogy of Asian mystiques, we will study classical sources that have served as "prooftexts" for these images, and will then focus our attention on Asian literature, film, art, religious traditions, and social movements that have produced their own, often alternative, conceptions of Asian sexualities and gender. 6 credits; HI, IS; Spring; S. Sippy
WGST 396 Transnational Feminist Activism This course focuses on transnational feminist activism in an era of globalization, militarism and religious fundamentalism. We will learn about the debates around different theories of social change, the challenges and pitfalls of global sisterhood and the various "pedagogies of crossing" borders. We will explore case studies of how feminists have collaborated, built networks, mobilized resources and coalitions for collective action, in addition to the obstacles and constraints they have encountered and surmounted in their search for gender and sexual justice. 6 credits; SI, IS, WR2; Not offered 2016-17
WGST 400 Integrative Exercise 6 credits; S/NC; Fall, Winter, Spring; K. Bashore, S. Sippy

Other Courses Pertinent to Women's and Gender Studies

This is a selective and suggestive list. A variety of courses are by visitors or offered only occasionally and may be considered. Contact the director for consideration of other courses to satisfy this requirement.

  • AMST 225 Beauty and Race in America
  • ARTH 220 The Origins of Manga: Japanese Prints (not offered in 2016-17)
  • ARTH 223 Women in Art (not offered in 2016-17)
  • ASST 260 Resistance Struggles & People's Movements in India (not offered in 2016-17)
  • BIOL 101 Human Reproduction and Sexuality
  • CAMS 225 Film Noir: The Dark Side of the American Dream (not offered in 2016-17)
  • CLAS 214 Gender and Sexuality in Classical Antiquity (not offered in 2016-17)
  • DANC 266 Reading The Dancing Body: Topics in Dance History
  • ENGL 217 A Novel Education (not offered in 2016-17)
  • ENGL 218 The Gothic Spirit (not offered in 2016-17)
  • ENGL 319 The Rise of the Novel (not offered in 2016-17)
  • ENGL 327 Victorian Novel
  • FREN 241 The Lyric and Other Seductions
  • GERM 253 In the Shadow of Goethe and Schiller: German Women Writers around 1800 (not offered in 2016-17)
  • HIST 122 U.S. Women's History to 1877 (not offered in 2016-17)
  • HIST 123 U.S. Women's History Since 1877 (not offered in 2016-17)
  • HIST 142 Women in Modern Europe
  • HIST 167 Nuclear Nations: India & Pakistan as Rival Siblings (not offered in 2016-17)
  • HIST 229 Working with Gender in U.S. History
  • HIST 236 Women and Gender in Europe before the French Revolution
  • HIST 259 Women in South Asia: Histories, Narratives, and Representations
  • HIST 264 Turkey Program: The Politics of Gender in the Modern Middle East (not offered in 2016-17)
  • HIST 270 Nuclear Nations: India and Pakistan as Rival Siblings
  • HIST 280 African in the Arab World
  • HIST 286 Africans in the Arab World: On Site and Revisited (not offered in 2016-17)
  • HIST 310 Black Women Intellectuals
  • IDSC 203 Talking about Diversity
  • PHIL 230 Philosophy of Gender (not offered in 2016-17)
  • POSC 276 Imagination in Politics (not offered in 2016-17)
  • POSC 359 Cosmopolitanism*
  • PSYC 383 The Social Psychology of Gender: Playing by the "Gender" Rules
  • RELG 161 Making Meaning of the Hebrew Bible
  • RELG 221 Judaism and Gender
  • RELG 227 Liberation Theologies (not offered in 2016-17)
  • RELG 228 Martyrdom
  • RELG 230 Feminist Theologies (not offered in 2016-17)
  • RELG 233 Gender and Power in the Catholic Church
  • RELG 238 The Sacred Body (not offered in 2016-17)
  • RELG 255 Social Engagement in Asian Religions (not offered in 2016-17)
  • RELG 265 Religion and Violence: Hindus, Muslims, Jews
  • RELG 280 The Politics of Sex in Asian Religion (not offered in 2016-17)
  • RELG 281 Performing Tradition: Art, Religion, and Globalization (not offered in 2016-17)
  • RELG 287 Many Marys (not offered in 2016-17)
  • RELG 362 Spirit Possession
  • RELG 380 Radical Critiques of Christianity (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SOAN 114 Modern Families: An Introduction to the Sociology of the Family
  • SOAN 150 Who Cares and Who Gets Care? Women and Health (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SOAN 202 Girls Gone Bad: Women, Crime, and Criminal Justice (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SOAN 226 Anthropology of Gender
  • SOAN 227 Masculinities and Gender (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SOAN 257 Culture and Politics in India (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SOAN 323 Mother Earth: Women, Development and the Environment (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SOAN 325 Sociology of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction
  • SOAN 340 Topics in Critical Social Theory (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SOAN 395 Ethnography of Reproduction (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SPAN 244 Spain Today: Recent Changes through Narrative and Film (not offered in 2016-17)
  • SPAN 344 Women Writers in Latin America: Body and Text
  • THEA 351 Women Playwrights/Women's Roles (not offered in 2016-17)
  • WGST 112 Introduction to LGBT/Queer Studies
  • WGST 200 Gender, Power and the Pursuit of Knowledge
  • WGST 205 The Politics of Women's Health (not offered in 2016-17)
  • WGST 210 Sexuality and Religious Controversies in the United States and Beyond (not offered in 2016-17)
  • WGST 220 LGBTQ Movements in the U.S. (not offered in 2016-17)
  • WGST 234 Feminist Theory (not offered in 2016-17)
  • WGST 240 Gender, Globalization and War (not offered in 2016-17)
  • WGST 241 India Program: Gender & Sexuality in India
  • WGST 265 Black Feminist Thought: The Everyday World
  • WGST 266 Caribbean Queer Matters: Exploration & Research
  • WGST 285 Gender Violence & Feminist Self-Defense
  • WGST 310 Asian Mystiques Demystified
  • WGST 396 Transnational Feminist Activism (not offered in 2016-17)