Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies

GWSS 110 is the gateway to the major that provides an introductory overview and maps the field of gender, women’s and sexuality studies. GWSS 200 (Gender, Power and the Pursuit of Knowledge) examines feminist and queer theories of knowledge and provides methodological tools to conduct research. GWSS 212, Foundations of LGBTQ Studies is an intermediate level course that provides an 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. GWSS 334 (Feminist Theory) and GWSS 312 (Queer and Trans Theory) are upper level seminars focusing on the theory necessary for advanced work on gender, women’s and sexuality studies. The capstone course, GWSS 398, offers students the opportunity to study a topic in depth and to produce a substantial research paper. Topics will rotate and change depending on the expertise and interest of the faculty teaching them. The major culminates in a senior comprehensive project, directed by advisers from two different disciplines, that builds on the skills and interests developed in previous coursework in GWSS. Each student devises an appropriate program of courses in consultation with the major adviser (i.e. the director of GWSS).

Requirements for the Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies Major

Total of 66 credits

  • One gateway course
    • GWSS 110 Introduction to Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies
  • One methodology course
    • GWSS 200 Gender, Sexuality & the Pursuit of Knowledge
  • One intermediate course
  • One theory seminar
    • GWSS 312 Queer and Trans Theory (not offered in 2021-22)
    • GWSS 334 Feminist Theory (not offered in 2021-22)
  • One Capstone Seminar
    • GWSS 398 Capstone: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Popular Culture (not offered in 2021-22)
    • GWSS 398 Capstone: Transnational Feminist Activism (not offered in 2021-22)
    • GWSS 398 Capstone: Schooling Sex: History of Sex Education & Instruction
    (a range of seminar topics can be taught by faculty under this number, depending on their expertise and interest, such as Transnational Feminist Activism; Race, Gender & Sexuality in Popular Culture).
  • Comprehensive Exercise, GWSS 400
  • In addition to the above listed five required courses and comps (36 credits), students must complete an additional five electives (30 credits) from the GWSS & WGST Elective/Additional Courses List below. These 30 credits must be spread across at least two disciplines, and include:
    • One 300-level elective and
    • Four any-level* electives (*Max two 100-level elective courses can count toward the major)    

Please note: a variety of courses are taught by visitors or offered only occasionally. These courses may still be considered. Contact the director for consideration of other courses to satisfy this requirement. 

Please consult the program director to approve use of WGST courses to complete the major requirements.

Students will plan 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 Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies across fields and depth of study in one discipline (normally at least two courses in one area or from one department).

OCS Programs: You may count up to two six credit courses taken on either Carleton or non-Carleton OCS programs toward the requirements of the GWSS major or minor. OCS program courses cannot be substituted for core GWSS courses on campus and will only count towards GWSS electives. Two courses from Carleton's Women's & Gender Studies in Europe program can  count as two GWSS elective courses. Students will need to get all OCS program courses approved by the director of GWSS.

Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies Minor

The Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies minor offers students the opportunity to complement their major field with an interdisciplinary focus on gender, women's and sexuality studies.

Requirements for the Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies Minor

Six courses (36 credits) will be required (three courses from GWSS and three courses from the GWSS & WGST Elective Additional Courses List.

  • One gateway course
    • GWSS 110 Introduction to Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies
  • One intermediate course
  • One capstone seminar
    • GWSS 398 Capstone: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Popular Culture (not offered in 2021-22)
    • GWSS 398 Capstone: Transnational Feminist Activism (not offered in 2021-22)
    • GWSS 398 Capstone: Schooling Sex: History of Sex Education & Instruction
    (a range of seminar topics can be taught by faculty under this number, depending on their expertise and interest, such as Transnational Feminist Activism; Race, Gender & Sexuality in Popular Culture)
  • Three courses (18 credits) from the GWSS & WGST Elective/Additional Courses List. These three courses must come from two different disciplines. Please note: 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.

OCS Programs: You may count up to two six credit courses taken on either Carleton or non-Carleton OCS programs toward the requirements of the GWSS major or minor. OCS program courses cannot be substituted for core GWSS courses on campus and will only count towards GWSS electives. Two courses from Carleton's Women's & Gender Studies in Europe program can count as two GWSS elective courses. Students will need to get all OCS program courses approved by the director of GWSS.

Requirements for the Women's and Gender Studies Minor

Class of 2021 and 2022 only

Six courses will be required from the following three groups. The range of courses must include at least two disciplines.

  • Women's and Gender Studies 110: Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies or Women's and Gender Studies 112: Introduction to LGBT/Queer Studies
  • Four courses (24 credits) from the list of GWSS & WGST Elective/Additional Course 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.
  • Capstone Seminar: Sociology/Anthropology 325, Sociology/Anthropology 395, Women's and Gender Studies 310, Women's and Gender Studies 389 or Women's and Gender Studies 396. Other advanced seminars may be substituted for the designated capstone seminar only with the approval of both the instructor and the Women's and Gender Studies director.

GWSS & WGST Elective/Additional Courses List

  • AFST 100 Gender and Sex in African History
  • AFST 120 Gender and Sexuality in the African Diaspora (not offered in 2021-22)
  • AFST 220 Intersectionality (not offered in 2021-22)
  • AMST 225 Beauty and Race in America
  • ARTH 214 Queer Art
  • ARTH 220 The Origins of Manga: Japanese Prints (not offered in 2021-22)
  • BIOL 101 Human Reproduction and Sexuality
  • CAMS 225 Film Noir: The Dark Side of the American Dream (not offered in 2021-22)
  • CLAS 214 Gender and Sexuality in Classical Antiquity (not offered in 2021-22)
  • DANC 266 Reading The Dancing Body
  • ENGL 217 A Novel Education
  • ENGL 218 The Gothic Spirit
  • ENGL 227 Imagining the Borderlands (not offered in 2021-22)
  • ENGL 319 The Rise of the Novel
  • ENGL 327 Victorian Novel
  • FREN 235 The Human Body in the Francophone World
  • FREN 241 The Lyric and Other Seductions (not offered in 2021-22)
  • FREN 347 Gender and Sexuality in the Francophone World (not offered in 2021-22)
  • GERM 221 (re/ex)press yourself: Sexuality and Gender in Fin-de-Siècle Literature and Art
  • GWSS 110 Introduction to Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies
  • GWSS 150 Working Sex: Commercial Sexual Cultures
  • GWSS 243 Women's and Gender Studies in Europe Program: Situated Feminisms: Socio-Political Systems and Gender Issues Across Europe
  • GWSS 244 Women's & Gender Studies in Europe Program: Cross-Cultural Feminist Methodologies
  • GWSS 265 Black Feminist Thought
  • GWSS 289 Pleasure, Intimacy, Violence
  • GWSS 325 Women's & Gender Studies in Europe Program: Continental Feminist, Queer, Trans* Theories
  • GWSS 398 Capstone: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Popular Culture (not offered in 2021-22)
  • GWSS 398 Capstone: Transnational Feminist Activism (not offered in 2021-22)
  • GWSS 398 Capstone: Schooling Sex: History of Sex Education & Instruction
  • HIST 122 U.S. Women's History to 1877
  • HIST 123 U.S. Women's History Since 1877
  • HIST 175 Gender and Sexuality in Latin American History (not offered in 2021-22)
  • HIST 211 Revolts and Resistance in Early America (not offered in 2021-22)
  • HIST 218 Black Women's History
  • HIST 229 Working with Gender in U.S. History (not offered in 2021-22)
  • HIST 259 Women in South Asia: Histories, Narratives, and Representations (not offered in 2021-22)
  • HIST 270 Nuclear Nations: India and Pakistan as Rival Siblings
  • HIST 276 Race, Sex, and Cold War in Latin America
  • IDSC 203 Talking about Diversity
  • POSC 276 Imagination in Politics: Resisting Totalitarianism (not offered in 2021-22)
  • POSC 280 Feminist Security Studies
  • POSC 308 Global Gender Politics*
  • POSC 324 Rebels and Risk Takers: Women and War in the Middle East* (not offered in 2021-22)
  • POSC 339 LGBTQ Politics in America
  • RELG 161 The Jewish Bible (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 218 The Body in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
  • RELG 221 Judaism and Gender
  • RELG 227 Liberation Theologies
  • RELG 228 Martyrdom (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 232 Queer Religions (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 233 Gender and Power in the Catholic Church (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 234 Angels, Demons, and Evil (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 238 The Sacred Body (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 280 The Politics of Sex in Asian Religion (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 287 Many Marys (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 353 Saints, Goddesses, and Whores (not offered in 2021-22)
  • RELG 362 Spirit Possession
  • SOAN 114 Modern Families: An Introduction to the Sociology of the Family
  • SOAN 225 Social Movements
  • SOAN 226 Anthropology of Gender (not offered in 2021-22)
  • SOAN 257 Culture and Politics in India (not offered in 2021-22)
  • SOAN 323 Mother Earth: Women, Development and the Environment
  • SOAN 325 Sociology of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction (not offered in 2021-22)
  • SOAN 395 Ethnography of Reproduction (not offered in 2021-22)
  • SPAN 244 Spain Today: Recent Changes through Narrative and Film (not offered in 2021-22)
  • THEA 260 Space, Time, Body, Minds
  • THEA 270 Art and (Un)Freedom (not offered in 2021-22)
  • WGST 112 Introduction to LGBT/Queer Studies (not offered in 2021-22)
  • WGST 140 Politics of Women's Health (not offered in 2021-22)
  • WGST 180 Power and Desire: Gender Relations in the Middle East (not offered in 2021-22)
  • WGST 200 Gender, Power and the Pursuit of Knowledge (not offered in 2021-22)
  • WGST 234 Feminist and Queer Theory (not offered in 2021-22)
  • WGST 240 Gender, Globalization and War (not offered in 2021-22)

Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies Courses

GWSS 110 Introduction to Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies This course is an introduction to the ways in which gender and sexuality structure our world, and to the ways feminists challenge established intellectual frameworks. However, since gender and sexuality are not homogeneous categories, but are crosscut by class, race, ethnicity, citizenship and culture, we also consider the ways differences in social location intersect with gender and sexuality. 6 credits; SI; Fall, Winter; Jayne A Swift
GWSS 150 Working Sex: Commercial Sexual Cultures Why is the sale of sex criminalized? Who participates in sexual labor and for what reasons? What are the goals and tactics of sex worker social movements? Sexual commerce is an integral facet of U.S. society and the global economy, and yet it elicits strong and paradoxical reactions. This course provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the study of commercial sexual cultures. Taking a transnational approach, we will examine historical, political, and economic changes in sexual economies and the regulation of commercial sex. Course readings explore how sex workers have collectively organized to resist criminalization and fight for a better future. 6 credits; HI, IDS; Fall; Jayne A Swift
GWSS 200 Gender, Sexuality & the Pursuit of Knowledge In this course we will examine whether there are feminist and/or queer ways of knowing, the criteria by which knowledge is classified as feminist and the various methods used by feminist and queer scholars 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? What is the relationship between knowledge, power and social justice? While answering these questions, we will consider how different feminist and queer studies researchers have dealt with them. 6 credits; SI, WR2, IS; Spring; Meera Sehgal
GWSS 212 Foundations of LGBTQ Studies This course introduces students to foundational interdisciplinary works in sexuality and gender studies, while focusing on the construction of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities in the United States. In exploring sexual and gender diversity throughout the term, this seminar highlights the complexity and variability of experiences of desire, identification, embodiment, self-definition, and community-building across different historical periods, and in relation to intersections of race, class, ethnicity, and other identities. 6 credits; HI, IDS; Winter; Jayne A Swift
GWSS 243 Women's and Gender Studies in Europe Program: Situated Feminisms: Socio-Political Systems and Gender Issues Across Europe This course examines the history and present of feminist and LGBTQ activisms across Western and East-Central Europe. We study the impact of the European colonial heritage on the lives of women and sexual/ethnic minorities across European communities, as well as the legacies of World War II, the Cold War, and the EU expansion into Eastern Europe. Reproductive rights, LGBTQ issues, “anti-genderism,” sex work, trafficking, and issues faced by ethnic minorities are among topics explored. These topics are addressed comparatively and historically, stressing their ‘situated’ nature and considering their divergent sociopolitical national frameworks. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the WGST Europe OCS Program required. 7-8 credits; HI, IS; Fall; Iveta Jusová
GWSS 244 Women's & Gender Studies in Europe Program: Cross-Cultural Feminist Methodologies This course explores the following questions: What is the relationship between methodology and knowledge claims in feminist research? How do language and narrative help shape experience? What are the power interests involved in keeping certain knowledges marginalized/subjugated? How do questions of gender and sexuality, of ethnicity and national location, figure in these debates? We will also pay close attention to questions arising from the hegemony of English as the global language of WGS as a discipline, and will reflect on what it means to move between different linguistic communities, with each being differently situated in the global power hierarchies. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the WGST Europe OCS Program required. 7-8 credits; HI, IS; Fall; Iveta Jusová
GWSS 265 Black Feminist Thought This course is designed to introduce students to thirty years of black feminist politics, writing, social and cultural analysis, and research. This course begins with a sketch of contemporary thinking about blackness by noted scholars who illuminate the relationship between blackness, black life, systems of sex/gender, biopolitics, and black/queer feminist knowledge production. We go on to historicize the formation of black feminism as a dynamic and fluid area of study within and across the humanities and social sciences. The history of black feminist thought presented in black women’s studies as an inherently decolonial and transformative praxis that centers intellectual radicalism both inside and outside of the academy. 6 credits; HI, IDS; Winter; Zenzele Isoke
GWSS 289 Pleasure, Intimacy, Violence This is an interdisciplinary course that explores how pleasure, intimacy, and violence are shaped by historic and ongoing processes of inequality in the United States. We will explore how our understandings of sexuality are influenced by discourses and practices of race and race-making in the U.S. by focusing on the relationship between micro-level (interpersonal) and macro-level (societal) violence. The topics of rape, family violence, and intimate partner violence will be examined from a structural vantage point, emphasizing the mutually constituting roles of gender, race, class, and nationality. The concepts of “pleasure” and “enjoyment” are foregrounded throughout the course. 6 credits; HI, IDS; Spring; Zenzele Isoke
GWSS 312 Queer and Trans Theory This seminar offers students familiar with the foundational terms and concepts in gender and sexuality studies the opportunity to engage in more advanced explorations of relevant topics and debates in contemporary queer and trans theory. Seeing queer theory and trans theory as theoretical traditions that are historically and philosophically entangled but which at times necessarily diverge, the course focuses on “state of the field” essays from Gay and Lesbian Quarterly and Transgender Studies Quarterly as well as works that put gender and sexuality studies into conversation with disability studies, critical race theory, indigenous studies, and critiques of neoliberalism and imperialism. Prerequisite: Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies 110, 212 , 334 or Women's & Gender Studies 110, 112 or 200 or instructor consent. 6 credits; HI, WR2, IDS; Not offered 2021-22
GWSS 325 Women's & Gender Studies in Europe Program: Continental Feminist, Queer, Trans* Theories Addressing the impact of Anglo-American influences in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, this course examines European, including East-Central European, approaches to key gender and sexuality topics. It raises questions about the transfer of feminist concepts across cultures and languages. Some of the themes explored include nationalism and gender/sexuality, gendered dimensions of Western and East-Central European racisms, the historical influence of psychoanalysis on Continental feminist theories, the implications of European feminisms in the history of colonialism, the biopolitics of gender, homonationalism, as well as Eastern European socialist/communist theories of women’s emancipation. Prerequisite: Acceptance to WGST Europe OCS Program. 7-8 credits; HI, IS; Fall; Iveta Jusová
GWSS 334 Feminist Theory This seminar explores key feminist theoretical perspectives and debates, using a historical framework to situate these ideas in relationship to philosophical and political discourses produced during specific cultural moments. Focusing primarily on American feminist thought, this seminar ultimately aims to interrogate the positionality of the theorists we study, considering the cultural privileges as well as vectors of marginalization that influence those viewpoints. We follow feminist thinkers as they propose, challenge, critique, subvert, and revise theoretical traditions of liberalism, Marxism, Socialism, radicalism, separatism, utopianism, multiculturalism, postmodernism, queerness, and post-colonialism. We ask: What gets counted as feminist theory? What gets left out? 6 credits; HI, WR2, IDS; Not offered 2021-22
GWSS 391 Women's & Gender Studies in Europe Program: Independent Field Research in Europe This is a self-designed project, and the topic will be determined by each student’s research interests. It will build on readings and work by European women and/or sexual minorities, feminist and queer theory, cross-cultural theory and (if applicable) principles of field research. It should be cross-cultural and comparative, and ideally should involve field work. Drawing on skills developed in feminist theory and methodology seminars, students select appropriate research methods and conduct sustained research in two of the countries visited. The progress of each project will be evaluated regularly in relation to parameters established in conjunction with the Program Director. Prerequisite: Acceptance into the WGST Europe OCS Program required. 7-8 credits; NE; Fall; Iveta Jusová
GWSS 398 Capstone: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in Popular Culture This capstone seminar reads representations of racial, gender, and sexual minorities in popular culture through the lenses of feminist, critical race, queer, and trans theories. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term “intersectionality” in the late 1980s to describe an approach to oppression that considered how structures of power act multiply on individuals based upon their interlocking racial, class, gender, sexual, and other identities. This seminar takes up the charge of intersectional analysis—rejecting essentialist theories of difference while exploring pluralities—to interpret diversity (or lack thereof) in forms of art and entertainment, focusing on film, TV, and digital media. Prerequisite: Gender, Women's & Sexuality Studies 110 or 212 or Cinema and Media Studies 110 or Women's and Gender Studies 110 or 112 or instructor consent. 6 credits; HI, WR2, IDS; Not offered 2021-22
GWSS 398 Capstone: Schooling Sex: History of Sex Education & Instruction How did sex get into public schools? How did sexual practice and desire become an object of scientific inquiry? Why has sex education been a site for repeated social conflicts, and what do those conflicts tell us about gender, racial, and economic inequality in the United States? This course is for everyone who has ever questioned the official and unofficial curriculum of sex education. The course provides a cultural and intellectual history of sex education and instruction within the geographic region of the United States. Throughout we will examine the complex relationship between sexual knowledge, pedagogy, and systems of power. 6 credits; HI, WR2, IDS; Spring; Jayne A Swift
GWSS 398 Capstone: 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, WR2, IS; Not offered 2021-22
GWSS 400 Integrative Exercise 1-6 credit; NE; Fall, Winter, Spring