Women's Studies provides students with the opportunity to recognize the many ways in which their lives, and other women's (and men's) lives, are shaped and limited by a variety of cultural circumstances. Grounded in diverse perspectives of feminism, the program works to empower our students to challenge such limitations through critical examination, theoretical analysis, and engaged activism. The Women's Studies program is interdisciplinary, allowing students who choose from its courses to examine both current and historical experiences of women through a variety of lenses, to analyze representations of women in the past and present, and to study the work of important female figures in different academic disciplines. The program offers a comprehensive and inclusive variety of coursework so that students learn about the different social constructions, oppressions, and intersections of sex, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, social economic status, ability/disability, etc. The goal is to see the distinct identity standpoint of each individual/group within the specific and particular socio-cultural-historical era, and how that affects the power, equity, and access for individuals and communities on personal, relational, and institutional levels. The Women's Studies program has three areas of focus for our students: academic excellence, intersectional dynamics, and empowerment.
Student Learning Outcomes
Major Requirements: Women's Studies.
A major in Women's Studies consists of a minimum of 36 hours and is distributed as follows:
(Note: A course the student uses to fulfill the supplemental methods requirement will not be counted toward her interdisciplinary requirement below.)
Professional Development. Throughout her Wesleyan education each student is given opportunities to explore professional and career choices, and to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential for professional success. Each student will complete a PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and submit a PDE 401 Professional ePortfolio prior to graduation. In addition, a Women's Studies major may choose to fulfill the professional development requirement through an internship or field study taken as WST 452. It may take the form of volunteer or advocacy work, production of a creative project, or other comparable work experience approved by the Women's Studies chair. The student will be monitored by her advisor during her workplace experience and will submit a reflective summary at its conclusion.
Integrative Experience. Women's Studies majors will be encouraged to begin broadly, taking courses in a variety of fields as well as introductory classes in Women's Studies and feminist methodologies. As she moves through the program, she will be encouraged to tailor her course of study to meet her own research interests, taking an additional research methods course in her chosen discipline along with upper-level Women's Studies courses that are relevant to her field. Through this coursework, she will learn to position herself as a critical specialist on gender and its representations and intersections in her particular area of interest, and, finally, prepare her scholarship for both the Wesleyan community and a larger professional audience. In WST 401 offered during the spring of the major's senior year, she will work with her fellow classmates and instructor to complete a scholarly project. As the student is completing her interdisciplinary course of study conducted through the lens of focused feminist methodology, this seminar provides her with individual guidance to shape her senior research project, which she may present in the spring symposium and eventually refine for a professional audience.
Minor Requirements: Women's Studies. The Women's Studies minor provides students with a basic foundation of the issues, theories, and methods dealt within the discipline. Students will be encouraged to connect with Women's Studies majors, faculty, and the community through participation in the various courses, events, and the yearly spring symposium.
A minor in Women's Studies consists of a minimum of 16 hours and is distributed as follows:
Cross-Cultural Courses. The Women's Studies major and minor includes in its mission a commitment to the analysis of social categories in addition to gender, including race/ethnicity, class, sex, sexuality, nationality, religion, and ability/disability, along with the ways in which these categories intersect and affect people in a variety of settings and contexts. Each student will therefore be required to take one course that is designated as cross-cultural. A class that meets this requirement should address women in a multicultural or cross-cultural course of study either within the United States or in a global setting. Students may petition the Women's Studies Chair to approve a course that has significant cross-cultural content or emphasis but is not a designated WST course. The following courses currently meet the criteria for cross-cultural designation in Women's Studies:
Resources for Non-Majors. We welcome all students to join our classes; Women's Studies courses offer a theoretical and experiential understanding of how women live in and are understood by our societies. This would be an excellent opportunity to make interdisciplinary connections through critical engagement and practical application. As most of our majors double with another, the Women's Studies courses compliment most, if not all, majors on campus. Consider courses in the program (or perhaps a minor or double major) to enhance your own discipline and your life as a woman in this world.
Postgraduate Opportunities. This major will prepare students for a wide variety of professional opportunities, including advocacy, art, business, communication, counseling, education, government, health care, the humanities, law, media, not-for-profit work, social justice, and social service. The Women's Studies degree is also excellent preparation for graduate education in humanities, law, and social science fields.
Women's Studies (WST) Gen. Ed. Course Descriptions
210: Women and Economic Development.
Goal: To study the impact of economic change on women by analyzing how age, sex and race hierarchies modify changes in women's roles in different societies of Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Content: This course will focus on the effects of economic growth on the socioeconomic status of women. Most importantly, students will study the means by which patriarchy has persisted in various parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America by redefining itself, even as economies have modernized.
Taught: Fall, Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experiences; (PS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as ECO 210.
215: Women, Music, and Culture.
Goal: To challenge students to engage actively and to think critically about women's roles and the power of perspective in historical narrative.Students will learn how to listen and analyze a number of musical styles and genres, as well as consider issues such as gender and control in music and how women are perceived cross-culturally.
Content: This course will examine the contributions of women involved in the world of music, including composers, producers, consumers, performers, and educators.The course will cover the major historical music periods as well as a number of popular and world music styles.
Gen Ed. Category: Expanding, Women's Experiences, (FA).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as MUS 215.
301: Psychology of Women.
Goal: To further students' understanding of psychological knowledge as it applies to women and gender issues.
Content: Exploration of the manner in which psychology provides a unique perspective on the study of women with emphasis on research methodologies, empirical findings, theory, and current and historical controversies.
Prerequisites: PSY 101 or WST 200.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as PSY 301.
335: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Performance.
Goal: To learn to perceive and respond thoughtfully and energetically, in oral and written form, to issues of race, ethnicity, and gender in plays, films, and the performance process itself.
Content: Highlighting the construction and variety of women's identities, this advanced methods course offers comparative analyses of contemporary performance texts within the context of critical and theoretical writings.
Taught: Every second to third year.
Prerequisites: WISe 101 or ENG 101.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experience (FA).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as THE 335.
354: Women's Issues in Contemporary Art.
Goal: To acquire an in-depth understanding of the art of our own time from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present through the eyes and hands of women artists. To acquire a familiarity with contemporary issues facing women in the 20th and 21st centuries through the study of art. To interpret the art of women as a revelation of the soul and expression of deep feelings as well as a commentary on feminist issues.
Content: Study of the global art of women in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experiences; (FA).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as ARH 354.
201: Psychology of Human Sexuality.
Goal: To explore biological, psychological, interpersonal and sociocultural aspects of human sexuality.
Content: Issues surrounding multiple and often contradictory elements that shape sexual attitudes and behaviors.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as PSY 201.
300: Gender and Communication.
Goal: To explore the roles, rules, expectations, and power dynamics in the performance of gender in relational and textual processes.
Content: Reading, discussion, and analysis, primarily through a feminist lens, of situations and artifacts in private and public life: from family, friendship, and romance to education, work/organizations, media, and other social institutions. Work to challenge the assumptions and dictates of societal notions of gender, sex, and sexuality. There will be a primary focus given to works by and about women.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: COM 103 or WST 200 or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours; Cross-listed as COM 300.
350: Feminist Theory.
Goal: Provides a comprehensive survey of different approaches to Women's Studies research.
Content: This course exposes students to a variety of theoretical and research Feminist methodologies used by scholars in Women's Studies. The broad set of learning skills provided by this course is meant to be combined with a supplemental specialized methodology course so that the student can develop a thorough approach to Women's Studies research in her concentration of choice.
499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required)
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