Women’s Studies

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

The student learning outcomes for the Women's Studies major are as follows:
I. an understanding of the past and present status of women locally, nationally, and globally
II. a strong conceptualization of the interrelated workings of constructions of culture, hierarchy, and power
III. the ability to analyze and apply a variety of theoretical approaches to cultural analysis
IV. the ability to express a clearly articulated argument with solid reasoning and sound illustration
V. the ability to present ideas through oral and written communication.


Major Requirements: Women's Studies.

A major in Women's Studies consists of a minimum of 36 hours and is distributed as follows:

Required WST courses (9 hours):
WST 200 Women, Culture, and Society 3 hours
WST 350 Feminist Theory 3 hours
WST 401 Senior Seminar 1 hour
WST 402 Symposium Lab (2 hours) 1, 1 hours
 
Required Supplemental Methods Course (3 hours):
Choose one of the following: ARH 354, COM 310, ENG 210, HIS 299, POL 332, PSY 305.

(Note: A course the student uses to fulfill the supplemental methods requirement will not be counted toward her interdisciplinary requirement below.)

Chosen Interdisciplinary Courses (24 hours):
Students must take eight additional courses, at least three of which must be at the 300 level.
One chosen course, at any level, must be designated cross-cultural.
WST/PSY 201 Psychology of Human Sexuality 3 hours
WST/ECO 210 Women and Economic Development 3 hours
WST/MUS 215 Women, Music, and Culture 3 hours
WST/POL 225 Women and Politics 3 hours
WST 250 Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women 3 hours
WST/ENG 253 Women Writers 3 hours
WST/HIS 267 Women in World History 3 hours
WST/COM 300 Gender and Communication 3 hours
WST/PSY 301 Psychology of Women 3 hours
WST/ARH 354 Women's Issues in Contemporary Art 3 hours
WST/PHI 355 Seminar in Gender and Philosophy 3 hours
WST/HIS 377 Seminar in Women's History 3 hours
WST 396 Special Topics/Cross-Listed 3 hours
WST 451 Directed Independent Study 1-3 hours
WST 452 Field Study/Internship 1-3 hours
 

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:

WST 200 Women, Culture, and Society 3 hours
WST 350 Feminist Theory 3 hours
WST 402 Symposium Lab 1 hour
 
Chose three additional WST courses 9 hours
At least two of the chosen courses must be at the 300 level.
One chosen course, at any level, must be designated cross-cultural
 

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:

WST/ECO 210 Women and Economic Development
WST/POL 225 Women and Politics
WST 250 Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women
WST/ENG 253 Women Writers
WST/HIS 267 Women in World History
 

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

200: Women, Culture, and Society.
Goal: To explore in an interdisciplinary context the wide range of social and cultural issues which affect women's experiences focused on US societal contexts. (Note: United States emphasis.)
Content: Topics to be explored may include gender roles and images in history, language, literature, religion, art and science; sexuality, family, reproduction, and parenthood; work, employment, and the economics of gender; law, rights, government, and politics; past and contemporary feminist movements. Methods include cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural study of women's lives, intersectional gender analysis and the questioning of the role that gender plays in all fields of study, cooperative and collaborative learning, sharing and learning from each other's experiences as a method of personal empowerment.
Taught: Spring.
Prerequisite(s): None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Historical Events & Phenomena (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours.
 

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 Experience (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.
Taught: Regularly.
Gen Ed. Category: Expanding, Women's Experience, (FA).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as MUS 215.

225: Women and Politics.
Goals: To examine the status of women in today's political world from a global perspective, and to understand how women's experiences are shaped by historical, political, and societal factors.
Content: The course examines the extent to which women have participated and achieved representation in the political arena, and with what impact; analyzes how public policy affects women's lives; and evaluates critical political and social issues that women face in today's global world.
Taught: Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experience, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as POL 225.
 
250: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Women.
Goal: To enhance understanding of the socio-cultural differences and similarities among women.
Content: Through a theoretical focus on race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, social economic class, (dis)ability, etc., students will explore the historical root systems, institutional structures, and lived experiences of a diversity of women. (Note: Non-Western emphasis.)
Taught: Alternative years.
Prerequisite(s): None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experience (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours.
 
253: Women Writers.
Goal:  This course introduces students to women writers from a cross-section of cultures, historical periods, and literary genres.
Content: Topics will vary. A given instance of the course may encompass an overview of various traditions or analyze women's literature through the lens of a specific time period, genre, geographical area, cultural experience, or philosophical or theoretical tradition.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisites: WIS 101 or ENG 101.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experience (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as ENG 253.
 
267: Women in World History.
Goal: To provide students with an introduction to the role of women in world history and to have students read critically from a variety of primary and secondary sources on topics related to women's changing role in different cultures.
Content: Using the experience of women as the unifying theme, this course will take a comparative approach to different civilizations from the ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern periods around the world.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experience (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as HIS 267.
 

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.
Taught: Spring.
Prerequisites: PSY 101 or WST 200.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as PSY 301.

328: Women, Culture, and Theatre
Goal: Learn to perceive and respond thoughtfully, in oral and written form, to issues of gender and culture in theatre.
Content: Students will gain the tools to analyze, discuss, and write about plays, performances, and production work by women from various cultures, and how women have altered the nature of theatre, particularly within the past thirty years. Students will engage with issues of class, ethnicity, and the social construction of gender identity.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisites: None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women’s Experience (FA).

Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as THE 328.

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.
Taught: Annually.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experience (FA).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as ARH 354.

355: Seminar in Gender and Philosophy.
Goal: To engage students in the critical reading and assessment of significant philosophical works concerning how gender impacts the practices of philosophy and society.
Content: Students will examine in detail the philosophical ideas of a particular philosopher, school of philosophy, or philosophical trend that concerns the impact of gender on issues such as views of reality, theories of knowledge, and the nature of human existence and society.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen Ed. Credit: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours;cross-listed as PHI 355.

377: Seminar in Women's History.
Goal: To provide students with an in-depth exploration of a variety of important primary and secondary texts in women's history, and to teach students to engage competently in discussions of historical writing about women and gender.
Content: This course provides students with an in-depth examination of a particular theme, period, or region in women's history with emphasis on the variety of historical scholarship on that topic. The focus of each seminar will vary. Topics might include the history of motherhood, the history of sex workers, or the history of women entrepreneurs.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experience, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as HIS 377. This course may be repeated one time with a different topic for a maximum of six credits.

Women's Studies (WST) Other Course Descriptions
 

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.
Taught: Spring.
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.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisites: WST 200; suggested junior standing.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
396: Special Topics in Women's Studies.
Goal: To offer the student opportunities to pursue Women's Studies in specific areas outside the regularly scheduled courses.
Content: An examination of the role of women and/or women's issues in a particular area of study.
Taught: As needed.
Prerequisites: None, or if cross-listed with another course, the prerequisite(s) of that course will apply.
Credit: 3 hours. A student may take a maximum of six to eight semester hours (two courses) of special topics in any one field.
 
401: Senior Seminar.
Goal: Provides an integrative capstone experience for Women's Studies majors, allowing them to develop independent projects in Women's Studies and share their ideas in a workshop setting.
Content: This course encourages the student to make connections among the various parts of her course of study. Student workshops will be facilitated by the Women's Studies Chair, and independent research and writing will be conducted in consultation with the student's chosen advisor and the Women's Studies Chair. The results of the student's research will be presented at in a public forum.
Taught: Spring.
Prerequisites: WST 350; supplemental methods course; suggested senior standing.
Credit: 1 hour.
 
402: Symposium Lab.
Goal: Students will organize and direct several events for the Wesleyan campus, including the annual Women's Studies Symposium, then learn to polish their own research for review by a professional audience.
Content: This is a one-hour weekly workshop that allows Women's Studies majors and minors to work together to plan the annual Women's Studies Symposium (WSTS) and Women's History events in March and other spring semester activities. The focus of the WSTS Lab is to provide a platforms for both the presentation of scholarly work and for activism and advocacy opportunities for Women's Studies students and the Wesleyan community. Students will use the WSTS workshop to exchange ideas and polish their own projects, then, using responses from the seminar, finalize a portion of their projects for a professional audience in the form of a publication, professional presentation, or academic writing sample. Majors must take this lab twice, and minors must take this lab once.
Taught: Spring.
Prerequisites: WST 200; suggested junior standing; declared status as a Women's Studies major or minor.
Credit: 1 hour.
 
451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal: To allow students to pursue particular interests in Women's Studies in addition to those covered in other courses.
Content: Varies according to interest of the student; to be agreed upon by student and professor and approved by the Women's Studies Program Chair.
Taught: Fall, Spring.
Prerequisites: Permission of program director and instructor.
Credit: 1-6 hours.
 
452/199: Field Study/Internship
Goal: To provide students with an opportunity to gain experience and apply their learned skills in a practical, professional setting that can be explored through creative, vocational, and/or academic venues.
Content: Varies with student and her chosen advisor.
Taught: Fall, Spring, Summer.
Prerequisites: Permission of program director and advisor.
Credit: 1-12 hours.
 

499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required)

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