The Women, Gender, & Sexuality program provides students with the opportunity to recognize the many ways in which our lives are shaped and limited by a variety of cultural constructions and circumstances. Grounded in diverse perspectives of feminism and intersectionality and queer scholarship, the program works to empower students to challenge such limitations through critical examination, theoretical analysis, and engaged activism. The program focuses on how social norms and the related assumptions have developed and changed over time, how they vary with different cultures, and how they position individuals and groups with specific social standpoints, locations, and power. Many courses examine and interrogate how such norms function in society thereby shaping feminine, masculine, transgender, and non-binary gendering, and the many sexualities across the spectrum in their myriad identities, expressions, and lived experiences.
The Women, Gender, and Sexuality program is interdisciplinary with a broad range of offerings, allowing students to choose from its courses to examine both current and historical experiences of individuals through a variety of lenses, to analyze institutional sources of power and representational texts, to study the work of important figures, and to learn the philosophical and methodological approaches in different academic disciplines. The program offers a comprehensive and inclusive variety of coursework so that students learn about the different social constructions, privileges, 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, Gender, and Sexuality program has three areas of focus for our students in their coursework and success: academic excellence, intersectional dynamics, and empowerment.
Student Learning Outcomes
Major Requirements: Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
A major in Women, Gender, and Sexuality consists of a minimum of 37 hours and is distributed as follows:
Professional Development: Throughout their 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 PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and PDE 401 Professional Practice Seminar.
In addition, a Women, Gender, and Sexuality 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, Gender, and Sexuality program chair. The student will be monitored by their advisor during their workplace experience and will submit a reflective summary at its conclusion.
Integrative Experience. Women, Gender, and Sexuality majors will be encouraged to begin broadly, taking courses in a variety of fields as well as introductory classes in Women, Gender, and Sexuality and feminist methodologies. As they move through the program, they will be encouraged to tailor their course of study to meet their own research interests, taking an additional research methods course in their chosen discipline along with upper-level Women, Gender, and Sexuality courses that are relevant to their field. Through this coursework, they will learn to position themselves as a critical specialist on gender and its representations and intersections in their particular area of interest, and, finally, prepare their scholarship for both the Wesleyan community and a larger professional audience. In WGS 401 offered during the spring of the major's senior year, they will work with their fellow classmates and instructor to complete a scholarly project. As the student is completing their interdisciplinary course of study conducted through the lens of focused feminist methodology, this seminar provides them with individual guidance to shape their senior research project, which they may present in the spring symposium and eventually refine for a professional audience.
Minor Requirements: Women, Gender, and Sexuality. The Women, Gender, and Sexuality 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, Gender, and Sexuality majors, faculty, and the community through participation in the various courses, events, and the yearly spring symposium.
A minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality consists of a minimum of 18 hours and is distributed as follows:
Resources for Non-Majors. We welcome all students to join our classes; Women, Gender, and Sexuality 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, Women, Gender, and Sexuality courses complement 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, Gender, and Sexuality degree is also excellent preparation for graduate education in humanities, law, and social science fields.
Women, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS) Course Descriptions
WST 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 BUS 210 and ECO 210.
WST 213: Gender and Religion.
Goal: To engage students in the critical reading and assessment of significant religious and theological works concerning how gender impacts the practices of religion in society and how religion impacts individual and societal understanding of gender and gender roles.
Content: Students will examine in detail the approach to gender and gender roles undertaken by a diversity of religions, religious practitioners, theologians, and theorists of religion. The impact of gender on issues such as ethical formation, religious authority, the nature of human existence, and conceptions of the holy will be explored.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women’s Experiences (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as REL 213.
WST 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 Experience (FA).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as MUS 215.
WST 301: Psychology of Gender.
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 gender 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.
WGS 305: Mediating Genders.
Goal: To analyze mediated representations of gender from critical cultural and feminist theoretical perspectives.
Content: An advanced focus on media representations, this course will take an intersectional approach to understand the cross-influence & perception of gender expectations that intersect with other identities. Topics would include representations of race, queer identities, ages, (dis)abilities, nationalities, etc., violence in the media, stereotypes & tropes, etc. in a variety of media platforms.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women’s Experiences (HUM).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as COM 305.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as THE 328.
WGS 338: Identity, Power, & Culture.
Goal: To analyze societal position, ideology and dynamics from critical cultural and feminist theoretical perspectives.
Content: This course will focus on cultural, rhetorical discourses in the United States with a feminist, intersectional approach. Working through contemporary conversations & controversies with an eye to past positionality & knowledge creation, topics will include critical theory, the social construction of reality, race, class, queer, & citizen/immigrant identities as historical sites of oppression, & US ideology, narratives, & social change.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisites: COM 214, COM 215, COM 216, WGS 200, or WGS 250. Or permission of instructor.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as COM 338.
WST 354: Art History III: 20th Century to Contemporary.
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 Experience (FA).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as ARH 354.
WST 499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required).
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