Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGS)
College of Liberal Studies
4300 Centennial Hall; 608.785.8357
Department Chair: Deb Hoskins
4302 Centennial Hall; 608.785.8734
Courses in WGSS provide students with new perspectives on the roles of women and men as individuals, within families and communities, and as participants in society across cultures. Based on research and analysis by WGSS scholars, courses examine how social structures, ideals, stereotypes, mores, and institutions shape people as gendered and sexual beings and in terms of their access to power. Courses also examine how people have responded to limitations systematically organized around gender as it intersects with race, class, sexual orientation, colonization, ethnicity, and other social hierarchies. Courses explore solutions to contemporary problems; internships allow deeper exploration. Because of its emphasis on communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving, WGSS courses are valuable in a broad range of employment settings. WGSS programs include courses within the interdisciplinary department as well as specialized courses in many other departments across the university.
Self-Sufficiency Program (SSP)
The Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies sponsors the Self-Sufficiency Program (SSP), a pre-college college readiness initiative for low-income single parents. This free program provides a supportive learning environment in which to develop and practice academic skills. Classes meet weekly with childcare provided. Offered Fall and Spring semesters. Students interested in volunteer, service learning, and internship opportunities, call Andrea Hansen, SSP Director, at 608.785.8733 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
+ next to a course number indicates a general education course
+WGS 100 Cr.3
Gender, Race and Class in American Institutions (ES)
This course provides an introduction to how gender, race and class have intertwined over time to produce women’s social roles and status in American culture. The creation, transmittal, interpretation and institutionalization of gender roles will be examined using family and kinship, the educational system, the media, work, government and the health care system. The course provides a critical, interdisciplinary perspective on scholarship which omits or distorts the female experience. Offered Fall, Spring, Summer.
SOC/WGS 105 Cr.3
Introduction to LGBT Studies
This course will examine the cultural, legal, and political dimensions of LGBT life in the U.S. It will begin by exploring the social invention of heterosexuality and how personal and institutional interpretations of sexuality have historically informed the lives of LGBT people. The course also addresses class, racial and gender biases that especially confront queer communities of color in the U.S. Finally, the course looks at continued instances of hate crimes and homophobia against the backdrop of rights-based activism and the role that art and politics play in this interplay. (Cross-listed with WGS/SOC; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.
HED/WGS 201 Cr.1
Social Justice and Peer Education
This course both educates students on social justice issues they face while in college and prepares them to be able to give presentations to peers in residence halls, classrooms, athletic teams, and student organizations with the goal of effecting social change. Subject matter will respond to campus needs. Repeatable for credit - maximum 3. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or ERS 100 or EFN 205 or WGS 230 or WGS 210; CST 110 recommended. (Cross-listed with HED/WGS; may only earn a max of three credits.) Pass/Fail grading. Offered Fall, Spring.
+WGS 210 Cr.3
Women's Voices / Women's Culture (ES)
An examination of how women have expressed female experience in a variety of forms, including fiction, autobiography, oral traditions, and song. By analyzing women’s words and forms of self-expression, students will explore what is individual and what is common in women’s lives, and will learn tools for understanding female experience and culture. Offered Occasionally.
WGS 225 Cr.3
Women and Leadership
This course investigates women's leadership and develops students' leadership skills. Students will examine women's under-representation in formal public positions of power while also evaluating the strengths women can and do bring to leadership, and the emerging possibilities for women's leadership capacity in a rapidly changing world. Special attention will be paid to women's changing roles in the workplace. Students will critically evaluate leadership models, especially as they pertain to gender, race, and class. Offered Alternate Years.
+WGS 230 Cr.3
Women's Diversity: Race, Class, and Culture (ES)
This course explores the diversity of women’s experience in America as it has been affected by race, ethnicity, class, and other factors, and the effects of gender on women of different groups. Issues that have united and divided women in movements for social change are also addressed. Offered Fall, Spring.
WGS 240 Cr.3
Contemporary Women's Issues
Contemporary women’s issues will provide the student with an overview of women’s studies scholarship from the late 1960’s to the present. Contemporary theory, social change movements, and women’s lives will be integrated in order to examine the relationship between theory and practice in women’s studies. Offered Occasionally.
WGS 250 Cr.1-3
Topics in Women's Studies
Intermediate and interdisciplinary analysis of a social issue, idea or institution from the perspective of women and Women’s Studies. Repeatable for credit. Department approval is necessary to apply more than three credits toward the WGS minor. Offered Occasionally.
WGS 255 Cr.1
Women in the Military
This course will provide students with an understanding of the struggles and successes of women’s lives in the U.S. Military. Beginning with an historic overview of women’s changing roles in the military, it will proceed to analyze the reasons for the limitations to women’s equal participation. Finally, the course will recognize the accomplishments of women in the military. Offered Spring - Even Numbered Years.
ESS/PSY/WGS 259 Cr.1-3
Girls and Women in Sport
This course is an introduction to the involvement of girls and women with sport. It includes a historical perspective on women’s sport participation, cultural images of women athletes, teaching and coaching implications of current research, Title IX, and recreation/leisure approaches to physical activity. Course content may vary according to instructor. (Cross-listed with ESS/PSY/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Occasionally.
WGS 300 Cr.1-3
Topics to be selected by the individual instructor or by the student and instructor together. The topics must relate to women’s experiences and/or issues. Repeatable for credit — maximum 6. Prerequisite: WGS 100. Consent of department. Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.
HIS/WGS 301 Cr.3
Women in the Modern United States: 1890-Present
This course introduces students to key issues in modern women’s history in the United States. It explores women’s experiences as workers, activists, consumers, citizens, and family members. It also examines the various ways in which generations of Americans have defined 'woman’s place' and 'women’s issues', and raises questions about the possibility for defining common 'women’s issues' today. (Cross-listed with HIS/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.
HIS/WGS 305 Cr.3
History of Motherhood in the United States
This course considers motherhood in nineteenth and twentieth century United States history from a variety of perspectives. It explores women’s experiences’ as mothers, across lines of class, race, and relationship status. It also examines the politics of motherhood in U.S. history, and considers both the restrictive and the empowering dimensions of ideologies of motherhood. (Cross-listed with HIS/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.
WGS 310 Cr.3
Masculinity, Femininity and Violence
This course will examine the gendered and systemic nature of violence primarily in the United States. The course will pay special attention to the ways in which gender-based violence is perpetuated through interpersonal relationships and through social institutions such as the judicial system, the media, law enforcement, the family, organized sports and schools. Hate crimes will also be addressed. The focus will be both on understanding and preventing gender-based violence, asking what men and women must do to put an end to this social problem. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 230 or EFN 205 or ERS 100. Offered Alternate Years.
HIS/WGS 315 Cr.3
History of Feminist Thought
An examination of the history of feminist ideas in the United States and the historical context, both western and international, from which they emerged. (Cross-listed with HIS/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.
SOC/WGS 316 Cr.3
Gender, Sexuality, and Social Change in Religion
This course examines the various gender roles, norms, mobility, restrictions and empowerment that people experience within religious traditions, for example: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Global case studies and engaging narratives focused on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, and religion will be considered. Special attention will be paid to feminist laypersons and religious leaders who are reformulating traditional understandings and practices, and in turn, negotiating their agency within secular and spiritual spaces. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or WGS 230 or SOC 110 or SOC 120. Offered Occasionally.
WGS 320 Cr.3
Violence Against Women
This course will examine from an interdisciplinary perspective, the connections between violence against women and the power distributions within our society. Three specific types of violence against women will be examined in-depth: sexual assault, incest and battering. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, WGS 210, WGS 230, EFN 205. Offered Alternate Years.
WGS 325 Cr.3
Black Feminist Thought
This course is designed to introduce students to Black Feminist theory. During this semester, we will explore how African-American women have been socially located in American society. We will read various texts (books, articles, etc.) to explore how theory works to explain power, oppression and liberation in the lives of African-American women. To accomplish this goal, we will focus our discussions on themes such as activism, identity, difference, representation, and possibilities of upward mobility as they pertain to the lived experiences of African American women. Offered Annually.
WGS 330/530 Cr.1-3
Topics: Women, Gender, and Society
Interdisciplinary analysis of a social issue, idea, or institution from the perspective of women and women’s studies. Repeatable for credit – maximum 9. Department approval is necessary to apply more than three credits toward the WS minor. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, WGS 210, WGS 230, EFN 205; junior standing. Offered Occasionally.
WGS 331 Cr.3
Images of African American Women
This course is designed to not only introduce students to representations of African American women but to also socially and spatially locate African American women in American society. We will discuss the origins of negative images of black femininity and how these images have evolved over time. In addition, this course will examine various types of images (i.e. television, movies, print ads, etc.) and deconstruct how they challenge, reinforce and reproduce entrenched images of African American women. This course will also discuss how African American women have challenge negative stereotypes and develop their own ways of constructing more accurate and complex. Offered Occasionally.
SOC/WGS 337 Cr.3
Globalization, Women, and Work
This course examines the global and often exploitative experiences of women, migrating from one part of the world to another for work. As women leave their countries of origin, many find themselves working as nannies, sex workers, house cleaners and modern-day slaves in sweatshops. These work environments often create vulnerability, discrimination, and abuse of women within the private and public institutions of their host countries. The course will also use in-depth personal narratives and a focus on grassroots social movements to witness how women resist workplace policies and domestic laws to campaign for their rights, despite cultural and political constraints. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 230 or EFN 205 or ERS 100. (Cross-listed with WGS/SOC; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.
SOC/WGS 338 Cr.3
Sociological Aspects of Work and Life
This course will explore the sociological impact of work and life demands in contemporary American society. Special emphasis will be given to how gender, sexual orientation, social class, race and ethnicity, and family structure affect individuals’ ability to balance the demands of work and life. Prerequisite: SOC 110 or SOC 120 or SOC 200 or ANT 101. (Cross-listed with SOC/WGS 338; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Occasionally.
WGS 340 Cr.3
Women, Learning and Knowledge
An analysis of how a women’s learning experience has been and continues to be limited by conceptions of gender, race, and class. Through an examination of how knowledge is acquired and how society defines knowledge, students will come to a better understanding of how women can 'reclaim' their educations. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, WGS 210, WGS 230, EFN 205. Offered Alternate Years.
WGS 360 Cr.3
Hip Hop Culture, Race, and Gender
This course is designed to examine the history of Hip Hop and how it has evolved over time from a culture that gave voice to youth culture in New York City to a global phenomenon that, in many ways, has lost its way due to commercialism. In this course, we will discuss the origins of Hip Hop culture and its four basic elements (break dancing, rap, djing, and graffiti art). We examine how rap has evolved over time and how consumerism and capitalism have influenced Hip Hop culture. During the class, we will discuss various controversies that have arisen around the music, including criticism of its attitudes toward violence, femininity, masculinity, homosexuality, and educational achievement. Students will have the opportunity to analyze and deconstruct music lyrics, music videos and movies. Offered Occasionally.
HIS/WGS 370 Cr.3
The History of Black Women's Activism
An historical overview of the thoughts, actions, and creative products of Black women activists in the United States, from slavery to the present. Students will examine historical analyses, speeches, essays, economic activities, organizational styles, political issues, and various forms of artistic expression that women of African descent have produced in order to query, resist, and defy the interlocking oppressions of racism, sexism, and classism in the United States. Prerequisite: EFN 205 or ERS 100 or WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 230. (Cross-listed with HIS/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.
WGS 373 Cr.3
Gender and Human Rights
This course will provide an overview of transnational women's human rights movements in a variety of locations around the world; locations will vary with the instructor. Included in this overview will be the study of women's political participation as a human rights issue; women's bodily integrity as a human right; violence against women and reproductive sexual health and rights; human rights as a framework for social and economic and gender justice; and human rights as (quasi) legal accountability; UN agreements, treaties and venues of redress. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 230 or EFN 205 or ERS 100. Offered Fall - Odd Numbered Years.
WGS 374 Cr.3
Women, Poverty and Public Policy
The course analyzes the historical underpinnings to the creation and evolution of welfare with special attention paid to the ways gender, race, and class oppression have shaped welfare in the past and today. Wage differentials, occupational segregation, unpaid work, and gender violence are discussed in relation to the construction of poverty. How poverty affects the lives of poor women and their children also is be explored. Current welfare policy will be analyzed and suggestions for reform based on current research is developed by the class. Prerequisite: One of the following: WGS 100, WGS 210, WGS 230, POL 205, PSY 318, EFN 205. Offered Alternate Years.
SOC/WGS 375 Cr.3
Examines the social construction of sexual orientation and its meaning for women and women’s equality. The course draws on a range of sources, including scientific research, history, literature, psychological theory, and popular culture. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 230 or EFN 205. (Cross-listed with SOC/WGS; may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Occasionally.
HIS/WGS 376 Cr.3
History of Childhood in the United States
This course explores the vast diversity of children's experiences in American history, while also examining contemporary issues for children. The course explores historical change in the socialization, experiences, economic, cultural, and social positions of children. It also examines change and continuity over time in our cultural ideals of childhood and children's rights. (Cross-listed with HIS/WGS, may only earn credit in one department.) Offered Alternate Years.
WGS 386 Cr.3
Women of Color and Autobiography
This course is designed to introduce students to non-fiction writing, focusing specifically on the autobiographical work of women of color. We will read a variety of different forms of autobiographical text. During this course, we will examine how intersections of race, gender, space, and identity are explored in these women’s narratives. Through the readings, we will investigate the ethical and political obligations of minority writers. Also, we will investigate the interplay of identity formation and writing. Additionally, we will place these women’s narratives into historical and social contexts to understand how these factors influence these women’s texts. While reading these texts, we will write our own narratives as a method to investigate the lives of women. Offered Occasionally.
WGS 390 Cr.3
Social Justice Research Methods
This course answers the question that most caring people want answered: How can we fix this problem? Students will engage in the process of strategizing, whatever the issue (gender bias, racism, homophobia, environmental degradation, disability bias), and whatever the setting (a workplace, neighborhood, campus, or beyond). Course activities organize around the processes behind social change: strategic analysis, organizing, action planning, and evaluation, developing students' ability to create the knowledge necessary for complex problem-solving. Students learn and use the quantitative, qualitative, and critical research methods necessary to inform decisions at each step along a generalized pathway to change. Students going on to graduate school and students entering the workforce in a variety of fields like social work, community organizing, communication, and management will benefit from this course. Prerequisite: WGS 100 or WGS 210 or WGS 230 or EFN 205 or ERS 100; plus nine additional credits in courses approved for WGS. Offered Fall.
WGS 450 Cr.1-6
Internship in Women's Studies
The internship is an academically relevant field experience for minors in women’s studies which combine women’s studies scholarship with practical experience. The field experience will be supervised by the women’s studies staff. A maximum of three credits will be counted toward the minor. Repeatable for credit — maximum 6. Prerequisite: junior standing; six credits of WGS courses; minimum 2.50 cumulative GPA. Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.
WGS 499 Cr.3
Women's Studies Seminar
Intensive interdisciplinary study of particular areas in women’s studies. Topics will be chosen by the instructor and the students. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, WGS 210, WGS 230; at least two other courses approved for the women’s studies major or minor plan; declared women’s studies major or minor plan. Offered Fall.