Celebrate 50 Years
College of Arts and Sciences

Course Information

Women's Studies Courses

The following are descriptions of the courses offered by the Women's Studies Program. These courses fulfill requirements and electives for the Women's Studies B.A., A.A. degrees, minor and certificate from IPFW. Some also meet distribution requirements in the College of Arts and Sciences or General Education requirements across IPFW's colleges and schools.

Please check the current Schedule of Classes for current courses offered. Also, refer to the Helmke Library Women's Studies Resource Guide for research assistance.

WOST W210: Introduction to Women’s Studies - Summer, Fall 2014

This course explores and analyzes the position of women in the institutions of the United States, including the family, education, government, law, the economy, and religion with emphasis on women of various lifestyles, ethnic origins, ages and abilities. Women's contemporary and historical experiences will be examined through the various theories of feminism. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral Sciences distribution requirement and for General Education Category Social and Behavioral Ways of Knowing.

WOST W225: Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Culture - Summer, Fall 2014

Examination of popular cultural “makings” of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality through typical representation of gender within fiction, theater, cinema, radio, music, television, journalism, and other secular mass media. Course will include the analysis of developing international telecommunications “superhighway” and the struggles to secure increased representation of women and of feminist perspectives within existing culture industries. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement and for General Education Category Humanistic Ways of Knowing.

WOST W240: Topics in Feminism

Exploration of feminist scholarship on a specific topic of current interest, e.g., women and social activism, pornography, reproductive rights, lesbian and gay studies, gender in early education, contemporary women’s movement. Specific topics announced in the Schedule of Classes. Suitable for students without previous women’s studies courses. Variable topic course. May be repeated with different topic for a maximum of 6 credits. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral sciences distribution requirement and General Education Category Interdisciplinary of Creative Ways of Knowing.

WOST W240: Feminism and Food - Fall 2014

What's the last thing you ate? As the saying goes, you are what you eat. Also how, where, and why you ate it. From dinner traditions, to genetically modified foods, organic groceries, urban food deserts, the obesity epidemic, and ‘food stars’ on reality TV, we navigate a landscape ripe for feminist inquiry and intervention. This course explores how everyday eating habits relate to health and well-being; physical, emotional, local, and global. This course includes a service learning component. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral sciences distribution requirement and General Education Category Interdisciplinary of Creative Ways of Knowing.

WOST W240: Social Justice Activism: Theory & Practice - Fall 2014

This course will address the theory and practice of feminist and queer activism. During the first half of the semester, students will learn about the historical roots of these activist movements, including first and second wave feminism, critical race feminism, transnational feminism, the feminist sex wars, and the history of gay and lesbian activism. During the second half of the semester we will look move specifically at instances of direct activism and discuss their execution. In addition, we will take a turn to the practical, and work collectively to create our own activist projects. Bu the end of the semester, students will be able to answer the following questions: What makes an activist? What kind of activist am I? What is the difference between direction action and policy activism? What are the issues that are currently important to feminist and queer activists? How is current feminist or queer activism influenced by its historical predecessors? Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral sciences distribution requirement and General Education Category Interdisciplinary of Creative Ways of Knowing.

Courses Offered in Previous Semesters

WOST W240: Women, Race, Identity

Satire disrupts, de-centers, and produces critiques of everything--and everyone--it touches. This course will examine women, race, and identity through the lens of literary, social, historical, and media forms of satire. We will delve into the experiences and writings of African American, Asian American, and Native American women who have successfully and creatively used satire to question the "othering" of their gender, as well as their racial identity. The results are often striking as they are raucously funny. Satire challenges our perceptions, allowing the authors, theorists and performances we will examine to - - as Ralph Ellison noted - - "change the joke and slip the yoke." Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral sciences distribution requirement and General Education Category Interdisciplinary of Creative Ways of Knowing.

WOST W240: Contemporary Women in Power

This course will focus on the topic of women and power from the perspective of contemporary women who have achieved top leadership positions representing different sectors of society: academic, business, entertainment, journalism, law, military, nonprofit, politics, religion, medicine, and sports. The course will be divided into three sections corresponding with a learning design that moves from knowledge, to acquisition, to research, to application.Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral sciences distribution requirement and General Education Category Interdisciplinary of Creative Ways of Knowing.

WOST W240: Women and Health

This course examines the health of women and the many influences upon their understanding, accessibility, experiences, and concerns from a personal and political perspective. Through exploration of the biomedical, socio-cultural, and holistic health care models, students will identify these various offerings in the health care system and analyze how these representations meet the needs of women from diverse backgrounds. Course topics include historical viewpoints of women's health care; the female reproductive system; women's sexuality; medicalization of women's health; nutritional and lifestyle trends; patient and health care provider relationships; violence against women; and advocacy for women's health. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral sciences distribution requirement and General Education Category Interdisciplinary of Creative Ways of Knowing.

WOST W301: International Perspectives on Women

This course integrates feminist theoretical perspectives on global politics with discussions of a wide range of women's issues. Specifically, it focuses on transnational feminism, world media and representations of women, global politics of the body, sexualities, politics of women's health, reproductive rights, and women's work within the global economy, while emphasizing issues of global justice and exploring the differences and similarities that simultaneously divide and unite women across the globe. Variable topic course. May be repeated once with a different topic. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Cultural Studies (Non-Western Culture) requirement and General Education Capstone. Also approved for General Education Area VI. Prerequisite: sophomore, junior, or senior standing or consent of instructor. Some sections may also require WOST W210 as a prerequisite. 

WOST W301: Beyond the Harem: Women in North Africa & the Middle East 
Summer & Fall 2014

This course will take selected communities in North Africa and the Middle East as the “two or more cultures” to be explored. Egypt, as the crossroads between those regions (and the country that has been at the heart of the Arab-Islamic feminist movement historically), will be emphasized. Materials on the legal and social status of women in Algeria, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia may also be included. The readings feature: a historic contextualizing of the “legal, social, and economic status” of women in Islamic societies (Ahmed) up to the late 20th century (Atiya); short essays and speeches by Arab women, many of whom self-identify as feminists (Badran & Cooke); historical fiction by two of the leading ‘Western’ feminist activists of the Arab world (Zayyat and Saadawi) as well as one ‘Islamic’ feminist (Rifaat); and an analysis of the contemporary resurgence of voluntary veiling among women of the educated and employed middle- and upper-classes (Zuhur). Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Cultural Studies (Non-Western Culture) requirement and General Education Capstone. Prerequisite: sophomore, junior, or senior standing or consent of instructor.

WOST W301: The Ethics of Development & Labor (In)Equality - Fall 2014

Are human rights universal? Do women everywhere have the same needs? Who gets to answer these questions? In this course, we will tackle some of the ethical implications behind International Development policies, and consider the rhetoric of human rights as it relates to feminism. Once we have a firm grounding in development discourse, we will dive in to some case study examples of how development policies have been applied -- focusing specifically on the effects these policies have on women's bodies and labor practices. By the end of the semester, students will be able to answer the following questions: What is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and how has it been applied internationally? What is the feminist position in support of a universal rights model, and what is the feminist critique? How do development policies affect women's labor and women's bodies? Is this the framework of human rights the most effective way to combat labor inequity? Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Cultural Studies (Non-Western Culture) requirement and General Education Capstone. Prerequisite: sophomore, junior, or senior standing or consent of instructor.

Courses Offered in Previous Semesters

WOST W301: Women of the Second World - Gender and Sexuality in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union

This course explores the themes of gender, sexuality and power in the communist and post-communist experiences of women and men living in the "second world", the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc states. We examine representations of femininity and masculinity in culture, society and politics through autobiographies and written narratives, film and visual media. Using these sources, we explore how the ideological goals of gender emancipation were constructed and lived by women and men behind the Iron Curtain. We will also study the origins of East European feminism during the nationalist era, aw well as the post-communist era of globalization and capitalism, where we will link feminism's to the international feminist movement. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Cultural Studies (Non-Western Culture) requirement and General Education Capstone. Prerequisite: sophomore, junior, or senior standing or consent of instructor.

WOST W302: Topics in Women’s Studies

Interdisciplinary approach to selected ideas, trends, and problems in women’s studies. Specific topics to be announced each semester in the Schedule of Classes and the Women’s Studies course offerings brochure. Variable topic course. May be repeated when topic varies for a maximum of 9 credit hours. Prerequisite: varies by section/topic.

Courses Offered in Previous Semesters

WOST W302: Girl Culture in the U. S.

This course will examine girlhood in American culture of the twenty and twenty-first centuries through an interdisciplinary lens, focusing especially on representations of female adolescence. We will look, for example, at how mainstream culture instructs girls about how to "be" a "girl" and how girls have embraced, resisted and/or struggled with such prescriptions. We will consider a variety of text including memoirs, films, magazines, photographs, and media. We will also consider several historical studies of girlhood in the twentieth-century, as well as some more theoretical discussions of issues important to female development . In addition to this type of traditional intellectual inquiry, the class will also include a service-learning project that will give you the opportunity to work directly with girls and with the advocacy organizations that support them. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Sexuality and Literature

What is sexuality? This course explores literary representations of gender difference, sexuality and sexual experience from antiquity to the present. To narrow the focus, our texts raise questions about how notions of being civilized versus barbaric, 'normal' versus Other, are both present and produced in the ways writers represent sex and sexual encounters. And what is literature? With themes central to feminist literary criticism in the foreground, students will consider-and question-what constitutes the Western canon. How have people and cultures commonly considered Western grappled with, embraced and resisted or rejected various beliefs about sexuality in their literary projects? Finally, what do these questions have to do with Women's Studies? Topics emphasized include desire, temptation, gender norms, deviance, and feminist criticism. From Greek myth and philosophy to pornography, memoir, and the modern graphic novel, this course examines the intertwining histories of Western thought(s) about sexuality and literature. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Women in the Harlem Renaissance

This course will examine the lives and social history of African American women during the Harlem Renaissance. No longer relegated solely to the laundry, kitchen and child care, the women featured in this course explored issues of gender, race, class and self identity, and in the process created some of the most important literature of the 20th century. An interdisciplinary approach will be used to place these women within the larger social context of the 1920's and 1930's. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Manhood & Masculinity in the U.S.

This course examines "manhood" and "masculinity" in U. S. history and culture from the 18th century to the present through a feminist perspective. Students will be introduced to gender theory and will explore the ways in which "manhood" and "masculinity" are socially constructed, including the identities boys and men are expected to perform to meet social and cultural expectations and earn cultural approval. It will explore how men of a variety of races and ethnicities, young and old, wealthy or working-class have responded to these performances of "manhood." Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Women & Human Rights

This multidisciplinary course acquaints students with the key debates and theoretical approaches involved in feminist human rights literature. We will also explore the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and discuss the reluctance of the U. S. to ratify this treaty. This course will examine human rights treaties and various ways they are often interpreted to exclude women, as well as strategies to change current gender discriminatory interpretations. Furthermore, we will study various feminist critiques of international human rights laws, as well as women and human rights success cases. The readings, videos, and other materials used in the class are global in focus in order to acquaint students with the similarities and differences in the development, implementation, and acceptance of women's human rights around the world. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Gender, Violence & Pop Culture

This course will explore from a feminist perspective constructions of gender through violence - and the construction of gendered violence - over the last fifty years of popular culture. We will interrogate the ways in which women in films and television, for example, are all too often positioned as helpless victims who suffer at the hands of an abusive partner, monsters who inflict violence upon others, or sexy "babes" who wreck havoc on deserving recipients. At the same time, however, we will look for cultural spaces that subvert these simplistic representations and will consider how some texts include both subversive and mainstream depictions of masculinity, femininity and violence. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Feminist Perspectives on the Body

Since the emergence of U.S. Second Wave feminism in the early 1970s, the complex issue of women’s embodiment has been at the forefront of feminist activity.  Women’s bodies have been thought of both as vessels containing some sort of innate feminine essence, as well as malleable surfaces on which gender is culturally inscribed.  Moreover, theorists ranging from Catherine MacKinnon to bell hooks to Susan Bordo have noted the centrality of women’s bodies to U.S. advertising and entertainment industries. In this course, we will use various feminist interpretations of women’s embodiment to analyze both how U.S. women represent their own bodies and how women’s bodies have been represented in U.S. culture more generally. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Women's Self Portraits in Literature and Art

This course will focus on a range of works, literary and visual, published/created by women from either North or Central America since 1930. Its purpose, however, is not simply to “survey” the canon of women’s life writing and self-portraits but rather to investigate issues of genre, including what could be called the “crisis of representation” that is often fore grounded in twentieth-century women’s literature and art. We will look, for example, at modes of thinking about the gendered self that call attention to the limits of traditional discourse and that explore the question, “What does it mean for women to write about or visually depict the self?”  Of particular interest to us will be the ways twentieth-century women writers and artists transgress both traditional genre boundaries and the expectations and aesthetic values of the literary and artistic establishments. Insofar as these women writers and artists do so self-consciously, often problematizing common assumptions about what it means to portray memory, experience, and identity, they will hopefully enrich and complicate our understanding of the (self) representational project in literature and art. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W302: Acting Up: Feminist Rhetorical Practices and Women's Rights

Rhetorical history has long been considered a history of prominent males. While Plato, Cicero or Frederick Douglass are familiar names, many won't have heard of Aspasia, Hortensia or Elizabeth Cady Stanton. After this course, students will not only recognize these women's names, but they will also appreciate their contributions to our current perceptions and rights of women. In doing so, this course will provide students with a better understanding of women's role(s) in a number of historical situations in which they have been traditionally ignored. Students will not only learn how women contributed to rhetoric but also how gender expectations have altered over time. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

 

WOST W304: Feminist Theories

"Feminist Theories" is designed to provide students with an overview of those crucial feminist texts that have given shape to Western feminism and feminist theory as we know them today. Toward that end, we will look at a wide variety of texts, covering both the foundational texts of the 19th and early 20th centuries and the more recent writings that have shaped contemporary feminist discourse, focusing largely on writings from the United States. Along the way, we will orient our studies along topical lines, looking in-depth at those debates and theoretical terms that have been central to feminist theory, including essentialism, constructionism, epistemology, power, intersectionality, and so on. This course will explore not only the themes that cohere the body of writings we call "feminist theory" but also the tensions and conflicts that have made it such a dynamic field of study. As a case study of these tensions and conflicts, the semester will end by looking more closely at the ways in which feminist has dealt with sexuality, and the evolution of queer theory from within feminist thought. The various assignments for this class are designed to help you process and synthesize this survey of sometimes challenging reading material, while also giving you the chance to explore and articulate your own ideas as they relate to feminist theoretical debate. Prereq: WOST W210 AND ENG W233 or equivalent; approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement.

WOST W340: Topics in Lesbian and Gay Culture

This course examines, through the study of literary and/or visual texts, aspects of lesbian and gay culture, with attention to the artistic value of the texts as well as their significance as cultural documents. Variable topic course. May be repeated once when topic varies for a maximum of 6 credit hours.

WOST W340: LGBT Cultural Identity

This course will cover development of LGBT identity in the individual within the context of an emerging cultural and community identity. We will draw from the scientific literature on identity development, the psychology of sexual orientation and gender identity as well as historical accounts of milestones in the formation of LGBT culture.

 

WOST W400: Topics in Women’s Studies

An interdisciplinary approach to selected ideas, trends, and problems in women’s studies. The capstone course focuses on issues and controversies in the new scholarship on women. Specific topics announced in Schedule of Classes. Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing, 12 credits of women’s studies course work or permission of instructor.

WOST W400 - Disciplining Women's Studies - Fall 2014

This capstone course will explore the history and state of women's studies within higher education today through an examination of the major questions that have defined the field. How, for example, do those working in the field of women's studies regard the issue of disciplinarity, the intersections between women's studies and gender and sexuality studies, and the role activism should play in academic study? The course's exploration of these questions is designed not only to provide students with an overview of the issues governing the history, present state, and possible future of women's studies within higher education, but also to give them the opportunity to reflect on the work they have done as a women's studies student at IPFW. The work of the semester culminates with a major research project of the student's own design.

 

WOST W480: Practicum in Women’s Studies

Directed study of aspects of policy related to women’s issues based upon field experience. Directed readings, practicum in social agency, papers, and analytical journal required. Prerequisite: junior or senior class standing, 12 credits of women’s studies course work, and project approved by instructor; prerequisite: W210 (or equivalent).

 

WOST W495: Readings and Research in Women’s Studies Class

Individual readings and research. May be repeated twice for credit with a different topic. Prerequisite: consent of instructor and program director.

back to top 

Women's Studies Interdisciplinary Courses
(Cross Listed or Cross Referenced courses offered by other departments)

 

Anthropology

ANTH E402-01: Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective

This course considers anthropological approaches to feminism and gender studies. Course reading will include excerpts from major works of these fields. The focus will be on ethnographic and cross-cultural accounts of women, gender relations, and family life in order to introduce the diversity of roles gender plays in social life, as well as some of the complexities associated with talking and writing about gender cross-culturally.

back to top 

Biology

BIOL 250: Women and Biology

An examination of modern concepts in biology. The scientific method will be examined and feminist criticisms of science will be discussed. The topics of reproduction and development, heredity, and ecology will be used as focal points for an in-depth discussion of the conceptual framework of biology and feminist criticism thereof. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. For non-majors.Cannot be used for Group A or B elective for biology majors. Credit given for only one of the following: BIOL 100, BIOL 250, or BIOL N200.

back to top

Communications

COM 41000: Gender Roles and Communication

This course is designed to investigate the relationship between gender roles and communication; i.e., how gender roles are socially constructed, maintained, and enacted. The course also explores gender differences, similarities, and gender issues in personal and organizational contexts. Prerequisite: COM 11400.

COM 42200: Women, Men, and Media

An examination of the processes by which gender is constructed in the mass communication media. Students will be asked to consider how the technical, economic, and political constraints and capabilities of the media construct images of gender for audiences. Prerequisite: COM 25000, or permission of instructor.

back to top

English

ENG L378: British Women Writers: Performing Femininity

In this course, students will study the works of European women authors in the medieval and early modern periods, focusing especially on English authors. It will look at the social contexts in which women wrote, especially the querelle des femmes and other public discourses regarding women's character and social roles. It will analyze the ways that female authors gained authority by writing on topics considered acceptable for women.

ENG W372: Composing the Self

This course is a study of the way in which our identities are formed, sustained, and reformed, particularly with respect to gender, race, class, and sexuality. The course will focus on both exploratory and polished writing as well as works by various authors.

back to top

History

HIST T325: 20th Century U. S. Women's History

Study and analysis of selected historical issues and problems of limited scope from the perspective of the arts and humanities. Topics will vary and will usually cut across fields, regions, and periods.

HIST T325: Woman Question in Modern Europe

This course will analyze women’s history as an integral component of the history of Europe from the French Revolution until the present. The class will trace the evolution of the “woman question”—question of the social, political, cultural and economic role and place of women in European society, looking at the ideas about gender, social organization of women’s work, women’s role in the family, political mobilization of women, etc. The class will look at the way liberalism, nationalism, socialism, imperialism and feminism contributed to the transformation of women in European societies. The class will highlight how women’s experiences have differed due to class, race, ethnicity, and political and national context, and seek to define the common ground that European women have shared.

back to top

Philosophy

PHIL 30500: Philosophical Theories of Feminism

This course focuses on an analysis of ancient, medieval, and contemporary philosophical theories of gender and the role that these theories play in current political structures. In addition to classical readings, current philosophical issues such as pornography, abortion, family values ideology, body and self-image, biological determinism, and racism in the context of historical ideologies are discussed.

back to top

Political Science

POLS Y324: Women and Politics

Analysis of women in contemporary political systems, domestic or foreign, with emphasis on political roles, participation, and public policy. Normative and/or empirical examination of how political systems affect women and the impact women have on the system. Topics vary semester to semester. May be repeated once for credit with a different topic.

back to top

Psychology

PSY 34500: Psychology of Women

Theories and current research on the psychological nature of women and their roles in society, including topics such as sex differences and similarities, sex-role socialization, sex-role stereotyping, female sexuality, achievement motivation, role conflict, mental-health issues, feminist therapy, rape, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, and topics of related interest. Prerequisite: PSY 12000 (or equivalent).

PSY 36500: Development of Gender Roles in Children

Considers basic concepts and the varying theoretical interpretations for the development of gender roles with special attention given to recent empirical findings with children. Measures used in this area will be demonstrated in class and critically evaluated.

back to top

Religious Studies

REL 31500: Religion & Women 

This course will study the position of women in the ancient goddess and earth-centered traditions and neo-Paganism, as well as in the major religious traditions of the world. We will also explore the patriarchal and hierarchical patterns of domination in religion as well as the reforming and trans formative alternatives that exist within the religions themselves, even asking the question whether religion can be redeemed. Finally, we will examine the great diversity of women's spirituality and develop some theoretical models to help understand the nature and functions of women's religions beliefs and practices, paying special attention to the ways in which religion and women's societal roles mutually impact each other.

back to top