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Introduction to Women’s Studies

HUM 140-001…..3 Credits….No Prerequisites

Spring 2012


Dr. Hollace Graff




Course (Catalog) Description


Course introduces the interdisciplinary field of women’s studies which seeks to understand and challenge gender inequalities.  Course traces the historical emergence of feminist critiques and seeks to understand how these critiques address our experiences of work, family, sexuality, politics, culture, and religion.  Content also includes how women’s studies scholarship has transformed the social sciences and the humanities.  Course emphasizes critical thinking about the social construction of gender and the intersections of gender with class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality.



Learning Objectives


Students will be able to

A. Describe the historical emergence and the basic concepts of a number of competing feminist theories.


B. Explain how these theories lead to different strategies for ending the subordination of women and apply these theories to contemporary issues.

C. Critically evaluate these theories.

D. Discuss the interconnections of gender with race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality.


E. Formulate and articulately express their own positions on these theories and issues and use arguments to defend their positions.

F. Describe the ways in women’s studies has transformed a number of major disciplines within the humanities and the social sciences.

G. Identify and assess the ways in which gender discrimination may still be present in the methodologies of humanities and the social sciences disciplines.

H. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of       shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.




Academic Integrity


Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton’s Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:


·           cheating,

·           plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),

·           falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),

·           helping others to cheat,

·           unauthorized changes on official documents,

·           pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,

·           making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and

·           any other behavior that violates academic integrity.


There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton’s policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.


Details of the Code of Academic Conduct can be found in the Student Handbook.



Outline of Topics and Tentative Schedule


Women’s studies is a new discipline that has emerged as feminist scholars have critiqued and supplemented traditional disciplines, such as philosophy, history, and even the sciences.  During the first part of the class we will read Tong’s Feminist Thought, and we will do some additional primary source readings that are available on the web. 

In the second half of the class we look at Vandana Shiva as a representative of transnational ecofeminism.  In the second half each student will also read an additional book of their choice.  I will recommend several options, but students may propose options of their own as well.   


This schedule is tentative.  It lists some but not all reading assignments.  For updates and links to primary source readings and event information, please go to the website for the class.


January 18.....Introduction


January 23, 25, 30….Liberal Feminism.....Chapter 1 in Tong's Feminist Thought  

February 1, 6, 8….Radical Feminism...... Chapter 2 in Tong's Feminist Thought


February 8.....Journal collected


February 13, 15, 22........Marxist and Socialist Feminism.... Chapter 3 in Tong's Feminist Thought


February 27….Exam


February 29, March 5, 7…. Multicultural and Global Feminism…. Chapter 6 in Tong's Feminist Thought.......including discussion of Kita y Fernanda


March 13, 15....Spring Break


March 19......Discussion of Rosa Luxemburg Event.......Journals collected


March 19, 21, 26…. Postmodern and Third-Wave Feminism…….Chapter 8 in Tong’s Feminist Thought......discussion of Richards/Steinem event


April 2, 4, 9...... Psychoanalytic and Gender Feminism, Chapter 4 in Tong's Feminist Thought or a topic chosen by students


April 11, 16, 18, 23 ……….Ecofeminism...... Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development by Vandana Shiva


April 25, 30, May 2.....Presentations


May 2.....Journal due


5/7…..Final Exam

5/9…..Last day…Celebration






Methods of Instruction


In keeping with the subject matter of this class, feminist pedagogy will be emphasized.  This means that we will all work together to create a non-authoritarian classroom in which everyone’s voice is heard.  Although I will occasionally lecture, the class will primarily be conducted as a seminar in which discussion is emphasized.  We will also occasionally view films and attend outside events.  In keeping with the non-authoritarian emphasis in this class, please call me by my first name which is Holly.




Course Practices Required


1.      You will keep a journal in which you will record your reactions to the assigned readings and your responses to questions that will be posed in class and recorded on the website. The journal should not consist of notes or summaries of the readings. Rather, you should take positions and offer arguments for those positions. You may also consider ways in which the material we read in class relates to your own experiences. Your journal will be collected several times during the semester, but your grade will be based on your completed journal.  Your final journal should be at least 15 typewritten pages. In the interest of preserving trees, your journal should not be more than double-spaced, should not use larger than 12-point type, and should not have extra-large margins or large blank spaces between sections.

2.     There will be two exams. I will distribute a brief study guide before each exam.      The exams will consist of short-answer questions and short essays. If you miss an exam, you may take a make-up in the Testing Center before the next class. If you         cannot make up the exam at this point, you will need to make special       arrangements with me to take an alternative exam later in the semester. This           alternative exam will be an essay exam.


3.   At the end of the semester, students will do a class presentation on the additional book or topic of their choice.  Students should have this topic approved before the middle of the semester.  Students may work in groups.



4.   a. In this class, participation is extremely important.  You will earn participation points by attending class and engaging in discussion.  You will receive one participation point for every class in which you participate.  If you come late to class or leave early, you will receive one-half credit for the day. 


      b. You can't participate if you don't do the reading, so please make every effort to complete the reading before class.  Another way to earn participation points is to volunteer to give brief summaries on the readings.


      c. You will also receive participation credit for attending at least four outside events.  These outside events will include the play Kita y Fernanda, the Rosa Luxemburg event, and the Richards/Steinem documentary event as well as another event of your choice.  If it is impossible for you to attend one or more or these events, you will need to make alternative arrangements with me.  You will receive one to four participation points for each outside event you attend if you hand in a brief reaction and a proof of attendance.  Please include these event reactions as part of your journal.


      d.  I will provide some extra credit opportunities to make up lost participation points.  These extra credit events will also be outside events.  I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences.  However, if you need to be absent because of something such as religious holidays, illness, family emergency, or anything else, you will be able to easily make up this absence by attending an event for extra credit. 


      e. Respectful discourse requires that we pay full attention to one another's comments.  In keeping with this goal, I am asking everyone to not use computers or cell phones in class, not to engage in side conversations, and certainly not to sleep.  You will not receive participation credit if you engage in these activities.

4. In unusual circumstances such as hospitalization or compulsory military service, I will make arrangements so that students can fulfill course requirements in other ways.




Instructional Materials


Feminist Thought by Rosemary Tong

Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development by Vandana Shiva


**An additional short book will be chosen by each student.


**Other readings will be available on the web or will be distributed by the instructor.




Methods of Evaluating Student Progress



Exams…….25% (The first exam is worth 10%, and the second exam is worth 15%.)

Participation…….25% (A…40+,    B….38-39,    C….35-37,    D….31-34 points)
Class Presentation.....10%






Other Course Information



A.        Disabilities


If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the ASSIST office in the Learning Center. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.



B.         Discrimination and Respect


The Oakton Community College Catalog states:

Oakton Community College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, disability, age, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status in admission to and participation in its educational programs, activities and services, or employment practices.  The College does not tolerate sexual harassment or sexual assault by or of its students or employees.


In keeping with this policy of tolerance and non-discrimination, in this class all of us (myself included) should strive to listen and give careful consideration to all ideas expressed in class, especially those that are different from our own, without attacking or demeaning the people who have those views.  We should also strive to avoid using insulting terms or telling offensive jokes when talking to or about individuals or groups.


Respecting others also includes paying attention when others are speaking.  This is incompatible with the distraction caused by sleeping, side conversations, texting, playing computer games, etc.  Please be considerate of other students.  If you have an emergency that requires use of a cell phone, talk to me before class.  If, for some reason, you must take notes on a computer, please discuss this with me as well. 



C.    This Class Is Part of Two Programs!  


Please note that this class is part of the Women's and Gender Studies Program and can be used to complete the WGS Concentration.  It is also part of the Peace and Social Justice Program and can be used to complete the PSJ Concentration.  In either case, the completion of this program will appear on your transcript.



D.    Instructor information

Office: 3614

Phone:  847-376-7033 
Email: hgraff@oakton.edu
Website: http://www.oakton.edu/~hgraff

Office hours: 9:30-10:45 on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, 2:00-5:00 on Thursdays, and by appointment








Author: Hollace Graff
Oakton Community College
Updated: January 18, 2012