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Course Catalog

Women's Studies

In the past 30 years, Women's Studies has produced a compelling body of interdisciplinary and multicultural scholarship that has challenged traditional interpretations of history, experience, culture and even science. Women's Studies courses (offered in 16 academic departments) encourage students -female as well as male -to reconsider the diversity of women's experiences in the past and the changing roles of women and men today. Women's Studies at DePauw offers outstanding opportunities to develop critical thinking, interpretive and writing skills as well as the cultural knowledge necessary for a liberal education. Many of the nation's finest graduate schools offer advanced degrees in Women's Studies. Women's Studies majors find employment in the same broad range of fields as do graduates of other liberal arts disciplines. The Women's Studies major and minor offer students an opportunity to concentrate on an area of passionate interest while acquiring skills, and interrogating perspectives, from many different disciplines. Women's Studies majors complete an ambitious independent research project of their own design in the senior year. Students may choose to major in Women's Studies, or simply to take one or more courses in the field. Many students begin with Introduction to Women's Studies (WS 140), but one can begin almost anywhere: there is a range of courses cross-listed with traditional departments from which to choose. For minors, Feminist Theory (WS 340) serves as the capstone experience. Studying in an off-campus DePauw-sponsored or GLCA program, such as the Comparative Women's Studies Program in Europe, is encouraged for majors and minors. Appropriate courses from off-campus may be applied toward the minor or major upon approval by the director of Women's Studies.


Requirements for a major

Women's Studies

Total courses required Ten
Core courses WS 140, WS 340, WS 350, WS 440.
Other required courses At least one of the following:
  • WS 250, Queer Theory, Queer Lives
  • WS 260, Women of Color in the U.S.
The remaining courses, one of which must be at the 300-level, may be drawn from the following regularly offered courses and/or from affiliated electives approved by the Women's Studies Steering Committee:
  • WS 262, Transnational Feminisms
  • WS 342, Women, Health and Social Control
  • WS 362, Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism
  • WS 355, Women in Education
  • WS 332, Women, Culture and Identity
Number 300 and 400 level courses Four
Senior requirement and capstone experience The senior requirement consists of the completion of WS 440.
Additional information Students must also take at least 16 courses outside the list of women's studies courses. No more than two courses of off-campus study may be counted toward the major. Studying in an off-campus DePauw-sponsored or GLCA program such as the Comparative Women's Studies Program in Europe is encouraged for majors and minors. Appropriate courses from off campus may be applied toward the major upon approval by the Director of Women's Studies.
Recent changes in major The list of core courses and other courses was revised effective 7/1/2012.
Writing in the Major

The Women's Studies program is committed to writing that engages an audience about complex issues regarding gender, race, class, and sexuality. Social change is inextricably linked to language and powerful writing and the program is designed to provide students with the skills to write persuasively. The fundamental skills of argumentation and data analysis are emphasized in all Women's Studies classes, and are given special priority in the two courses designated for the Writing in the Major requirement: WS340, Feminist Theory, and WS350, Feminist Inquiry.

In WS340, students practice and develop writing skills geared towards argumentative papers based on theoretical concepts of feminism. The course investigates various types and styles of feminist reasoning and writing, while also looking at how feminist analyses can help approach and attack some of the urgent problems of today. In this course, students are asked to develop two research projects, in line with their own interests and commitments, and sustained by scaffolded writing assignments.

In WS350, students engage in the methods, ethical practices and concerns, and social implications of conducting feminist research. The course provides an in-depth overview of both feminist methodology, including theories of what constitutes an ethics of feminist research, and appropriate methods to conduct inter/disciplinary research for outcomes in support of social justice. In this course, students conduct their own research project that is grounded in one of the feminist methodological frameworks discussed and that utilizes one or more of the tools of inquiry (or methods) outlined in the syllabus.

Together, these courses will provide students with the ability to write about both the philosophical principles of feminism and to exercise its methodology. Both skills are necessary to engage in the work of critique and social justice that feminism has shaped.


Requirements for a minor

Women's Studies

Total courses required Five
Core courses WS 140, WS 340
Other required courses At least one of the following:
  • WS 250, Queer Theory, Queer Lives
  • WS 260, Women of Color in the U.S.

The remaining courses, one of which must be at the 300-level, can be drawn from the following regularly offered courses and/or from affiliated electives approved by the Women's Studies steering committee.

  • WS 262, Transnational Feminisms
  • WS 342, Women, Health and Social Control
  • WS 362, Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism
  • WS 355, Women in Education
  • WS 332, Women, Culture and Identity
Number 300 and 400 level courses Two

Courses in Art History

ARTH 235

Women and Medieval Art

What was the role of images in women's experience in the Middle Ages? This course seeks to answer that question through an examination of images made of, for and by women in this dynamic period of history. The course is framed by the legalization of Christianity (in 313) and Luther's declaration of Protestantism (in 1517), thereby focusing on the entire medieval tradition and its exploration of gender and image. The course seeks to understand the construction and subversion of gender roles through images. May count towards Women's Studies and European Studies minors.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Courses in Literature

ENG 390

Women and Literature: Advanced Topics

Designed for English majors and/or students with some background in Women's Studies. Topics will provide opportunities for in-depth analysis of women writers and gender literary analysis. Issues covered may include: images of women in literature; women's writing in historical/social context; feminist literature theory and literary criticism; intersections of race, class and gender; formation of the literary canon. May be repeated for credit with a different topic.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Courses in History

HIST 225

European Women's History

An examination of the cultural and intellectual roles of women in Early Modern Western Europe. In addition to surveying the women's traditional place in European society, this course also considers the work of exceptional women who argued against that role. Topics include the debate on the nature of women, women in power, witchcraft, women and science, women in revolutions and the education of women. Counts toward European Studies minor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

HIST 340

Modern European Women's History

In this course we will use women's experiences as the key to understanding European history over the past two centuries. Some of the issues tthat shaped the 19th century, such as gender relations in modern society are still being discussed today; others that we now take for granted such a universal suffrage, were by no means normal a hundred years ago. The course will address topics concerning women's experiences and will encourage students to explore issues in women's history and the influences that women had on the development of modern Europe.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

HIST 351

Women and Family in Modern China

The role and status of women and the evolution of the Chinese family from the late imperial period to the present. It draws on materials from novels and biographical case studies.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

HIST 375

Women's Social and Political Movements

The varieties of female activism in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Among the topics covered are benevolence, abolitionism, women's rights, the movement for reproductive freedom, the social settlement movement, temperance, suffragism and anti-suffragism, labor organizing, civil rights, women's liberation and radical feminism.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

Courses in Philosophy

PHIL 242

Philosophy of Sex and Gender

An introduction to the principal views in the history of philosophy on the issues concerning the status of women, relationship between the sexes, sexual attitudes and orientations. First part of the class: the foundations of the Conservative View and reactions against them. Second part of the class: some problem areas, such as the desire for pleasure, homosexuality in society, pornography and whether there are unconscious libidinal mechanisms directing our lives.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

Courses in Religious Studies

REL 320

Genesis and Gender: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Readings

This course considers ways that interpretations of sacred texts influence religious perceptions of gender and social order. Christian readings of Genesis 1-3 are the main focus; yet attention is also given to understandings of Eve and Adam in Judaism and Islam. Interpretations of Genesis that historically and presently argue for the subordination of women to men forms a central theme of the course. A counter theme emerges as we consider alternative readings that have traditionally used Genesis 1-3 to argue for gender equality. We will also reflect on the ways in which a hierarchical reading of the text has served to legitimate the domination of groups such as African-American slaves. Texts range from the Gnostic gospels, Philo, the Qur'an, The Maelleus Maleficarum, Paradise Lost, The Bible Defense of Slavery, The Woman's Bible and "The Coming of Lilith."

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

REL 354

Women and Gender in Islam

This course examines women and gender in the Islamic tradition and Muslim societies. Through a variety of written and visual sources, it treats 1.) the history of women in Islam, 2.) the impact of the tradition on women's lives and gender categories, and 3.) the efforts of modern Muslims to challenge traditional gender definitions and create a useable past.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Arts and Humanities 1 course

Courses in Anthropology

ANTH 255

The Anthropology of Gender

This class explores anthropological theories of gender differences and inequalities in cross-cultural contexts. The course examines the role of kinship, reproduction, politics and economic systems in the shifting determinations of gender in various contexts. It also questions the meanings of masculinity, transsexual/transgender issues and the roles of women in global contexts. In this course, the various ways that anthropology has theorized and understood questions of gender are explored and made relevant to contemporary societies. Prerequisite: ANTH 151, sophomore standing or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences ANTH 151, sophomore standing or permission of instructor. 1 course

Courses in Sociology

SOC 210

Gender and Society

This course examines the role of gender systems in human societies. How do societies vary in the positions assigned to men and women? In the power and privileges accorded each sex? How do we acquire a gender identity? What are the consequences of sex-typing and sex-stratified societies? The role of religion, intellectual traditions, language, families and schools, economic organization, labor markets and the state is explored. The focus is on contemporary U.S. society and recent changes in gender relations. Prerequisite: SOC 100 or sophomore standing.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences SOC 100 or sophomore standing 1 course

SOC 212

Sociology of Family

This course examines issues associated with family life, such as gender role socialization, sexuality, mate selection, the internal dynamics of relationships, domestic violence and marital dissolution. The course also considers the social implications of current trends in family life and the expanding definitions of family that include non-traditional relationships that have until recently lacked institutional legitimacy. Prerequisite: SOC 100 or sophomore standing.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences SOC 100 or sophomore standing 1 course

SOC 217

Queer Theory/Queer Lives

An interdisciplinary exploration of the social and historical development of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) categories, identities and communities; the emergence and development of Queer Theory and its ability to deconstruct, de-politicize and extend beyond "LGBT"; the effect of interlocking systems of domination and control on queer lives, including sexism, racism, ethnicity and social class; and LGBT/Queer experiences within social institutions including families, marriage, law and the media. Prerequisite: SOC 100 or sophomore standing. May be crosslisted with W S 250, Queer Theory/Queer Lives.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences SOC 100 or sophomore standing 1 course

SOC 342

Women, Health and Social Control

This course focuses on the intersection of health, illness and gender. It combines classic and contemporary feminist ideologies to explore how health and illness have been defined and experienced by different women across historical time and space. Considerable attention is paid to how conceptualization of women (and their bodies) as inferior has led to the medicalization and control of women's bodies. The course especially highlights the role of women's health movements in shaping how women's health is understood, embodied and contested. We start the course addressing theoretical frames for understanding gender and health, then assess contemporary women's health status. The course then loosely follows a life course approach in that we explore women's experiences with menstruation, sexuality, reproductive technologies, childbirth and menopause. Prerequisite: One course in sociology or permission of instructor.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in sociology or permission of instructor. 1 course

Courses in Women's Studies

W S 140

Introduction to Women's Studies

This course introduces some key issues in contemporary women's studies and provides a starting vocabulary and background in the field. Because Women's Studies is an interdisciplinary field, readings come from a number of different areas, including literature, history, philosophy, psychology and sociology.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1 course

W S 190

Topics in Women's Studies

An interdisciplinary exploration of a particular theme, area, or period, with respect to issues of women and gender.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

W S 197

First-Year Seminar

A seminar focused on a theme related to the study of women. Open only to first-year students.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

W S 250

Queer Theory, Queer Lives

An interdisciplinary exploration of the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered and intersexed people through historical, sexological, scientific and literary texts, media respresentations and autobiographies. We will examine scholarly and activist definitions of sexual identity, especially as these have intersected with race, class, gender, ethnicity and age, and discuss ways sexual desire often escapes, complicates or is mismatched with fixed gender roles and dominant cultural categories. We will also discuss the insight queer perspectives can bring to our understanding of masculinity and femininity, cultural constructions of the body, the social construction of heterosexuality, and the future of difference.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences 1

W S 260

Women of Color in the U.S.

The course draws on the disciplines of history, sociology, anthropology and literary study to offer an in-depth look at the experiences and concerns of women of color, with an emphasis on hearing women's voices. The course is divided approximately in thirds: accounts of the experiences of various ethnic groups (e.g., African-American, Native American, Asian); issues facing women of color in the U.S. today (e.g., culture, the body, family, work); and theory. The class involves frequent writing (formal and informal), including a research paper and in-class presentations.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

W S 290

Topics in Women's Studies

An interdisciplinary exploration of a particular theme, area or period, with respect to issues of women and gender.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

W S 332

Women, Culture and Identity

Drawing on work in sociology, psychology, and cultural and feminist studies, the course investigates how women from various ethnicities, socio-economic strata, and age groups make sense of gendered expectations, opportunities, and constraints. Particular emphasis is placed on the ways women encounter and resist circumstances they find limiting of their human potential. Prerequisites: W S 140 or permission of instructor. Cross-listed with SOC 332, Women, Culture and Identity.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences W S 140 or permission of instructor 1 course

W S 340

Feminist Theory

This course focuses on contemporary feminist thought. Throughout the semester, students emphasize the relationship between feminist theory and feminist practice and ways in which feminism changes our fundamental understanding of the world.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1 course

W S 350

Feminist Inquiry (formerly WS 240)

This course offers hands-on experience in the interdisciplinary field of Women's Studies. Students will survey research methods by reading excellent examples that show how various research methods have been applied; by reading about, and discussing, the practical details and the ethical issues involved in doing research; and by applying research methods themselves in class exercises and the undertaking of an individual project. Prerequisite: W S 140.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences W S 140 1 course

W S 355

Women in Education

Women in Education is an interdisciplinary discussion of how girls and women have affected and been influenced by K-12 schooling and post-secondary education over the last 125 years. Drawing on the fields of education studies, sociology, women¿s studies, and history, we will examine areas such as the rise of co-education, the feminization of teaching, 'feminine' learning styles, and the impact of race, ethnicity, sexuality, and social class on women¿s aspirations, interactions, and experiences within learning institutions. Prerequisite: WS 140 or permission of instructor. Cross-listed with EDUC 355.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
Social Sciences W S 140 or permission of instructor 1 course

W S 370

Topics in Women's Studies

An interdisciplinary exploration of a particular theme, area or period, with respect to issues of women and gender.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

W S 390

Independent Study

Independent Study.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

W S 440

Women's Studies Senior Thesis

Required of all Women's Studies majors. Students design and carry out an original, interdisciplinary project or paper on a women's studies topic. The thesis is directed by the Women's Studies coordinator or other designated faculty member, and the candidate is interviewed by an interdisciplinary committee of three.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/2-1 course

W S EXP

Senior Thesis Workshop

Any student, regardless of major, who is writing a senior thesis or project with a focus on women and/or gender is invited to sign up for this writing workshop. Students will exchange drafts and share strategies for research and revision. Pass/Fail.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
1/4 course