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Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Core Courses

Introduction to Women's Studies (WS 140) 

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, economics, and sociology.

Queer Theory, Queer Lives (WS 250) 

An interdisciplinary exploration of the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and intersexed people. Examines scholarly and activist definitions of sexual identity, especially as these have intersected with race, class, gender, ethnicity, and age, and discusses the ways sexual desire often escapes, complicates, or is “mismatched” with, fixed gender roles and dominant cultural categories. .

Women of Color in the U.S. (WS 260)   

Draws on the disciplines of history, sociology, anthropology and literary study to offer an in-depth look at 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.

Feminist Theory (WS 340)

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.

Feminist Inquiry (WS 350) 

What makes research succeed or fail? How can a study achieve significant results while upholding feminist and professional values? This course offers hands-on experience and practice with various methods of research in the interdisciplinary field of Women’s Studies. By applying a variety of methods and strategies themselves in exercises that will be presented and critiqued with a workshop format, and by reading and discussing examples of excellent and innovative women’s studies research, students will acquaint themselves with both the practical details and the ethical issues involved. Applicable to many majors and many careers, this course prepares students to write senior theses in Women’s Studies and in other departments.

Women's Studies Capstone Experience: Senior Thesis (WS 440)

As the culmination of the Women's Studies major, students develop, research, and write an original senior thesis project on a topic of their choosing. This is a time to draw together and synthesize what you have learned in your coursework, a project of knowledge-creation about which you can be excited and a product of which you should be proud. Drawing especially on what you have learned from Feminist Inquiry about techniques of analysis and good research and ethical practices, and on the understanding of relevant theoretical debates you have learned in Feminist Theory, you will come up with an open-ended research question for the thesis to answer, and will work with an advisor to identify appropriate sources, methodologies, and strategies for research. The resulting product is most typically 30-50 pages long. Some recent examples include: 

  • 2013 Maggie Repko. "Reproductive Justice in Indiana"
  • 2013 Janelle Thixton. "Little Schisms: Sites of Feminist and Queer Resistance Within the Roman Catholic Church"
  • 2012 Chenaé White. "Women's Healthcare: In Order to Create Change, It Is Imperative to Fight Back"
  • 2012 Michelina Ferrara. "'stong ca': (Re)tracing and (Re)imagining Italian-American womanhood through activism and academia"
    "stong ca" means "I am here" in my family's Southern, Napolitano dialect.  The phrase describes an internal dichotomy: a fiery assertion of wanting to feel inclusion and simultaneously a rebellious proclamation of difference.  This project is part of a larger legacy of creating and disrupting spaces as a contested student, teacher, and activist seeking inclusiveness and coalition.
  • 2012 Margarita Villa. "Urban Girls' Studies: From Process to Theory to Praxis"
    My research encapsulates the more recent studies in mostly sociological, anthropological,and psychological fields although girl studies transcends these three disciplines. It also focuses on girls who are urban, ethnic, working class, young, queer and of other dis-privileged identities.
  • 2012 Betty Jin Jin Cao. "Bordering on Love"
    By queering love narratives, this documentary film explores the complexities of how Queer Asian American women perceive love through their families, ethnic communities, gender, and sexuality.
  • 2011 Ashley Shlupski.  “Bold and Unfraid: Women of Color at DePauw University” 
  • 2010 Caitlin Williams. "Eating Problems: Transforming the Discourse"
  • 2006 Jessica Parks. "Don't Believe the Hype: Perceptions and Social Implications of African American Women in the Media"
  • 2005 Jamie Mullins. "The Reality of Romance: Teen Girls in Young Adult Fiction"
  • 2004 Sarajane Eppley. "Mean Girls and Princesses: Adolescent Females in Chick Flicks"
  • 2004 Elise Swinford. "Dumb Blondes and Sex & the City: Television Feminism and the Third Wave"
  • 2004 Chanelle Pearson. "Forms of Resistance: Puerto Rican Women Migrants and their Culturally Relevant Responses to Social and Economic Conditions"
  • 2004 Gabie Peek. "Feminist Theory of Motherhood"

Each student should meet regularly with her or his advisor and submit a prospectus, outline, and drafts. The student and advisor should also identify two other faculty members who will and serve as a committee for the oral thesis defense in the last week of the term.

Senior Thesis Workshop (0.25 credit) (WS EXP)

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.

First-Year Seminar  (WS 197)  

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

Topics in Women's Studies (WS 370)

An interdisciplinary exploration of a particular theme, area, or period, with respect to the issues of women and gender.  Topics have included Political Economy of Women and Women and Global Change.

Independent Study (WS 390)