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Core Courses

Core courses As of sept. 2018 

Introduction to Women's Studies (WGSS 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 (WGSS 250)

An interdisciplinary exploration of the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex 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. (WGSS 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.


Transnational Feminisms (WGSS 262) 

What conditions shape women’s lives outside the U.S.? Does oppression look the same everywhere? What does feminism look like in a transnational context? What lessons can men and women in the U.S. learn from feminist and woman-centered struggles elsewhere? WS 262 is an introduction to studying women’s lives in a transnational context. We will examine a variety of global processes, including colonialism, present-day labor struggles such as those surrounding sweatshops, transnational cultural production in films and autobiography, and feminist responses to globalized capitalism and development. While this class considers gender in transnational perspective, we’ll look not only at particular case studies of women in other nations, but at how we are all connected in a network of global flows of capital, ideas, and activism. Our goal is to develop a transnational, cross-cultural lens for understanding gendered phenomena. As this is a writing course, we will spend a great deal of time working on the craft of writing, including building skills of summary, evaluation, analysis, synthesis, peer response and self reflection into various kinds of writing assignments while we explore the content of the course.


Women, Culture and Identity (WGSS 332)

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.


Feminist Theory (WGSS 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.


Women, Health and Social Control (WGSS 342)

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.


Feminist Inquiry (WGSS 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 in Education (WGSS 355)

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.


Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism (WGSS 362)

Feminist Approaches to Environmentalism explores the work of artists, activists, and scholars; we will learn how women and men have been at the forefront of struggles to reclaim their homes, communities and lands from patriarchal and (neo)colonial oppression. We consider how ecological narratives and practices are constructed at the intersections of gendered, raced, classed, and sexual identities and we will develop our own ecological narratives as we work our way through this complex terrain. Topics include: ecofeminism, environmental racism and the environmental justice movement, queer ecologies, food politics, ecological economies, and eco-spiritual traditions. By the end of the semester, you will be able to map some of the key debates in these fields and determine your own beliefs about philosophies and best practices for social-environmental justice. This class is interdisciplinary and welcomes students from a variety of experiential and disciplinary backgrounds to make the course rich!


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

Senior seminar draws students together to read and discuss current debates in the field before diving into their own capstone research. As the culmination of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies major, students will develop, research, and write an original senior thesis project on a topic of their choosing that is broadly related to the course theme chosen for that semester. This is a time to synthesize what you have learned in your coursework; it is a project of knowledge-creation about which you can be excited and should yield 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 and in the shared texts of the capstone course, you will come up with an open-ended research question for the thesis to answer. You will work with your faculty member and peers to identify appropriate sources, methodologies, and strategies for research. The resulting product is typically a journal length essay of approximately 24-35 pages. Some recent examples include:

-Megan Angers. "Women's Mental Health and the Prison Industrial Complex."
-Penelope Ramirez. "Defining Our Roots: Cultural Memory, Gender and (Anti) Blackness in the Dominican Diaspora."  
-Giramata (Amata). "Genderational Conflict Between Afrikan Women." (2017)
-Hanae Weber. "'The Kindest of Women'": The Search for Agatha Biddle." (2016)
-Hannah Viti. "Queer Research." (2016)
-ShaKira Gibson. "Deconstructing Black Hegemonic Masculinity: Steve Harvey's Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man" (2015)
-Taylor Jones. "Billie Holliday: The Selling of Black Culture" (2015)
-Lindsay Gay. "Moving Beyond Survival": Black Women, Mental Health, and Mental Healthcare" (2014)

-Melanie Studnicka. "Do They Care What It's Like Down There?": An Analysis of Nude Artist Models" (2014)
-Maya Arcilla. "Transnational Feminist Solidarity from the United States to the Philippines: Resisting Imperial, Colonial Globalization"(2014)
- Maggie Repko. "Reproductive Justice in Indiana" (2013)
- Janelle Thixton. "Little Schisms: Sites of Feminist and Queer Resistance Within the Roman Catholic Church" (2013)
- 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" (2012)
"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.

- Margarita Villa. "Urban Girls' Studies: From Process to Theory to Praxis" (2012)
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.
- Betty Jin Jin Cao. "Bordering on Love" (2012)
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.
- Ashley Shlupski.  “Bold and Unfraid: Women of Color at DePauw University” (2011)
- Caitlin Williams. "Eating Problems: Transforming the Discourse" (2010)
- Jessica Parks. "Don't Believe the Hype: Perceptions and Social Implications of African American Women in the Media" (2006)
- Jamie Mullins. "The Reality of Romance: Teen Girls in Young Adult Fiction" (2006)
- 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" (2004)


Senior Thesis Workshop (0.25 credit) (WGSS 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  (WGSS 197)  

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


Topics in Women's Studies (WGSS 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 Chicana Feminism.


Independent Study (WGSS 390)