Syllabus - Introduction to Gender and Women's Studies GWS...

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Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies – GWS 10 Professor Mel Chen, Department of Gender and Women’s Studies Office: 3409 Dwinelle Hall, Office Hours: Monday 12-3 and by appointment Email: [email protected] (please retry if I do not respond in 72 hours) GSIs: office hours TBA. Rebekah Edwards, [email protected] , Christine Quinan, [email protected] . Lecture: 10-12 MW, 3 LeConte Discussion Sections, Fridays: 101: F 9-10A, 136 Barrows 102: F 9-10A, 71 Evans 103: F 10-11A, 50 Barrows 104: F 10-11A, 61 Evans Reading materials: No textbooks; 1 reader. Goals of the Course Welcome! The goal of this course is to develop the tools for thinking critically about gender as a category of political and cultural analysis. The course assumes that gender is an important analytical tool in all fields of inquiry and that developing proficiency in gender analysis is necessary both for serious engagement with any body of knowledge and for articulating and navigating our own embodied experience in this transnational, social and cultural world. We begin with the premise that gender is a social construct, not a biological category as “sex” can be, and that it is inextricably linked with formations of race, class, sexuality, ability, nation, and age. Along these lines, we will examine constructions of femininity, masculinity, and gender relations as they are shaped by different historical, political and socioeconomic contexts, particularly recognizing the global forces that shape people's experiences within and across the borders of the nation. Gender is one of the most prominent organizing categories in many societies, and cultural beliefs about gender and sexuality have social, political, and economic effects. Hence part of our goal in this class is to become comfortable with a sense of gender and its situated meaning, so that we are able to act in more informed ways in any given instance. As implied above, we will analyze gender in transnational perspective , which is to say that when we think of gender, it will not be assumed to be from any one national or meta- social formation such as an invisibly “Western” one; rather, we will take all structures to be relevant, including those which cross national barriers (hence the trans- in transnational). This is an increasing necessity as forces of globalization erode certain previously “confident” national barriers – though in fact such economic and other nation- crossings are not a recent phenomenon and have been going on for a very long time.
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Our texts are diverse and include academic works, public policy reports, newspaper reports, films, autobiography, popular culture, the internet, advertisements, and our own lives’ acquired experience. Our goal is to develop a range of appropriate critical methods with which to approach this material.
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