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Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) is an interdisciplinary program designed to encourage students to focus critically on gender and sexuality. Many of our courses investigate how assumptions about gender and/or sexuality operate in society, shaping feminine, masculine, transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer identities, and how they influence social and political structures. Integral to the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is the idea of intersectionality- that (amongst other axes of identification) race, ethnicity, class, ability, nationality, and religion are important factors in the any critical understanding of gender and sexuality.

WGSS has existed in some form at Williams for over 30 years.  Women’s Studies was formalized into a program in 1983, and name changes over the years have reflected increasing attention in the interdisciplinary field to issues of gender and sexuality studies.  We have offered a major since 2002, and have graduated over 300 majors and concentrators since the program was established.

WGSS Learning Objectives

  • We teach students to understand and critique the formation of categories of gender, gender identity, and sexuality as they function in social, economic, cultural, and/or political contexts; and as they intersect with other categories of difference such as race, ethnicity, class, nationality, and ability.
  • We teach students to read, understand, and evaluate the historical development of feminist and queer theories and scholarship; to engage in critical debates about those theories and that scholarship; and to apply feminist and queer critical perspectives to new questions across disciplines.
  • We teach students to communicate effectively using gender- and sexuality-based frames of analysis as a tool for academic research, creative production, collaborative work, and practices of social change.