The Major

Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies can be defined as the study of how gender is constructed, how it is inflected by differences of race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, and so on, how gender affects the experiences and situations of men and women, and how assumptions about gender influence the construction of knowledge and experience. Scholarship in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies has brought neglected material into established fields and raised important methodological questions that cross disciplinary boundaries and challenge established intellectual frameworks.  The program in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies thus includes courses from a wide variety of disciplines that focus in a coherent way on gender issues and/or sexuality issues, as well as core courses that acquaint students with the interdisciplinary of the field.

Major Curriculum

The Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies major encourages students’ exposure to the interdisciplinary character of feminist and sexuality-focused scholarship.  In addition, majors are required to gain some knowledge of methods within a field of discipline (3 courses in one of the categories listed below), to appreciate the importance of diversity (racial, sexual, class, ethnic, national, etc.) in scholarship on gender and sexuality, to gain exposure to feminist and/or queer theory, and to pursue work at an advanced level (3 courses at the 300-level).

In order to ensure that students reflect about the paths that they choose through the major, each major will be assigned to an advisor in the spring of the sophomore year.  With the advisor, the student will establish a revisable course of study for the following two years.  Students interested in declaring a major should contact the chair of the Program (Mea Cook, Fall 2017; Alison Case, Spring, 2018).

Required Courses

The major consists of at least 9 courses.  The following three courses are required for all majors:

  • WGSS 101: Introduction to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • WGSS 202: Foundations in Sexuality Studies
  • WGSS 4XX: Junior/Senior Seminar in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The seminar explores topics in WGSS and varies from year to year. Majors may take more than one seminar, space permitting

In addition to these three required courses, majors are required to take at least six electives. In consultation with their major advisor and with approval from the chair, these courses should include:

  • Courses from at least three different disciplinary traditions
  • At least 3 courses at the 300 level
  • At least 1 course that emphasizes feminist/queer theories and/or methodologies
  • At least 1 course that emphasizes a diversity of racial, sexual, religious, and/or cultural identities and practices

In the final semester of their senior year, all majors will be required to write a reflective intellectual autobiography of their WGSS major, in which they explain how their courses meet the goals of the major, and analyze the relationship among the courses they have taken and papers they have written, and the research projects undertaken.

See the Course Catalog for more detailed information on the WGSS major.