WGSS 101

Interested in taking our introductory course? Here’s a sample syllabus for the course.

Introduction to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

This course is designed to initiate you into the pleasures, pains and perplexities of critical thinking about gender and the situations of women across the globe. We will survey a wide variety of writers and issues— historical and contemporary, theoretical and practical. Above all, the course is intended as an exploration of the tremendous diversity of thought contained under the general rubrics of feminist and gender studies and a vehicle for developing skills in writing and research as well as analytical tools for further work in the field. The goal is not to bring about a specific point of view, but rather to learn to analyze issues critically using the methods and frameworks that feminist theory and queer theory have developed as academic disciplines.

Liberal Feminism from the Enlightenment

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz. “The Reply to Sor Philotea.” (1691)
Mary Wollstonecraft. “Vindication of the Rights of Women.” (1792)
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Declaration of Sentiments.” (1848)
Susan B. Anthony. “Social Purity.” (1875)
Anna Julia Cooper. “A Voice from the South.” (1892)

Claiming Feminism

Caitlin Moran, “I Am a Feminist!” in How To Be a Woman (2011).
Mark Anthony Neal, “Ms. Fat Bootie and the Black Male Feminist” and “Afterword” in New Black Man (2005).
Lisa Weiner-Mahfuz, “Organizing 101: A Mixed Race Feminist in Movements for Social Justice,” in Colonize This (2002).

Into The Second Wave

Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex (selection)
Betty Friedan, “Introduction” and “The Sexual Sell” in The Feminine Mystique.
NOW Bill of Rights. (1967)
Redstocking Manifesto (1969)
Linda LaRue, selection from “The Black Movement & Women’s Liberation” (1970)

Black US Feminisms

Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?”
Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Excerpts)
Combahee River Collective, “Statement.”
bell hooks, “Eating the Other.”

Radical Feminist Thought

Alan Johnson. Gender Knot. (Excerpt.)
Pat Mainardi, “The Politics of Housework.”
Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (selection)
Adrienne Rich. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.”

Marxism and Feminism

Frederich Engels, “Men, Women and Division of Labor.”
Alexandra Kollantai, “The Social Basis of the Woman Question.”
Alexandra Kollantai, “Working Woman and Mother.”
Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Feminism and Marxism.”

Labor Rights as Women’s Rights

FILM: Maquilapolis.

Critiquing Homo Economicus

Nancy Folbre, The Invisible Heart: Economics and Family Values.


Dorothy Allison. Bastard Out of Carolina.
Dorothy Allison. “A Question of Class,” in Skin: Talking about Sex, Class, and Literature (1991).


Robin Morgan, “Planetary Feminism.”
Chandra Talpade Mohanty, “Sisterhood, Coalition, and the Politics of Experience,” in Feminism Without Borders (2003).
Bernice Johnson Reagon, “Coalition Politics: Turning the Century” in Home Girls: A
Black Feminist Anthology, ed. Barbara Smith (1983).

The Feminist Sex Wars

Gayle Rubin, “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality.”
Andrea Dworkin, “Prostitution and Male Supremacy.”
Shohini Ghosht, “Decriminalizing Sex Work.”
SHORT VIDEO: Just Sign on the Dotted Line: The Anti-Prostitution Loyalty Oath.

Critiques of Liberal Feminism

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, “The Women’s Crusade,” New York Times, 23 August 2009.
Nicholas Kristof, “Fighting Back, One Brothel Raid at a Time,” 2011.
Irin Carmon, “Nick Kristof to the Rescue”
Edwin Okong’o, “The NYT Issue on Women: An African Man’s Perspective.”

Foucault & Feminism

Michel Foucault. Discipline & Punish. (excerpt)
Sandra Bartky, “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal
Power,” in Femininity and Domination (1988).

The Body Politic

Susan Bordo, “Anorexia Nervosa: Psychopathology as the Crystallization of Culture” in Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body (1993).
Caitlin Moran. “I am Fat.”
LISTEN: “Tell me I’m Fat.” This American Life.

Colonialism and Patriarchy

Tsitsi Dangaremba, Nervous Conditions.

Challenges to Mind/Body Dualism

Gloria Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (selections).
Audre Lorde, “The Erotic as Power.”


Hanna Rosin, “When Men Are Raped,” Slate, 29 April 2014
Katie Roiphe. “Date Rape’s Other Victim,” New York Times, 13 June 1993.
Rebecca Traister, “Why Sex That’s Consensual Can Still Be Bad,” New York Magazine, 20 October 2015
Joan Didion. “New York: Sentimental Journeys,” The New York Review of Books, 17 January 1991

Reproductive Debates

Rickie Solinger, Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America (excerpt).
Jackie Calmes, “Advocates Shun ‘Pro-Choice’ to Expand Message,” New York Times, 28 July 2014
Monica Simpson, “Reproductive Justice & ‘Choice’: An Open Letter to Planned Parenthood,” RH Reality Check, 5 August 2014
SisterSong, “Reproductive Justice”
Serrin M. Foster, “The Feminist Case against Abortion” America: The National Catholic Review January 19-26, 2015

The Rise of Queer Studies

Jonathan Ned Katz, “The Invention of Heterosexuality,” Socialist Review 26.1 (January-March 1990), pp. 7-23.
Eve Sedgwick, “Axiomatic” from The Cultural Studies Reader, 2nd ed.
Film: Difficult Love.

Homophobia and Masculinity

C.J. Pascoe, Dude, You’re a Fag.

Transgender Theory

Enke, “Notes on Terms and Concepts” from Transfeminist Perspectives.
Spade, “What’s Wrong with Trans Rights?”
Julia Serano, “Before and After: Class and Body Transformations.”
Film: Gun Hill Road.

Global Markets for Care

Rachel Salazar Parreñas. “The Care Crisis in the Philippines” in Global Woman.
FILM: Paper Dolls.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Examples of gender activism (please review):
Moms Rising
Women in Informal Employment Global Organizing
Shack/Slum Dwellers International
Wola Nani
ActionAid International 
Self Employed Women’s Association
Human Rights Campaign
Against Equality
Black and Pink