WS301: Intro to Women's Studies
Elisa Kay Sparks
Office Phone: 656-5410; home phone: 654-6232
Texts (in order of use)
¨Rothenberg, Race, Class, and Gender (3rd ed.)
¨Jagger and Rothenberg, Feminist Frameworks
¨Xerox Packet of Handouts at University Union Copy Shop
¨Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi
??¨Atwood, Handmaid's Tale
This course is designed to introduce you to women's studies as an academic field that crosses and affects all disciplines. More specifically, during the course we will:
--examine sexist language and what language structures reveal about our culture
--analyze the ways in which a variety of texts treat women and the roles of women
--examine women's roles in modern society
--learn about the history of women's movements from the 19th century to the present
--question how images and expectations about women relate to our own life experiences.
In addition to reading the assignments and keeping a reading journal, there will be a midterm, a final, a group project, and an individual research project. Grades are distributed as follows:
Reading Journal 25%
Group Magazine Analysis 15%
Midterm Exam 15%
Individual Research Project 25%
Final Exam 20%
READING JOURNAL (25%)
Use your journal to record your responses to the reading assignments. While it can serve you as an outline and study guide, your journal should not be merely reading notes. Your entries should show what you have read, but they should also record reactions to the readings. You can and should use the journal to reflect on what goes on in class, both in lectures and in class discussions. The best journals make connections -- among the readings, between the readings and class, between course material and personal experiences.
There is no set formula for journal entries. You may argue, ask questions, make comments. You will at times disagree with some of the readings; at other times you may want to explain your sympathy with them. In short, the journal is a place to think on paper. I will sometimes offer specific suggestions for journal entries in class. Anything brought up in class discussions may be discussed in the journal. The journal is also a good place to offer your ideas to me about how the course is going.
Why Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal encourages personal learning: most people learn more, think more clearly, and retain more when they write about new material. Writing about ideas makes them your own. Secondly, the journal allows you to carry on a personal dialogue with me about whatever directions in the course are important to you individually. Third, journals help you focus on points you want to discuss in class and thus improve class discussion. Finally, I expect that much of the material covered in this course will suggest new ways of seeing women and men in our culture; I think you will value this record of personal search and inquiry.
Format and Grading of Journal
You will need to buy a three-ring notebook and notebook paper for your entries. Date and label each entry according to what reading it covers. Write on one side of the page, observing margins. Please write legibly, or even better, type your entries on a word processor. I do not mark or count off for surface errors (grammar, spelling etc.) but I do have to be able to read and make sense of what you write.
Three pages of journal entries are due every Friday. For a minimum of three, one-page entries turned in on time, you will receive 1% credit of the 25% value of the journal. I will return these pages with comments. I cannot read or give credit for late journals. If you must be absent on a Friday, make arrangements to get your journal to me.
At the end of the semester, I will ask you to re-read your whole journal, write a 2-3 page evaluation/introduction of your work (journey, progress, difficulties, growth, changes, frustration) and turn it (all entries plus final summation) in for the final 10% of the grade on the journal. This grade will be based on a) the number of reading assignments covered, and b) the depth, fullness, length, and thoughtfulness of your responses.
I recommend that you write your journal entries as spontaneously as possible. (This is one reason for not attending to surface errors.) Entries do not have to be polished or carefully organized. I strongly advise that you write in the journal several times a week, not just on the night before it is due. Three pages is the minimum per week; you can, of course, write more.
There are no correct answers or stands to take in the journal, except that you must be attentive to and accurate about what you have read. I respect your right to your own opinion about these very volatile topics. I will, however, often ask you to try to explain why you think the way you do.
GROUP PROJECT: Magazine Analysis (15%)
For this assignment you will analyze the images of women in a major magazine. All aspects of the magazine -- articles, ads, editorial staff, photographs, etc. -- will be considered in this analysis. You will work in groups of three to five. Each group will mount a class presentation of 10-12 minutes on their magazine. In the past, groups have prepared a poster so that the class can easily see the pictorial images of women. Each group will also hand in a 4-6 page paper discussing their findings.
INDIVIDUAL RESEARCH PROJECT (25%)
Due in mid-November, this assignment consists of a 7-9 page paper or its equivalent on a subject that you choose in consultation with me on a topic deriving from the course. I will provide you with a more specific list of topics later in the semester. All topics will involve some kind of search or research, whether in the library, in the workplace, or in personal interviews. It is important that you begin early to think about and make plans for learning about your topic; therefore, a one-page proposal, including an initial potential bibliography of at least ten sources for the paper will be due early in the semester. General categories of project include:
1. Recovering the past: interviewing older relatives or friends, exploring the conditions of women's lives in some earlier time, looking at the history of some aspect of women's experience -- education, medical treatment, access to birth control.
2. Current Issues : exploring some controversy of particular concern to women, analyzing how this issue is treated in the media, comparing and contrasting different points of view on a controversial topic.
3. Women's Creativity: interviewing or researching a woman or women's contribution to a particular art or craft -- quilting, jewelry-making, painting, poetry writing, play writing, movie-making. You may also create a work of your own, as long as you also research and write about how it relates to women's traditions in that art form.
4. Profiles and Reviews: focusing on the contributions of a single woman or the influence and reactions to a single work related to women's studies.
In order to encourage you to begin doing the reading for your paper in plenty of time, you will have to hand in summaries of the information in at least five sources by mid-semester. Your grades on your proposal and summaries will be counted as part of your final research paper grade. There will be a file containing ungraded copies of last semester's research papers at the reserve desk in the library.
MID-TERM AND FINAL
Both exams will be essay. Based on the readings and class discussions, the exams will ask you to identify key concepts, events, and figures, discuss major controversies, and analyze perceptions and attitudes.
My experience as both a teacher and a student tells me that learning occurs in proportion to active involvement. I ask, therefore, that you participate in class discussion. It is important for all class members to have a voice. I believe that the accumulation of different perceptions enriches the knowledge built by a group of people far beyond that attainable by any single individual. Listening to each other is the basis of civilization.
Since class discussion is the core of this entire course, I expect your faithful attendance. I will check the roll every day. For every absence after four, your final grade goes down one letter. I do not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences; I assume that as responsible adults you have good reasons for not being here. However, please do keep me informed about extenuating circumstances.
For information on the Women's Studies Minor, Contact Dr. Judith Melton
Strode 511, 656-3539, email@example.com
Last update: 11/5/96