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Women’s & Gender Studies

Women’s & Gender Studies Minor or Individually Designed Bachelor of Arts

New England College offers a Minor as well as the opportunity for an Individually Designed Major in Women’s & Gender Studies.

About Women’s & Gender Studies 

Women’s & Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary academic field which explores issues of power, gender identity, and hierarchy, based on sexual difference. Drawing upon a variety of traditional disciplines, such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, literature and the arts, Women’s & Gender studies offers students an opportunity to learn how women and men of various racial, ethnic, economic and sexual identities are affected by the construction of gender and theories of sexual difference.

Because women’s and feminist scholarship has so dramatically altered our way of thinking about and understanding the world, students in this discipline perform a cross-disciplinary germination of ideas that complements and informs every academic field and profession, making it an ideal minor or double major. Combining theory and practice, Women’s & Gender Studies allows students to explore cultural, political, and historical contexts for understanding sex and gender in light of social justice and human rights concerns.

Requirements for an Individually Designed Major in Women’s & Gender Studies

Interested students may develop a course of study built around the Women’s & Gender Studies theme by drawing from appropriate courses from the various disciplines at New England College. Following the publication “Guidelines for Submitting an Individually Designed Major (IDM) Proposal” students will work with the Women’s & Gender Studies Coordinator to design the major. The completed proposal will be presented to the Academic Standards Committee for their approval before mid-term of the first semester of the junior year. First year students are not eligible to submit IDM’s. 

Requirements to Minor in Women’s & Gender Studies (20 credits)

  • WS 1010 – Perspectives in Women’s & Gender Studies (4 credits)
  • One course from each of the following 3 categories: (12cr)
  • Representations of Women and Gender
  • Theoretical Perspectives
  • History and Social Change
  • One Upper Level Women’s & Gender Studies Elective (4cr)

Course Selection Within the Three Required Categories:

Students can select from a number of possible courses within each of the three required categories of study. Possible courses within each category would include:

Representations of Women & Gender                

  • WS/EN 2070 – Comparative Mythology
  • WS/PS 1110 – Gender Differences in Children’s Literature
  • WS/AR 2220 – Women in Art
  • WS/CO 3280 – Gender and Power in the Media
  • WS/EN 3960 – Major Writers: Atwood, Duras, Lessing

Theoretical Perspectives

  • WS/PA 2710 – Philosophy of the Irrational
  • WS/PA 2810 – Philosophy of Science
  • WS/PA 3150 – Medieval Philosophy
  • WS/PA 4110 – Feminist Philosophies
  • WS/PS 4310 – Psychology of Women

History and/or Social Change

  • WS 1050 – Women and Power
  • WS 1410 – American Women’s History 1890-Present
  • WS 3150 – Medieval Philosophy (with approval)
  • WS 4830 – Independent Study (This can include working with organizations for social change in this area or those addressing social problems related to women’s/gender issues, e.g., domestic and/or sexual violence.)

Relevant Topics Courses in Women’s & Gender Studies can count toward fulfilling requirements within these three categories. Courses not currently cross-listed with Women’s & Gender Studies may count toward the minor when students engage in a strong feminist/gender analysis of course content inherently linked to the discipline of women’s studies. For example, a course on ‘Sociology of the Family’ could count if approved by the Women’s & Gender Studies Coordinator in consultation with the course instructor. 

Course Descriptions

**All undergraduate courses are 4 credits unless otherwise noted.

WS 1010 Perspectives in Women’s & Gender Studies 

Women’s studies exist as a formal academic discipline that has reshaped the very foundations of knowledge and has continued to guide our movement as a society in the direction of social reform. This course will introduce students to some of the issues and challenges raised by examining our cultural awareness of “sex” as a locus of meaning and a system of oppression. How important is biology in the determination of gender and sex roles? What are some of the social movements that have arisen in response/reaction to the study women and gender? How do cultures and time periods vary in their views on women and the construction of gender? Offered every year or as needed.

WS 1050 Women and Power          

Is the oppression of women a human rights issue? How have culturally determined ideas about women made it difficult for us to understand women’s rights as human rights? How has the idea of women as “property” inhibited our understanding of crimes against women? Looking at some of our most basic and often cherished ideas of ourselves as women and men this course will examine social sexual relations cross-culturally in order to determine what factors can contribute to a culture of violence against women and children. Using the lens of “power,” we will examine the social and political status of women in different cultural contexts in an attempt to understand the controversy that often surrounds the movement for defining and securing women’s rights. Offered as needed. 

WS 1110 Gender Differences in Children’s Literature               

This course examines the impact children’s literature has had on the individual student. Through the reading of classic tales, Black, Indian, Arabic, and Chinese stories and research, students will compare and analyze their own values and attitudes and the relation they have to their own culture. Offered as needed. 

WS 1410 Modern American Women’s History 1890-Present    

This course is designed to structure and organize the past century of American Women’s History. 1890-1920 spans the time when women literally and figuratively left behind the 19th century, striding into the Progressive Era, working either for or against the vast movement of that time: suffrage. Post-suffrage America saw the growth of women intellectuals, physicians, civil rights activists, settlement house leaders, writers, labor organizers, writers and “just plain folks” who were coping with life. Finally, we will look back to the years of our mothers and grandmothers, at the revival of feminism, anti-feminism, soccer-moms and the roots of our lives and how women of history have influenced them. Offered as needed. 

WS 2070 (EN 2070) Comparative Mythology

Studies in comparative mythology that present and examine in depth the importance of creation myths, destruction myths, rebirth myths, and hero myths from several different cultures. This course helps students decipher works by identifying archetypes in often-obscure myth references in art works and literary texts. This course satisfies the ALTC distribution requirement. Offered every fall.

WS 2220 (AR 2220) Women in Art

The place of women in the history of Western art as producers of major works and as the subject of the work of other artists, primarily male artists, remains controversial. This course will explore issues relating to the conditions under which women have worked as artists from the Middle Ages to the present as well as the ways that art and art history have shaped or have been shaped by society’s attitudes toward women. Professors also attempt to identify the aesthetics and ideology that have determined women’s relationships to the visual arts and will seek to learn how ideas about creative activity and artistic representation relate to notions about femininity.

WS 2420 (KI 2420) Women in Sport

This course will introduce students to the history of women in sports and will give them the avenue to gain understanding and knowledge of the dramatic changes that have taken place in regard to women in the athletic arena. Perceptions, attitudes, and roles of women have been in constant change throughout history, and in this class students will learn how “sport” has had a dramatic impact on this constant change.

WS 2710 (PA 2710) Philosophy of the Irrational   

In antiquity, Socrates tells us that, “some of our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness.” What is the relationship between the irrational and the madness of love? creativity? religious ecstasy? Has madness/irrationality always been associated with one sex more than the other? This class will explore the meaning of madness and the genderization of reason/rationality and emotion/irrationality in the context of the development of reason in the western philosophical tradition. In addition to philosophy and women’s studies, this course will be of benefit to students of psychology, education and the arts. Offered as needed. 

WS 3150 (PA 3150) Medieval Philosophy

This course presents a survey, spanning the 4th to 14th centuries, of philosophical and theological writings by women and men, with a critical look at their continuing influence. Questions of gender and the significance of the body in medieval thought present a unique opportunity for discovering the philosophical richness of this theme in another era and context. Offered every other year.

WS 3280 (CO 3280) Gender and Power in Media

This course examines media representations of gender and sexuality and how they intersect with various power structures, including family, work, religion, and race. Construction and discipline of “normative” or “deviant” identities also is discussed. Offered as needed.

WS 3960 (EN 3960) Major Writers: Lessing, Duras, and Atwood

This course examines the similarities of these three female writers. What ties them together? What are their differences? Do they speak/write the same emotional truth? Is there a common thread to their otherwise distinctive literary styles and life experiences? Does the statement “Women in exile” make any sense? How about the concept of “Otherness”? Do they perform a different form of writing? What would that be? How do these writers qualify as major figures in contemporary literature? What are their contributions to the culture of the 20th Century and their influence in the 21st century? These are but a few of the questions the course will be tackling while reading several of the texts by these authors. Offered every other year, this course covers the Major Writers requirement for all three majors in the English Department. Prerequisite: a minimum of one lower level literature course. 

WS 3990 Topics in Women’s & Gender Studies

Courses provided under this rubric will explore aspects of the study of women and gender not covered in regularly scheduled courses. Offered as needed.                                  

WS 4110 (PA 4110) Feminist Philosophies      

This course seeks to pull together the myriad of course experiences a student will have had in women’s and gender studies. Focusing on major trends in feminist theory and incorporating global perspectives, students will engage in an intensive reading of feminist philosophers, exploring both traditional and cross-cultural ideas on the nature and/or construction of sexual difference and its relationship to morality, rationality, knowledge, science, politics, etc. Offered as needed.

WS 4310 (PS 4310) Psychology of Women   

This is a study of women’s psychological qualities and the many ways these could be utilized to achieve a full personhood. Also examined are cultural and psychological forces impinging on the lives of both men and women. Participants research the wealth of literature in the new scholarship of women. In addition to psychology this course would be of benefit to students of education, history and political science. The course is open to students of either gender. Offered as needed.

WS 4810 Directed Study    

Course of study to be arranged between faculty and student in the field of women’s & gender studies. Contract required. May be repeated for credit. Variable credit (1-4).

WS 4830 Independent Study

Advanced, independent study of a specific topic. Course of study to be arranged with a faculty member. Contract required. Variable credit (1-4).