Welcome to Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies!

Course Description 

This course is an introduction to “Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies” (WGSS), a vibrant interdisciplinary field of study. Our course provides students with a foundation of knowledge and perspectives generated by feminist scholars and activists. These forms of knowledge and perspectives draw on theoretical frameworks that help us understand how gender and sexuality – in concert with other axes of difference – structure people’s lives, both today and in the past.


We explore theories about women and gender through interdisciplinary analyses, as well as disciplinary lenses such as anthropology, biology, political economy, history, literary studies, politics, philosophy, and sociology. Our course surveys a wide range of topics that have been key sites for the production, regulation, and transgression of gender, sexuality, and intersecting axes of difference (e.g., race, class, age, ability, nationality, religion, etc.).  We focus especially on the ways that (a) ideas, identities, norms, and practices associated with gender and sexuality are embedded in social institutions; (b) how those institutions influence our lives; and (c) how they confer privileges to some groups and disadvantages to others. We analyze both interpersonal and structural forms of power (and their relationship to one another) by applying a feminist intersectional perspective to an analysis of identity and experience. Our course both identifies existing forms of inequalities, as well as ways in which feminists have challenged those inequalities.

Class Format

Our class meets for lecture on Tuesdays and Fridays from 11:25-12:15PM in LC102.

After lecture, the large lecture breaks into discussion sections from 12:30-1:20PM in HUM218.

Class Reading

We have one required book for this course that is available at the bookstore and for loan at the library:

Threshold Concepts in Women’s and Gender Studies: Ways of Seeing, Thinking, and Knowing, 2nd Edition
By Christie Launius, Holly Hassel


You must complete readings before the class session for which they are assigned. 

Required readings from sources other than our textbook will be posted listed as PDF or Online on the Reading & Meeting Schedule







Student Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain and apply the social construction of sex, gender and sexuality.
  • Explain and apply intersectional feminist perspectives to analyses of power, privilege, and oppression.
  • Explain how the structure and power of social and economic institutions affect us individually and collectively.
  • Identify and describe dominant culture portrayals of gender and sexuality, including the ways that they are shaped by other axes of difference; describe how these representations impinge on us as individuals and members of social groups.
  • Recognize the differences as well as the similarities among different groups of women, and the ways that different systems of domination intersect in women’s lives.
  • Identify social change strategies employed by feminists to address forms of inequality.

General Education Objectives
At the conclusion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the historical, social, cultural, or political perspectives in the US society of at least one cultural, ethnic, racial or historically underrepresented group towards itself and its place in society.
  • Identify national and global forces that have influenced or shaped the perspectives of others toward the underrepresented group(s) being studied.
  • Analyze and synthesize sources objectively, incorporating some primary sources in the voices of that group.

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