Bettina Judd | Author of Patient

Bettina Judd

Art. Feminism. Femme Fire.

Introduction to Gender Studies

Developed at Mount Holyoke College  Fall 2014


Course Description:

By approaching the discipline with particular interest on the impact of people of color on the field of gender studies, this course is designed to introduce students to social, cultural, historical, and political perspectives on gender and its construction. Through discussion, writing and collaborative projects, we explore the intersections among gender, ethnicity, race, class, sexuality, and disability in multiple settings and contexts. Taking an interdisciplinary approach to a variety of questions, we will consider thematic topics in gender studies, with particular emphasis on the importance of race. 

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course, students are expected to:

  • Be able to identify major definitions and debates about the concepts of gender, race, ethnicity and class.
  • Have improved skills in critical thinking and writing about the aforementioned concepts.
  • Be able to identify and articulate the ways in which gender, race, ethnicity and class affect our daily lives.
  • Be able to identify some ways in which the aforementioned concepts interact with systems of power and privilege. 

Course Materials and Requirements:

  • Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology - Estelle Dish ed.
  • Other readings will be available either on Moodle ( or at the Library in course reserves. These documents are noted in the syllabus with the symbol {M}.
  • Some films may be held for viewing at the library and online. It is important that you familiarize yourself with the library in order to make sure that you see these films in time for class discussion.


Participation (35%) is a very important part of our class dynamic here in Gender Studies. Because the material in Gender Studies affects how we view ourselves, and the world around us, it is important that we be able to articulate to ourselves and to each other, what we are learning. This process allows for a group dynamic wherein, we are learning from each other in community, rather than struggling with material on our own. Every day of class will count in your final participation grade. When discussion board assignments are due on days we do not meet, those will count as participation grades as well. Class discussion is also a dynamic experience, as we discuss, short assignments may be assigned.

Midterm (15%) You will complete a timed at-home midterm to be taken online on February 26th.

Classroom Leadership (20%) You will be expected to lead class discussion once during the semester with one of your classmates. Sign up will take place online from 10AM-5PM February 3, 2014. 

Pop Quizzes (10%) From time to time short quizzes will be administered on recent reading materials. 

Final Assignment (20%) As a final assignment, you will complete a group assignment (3-4 students in each group) in which you and your classmates will complete a large project or group paper using the course syllabus as your guide. You will discuss one of the major topics of each unit using the materials listed as well as materials you and your group mates collect during your research process. You will have free range in terms of the format of the final project. You may create a short film, a website or blog, or you may choose to write a traditional long paper. You will propose the project and its format on March 31 at which time I will extend my office hours for discussions about your final assignment. At this time you will also craft a group contract in which your group mates will outline your specific duties. The final assignment is due for each group in whatever format it appears, on April 23. You will be expected to present your final assignments during the last two days of class, April 23 and 28. Finally, you will complete a peer evaluation on the final day of classes, April 29 in which you evaluate your group mates.

Course Outline

What is Gender? What is Gender Studies?

Week 1
•    Introductions

Week 2
•    “The Transformation of Silence into Action” – Audre Lorde

•    General Introduction to Reconstructing Gender pp. 1-29

Week 3
•     “It’s Not Just about Gender” pp. 31-33
•    “The Puerto Rican Dummy and the Merciful Son” – Espada pp. 34-44
•    “From Nothing, A Consciousness” – Helen Zia pp. 44-50

•     “The Social Construction of Gender” – Judith Lorber pp. 112-119
•    “Boyhood, Organized Sports and the Construction of Masculinities” – Michael A. Messner pp. 119-136

Week 4
•     “Racism without ‘Racists’” – Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (M)
•    “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” – Peggy McIntosh pp. 78-83
•    “How to Be an Ally if You Are a Person with Privilege” – Frances E. Kendall

Bodies, Sexuality and Popular Culture

•     “Who’s the Fairest of them All?” – Jill Nelson pp. 136-140
•    “Making up is Hard to Do” – Jeffreys pp. 165-185

Week 5
•     “Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit” – Silko pp. 201
•    “I’m not Fat, I’m Latina” – Haugbegger pp. 210

•    “Never Just Pictures” Susan Bordo (M)
•    “A Pornographic World” – 270-277
•    Discussion bring a magazine to class

Week 6
Reading: “Empowering Self, Making Choices, Creating Spaces: Black Female Identity via Rap Music Performance” by Cheryl Keyes The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 113, No. 449 (Summer, 2000), pp. 255-269 [M]
In Class Lecture: “A Hip Hop Feminist Origin Story”

At-home midterm. No Class

Race, Gender and Institutions

Week 7
•     “Just Walk on By” – Staples pp. 204
•    “Questlove On Trayvon Martin + The Psychology Of ‘You Ain’t Shit’” – Questlove (M) <>

•    “Patriarchy, The System” Johnson pp. 98-106
•    “The Past is Ever Present” – Patricia Hill Collins pp. 51-65

Week 8
•     “Mapping the Margins” – Kimberlee Crenshaw on (M)

•     “Angry Women are Building” –Paula Gunn Allen pp. 65-67
•    “Latinas on the Fault Lines of Citizenship” – Marchevsky and Theoharis pp. 74-77

Week 9

•     “Controlled or Autonomous” – Shaheed pp. 83-88                                                                                            
•    “Under and (Inside) Western Eyes” – Mohanty pp. 88-97

•     “What is Marriage For?” – Graff pp. 345-350
•    “Free to Marry, At Last” Gozemba and Kahn pp. 350-352


Week 10 - Final Assignment Proposals Due
Research Day For Final Assignment. No Class.

•    “Missing in Interaction” – Sadker and Sadker pp. 362-368
•    “’What About the Boys?’” – Kimmel pp. 369-382

Cultures of Violence

Week 11
•     “Women, Violence, and Resistance” – Kaye/Kantrowitz pp. 504-516
•    “Eminem’s Popularity is a Major Setback for Girls and Women” – Katz pp. 517-529

•    “He Defies you Still” – Avicolli pp. 141-146
•    “The Center of Masculine Production” – Anderson pp. 469-74


Week 12
•    “Wielding Masculinity Inside Abu Ghraib” – Enloe pp. 560-569
•    “The Private War of Women Soldiers” – Benedict pp. 569-576

•    from Conquest – Andrea Smith (M)

Where We Go From Here

Week 13
•    “Feminism’s Future” – Hernandez and Leong pp. 639-642
•    “New Black Man” – Neal pp. 633-638
•    “Tapping Our Strength” – Ulen pp. 642-649

 Week 14

Final Assignments Due

Final Assignment Presentations

Week 15

Final Assignment Presentations


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