Course description


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For each class, you are to bring an informal but thoughtful written response to the readings that are due that day. These responses will allow you to synthesize your reading, reflect on the conversations about the keywords for that day, as well as place your readings in the larger context of the questions, issues, and discussions the course raises. Your responses will also help launch our class discussions, give you practice in critical writing, and allow me to get to know how and what you think.

Your response should be about two to three, double-spaced, typed pages. (Please put your name, date, course number, and keywords on it.) Your discussion should be a coherent but relatively spontaneous response that brings some of the readings for that day together into a conversation. Since many conversations are implicit or emergent from the readings juxtaposed under a particular keyword, you should focus on one--or only a few--aspects of the readings that interest you or pertain to your own projects. You need not deal with every reading, but try to be as comprehensive as you can. On days when we have several keywords, you may focus on one or relate the keywords to one another. Your paper should use specific ideas, quotes, or information from the readings to address or engage larger issues regarding the keywords, but you should of course not simply summarize the readings.

The responses must be handed in to me in person at the end of each class period. If you are absent, they can be made up only if you provide a documented excuse (medical, legal, Dean’s letter, death-in-the-family). You will get from 1 to 10 points on each response, depending on how well you demonstrate that you carefully read and thought about the material. You do not need to turn in a response paper on the day of your teaching presentation.

Even if you have not completed the readings or done the response paper, you should come to class anyway so that you can participate in the discussions. If you do not turn in a response paper, hand in a piece of notebook paper with your name, date, and course number and you will get four points for participation.

Each of you will do a teaching presentation once during the semester as a part of the pedagogical component of the course. The presentation should be about 20 to 25 minutes (no more) and should center on one aspect of the day’s readings that you develop. Do not try to be comprehensive, but rather present a coherent, focused analysis of what interests or compels you about the days’ readings. In other words, you are not responsible for everything we consider that day in regard to the readings. You may discuss additional readings (although we will not read additional material) or focus on one of the plethora of “feminisms” You should offer a few discussion questions (not more than 5) to spark discussions during the rest of the class period. In addition, you may wish to present information, provide charts or diagrams, guide a critical exercise, or use any pedagogical strategy that seems appropriate. Feel free to discuss the presentation with me in advance if you like. You will also be responsible for checking that the on-line reserves for that day’s readings are in order. Please do this early on in the semester and notify me if there is a problem.

The other pedagogical component of the course will be creating a syllabus of your own design for a women’s studies course that emphasizes feminist theory. You may wish to draw heavily from our course reading list and/or other parts of the books from which we read, or you may wish to find other sources that explicate the central concepts, questions, and architecture of your course. Your syllabus may be a for disciplinary or interdisciplinary women’s studies at any level. It should include readings, assignments, a description that clarifies the logic and organization. There are many sources of WS syllabi that you may wish to consult or use as models, including samples from the web and from Emory WS faculty. The last class period will be devoted to sharing your syllabi and seminar papers in brief synopsis with your classmates.


As part of the critical component of the class, you will write a seminar paper of about 15-20 d/s pages that emerges from our readings and conversations. The paper is due at the end of the semester (we’ll negotiate an exact date). This paper should arise from your own interests, a continuing project (like pre-dissertation components), or other course work you have done. It should focus primarily on the theoretical underpinnings or implications of your topic. It should be theoretically interdisciplinary, but may concentrate on specific disciplinary methods, approaches, or sets of materials. Although you should use many of the course readings as sources for the paper, you may bring in related material, other feminist theory, primary sources–in short, whatever you need to structure the paper and support its argument. Think of this seminar paper as a formal draft of a future conference paper, critical article, or chapter of your dissertation.


Around midterm, schedule a conference with me, preferably during the weeks before spring break (2/24-3/6), to discuss your seminar paper. This conference will begin the process of developing a 2-3 page prospectus of your final seminar paper. You may come to the conference with ideas, notes, or a draft of the prospectus, but the formal prospectus should be handed to me within a week or two after the conference. We will set a date at the conference. Start thinking about your paper fairly soon in the semester, but the final paper may migrate somewhat–or even fairly far-- from both your initial ideas as well as from the prospectus.


Since our class is a seminar, everyone is expected to attend and participate in the discussions. You should be at all times respectful of one another’s positions and opinions and be attentive to the balance of conversation so that everyone has ample opportunity to speak. I will facilitate the discussion in a manner that accomplishes this. I encourage you to offer provisional comments, questions, and positions in order to create dynamic discussions in which we influence one another’s ideas and opinions. Although personal and subjective responses to the issues and questions the course raises are welcome, we should use personal experiences and opinions as a way to critically examine the issues the readings raise. Your grade may be positively or negatively inflected by your level of participation and may be lowered because of unexcused absences.

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