Women's Studies Course Descriptions

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WMST 101 (3) Introduction to Women’s Studies

An introduction to the scholarship on women, both disciplinary and interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on critical thinking. Explores works by and about women, gender roles, and contemporary issues around the world, and analyzes arguments surrounding women’s status.

WMST 180 (3) Introductory Topics in Women’s Studies

Introductory special topics in Women’s Studies. The course title and description will vary by offering. Students should check the Class Schedule for listing of actual topics. May be repeated for credit as topics change, for a total of six (6) units.

WMST 201 (3) Women: Contemporary Issues

Surveys contemporary issues in women’s lives from the standpoints of diverse groups of women. Subject matter includes, but is not limited to, images of women, reproductive rights, sexuality, economic justice, political empowerment, family relations, and cultural practices. Subject matter is introduced in a variety of ways, including case studies, narratives, novels, film, and music. Students may do cross-cultural research on the Internet and Lexis/Nexis for their final project. This course is not currently offered at Cal State San Marcos. It is listed for transfer-credit and course equivalency purposes.

WMST 205 (3) Gender and Identity in Pop Culture and the Media

Examines the ways in which gender and social identity have been portrayed in popular culture and the media, as well as the economic, political, and historical conditions that affect and inform these images. Focuses special attention on the economic, political, and historical conditions that have shaped representations of gender, race, class, and sexual identity in popular culture.

WMST 211 (3) Introduction to Women’s Literature

Introduces students to literary works by women within changing socio-cultural contexts from the 18th to 21st centuries. Analyzes the role of gender and sexuality in creative works and literary criticism, including questions of women’s traditions, genre, and aesthetics. Explores a diverse range of historical writing by women in English; may include recent examples of works in translation from other literary contexts. Also offered as LTWR 211. Students may not receive credit for both.

WMST 300 (1-3) Topics in Women’s Studies

Special topics in Women’s Studies. The course title and description will vary by offering. May be repeated for credit as topics change for a total of six (6) units.

WMST 301 (3) Gender, Race, and Class in Contemporary Societies

Explores the intersection of gender, race, and class in the modern world. Themes include the expression of gender, race, class, and sexual identity in arts and humanities; the structures of discrimination; theories about race, class, and gender; and the lively debates across cultural and ethnic lines concerning these issues.

WMST 303 (3) Education, Gender and Race

Explores the relationships between education, gender, and race/ethnicity. Course content will include such issues as identity development in girls and boys; controversies about gender, race, and education; feminist theories about learning and teaching; social stratification in schools; and pedagogical methods designed to empower all students through education. Using contemporary case studies, students will examine multiple dimensions of school life–such as formal and informal curricula, student-teacher relationships, and the social construction of teaching–for their gendered and racialized components. May not be taken for credit by students who have received credit for WMST 300K.

WMST 320 (3) Introduction to Feminist Pedagogies

Focuses on the study of feminist approaches to university learning. Special emphases on feminist theories of student- centered learning, innovative teaching methods in higher education, and social change through higher education. Designed for students who are preparing to serve as Peer Discussion Leaders in WMST 101. Enrollment Requirement: WMST 101, or other introductory Women’s Studies course.

WMST 321 (3) Feminist Pedagogies in Practice

Feminist theory is used to reflect upon classroom leadership and experience. Designed for students who are serving as Peer Discussion Leaders in WMST 101, under faculty supervision. May be repeated for a total of six (6) units. Enrollment Requirement: WMST 101, or other introductory Women’s Studies course. Enrollment restricted to students who have obtained consent of instructor.

WMST 323 (3) Women in Performance: Choreographies of Resistance

Explores issues of power, representation, and access in relation to the female body in dance, performance art, body arts, and the staging of political empowerment. Examines crucial histor­ical figures and moments when the body in motion ruptures or destabilizes normalized expectations. Also offered as DNCE 323. Students may not receive credit for both.

WMST 325 (3) Folktales of Strong Girls and Women in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia

Explores stories that either present images of strong girls and women or convey feminist messages about gender roles, women’s abilities, or gender politics in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Designed to help students understand the many and complex ways in which women from a variety of nations and cultures have negotiated their social standing, using folktales and stories to convey messages about strong, capable, and smart girls and women who provide role models and leadership for others.  

WMST 326 (3) Feminist Art and Motherhood

Critically examines what has been the taboo relationship of motherhood to feminist art and theory as they have developed during the late 20th Century. This interdisciplinary course focuses on the various ways feminist artists, writers, philosophers and other cultural theorists are addressing the dilemmas of representing feminist motherhood and how these approaches are interpreted in contemporary visual culture. Previous historical limitations and mutual exclusivities for women as mothers will be analyzed in relation to new revisioning of motherhood by women and men who have different ethnicities, classes and other varied life experiences. May not be taken for credit by students who have received credit for WMST 300-18. Also offered as VSAR 326. Students may not receive credit for both.

WMST 328 (3) Body and Identity

Explores the social construction and performances of the body and identity through a cross-cultural look at definitions and meanings of the body, codes inscribed on it by our everyday practices (wearing makeup, working out), and choices of decorative markers (clothing, jewelry, tattoos, piercings). How are gender, race, ethnicity, and power status signaled by the body? How is rebellion enacted through the body? Anthropological perspectives are used to explore how people approach these issues across cultural, economic, political, social, and religious contexts. May not be taken for credit by students who have received credit for ID 370-2 and WMST 300-6. Also offered as ANTH 328. Students may not receive credit for both.

WMST 330 (3) Women as Leaders

Internationally, women contribute to a growing share of public activity, the labor market, and civic leadership. Based on recent feminist research on leadership development, this course will address the challenges of and opportunities for leader­ship as they affect women from different cultural backgrounds. Subjects include cultural perceptions of leadership, traditional stereotypes of femininity, and the evaluation of leadership skills. Biographies of women leaders will be used to explore some of the key factors that have shaped women’s successes. May not be taken for credit by students who have received credit for WMST 300G.

WMST 341 (3) Men and Masculinities

Focuses on various meanings of male identity and the effects that notions of masculinity have had on both men and women. Examines cultural beliefs, values, and representations of masculinity and male identities. Explores distinct perspectives on the meanings of masculinity–past, present, and future–in relation to socialization, work, family, race and ethnicity, class, culture, sexuality, and technological change. Focuses primarily on the United States, with cross-cultural comparisons to the construction of masculinity in other countries. May not be taken for credit by students who have received credit for WMST 300H.

WMST 343 (3) Power and Gender in the Muslim World

Explores the intersection between Islam, gender, culture, and politics in Muslim countries in contemporary Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Also offered as PSCI 343. Students may not receive credit for both.

WMST 345 (3) Gender and Violence

Explores the intersections of gender and violence, examining violence against women through a feminist lens, masculinities and violence, and race, class, gender, and sexualities and violence. Interrogates the concept of “violence,” exploring physical, emotional, psychological, and structural violence, as well as state violence, societal responses to violence, and feminist resistance in the U.S. and around the globe. Subjects may include intimate partner violence, LGBT violence, rape and sexual assault, state-sponsored violence, and militarized violence. May not be taken for credit by students who have received credit for WMST 300-11

WMST 347 (3) Reproductive Rights 

This course explores the history of reproductive rights in the United States and globally, including the emergence of family planning practices, the design and availability of contraception, access to abortion and assistive technologies, legal developments in the debate around fetal personhood, women’s religious and secular activism, outsourcing reproduction, and feminist theoretical perspectives around reproductive rights. 

WMST 350 (3) Chicana and Latina Feminist Thought

Introduction to the foundational writings in Chicana and Latina feminist theory with close attention to how race, class, gender, and sexuality affect Chicana and Latina lives. Includes triple oppressions theory, identity politics, mestiza consciousness, Chicana subjectivity (agency), lesbian identities, and media analysis.

WMST 351 (3) Black Feminist Thought and Activism

Explores Black Feminist consciousness and activism along with its impact, historically and theoretically. Focuses on the principles and practices associated with its evolution through struggle over time in the U.S. and the Diaspora, the relationship of Black Feminist theorizing with other feminisms, and resistance and applications for social change. Explores key scholarly debates about self and community, the “multiplicity of oppressions,” and the intersection of race with gender, class, sexuality, and nation. May not be taken for credit by students who have received credit for WMST 300-2.

WMST 370 (3) Transnational Feminisms

Focuses on non-Western feminisms—their histories, practices, politics, theories, and the connections with Western feminisms that helped shape the transnational dynamics of feminist movements. Highlights relations among local, national, and regional feminisms and women’s movements; explores competing theories of gender relations and women’s rights and powers; and examines critically key debates about transnational activism, including how women differ, what interests and problems they share, the nature of agency, and the role of international institutions.

WMST 375 (3) Feminist Activism

Explores women’s international movement, giving attention to the relationship between U.S. women’s movements for social change and global feminist struggles. Interdisciplinary readings, including fiction and feminist theory, focus on women’s activism in various countries and regions of the world. Activism project required.

WMST 380 (3) Women and Social Movements in the United States 

Analysis of women’s involvement in social movements in the U.S., from the 19th century to the present. Explores the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality in relation to these movements. 

WMST 398 (3) Independent Study

Directed readings and research under the guidance of an instructor. Semester project, paper, or performance required. May be repeated for a total of six (6) units. Enrollment restricted to students who have obtained consent of instructor.

WMST 401 (3) Seminar in Women’s Studies

Topic announced each semester prior to registration. Explores readings in feminist theory and scholarship. Includes a cross-cultural or cross-national perspective. May be repeated for a total of six (6) units as topics change.

WMST 407 (3) The Politics of Sexualities

Examines the social and political construction of categories of sexual and gender identities (such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, transgender, heterosexual), the resulting social coercion of behavior, and the role coercion plays in dividing and disempowering people cross-culturally. Subject matter includes the history of romantic and sexual relationships between people in relation to culture and social institutions, the development of gender and sexual identities in social contexts, related political movement, and the power of heteronormativity in society.

WMST 416 (3) Sex Work

Examines a variety of issues related to sex work, such as prostitution, trafficking in women and children, pornography, sex tourism, and erotic shows. Material will draw from communications, economic, feminist, health, socio-political, and other perspectives, with an emphasis on the global nature of the sex industry. 

WMST 424 (3) Women and Health

An exploration of women and health. Analysis of women’s health maintenance and disease prevention, gender bias in medical treatment, medicalization of “natural” processes, women and the health system, medical-legal system, and bio-medical research. Subject matter may include, but is not limited to: eating disorders, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, fertility from pregnancy to birthing, stress and mental illness, menopause, breast cancer, and alternative and traditional healing systems. Issues of social class, nationality, race, culture, and sexual preference are emphasized throughout. Recommended Preparation: previous coursework in the area of health and illness. Also offered as SOC 424. Students may not receive credit for both.

WMST 445 (3) Gender and Development

Gender analysis remains in the peripheries of development theory and practice despite evidence which suggests that “modernization” results in disparate outcomes for similarly situated women and men. To bridge this analytical gap in development studies, the course explores the gender dimensions of the dramatic structural changes taking place in the world economy. Also offered as ECON 445 and PSCI 445. Students may only receive credit for one of the courses. May not be taken for credit by students who received credit for PSCI 449B.

WMST 450 (3) Cinema and Gender

Investigates the power of film and the film industry in representing and shaping gendered positions in a variety of cultural settings. Explores dominant and alternative practices of gendering cinematic characters and viewers. May employ particular thematic frameworks (e.g., mothers and daughters, gender and European cinema, women in the silents, or gender and documentary film).

WMST 490 (3) Feminist Perspectives: Theories and Research

Examines major schools of feminist theory and feminist approaches to research on women and gender across an array of academic disciplines. The application of feminist perspectives and reassessments of social theory in the humani­ties, social sciences, and sciences may be included. Student research projects may include bibliographies, archival research, ethnographic, survey, literary analysis, or other formats.

WMST 495A (1) 495B (2) 495C (3) 495D (4) 495E (5) 495F (6) Internship in Women’s Studies

Combines readings with placement in an appropriate social justice or women’s advocacy organization, public, private, or nonprofit. May be repeated for a total of nine (9) units in any combination of units from WMST 495A-F.

WMST 499 (3) Independent Research in Women’s Studies

In consultation with a faculty advisor, students develop an extended research project using primary and/or secondary sources. May be repeated for a total of six (6) units. Enrollment restricted to students who have obtained consent of instructor.