Swms 301 Introduction to Feminist Theory and the Women's and Men's Movements Spring 2012 Room: thh 121 Class hours: mw 30 50




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SWMS 301

Introduction to Feminist Theory and the Women's and Men's Movements

Spring 2012

Room: THH 121

Class hours: MW 3.30-4.50


Instructor: Professor Sheila Briggs

Office: ACB 232

Tel: 213-740-0267

Office Hours: W 1.00-2.00

or by appointment

e-mail: sbriggs@usc.edu

The women’s movement that began in the sixties (“second-wave feminism”) initiated transformations of the political, social and cultural landscape in both the United States and around the world. In this course we look at how feminist scholarship has participated in and reflected upon these changes.

We begin the course by looking at feminism’s continuing concern with the relation of gender to sexuality, race and class. We also explore the global dimensions of feminism. We then see how feminist historians have investigated the past to understand how gendered social relations have come into existence and endure. Next we turn to how the media shape attitudes and experiences of gender and follow with an examination of how feminists have (re)constructed masculinity. During this part of the course one session per week will take place in the multimedia labs in Taper Hall. Students will receive instruction in multimedia theory and practice and prepare a short video project on representations of gender. After this we focus on the implications for feminism of the contemporary cultural situation, often described as postmodern, in which human identities (including gender ones) are seen as malleable and shifting. Finally, we pay to attention to how the ever-accelerating pace of science and technology are fundamentally changing the existence of women and men and to how gender roles affect who is engaged in scientific research and how technology is directed.
Required Reading

Course Reader of Journal Articles on Blackboard

Judith M. Bennett, History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism

Andi Zeisler, Feminism and Pop Culture

Shira Tarrant, Men and Feminism

Londa L. Schiebinger, Has Feminism Changed Science?



Course Outline

Jan. 11. Introduction to course.


Jan. 13. Sexuality—an enduring theme of feminist theory. Designated reading on Blackboard.
Jan. 18. Martin Luther King holiday--no classes.
Jan. 20. Race, class and gender. Designated reading on Blackboard.
Jan. 25. The politics of difference. Designated reading on Blackboard.
Jan. 27 - Feb. 1. Transnational Feminism. Gender and Globalization. Designated reading on Blackboard.
Gender and History. Feminist Uses and Approaches to the Past. Reading: Judith M. Bennett, History Matters: Patriarchy and the Challenge of Feminism.
Feb. 3. Bennett, pp. 1-29.
Feb. 8. Bennett, pp. 30-53.
Feb. 10. Bennett, pp. 54-81.
Feb. 15 President’s Day holiday--no classes.
Feb. 17. Bennett, pp. 82-107.
Feb. 22. Bennett, pp. 108-127. Mid-term examination distributed.
Feb. 24. Bennett, pp. 128-155.
Mid-Term Examination due March 1
Gender, Media and Culture. Reading: Andi Zeisler, Feminism and Pop Culture.
Mar. 1. Zeisler, pp. 1-56.
Mar. 3. Zeisler, pp. 57-88.
Mar. 8. Zeisler, pp. 89-120.
Mar. 10. Zeisler, pp. 121-148.
Mar. 15-17. Spring break.
The Feminist Study of Masculinity. Reading: Shira Tarrant, Men and Feminism
Mar. 22. Tarrant, pp. 1-26.
Mar. 24. Tarrant, pp. 27-88.
Mar. 29. Tarrant, pp. 89-118.
Mar. 31. Tarrant, pp. 119-150.
Presentation of Multimedia Projects on March 31
Apr. 5. Feminism in the Post-Age. Designated reading on Blackboard.
Apr. 12. Feminism, the postmodern and the posthuman. Designated reading on Blackboard.
Gender, Science and Technology. Reading: Londa L. Schiebinger, Has Feminism Changed Science?
Apr. 12. Schiebinger, pp. 1-18.
Apr. 14. Schiebinger, pp. 19-64.
Apr. 19. Schiebinger, pp. 65-91.
Apr. 21. Schiebinger, pp. 92-125.
Apr. 26. Schiebinger, pp. 126-158
Apr. 28. Schiebinger, pp. 159-196. Final examination distributed.
Final Examination due Friday, May 7
Course Requirements

These carry the given percentage of the final course grade.

Course participation (10%). Regular attendance of class and constructive engagement in class discussions.

One take-home mid-term examination (essay format) due March 1 (20%).

An individual contribution to a collaborative multimedia project and its presentation in class (20%). This is due and to be presented in class on March 31. Detailed instructions on the multimedia project will be given.

A research project (30%). It may take one of two forms:

An individual research paper of 12-15 pages. This requires extensive reading beyond the required course readings.

(With the instructor’s approval) an individual or group multimedia project.

All research projects are due April 28 . Detailed instructions will be given.

One take-home final examination (essay format) due Friday, May 7 (20%).


Expectations of and Resources for Students in this Course

Don't cut class. You are expected to attend every session. If you miss class, then you are left to your own resources to make up the lost work. In such cases, you can try borrowing a fellow student's notes or doing extra reading on the session's topic, but you will have missed the class discussion.

Complete assignments punctually. This is especially important for the collaborative multimedia projects when presentations in class must take place at the arranged time.

All requests by students to the instructor must be made in person or by letter, not by 'phone or e-mail. If you have an urgent request, you may 'phone or e-mail my office, but you should follow up with either personal contact or a letter.

The Writing Center is there to help you. To use it, all you need to do is make an appointment by 'phone or in person a few days in advance. You can also try just walking in, but then you are not guaranteed an appointment, and the center at times will be very busy. Writing Center consultants can help you develop ideas and arguments and revise rough drafts for the paper required in the course. The Writing Center is situated on the third floor of Taper Hall (Tel.: 740-3691).

All students are expected to know and follow USC's rules on academic integrity. A copy of Trojan Integrity is posted on Blackboard. Students must acknowledge all sources (books, journals, videos, web-based and electronic materials, etc.) used in a paper or multimedia project, whether these are directly quoted, paraphrased or their main ideas summarized.



Any student requesting academic accommodations based on a disability is required to register with Disability Services and Programs (DSP) each semester. A letter of verification for approved accommodations can be obtained from DSP. Please be sure the letter is delivered to me as early in the semester as possible. DSP is located in STU 301 and is open 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The phone number for DSP is (213) 740-0776.


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