College of Arts and Sciences

Course Information

Fall 2020 Courses

   Brochure, Spring 2020

Spring 2020 Courses

WOST210 Intro, Spring 2020

Introduction to Women's & Gender Studies: This interdisciplinary course explores and analyzes the position of women and the role of gender in the institutions of the United States, including the family, education, government, law, the economy, and religion. It includes an examination, through the lenses of feminism, of women’s historic and contemporary status legally, politically, and economically, as well as women’s struggles in identity, expression, sexuality, and lifestyle. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral Sciences distribution requirement and for General Education Category B5: Social and Behavioral Ways of Knowing.

WOST225 GSPC, Spring 2020, with border

Gender, Sexuality, & Pop Culture: Examination of popular cultural “makings” of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality through typical representation of gender within fiction, theater, cinema, radio, music, television, journalism, and other secular mass media. Course will include the analysis of the developing international telecommunications “superhighway” and the struggles to secure increased representation of women and of feminist perspectives within existing culture industries. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Humanities distribution requirement and for General Education Category B6: Humanistic Ways of Knowing.

WOST240 I&VAW, Spring 2020, with border

Intersectionality & Violence Against Women: Contrary to normative approaches that address violence against women, this course utilizes feminist theory to explore how violence against women is largely a product of gendered systematic power inequalities, cultural trends, inadequate legal policies at the local and international levels, as well as failure to proactively prevent the violence from occurring.  The course considers regional, transnational, and global issues related to women and violence.  Most importantly, the course troubles the collective identity woman due to the reality that womanhood is experienced diversely and cannot be simplistically defined as a homogenous category.  Therefore, the course considers how violence is experienced in varying ways by women due to their intersectional identities.  Normative approaches to understanding violence against women generally focus on one identity category (gender); in comparison, an intersectional approach expands this analysis to pinpoint how compounded forms of discrimination impact how women diversely experience violence (for example in relation to their race, class, sex, sexuality, age, language abilities, nation, ethnicity, dis/abilities, and other defining traits). Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Social and Behavioral Sciences distribution requirement and for General Education Category B7: Interdisciplinary Ways of Knowing.

   WOST301 Harem, Spring 2020, with border

Beyond the Harem: This course examines gender and sexuality in literature, film, art, and historical documents produced by and about North Africans and Middle Easterners. As the cultural and geographic crossroads between these regions, Egypt will be emphasized. Course materials explore representations of the lives and social situations of women in the Arab and Islamic societies from the colonial period to the present. Students will consider the idea of feminism from various cultural and historical perspectives, as well as topics ranging from Orientalism to the recent resurgence of voluntary veiling among the educated elite. Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Cultural Studies (Non-Western Culture) requirement and General Education Capstone.

WOST301 Transnational, Spring 2020, with border Transnational Perspectives on Gender, Sex, and Power: This course decenters Western perspectives in feminist theory and praxis. As a class we will consider in what ways systems of oppression shape people’s lives throughout the world and transnationally. We will explore how power hierarchies impact women in a manner that relates to their geographical location and intersectional identities. We will also explore the impacts of diverse forms of prejudice which include but are not limited to sexism, racism, communalism, xenophobia, heterosexism, cisgenderism, and classism. Students will be prompted to consider what other systematic inequalities impact human beings. How have feminist scholars and activists challenged these structures of oppression and privilege? This course explores these questions and identifies ways feminist activists throughout the world have mobilized against colonialism, imperialism, hegemony, poverty, and global inequality. Through radical approaches to activism, feminists from the Global South have promoted human rights and compassion while troubling the concept of woman as a uniformly experienced collective identity. In this course, students will problematize narrow understandings of womanhood and other collective identities by examining how identities are complex and intersectional. How does acknowledging the intricacy of subjectivities reveal that there is no simple solution to inequalities? Approved by the College of Arts and Sciences for the Cultural Studies (Non-Western Culture) requirement and General Education Capstone.

WOST304 Theory, Spring 2020

Feminist Theories: This course provides students with an overview of those crucial feminist texts that have given shape to Western feminism and feminist theory as we know them today. Toward that end, we will look at a wide variety of texts, covering both the foundational texts of the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries and the more recent writings that have shaped contemporary feminist discourse, focusing largely on writings from the United States. Along the way, we’ll orient our studies along topical lines, looking in-depth at those debates and theoretical terms that have been central to feminist theory, including essentialism, constructionism, epistemology, power, intersectionality, and so on. We will explore not only the themes that cohere the body of writings we call “feminist theory” but also the tensions and conflicts that have made it such a dynamic field of study. As a case study of these tensions and conflicts, we will end the semester by looking more closely at the operations of language, sex, and power at the site of the #MeToo movement and what feminist theory might teach us about the intersections among these issues.

WOST 40000: Capstone in Women’s Studies
01 - CRN 24119 - TR  4:30-5:45 PM - LA 226 - Badia

This capstone course will explore the history and state of women’s studies within higher education today through an examination of the major questions that have defined the field. How, for example, do those working in the field of women’s studies regard the issues of interdisciplinarity and intersectionality, the relationship between women’s studies and gender and sexuality studies, and the role activism should play in academic study? Our exploration of these questions is designed not only to provide you with an overview of the issues governing the history, present state, and future of women’s studies within higher education, but also to give you the opportunity to reflect on the work you have done as a women’s studies student at Purdue FW. This course will also include an outeach project to high school students that will give you the opportunity to apply your knowledge and expand your skills as a critical thinker, public speaker, and advocate for social justice. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing, 12 credits of  Women’s Studies course work or department permission.

HIST 23400: Witchcraft and Witch Hunts

01 - CRN 24042 - MW 3:00-4:15 PM - LA 212 - LaVere

In early modern Europe, roughly 100,000 people (predominantly women) were put on trial for witchcraft.  About half this number were executed. This course seeks to understand how and why these horrific events occurred at this particular time and why more trials occurred in particular areas of Europe. Using thematic and geographical approaches, we will investigate the ancient and medieval roots of these witch hunts, and look in detail at the trials and executions of the accused, using trial records, anti-witch tracts from Church officials and other primary sources, as well as secondary sources from a wide range of modern authors. This section of HIST 23400 is a Women’s Studies cross-referenced course, so we will pay special attention to the role that gender played in the witch hunts, looking at the various ways in which women were targeted during this period, and the roles gender may have played in witchcraft accusations. In addition to examining canonical works on witchcraft and witch trials, we will read some feminist interpretations of the witch hunts by historians and scholars from other disciplines. The course will also look into how ideas about witches crossed the Atlantic, using Salem as a way to examine similarities and differences with the European “witch craze.” Students will also have an opportunity to examine how witches and witch hunts have been portrayed in popular culture, from 17th century English plays to modern films and television. Overall, students in this course will seek to understand why the “witch craze” occurred, and what short- and long-term impact this phenomenon had on European and early American culture and society.

PSY 34500: Psychology of Women

01M - CRN 21855 -  R  9:00-10:15 AM  -  SB G30 - Ross

Theories and current research on the psychological nature of women and their roles in society, including topics such as sex differences and similarities, sex-role socialization, sex-role stereotyping, female sexuality, achievement motivation, role conflict, mental-health issues, feminist therapy, rape, menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood, and topics of related interest.

Summer 2020 Courses

Session I

WOST 21000: Introduction to Women’s & Gender Studies

01I - CRN 31435 - Online - Mannir

WOST 30100: Beyond the Harem: Women in North Africa & the Middle East 

01I - CRN 31439 - Online - Mannir

PSY 34500: Psychology of Women

01I - CRN 31214 - Online - DiClementi

 Session II

WOST 22500: Gender, Sexuality, & Popular Culture

01I - CRN 31437 - Online - Staff

WOST 24000: Feminist Critical Human Rights Theory & Praxis

01I - CRN 31438 - Online - Womack

The United Nations (which has 193 nation-state members) produces human rights treaties that are internationally recognized as global human rights norms.  United Nations member states co-construct the treaties and then each member state individually decides which treaties they will adopt and how they will implement the multilateral agreements.  International human rights are designed based on the ideology that all people deserve basic rights because of their shared humanity.  However, transnational feminists and critical human rights theorists commonly argue that the human rights processes are rife with power hierarches at the local, transnational, and global levels, lack effective enforcement mechanisms, are resources for Western imperialism, and are Western and male centric.  Human rights treaties also universalize identities in simplistic terms by homogenizing and over-generalizing human need.  This class problematizes human rights failures and monolithic approaches to identifying and remedying human needs.  In particular the class explores how human rights treaties and frameworks (in their present form) cannot adequately address the complexity of lived experiences, diversity, and intersectionality.  The class is especially concerned with how diverse women are marginalized in the human rights system.