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About the Major

Department/Program Description.

The Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program is administered by the chair and other members of the program's core faculty. Core faculty are those who are actively involved in the program, who teach FGSS courses, advise FGSS majors and senior theses, and may serve as program chair. The program sponsors an annual symposium, the FGSS Salon, and the Diane Weiss Memorial Lecture.

Admission to the Major.

The prerequisite for becoming a major is taking one of the gateway courses. These courses are designated annually. Students ordinarily take a gateway course during either semester of the sophomore year and declare the major in the spring semester. Gateway courses for 2014-2015 include FGSS217 Key Issues in Black Feminism (FGSS Gateway) and FGSS269 Gender and History (FGSS Gateway).

Major Requirements.

Students are assigned to faculty advisors and should familiarize themselves with requirements for writing a senior honors thesis, since these may affect curricular choices for the junior year. In the fall semester of the junior year, the student ordinarily takes Feminist Theories (FGSS209). During this semester the student, in consultation with the advisor, develops a major proposal that lists the courses that will compose the student's major course of study, including a written rationale for the student's chosen concentration within the major. The Major Proposal Form, approved by the advisor and with the concentration rationale attached, is submitted to the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program office by the end of the fall semester of the junior year.

The concentration rationale is a brief explanation (one or two pages) of the student's chosen concentration within the major and, describing the courses the student has chosen to constitute it. The major as a whole consists of 10 courses as follows: Three core courses (a gateway course, FGSS209 and FGSS405), two distribution courses (one each from an area outside the concentration), the four courses comprising the concentration, and senior research in the form of the senior essay or senior honors thesis. The senior year is devoted to completion of the course work for the concentration, work on a senior essay or thesis, and participation in the senior seminar. Only two credits transferred from another institution may be applied to the major.

Every major must take the following courses:

  • One gateway course. These are designated annually and serve as introductions to the interdisciplinary field of feminist, gender, and sexuality studies. Gateway courses examine gender as a factor in the politics and practices of the production of knowledge and of social and cultural life, with particular attention to the intersection of gender with other identity categories and modes of power―race, class, sexuality, and ethnicity.
  • Feminist Theories (FGSS209). This course traces contemporary developments in feminist theory and considers how feminism has been articulated in relation to theories of representation, subjectivity, history, sexuality, technology, and globalization, among others, paying particular attention to the unstable nexus of gender, sexual, racial, and class differences.
  • Senior Seminar (FGSS405). Set up as a workshop, the goal of this course is to develop an enabling and challenging intellectual environment for majors to work through intensively the theoretical, methodological, and practical concerns connected with their senior research projects.

Core courses.

  • Gateway courses. In 2012-2013, these include FGSS269/HIST179/COL323 Gender and History (FGSS Gateway), AFAM205/FGSS217 Key Issues in Black Feminism (FGSS Gateway), ANTH226/ARCHP226/FGSS237 Feminist and Gender Archaeology (FGSS Gateway), and PHIL277/FGSS277 Feminist Philosophy and Moral Theory (FGSS Gateway)
  • FGSS209 (Feminist Theories) and FGSS405 (Senior Seminar)

Distribution requirement. A distribution requirement of two FGSS courses,which must be from two different disciplines and should not overlap in their content with courses that make up the student's concentration in the major.

Concentration. Four courses forming the area of concentration should represent a coherent inquiry into some issue, period, area, discipline, or intellectual approach related to feminist, gender, and/or sexuality studies. Normally, the courses will be drawn from various departmental offerings and will be selected in consultation with an advisor.

Capstone Experience.

Completion of a senior essay (one credit) or an honors thesis (two credits) on a theme or topic related to the student's area of concentration within the major is required. Rising seniors wishing to write a senior honors thesis must have an average of B+ all courses that count toward the major, including the gateway course, FGSS209 (Feminist Theories), and three of the four courses from the student's area of concentration. Prospective thesis writers must submit to the Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program chair by the last Friday in April in the second semester of the junior year a statement indicating the topic of the thesis and name of the thesis tutor, together with a transcript reflecting that they have met this requirement (or will meet it by the end of the semester). Beginning with the class of 2012, students wishing to write an honors thesis must also have taken an FGSS research or research option course (consult Wesmaps for a listing of these courses), in which they write a semester-long research paper. (Research and research option courses may also be taken to satisfy distribution or concentration requirements.)