Feminist Theory
WSS 565 (5600)

Print Version

Fall 2005
Session: Thursdays
Time: 4:15-7:05 p.m.
Place: West Seminar Room, Science Library ground floor

Instructor: Dr. Janell Hobson
Office: Social Sciences 344
Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 am – 12 noon
Phone: 442-5575
Email: [email protected]

Course Description:
What constitutes a viable feminist theory for the 21st century, and who gets to participate in our formulations of theory? Through interdisciplinary and intersectional frameworks, this course will explore concepts and ideologies that articulate and define principles of feminism –a political movement to end all aspects of domination in the lives of women and their communities. We will read and view texts that challenge the centrality of gender in feminist analyses through intersections of race, class, nationality, sexuality, and empire. We will also reconstitute the political agenda of feminism as we apply a global perspective on women's lives and blur the lines between theory and practice, academia and policy, grassroots organizing and public media. [Return]

Course Goals and Learning Outcomes:
This course will parallel departmental goals and objectives in that students will:
1. integrate diverse studies through an interdisciplinary framework.
2. dismantle the intersecting ideologies of racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, imperialism.
3. conceptualize feminist social justice beyond gender equity and toward community and human dignity.
4. fully participate in the teaching process as active learners, peer educators, and public presenters. [Return]

Required Texts (available at Mary Jane Books):
Edson, Margaret. 1999. Wit.
Lorde, Audre. 1983. The Cancer Journals.
Mohanty, Chandra. 2003. Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity.
Trinh, T. Minh-ha. 1990. Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality & Feminism .
Course Packet – available at Shipmates (in Stuyvesant Plaza and hereafter abbreviated in course schedule as CP). [Return]

Course Requirements

1. ATTENDANCE & PARTICIPATION (20%): fully expected of every student in order for this seminar to run successfully. You are allowed 3 unexcused absences; afterwards, 2 points will be deducted for each additional absence and 1 point deducted for tardiness once you begin accumulating more than 3 of these. Weekly abstracts (200 words) in response to readings must be posted on webCT and brought to class.

2. CLASS PRESENTATION (10%): each student is required to lead at least one discussion over reading assignments. Prepare discussion questions, posted on webCT and brought to class.

3. WEB PROJECT (20%): A website overview is due Sept. 15; the home page Sept. 29 ; and the completed website Oct. 27. See Websites page.

4. BOOK REVIEW (10%): You will need to submit a book review (5-8 pages, typed and double-spaced) of one anthology. Four anthologies have been ordered for our “recommended readings”: Feminist Genealogies (1996); Talking Visions (1998); Global Critical Race Feminism (2000); and This Bridge We Call Home (2002). We will vote for two of these texts for our Sept. 22 and 29 discussions. You will also choose another anthology from this list on which to base your book review, due Oct. 6.

5. CLASS CONFERENCE (20%): You will be organizing a class conference based on this seminar. You will need to assemble panels of graduate and possibly undergraduate students, accepted in our conference, who will present to the public a paper or project-in-progress based on the conference theme. Students enrolled in this class may choose to submit a paper abstract and present a paper (based on this seminar or for another class), but it is not required. You will be given a time-table around which you will schedule panel presentations. You will also divide into smaller committees to work on this conference, such as the Publicity Committee , Selections Committee, Scheduling Committee, and On-Site Committee (see below).

6. RESPONSE PAPER (20%): Develop an essay (10-15 pages, typed and double-spaced) in response to a conference paper, panel, keynote address, roundtable discussion, or undergraduate student creative project, due in my office by 4 pm on Dec. 15. Submit both a hard copy and web-ready digitized version on CD. Well-written and critical pieces will be published on our class conference website.

Committees and Due Dates:
Publicity Committee : Call-For-Papers (Sept. 22) & flyers; abstracts deadline: Oct. 28, 2005.
Selections Committee : selection of 9-12 papers (Nov. 3)
Scheduling Committee : arrange & order panels/speakers, invite keynote speaker. (Nov. 10)
On-Site Committee : take on needed roles during conference (opening and closing remarks, moderating panels, etc.); reserve equipments; prepare conference programs. (Nov. 17) [Return]

Late assignments will result in one-letter grade reduction for each day late; plagiarism (see tutorial) is a violation of University policy and will result in failing assignments and other measures.

Course Schedule

Sept. 1
Course overview and introduction; online: V-DAY, INCITE!, and MADRE. See Assignment!


Sept. 8
CP: (1) The Traffic in Women; (2) Can the Subaltern Speak?; (3) The Girl Who Wouldn't Sing; (4) The Race for Theory; (5) Dis Place: The Space Between; (6) Queerness, Disability, and The Vagina Monologues; (7) Area Studies, Gender Studies, and the Cartographies of Knowledge.

Sept. 15
CP: (8) At Your Service: Latin Women in the Global Information Network.
Online: Theorizing the Future: Feminist Thought on the Digital Age.
Web Design Workshop.
Due: Website Overview.


Sept. 22
Anthology: TBA.
Due: CFP (Publicity Committee).

Sept. 29
Anthology: TBA.
Due: Website Home Page.

Oct. 6
Film: “Closet Land.”
Due: Book Review (anthology of choice).

Oct. 13
holiday – no class.


Oct. 20
Woman, Native, Other.

Oct. 27
Film: Bedevil.
Due: Website.


Nov. 3
Play and Film: Wit.
The Cancer Journals.
Due: Paper Selections (Selections Committee).

Nov. 10
CP: (9): Mastering the Female Pelvis: Race and the Tools of Reproduction.
Online: Re-sensitizing African Healthcare and Policy Practitioners: The Gendered Nature of AIDS Epidemics in Africa.
Website: Breakthrough's AIDS campaign.
Due: Conference Schedule (Scheduling Committee).


Nov. 17
Feminism without Borders.
Due: Conference Program (On-Site Committee).

Nov. 24
holiday – no class.

Dec. 1
Conference Planning.

Conference Program:

Nov. 30
Wed. ‘Feminist Poets' and “Reclaiming The Women's Building,” 79 Central Ave. , 6 pm .

Dec. 1
Thur. Performance Collective @HUM B39, 7 pm .

Dec. 2
Fri. Student Conference @ Standish Room, Science Library, 3rd floor, 10:30 am -5 pm

- 10:30 am Welcome (Instructor) & Opening Remarks
- 10:45 am - 12:00 noon PANEL 1
- 12:00 noon-1:00 pm LUNCHEON
- 1:00-2:00 pm Keynote Address
- 2:15-3:30 pm PANEL 2
- 3:45-5:00 pm PANEL 3
- 5:00 pm Closing Remarks

Dec. 3
Sat. Roundtable Discussion, “Bridging the Academic and Activist Divides in Feminism,” 12 noon , The Women's Building, 79 Central Ave.


Dec. 8
Course Review.

Dec. 15
Due: Response Paper.

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