As one of the required courses for the Women’s Studies Certificate Program and for Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies, both at the Graduate Center of CUNY, Feminist Texts & Theories/Contemporary Feminist Theories (cross-listed) aims to introduce students to a broad range of foundational texts associated with Women’s Studies, Feminist Theories and Gender Studies. We will use an interdisciplinary approach to consider some of the central questions, dilemmas, methods, and findings of contemporary feminist philosophy and gender theories as well as Women’s Studies scholarship. We begin with the current crisis over the very possibility of a field or fields demarcated as such, when signs of sex, sexuality and gender have been deconstructed, if not destabilized. The rest of the material is organized into three broad themes: Being/Becoming (Ontology), Knowing/Unknowing (Epistemology), and Doing/Undoing (Praxis).
In an effort to cover the greatest number of perspectives, we will read articles and chapters rather than entire books. We sought to limit the requisite reading to a manageable quantity. Each week we also listed supplementary reading numbering no more than five. These consist of additional material that is not required but would enrich your understanding of that week’s theme. In the bibliography, there are a few more readings, but we can certainly guide you further, should you desire such assistance. All of the required readings, listed below, are available as downloadable PDFs (mostly password-protected) or internet links in the class webpage: Class Schedule and Material
Participation: We view our meetings as a creative collaboration, anchored in the assigned readings. Your first requirement is to come to class each week fully prepared to participate. We will typically spend time carefully and dynamically scrutinizing the texts together and so please have all the main texts ready at hand (in print, for instance.)
Journals: You are expected to keep a record of your reflections on, questions about, and criticism of the readings before class. (Journals are not class notes.) We may collect your journals periodically during the semester, and will certainly do so at the end of the term. It is imperative that you bring your journal to every class meeting, since we will in most cases begin our discussion by asking a few members of the class to share their entry for that week.
The purpose of keeping a journal is to compel you to engage the readings critically as well as to help you prepare to participate actively in class discussions. Journal entries should not be summaries of the readings, but rather critical evaluations of the ideas these thinkers grappled with. This is the opportunity for you to express your opinion and react to the text. This is also a place to begin bringing your discipline specific questions to these materials.
Final Paper: You will be required to write a final paper. We consider the weekly work of the seminar (i.e., assigned readings, participation, and journal writing) as equal in importance to your term paper, and view the final assignment as your opportunity to demonstrate the cumulative knowledge you gained over the course of the semester. We will discuss the specifics of the assignment in greater detail later in the term. Regardless of the particular topic on which you write, the final paper assignment will require that you make precise and detailed use of a range of class readings to examine a theme more deeply and/or to reflect on the intersection of your discipline and Women’s Studies.
MALS 72200 Contemporary Feminist Theories
WSCP 81001 Feminist Texts & Theories