Gender Studies

Wabash College is committed to preparing its students for leadership and service in a diverse and changing society. As part of that commitment, the minor in Gender Studies affords students the opportunity to gain a firm grounding in an interdisciplinary field that investigates the social, cultural, and biological factors that constitute femininity, masculinity, and sexual identity. Gender Studies explores the similarities and differences between the experiences, perspectives, and voices of women and men by analyzing variations in gender roles that occur across cultures and over time, examining relationships between biological differences and social power, and investigating the complex interaction of gender with race, class, and culture. Gender Studies also involves a critical investigation of strategies that aim to transform unjust or coercive social systems based on gender. Through coursework and an independent senior project, students undertake a systematic and critical analysis of gender issues across academic disciplines. The program is administered by the Gender Studies Minor Steering Committee.

Wabash College students who participate in the minor in Gender Studies will enhance their preparation for careers in a wide variety of areas. These include, but are not limited to, human services, law, government, teaching, the arts, clinical work, social work, public relations, advertising, and journalism. Some graduates with expertise in Gender Studies may also pursue further study of gender as graduate students in a wide range of academic fields.

Students who pursue a minor in Gender Studies will:

  • Become familiar with the vocabulary and theories of the field of Gender Studies
  • Appreciate Gender Studies as an interdisciplinary field that investigates the social, cultural, and biological factors that constitute femininity, masculinity, and sexual identity
  • Understand how living out the Wabash mission requires them to:
    • Think critically about the continuously evolving concept of gender,
    • Act responsibly on the issue of gender inequality,
    • Lead effectively by educating others about the role of gender, and
    • Live humanely by promoting gender equality when they have the power to do so.

Requirements for the Minor

GEN-101Introduction to Gender Studies1
Electives3
Three credits from at least two different departments.
Human Sexual Behavior
Fatherhood
Special Topics
Special Topics: Behavioral Sciences
Topics in Modern Europe
Special Topics
Studies in Multicult/Nat'l Lit
Adv Topics:World&Comp History
Gender and Communication
Studies in Special Topics
Advanced Topics: American History
Seminar in English Lit
Independent Study
Independent Study
Capstone 11
Gender Studies Capstone
Total Credits5

Each student’s program will be approved and supervised by the Gender Studies Minor Steering Committee, and a member of this committee may serve as secondary field examiner on the senior oral examination.

Occasional courses (Special Topics or other courses of particular relevance to Gender Studies) may also count toward this requirement with the approval of the Gender Studies Minor Steering Committee. Interested students should consult with a member of the Gender Studies Minor Steering Committee for advice regarding relevant courses and the frequency of offerings. Students should also consult the Academic Bulletin and semester-by-semester information from the Registrar’s office regarding when courses are offered.

Students are encouraged to take Gender Studies 101 in their freshmen or sophomore year, and to complete as much of the minor as possible before enrolling in the Capstone course in the fall of their senior year.

GEN-101 Introduction to Gender Studies

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary field of gender studies by exploring questions about the meaning of gender in society. The course will familiarize students with the central issues, questions and debates in Gender Studies scholarship by analyzing themes of gendered performance and power in law, culture, education, work, health, social policy and the family. Key themes may include but are not limited to the relationship between sex and gender, the legal and social workings of the private / public distinction, the way that disciplinary practices code certain behaviors as masculine or feminine, the intersection of gender with race and ethnicity, the gendered structure of power, the tension between difference and equality, the production and circulation of gender expectations in the media, and the contested role of the law in achieving equality. By course end, students will understand central themes and debates in the field of gender studies, demonstrate a facility with basic terms and concepts of the field, apply methods of analyzing gender to society and to their own life experiences and communicate effectively about these issues in writing and speech
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts, History/Philosophy/Religion

GEN-102 Human Sexual Behavior

An overview of human sexual anatomy, development, function, and diversity. Emphasis is on the psychological aspects of sexuality including the study of attitudes towards sexuality, sexual preference, love and marriage, contraception, and commercial sex. Particular attention is paid to the development and enactment of sex roles, the construction of gender, and sex differences.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Behavioral Science

GEN-103 Seminars in Theater

These seminars focus on specific topics in theater and film. They are designed to introduce students to the liberal arts expressed by noteworthy pioneers and practitioners in theater and film.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

GEN-104 Intro to Philosophy: Nature

This course will serve as an introduction to philosophy by examining the ways philosophers have used nature historically to justify the social order: by identifying essences that prescribe roles, legitimating social hierarchy by dividing the world between what is closer to nature and what overcomes or surpasses nature, distinguishing between good and natural actions and bad and unnatural ones, and distinguishing between culture and the material of culture. This course will examine the philosophical positions behind these claims and critiques of these positions. The course will take up the example of gender at various places across the semester to think about the implications of various conceptions of nature in the history of philosophy. Students are discouraged from taking more than one course numbered 109 or below.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion
Equated Courses: PHI-104

GEN-105 Fatherhood

An introduction to the psychological research into issues surrounding fatherhood. Topics to be covered include the role of fathers in children's development, the effect of being a father on adult development, men's views on fatherhood, the effect of fatherhood on romantic relationships, and balancing work and home life.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science
Equated Courses: PSY-105

GEN-200 Special Topics

Seminar discussion of a topic or area in ethical theory, applied ethics, or social and political philosphy. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

GEN-209 Special Topics: Behavioral Sciences

Various topics at the intermediate level pertaining to economic, political, sociological or psychological approaches to gender, family, sexuality ore related issues. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's web page for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Behavioral Science

GEN-210 Topics in American History

Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit upon the instructor's approval
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

GEN-230 Topics in Modern Europe

Various topics on gender, sex and/or sexuality in modern Europe. Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated upon the instructor's approval. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

GEN-231 Intermediate Topics in Political Theory

Intermediate course on a topic in political theory focusing on gender, sex and/or sexuality. Topics vary from semester to semester. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's web page for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Behavioral Science

GEN-270 Special Topics: Lit/Fine Arts

Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit upon the instructor's approval. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

GEN-277 Special Topics

The course provides opportunities for specialized, innovative material to be made available for students at the introductory level. Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit upon the instructor's approval. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1

GEN-300 Studies in Multicult/Nat'l Lit

Toni Morrison and the African American Novel. This course is about one thing, reading Toni Morrison's novels and her literary essays. In the process, we will explore the features of what Morrison calls the African American novel. We will also come to see and understand Morrison's mastery of craft and subject in the production of amazing stories that speak the "truth in timbre. The goals are to read, learn and grow in your understanding of the possibilities and limitations of rendering a people's lived experience in language. Jewish American Literature. The contributions of Jewish American writers and filmmakers have been pervasive and significant. We will read selected fiction, poetry and plays, and see films that focus on the Jewish American experience. Authors and filmmakers may include Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, Cynthia Ozick, David Mamet, Allen Ginsberg, and Woody Allen. African American Literature: Introduction. This course explores various genres of African American Literature. Emphasis is placed on works that reflect the socio-historical development of African American life. Poetry, Slave narratives, autobiographies, novels, plays, musical lyrics, and spoken word form the subject of study in the course. Special attention is given to works of fiction that become motion pictures and the emerging area of audio books. The aim of the course is to provide students with a sense of the historical and contemporary developments within African American literature. Students are introduced to African American critical theory as well as African American history. Pen and Protest: Literature and Civil Rights. This course takes a literary approach to the study of the civil rights movement. Students will examine the autobiographies, plays, novels, and other various artistic expressions of the mid-1950s through 1980. The aim of the course is to explore the use of literature and art as means of political, cultural, and religious expression. Students are introduced to critical theory as well as black studies.
Prerequisites: ENG-105, ENG-106, ENG-107, ENG-109, ENG-160, ENG-214, ENG-215, ENG-216, ENG-217, ENG-218, ENG-219, ENG-220, ENG-260, or ENG-297
Credits: 0.5-1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

GEN-302 Adv Topics:World&Comp History

This course provides opportunities for small group and independent work in intensive study of selected topics in world and comparative history. Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit upon the instructor's approval. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: Minimum 0.5 credit from HIS
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

GEN-303 Gender and Communication

As a culture, we often we take gender for granted. Yet, we live in a culture where men and women are molded and shaped by communicative practices and mass-mediated representations that generate our ideals of masculinity and femininity. This class examines this process-providing a platform for students to reflect upon gender formation and develop a theoretical vocabulary for describing this process. By the end of the semester, class participants will develop a more sophisticated understanding of the manner in which gendered messages and practices have shaped perceptions of their symbolic universe.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

GEN-304 Studies in Special Topics

Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: ENG-105, ENG-106, ENG-107, ENG-109, ENG-160, ENG-214, ENG-215, ENG-216, ENG-217, ENG-218, ENG-219, ENG-220, ENG-260, or ENG-297
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

GEN-324 Advanced Topics: American History

This course provides opportunities for small group and independent work in intensive study of selected topics in American history. Since the content of this course varies from semester to semester, it may be repeated for credit upon the instructor's approval. Refer to the Course Descriptions document on the Registrar's webpage for topics and descriptions of current offerings.
Prerequisites: HIS-240, HIS-241, HIS-242, HIS-244, or HIS-245
Credit: 1
Distribution: History/Philosophy/Religion

GEN-400 Seminar in English Lit

Two sections of ENG 497 are the two Advanced Courses offered every fall. These are seminars designed primarily for English majors (although occasionally English minors enroll in them). The topics vary depending upon the research and teaching interests of the faculty. They demand a high level of student involvement in research and discussion. Several short papers and a long critical essay are required. Note: the two seminars are offered only in the fall semester. Reading the Black Book. Read any good Black books lately?" This is a provocative question on so many different levels. For one, it takes for granted that there is such a thing as a "Black book" and, two, should this be the case, that some of them might actually be good." What is at stake here is how we think of race and literary production as well as race as a critical approach to reading literature. In short, can we think of race as both a category of literary production and a tool of literary interpretation? Nobel Prize Laureate Toni Morrison admits to writing Black books. As such, Morrison's readers are expected to understand the various and varying ways that race matters in her work. However, scholar Kenneth Warren argues that African American literature is over. This course will take a deep dive into the murky waters that is the meaning and significance of race in African American letters. Students will be introduced to Black literary theory and cultural production. In addition to Morrison and Warren, students will read scholars like Houston Baker, Henry L. Gates, John Cullen Gruesser, Arna Bontemps, Robert Hemenway, and others. Students will come to understand African American literary theories such as: Ethiopianism, Double-Consciousness, New Negro, Blues People, Signifying, and call-and-response. This course is meant to help students grapple with the different ways of reading the Black book. The Body of the Other in British and Postcolonial Literature. How do British and Postcolonial authors write about colonial power, political violence, and their effects on the body? We will study authors from the Caribbean, South Africa, India, Ireland, and England, and we will focus on gender roles and race, with a special emphasis on the theory of the postcolonial body. Corporality has been a central issue in the dialogue between the center of the empire (e.g., London) and the "margins (e.g., British colonies). How do colonial and postcolonial authors describe colonizing and colonized bodies? To understand and enjoy the texts, we will also study the political context of British imperialism and the anti-imperial resistance, as well as the major premises of Neocolonialism. We will discuss the themes of the exoticized body, the dislocated body, the traumatized body, and the emasculated body, and we will focus on the intersections between gender and postcolonial theory.
Prerequisites: none
Credit: 1
Distribution: Literature/Fine Arts

GEN-487 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1

GEN-488 Independent Study

Individual research projects. The manner of study will be determined by the student in consultation with the instructor. Students must receive written approval of their project proposal from a department Chair before registering for the course.
Prerequisites: none
Credits: 0.5-1

GEN-490 Gender Studies Capstone

Seminar in Gender Studies
Prerequisites: GEN-101, and 2 additional credits from GEN
Credit: 1

Gender Studies Minor Steering Committee

Agata Szczeszak-Brewer, English, chair
Jennifer Abbott, Rhetoric
Crystal Benedicks, English
Lorraine McCrary, Political Science
Eric Olofson, Psychology
Elan Pavlinich, English
Michelle Rhoades, History

Adriel M. Trott, Philosophy

The Gender Studies Minor Steering Committee is typically composed of faculty who teach regularly for the minor. In order to develop a stable sense of identity for this interdisciplinary program, the general expectation is that to teach for the minor, faculty will serve on the committee. We recognize that this creates an additional obligation for those faculty, but the expectations for steering committee members are light. Faculty serving on the committee, and thus teaching for the minor, are expected to

  • teach a course once every three years
  •  attend a meeting once a semester to meet with students and to discuss any administrative concerns regarding the minor
  • publicize the minor with students

In the event that a faculty member who is unable to meet these obligations wishes to offer or cross-list a gender studies course, they are welcome to submit their courses to the steering committee for consideration. While we make exceptions for extenuating circumstances, we encourage faculty who plan to teach courses that they want cross-listed on a regular basis to join the committee. The minor values regularity and predictability of courses and commitment of faculty above a wide range of offerings.