Myths and Misconceptions about Women’s Studies


Temple University

Fall 2012

Course website + syllabus

Women’s studies? What is that?” Perhaps you’ve asked this question or perhaps you’ve been the one asked. This course examines the various ways that women’s and gender studies as an academic field, an activist endeavor, and a world-making project has been represented in a variety of contexts. We will identify and critically examine the many myths and misconceptions that are often assumed about women’s and gender studies, and we will explore how and why these myths and misconceptions circulate to serve particular interests in particular historical and cultural contexts. Rather than merely defensively react though, the course will explore what women’s and gender studies does, why it is important, and what it brings to the world. Students will explore where they fit into the field and will be encouraged to develop new and innovative projects in pursuit of social justice.

Topics addressed will include the historical development of women’s and gender studies and its inclusions and exclusions; how bodies are constructed and treated in relation to norms of race, gender, class, nation, and dis/ability; technology and its cultural significance; practices of colonialism, imperialism, and immigration; medicine, sexuality, and reproductive in/justice; feminist debates over sexual pleasure and agency; popular culture and its re-appropriation by feminists, queers, and anti-racist advocates; and social justice activism working toward a different world.

Students have the unique opportunity not only to learn about a vibrant and dynamic activist/academic field but also to actively participate in it, change it, and make it a part of their lives.