Chatham University

Women's and Gender Studies (BA) Curriculum

The major in women’s and gender studies offers students the opportunity for the interdisciplinary study of women’s contributions to society and women’s experience in diverse cultures, polities and historical periods. Students seek to understand the new scholarship on women and the new intellectual frameworks, methodologies, and feminist theories that examine gender as a social construct. They analyze critically the representations of women in literature and the arts, in social and political theory and practice, and in the sciences, and they are encouraged to rethink their own responsibility for reshaping society.

Program Requirements

+Major Requirements

12 courses, including:
INTWGS 303 - Internship (3)
WGS 101 - Introduction to Women's Studies (3)
WGS 201W - Feminist Theory (3)
WGS 322W - Women and Policy (3)
WGS490 Integrative Capstone

The integrative capstone , undertaken by the student during the senior year, is an extended project that helps the student complete their transition from an undergraduate student to a world-ready professional.  The study usually centers on the student’s major and may be conducted, at least in part, in the context of a group experience.  Such programs are crafted to meet the unique needs of each major, and could include, for example, fieldwork, theatre production, creative work in the arts, independent research, or independent readings. The integrative capstone in an interdisciplinary major must have the approval of both academic programs.  

ENG350W Seminar in Literary Theory and Scholarly Writing

An advanced course in writing literary analysis and methods of literary research; required of all junior English majors and interdepartmental majors before enrollment in the tutorial. Second-term junior status is required.

6 courses from the following:
ART263 Women and Art II

This course explores the status of women in the arts, images of women in art, art made by women, and women as patrons. Prerequisite(s): ART 132 or permission of the instructor.

BUS255 Gender Issues in Work and Management

This course examines the historical emergence of women in the workforce and management positions. A particular focus of the course is the structural and cultural barriers preventing women from entering the workforce and management positions; problems confronting women managers, such as discrimination and sexual harassment; and solutions for resolving these barriers and problems, such as social legislation and the development of appropriate interpersonal skills. Prerequisite(s): BUS 105 or permission of the instructor.

CRM220 Women and the Criminal Justice System

This course focuses on three aspects of women's involvement in the criminal justice system: as victims, offenders, and professionals. Coverage will include theories and facts about women offenders, the impact of crime on women victims and survivors, and special issues facing women who pursue careers in policing, corrections and law.

CST183 Representations of Race and Gender

This course introduces students to the methodology of cultural studies. In this survey students learn those skills essential to analyzing social constructions of identity. Specific attention is paid to diverse texts, including film, in order to locate how representations of race, gender, ethnicity, and "otherness" are culturally produced and disseminated.

CST215 Perspectives in Queer Theory

This course examines the cultural representations of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in literature, film, history and social movements. We will explore how gender and sexual identities intersect with race, class and ethnicity. Finally, students will become conversant with the arguments and critical terms used in the field of queer theory.

ENG262 Introduction to Women Writers

Examining writers from Mary Wollstonecraft to the present, this course delineates the features of a literary tradition specific to women writing in English. It considers novels, essays, and poetry by Austen, Eliot, Stowe, Chopin, Gilman, Woolf, Morrison, Walker, Rich, Lorde, Dove, and others.

CST225 Female Narration: Race and Gender in Women's Film

This course looks predominantly at films directed by women who have worked out strategies for a feminist film practice. The course will focus on the relationship between representations of women and the socio-political structures in which women live. It will also focus on the need for women, if they wish to affect perception of self and other, us and them, to take up the means of production. Exposing the sexual stratagems in various contemporary societites permits women filmmakers to recreate the world in their own image. Study of traditional portrayals of women will support understanding of the differences between subject and object position. Negotiating these often conflicting spaces allows studenents to comprehend the multiple mediations that structure a critical consciousness. Such awareness allows questions of responsibility in a world of diverse values and perspectives. The course is organized as a reading, viewing, and lecture experience. Cross-listed as FDT225.

ENG286 Contemporary African-American Women Writers

This course will examine the literature of African-American women from 1950 to the present. Specifically, students focus on issues of marginalization, silencing, and female community and how they affect the construction of these narratives. Possible authors include Shange, Naylor, Williams, and Jones. (See also Cultural Studies.)

ENG385 Toni Morrison Seminar

This seminar is a study of Toni Morrison’s literature within the context of African-American critical theory. Through Morrison’s work, students will engage in current issues regarding the politics of language, narrative authority, historical revision, the production of meaning, and African-American subjectivity.

ENG419 Frontier Women

An impressive number of narratives, novels, diaries, and poems recording the responses of women to the American frontier have become available in recent years. By reading about these frontier experiences, and examining differences in perception and conception based apparently on gender, students will better understand how the frontier functioned within American culture and what "cultural work" these texts accomplished.

ENG452 Ecofeminist Literature

This course brings together theoretical, nonfictional, and fictional approaches to the study of women and the environment. Students will examine how diverse ecofeminist writers problematize, resituate, and reclaim the woman/nature paradigm--a construct historically based in patriarchal culture. This course focuses particularly on how representations of women and environment (ranging from the traditional to the radical) can help students rethink and reimagine their relationship to the ecological world.

ENG464 Early Modern Romance: Representaions of Women

The course looks primarily at medieval and Renaissance romances, asking how they do or do not challenge past or stereotypical notions of the feminine. Possible reading selections include Tristan and Isolde, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Le Morte d’Arthur, The Faerie Queene, and The Arcadia. The course ends by looking at The Mists of Avalon, a feminist rewriting of Arthurian romance.

ENV242 Women and the Global Environment

This course will examine contemporary global environmental issues from a gendered perspective. It will address the following question: How does environmental change impact women’s lives, women’s health, women’s community roles, and how are women offering leadership to address these problems and offer alternative solutions at the global, national, and local levels? The course will examine these issues from a North/South perspective, examining how northern countries' consumption and policies are impacting women in poor and transitional countries. It will also focus on key environmental concerns, from climate change, resource extraction, population, consumption, and toxic contamination.

FDT226 Issues in Film: Gender Race Ethnicity

This course examines some of the major theoretical issues developed in film theory and practice. Emphasis is placed on ways in which the film text is also a social text that can be used to examine underlying assumptions and ideas with regards to issues of gender, race, and ethnicity. The class attempts to go beyond plot and theme analysis to probe for examinations of how culture shapes the way people think, and, in the process, what it selectively leaves out.

MUS232 Women in Music

This course is a survey of women composers in Western art music, with a special emphasis on contemporary composers. This survey will include such important figures as Ruth Crawford, Ellen Taafe Zwilich, and Tania Leon.

POL262 Women and Politics

Does gender make a difference in politics? Are women different from men in their political behavior? Do women contribute different norms, rules, and outcomes within political institutions? Students become familiar with the literature on, and conduct research projects in a specific aspect of, women's involvement in politics.

PSY236 Psychology of Women

The course examines current theory and research on the psychology of women. topics include the development of gender roles, gender comparisons, women and work, love relationships, women's physical and mental health, violence against women, and women in later adulthood. Students who take this course should acquire an understanding of what it means to be a female in North America.

PSY415 Human Sexuality

This course draws from current research to examine biological, psychological, and social aspects of sexuality. In addition, issues relating to sexuality for parents and educational and counseling professionals will be addressed. Prerequisite(s): PSY 101 or by permission of instructor.


+Minor Requirements

6 courses: including
WGS101 Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies

Examines the role and status of women in society using a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Students will examine materials that present and challenge cultural assumptions of the nature and roles of women and consider diversity among women.

WGS201W Feminist Theory

This course is designed to provide students with a critical introduction to the historical development and current controversies of feminist theory including global feminism and women's bodies as a site of contestation. It includes a comprehensive summary of the diverse and interdisciplinary philosophical strains that make up the intellectual heritage of modern feminism.

WGS322W Social Welfare: Women and Policy

This course is designed to examine current issues and policies that impact the lives of women and to explore methods of creating or modifying policies. This course will utilize a comparative policy framework to explore the strengths and weaknesses of current interventions regarding their promotion of social and economic justice.

3 electives chosen from the list of major electives.

+Women's Leadership Certificate

Women's Leadership Certificate