Murray Syllabus Spring 2012

Introduction to Women’s Studies 21:988:201:01                 Spring 2012
Monday/Wednesday 4:00-5:20pm                                           Room: Hill Hall 105
Assistant Instructor: Connie Murray                                      Office: Hill Hall 724  Office Phone: 973-353-5753                                                                                 Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 1:00-2:30pm/
                                                                                                           Wednesday 2:30-4:00pm
Books:  Both texts should be purchased at New Jersey            
        Women in American Society: An Introduction to Women's Studies
                             By Virginia Sapiro
                 New York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2003
                             The Gender Reader                                          Edited by Evelyn Ashton-Jones, Gary A. Olson, and Merry G. Perry
                       Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000


      Introduction to Women’s Studies is designed to teach the student to use gender as a category of analysis. Women's Studies takes the totality of women's experiences as its central focus. It seeks to uncover, document, restore, and validate the diverse realities of women's lives. Going beyond and often challenging traditional knowledge, methods, and theories in other areas of inquiry, women's studies attempts to develop a new and more comprehensive understanding of social life, unattainable in more traditional fields of study. Moreover, women's studies is intent upon going beyond descriptions of the status quo, and is concerned with the consequences and application of its knowledge.

     Discussion and interaction are an important part of any women's studies course; therefore, it is essential that the student attend class having completed the readings for the session and analyzed the assigned material. The major portion of the classroom time will be devoted to discussions among class members. A strict attendance policy will be applied. More than two inexcusable absences will result in the student's grade being lowered by one grade level for every absence after the second. Excusable absences include a personal illness, a death in the immediate family, or the illness of a student's child or parent. Having to work is not reason to be excused from attendance. College is designed to be the student’s first priority.  Excusable absences should be reported immediately to the professor to be recorded. Do not consider the right to be excused twice as permission to be absent for no legitimate reason.   

        Students should watch current newspapers and news magazines every day for articles about women and bring the article and a brief summary to share with the class each day. The articles are a determining factor in the student's grade and will be recorded for credit towards class discussions. Relevant television programming may also be discussed. Please use the elite press for your sources. They include the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report. You may also report on material from The News Hour on PBS from 7:00-8:00 p.m. Monday-Friday and National Public Radio. Students may videotape television segments that pertain to how the economy, the political system, or  the social system affect women nationally or internationally and bring the video to class to share.


    Students should pay close attention to the university’s standards for academic integrity. Cheating on exams and/or plagiarizing research will result in failure of the class and will be reported to the proper university authority. Students should treat their sister and fellow students and the professor with respect. A lack of civility will not be tolerated.



     Students must keep a journal that contains twice-weekly entries discussing their analysis of and reactions to the readings, current events and the class discussions. A summary of the reading material is not required nor is it desired. Diary-like entries are desirable as an outlet for spontaneous reactions to material in the course or to something in the student's own life. These entries may include narratives of personal experiences, expression of emotion, dream accounts, poetry, etc. However, the journal should not be limited to diary-like entries. Two typewritten, double spaced pages of well thought-out analysis is required for each week; however, it may be longer if desired. The first half of the journal is due on March 5 and the second half on April 25. If the student is absent, a journal entry must be submitted for the day absent (respond to something you have read in the newspaper about women on that day or use a personal experience that illustrates a concept learned in the course). Please do not place your journal in a folder or binder.


                             Outrageous Act

       In the spirit of Gloria Steinem's essays entitled Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions you are asked to perform a positive, pro-woman act that represents, for you, something you would not or could not have done prior to this course. You may not use an act that you completed before you took this course. Your paper (which should be 2 pages, double-spaced, and typewritten) should describe the act, explain why it is liberating for you, analyze your feelings afterward and the reactions of people affected by it. It is due on April 4.  Please do not place your paper in a folder or binder. The day the paper is due students may volunteer to share their thoughts on this experience with the class. Your outrageous act must be non-violent (not harming yourself or others, either mentally or physically) and it must be legal.


                            Exams and Grade Distribution

     There will be three multiple choice tests on February 20, March 21, and May 9 11:45am-2:45pm. The first two exams are during the class period and the final during final exams week. The final exam will not be comprehensive. It will cover only the final third of the session’s readings and lectures.

     The student's grade will be based on class participation (presentation of current news) 10%, 3 exams each worth 20%, the journal 10% for each submission, and the outrageous act paper 10%. Late submissions of journals and outrageous act papers will be penalized one grade level for each late day. Do not miss exams. Do not ask to reschedule an exam because of travel plans. Make your travel plans so that they do not interfere with your educational responsibilities. A makeup exam will be administered only due to a dire emergency.


                         Order of Readings and Events

        {Note that there are no dates listed in order to allow the class to proceed at its own pace}


Introduction of Class Members

             Review of Syllabus and Course Requirements

             Presentation of Ground Rules for Class Discussions

             Discussion of some of the Basic Concepts of Women's Studies

             Read: Sapiro Chapter 1


How Did Society Become Patriarchal?

              Read:  Sapiro Chapter 2

                     Ashton-Jones Chapter 6


How Do Individuals Become Gendered?

           Read:   Sapiro Chapter 3  


Feminist Theory and Anti-feminist theory and practice

           Read: Ashton-Jones Chapter 3 and 5                  


The First Wave of the Women's Movement: The Suffrage Movement

               Video: One Woman, One Vote PBS                                                     Read: Sapiro Chapter 15


The Second Wave of the Women's Movement: The Women's Rights Movement                       and the Women's Liberation Movement                  


The Media Construction of Gender

               Video: Still Killing Us Softly

               Sapiro Chapter 8

           Project: Students should search women's magazines for ads that portray the problems discussed in the video and bring them to share with the class


How language constructs gender and race

            Read:  Sapiro Chapter 10

                   Ashton-Jones Chapter 8 and 9


Sexuality     Read: Sapiro Chapter 11

                    Ashton-Jones Chapter 4


Women and Politics Read:  Sapiro Chapter 9


Women, Work and Education

                   Read:   Sapiro Chapter 14

                           Ashton-Jones Chapter 10 and 11