Women’s and Gender Studies Major
Learning Objectives for the Women’s & Gender Studies Major
By their senior year, students majoring in Women’s & Gender Studies will:
- Demonstrate understanding of the social and historical constructions of sex and gender, shifting definitions of the meaning of “woman,” and why debates about definitions matter
- Use gender as a category of analysis in their own writing
- Be able to explain the intersectionality of race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality and the interlocking systems of privilege, oppression, and opportunities. They will also be able to explain how structural changes and historical moments intersect with individual lives
- Demonstrate understanding of common theories used in Women’s and Gender Studies, such as the social construction of gender, the importance of location and of situated knowledge
- Cultivate cross-cultural awareness and apply insights to “big questions” about women and gender globally
- Demonstrate knowledge of the history of women’s activism and of strategies for social change
- Demonstrate understanding of methodologies used by scholars in Women’s and Gender Studies
- Construct arguments with evidence obtained from research and scholarship
- Think and write critically, engage in critical self-reflection and self- awareness, and compare different perspectives on issues
- Connect knowledge and experience, theory and activism, and learning from Women’s & Gender Studies courses with other courses
Requirements for the Women’s and Gender Studies Major
Student entering in Fall 2019 and beyond
Minimum major is 9 units; one unit must be taken at the 100 level (120 or 102). In addition, two units must be taken at the 300 level.
Of these 9 course units:
- A minimum of 6 units must be taken in the Women’s and Gender Studies department
- A maximum of 3 units may be taken outside the department (including the list of courses for credit toward the Women’s and Gender Studies Major and Minor, transfer courses taken at other institutions and pre-approved by the Chair and other Wellesley courses not included in the list of courses for credit and pre-approved by the major advisor)
- A minimum of 4 units must be approved to count within the student’s selected area of concentration.
WGST Concentrations and the courses that fulfill them are listed below:
Students may select from the following concentrations:
- Representations, Media, and Race
- Feminist Science, Health and Technology
- Labor, Families, and the State
- Transnational Feminism(s) in Global Contexts
- Self-designed concentration (in consultation with and approved by the advisor).
2 300-level courses are required. One course must be a capstone selected from the following list of options:
Option 1: WGST 313 (Fieldwork in Women’s and Gender Studies).
Option 3: A 300-level taken within the Women’s and Gender Studies department that is approved to count toward the student’s area of concentration (courses pre-approved to count toward the concentration are on the department’s website).
- (Required) Students who are interested in either 313 or 360/370 must have taken 1 course that includes a focus on methodologies and analytic techniques including data analysis prior to the start of their independent projects (selected in consultation with the advisor).
Courses at the 100 level are introductions to topics in Women’s and Gender Studies. They are taught from the perspective of each faculty member’s specialty. Courses at the 200 level are overviews of substantive areas. Courses at the 300 level provide in-depth examination of material covered in 200-level courses.
Women’s and Gender Studies scholars use a broad range of methodologies and analytic techniques in their work. Majors may meet the “methodologies” learning objective through one or more courses in the Women’s and Gender Studies department; consult with your advisor about recommendations for specific courses.
Honors in Women’s and Gender Studies
There are two routes to honors in the major. Under Program I, a student completes two semesters of independent research (WGST 360 and 370) culminating in an honors thesis. Under Program II, a student completes one semester of fieldwork or independent research (WGST 313) related to previous 300-level course work, writes a formal paper, and then submits to an examination that includes both topics covered in the general area of Women’s and Gender Studies and also one that is related to the 313 project. Honors may only be undertaken in the senior year. To be admitted to the WGST honors program, a student must have a grade point average of at least 3.5 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; the department may petition on the student's behalf if the student's GPA in the major is between 3.0 and 3.5. See Academic Distinctions.
If a student is a rising junior and is interested in either a WGST 360/WGST 370 (senior thesis) or in a WGST 313 honors they must have their paperwork, including a proposal, into the department by April 19, 2024. Students applying for honors should see their WGST advisor for specific preparation and proposal guidelines.
Advanced Placement Policy in Women’s and Gender Studies
Women’s and Gender Studies does not allow students to count AP credits toward the fulfillment of the major or minor.
Women’s and Gender Studies Concentrations***
Beginning with the students entering in Fall 2019 each major should select a concentration; Four courses must be taken from the list of courses in that concentration; courses for concentrations can be found on the Women's and Gender Studies website.
Representations, Media, and Race. Courses in this concentration address various forms of representation, with an emphasis on media and representations of race. Courses variously address how complex issues of identity are represented across cultural productions and cultural icons. Courses encourage students to critically read cultural productions, trace popular tropes as well as images of resistance, and consider historical contexts of current representations.
Skills emphasized include critical analysis, discourse analysis, feminist theories of representation, comparative race and ethnic studies analysis, film and media studies, narrative studies, field- specific writing.
Feminist Science, Health and Reproductive Justice. Courses in this concentration examine science and technology drawing on feminist theory. Courses variously examine racial and gendered biases in science and technology; the representation of bodies across medicine, media and politics; how bodies are shaped in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, technology, and power; social, economic and political inequalities underlying health and health care disparities; and health/reproductive justice, rights and equity movements. Skills emphasized include feminist theories, methodological emphasis on empirical data, digital media and data literacy, field-specific writing.
Labor, Families, and the State. Courses in this concentration address various forms of labor, including paid labor in the marketplace as well as invisible or undervalued forms of labor, such as sex work, domestic work and care work in families. Courses variously explore the ways that labor, family life, immigration, sexuality, motherhood practices and new family forms are socially constructed through government and social policies, economics, sexual and reproductive markets, structural inequalities, kinship, violence, law, and technologies. Skills emphasized include feminist theories, the analysis of micro and macro level empirical data including in-depth interviews, field-specific writing.
Transnational Feminism(s), Global Contexts. Courses in this concentration engage critically with a variety of transnational and global discourses on a range of topics that cross national, political and technological boundaries. Courses explore immigration, borders, and citizenship, and examine how global inequalities and ideas about gender, racial, sexual and economic justice travel across borders. Skills emphasized include engagement with transnational feminist theory, the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and globalization, collaboration as a feminist method, field-specific writing.
Courses for Credit Toward the Women's and Gender Studies Major and Minor
|AFR 212 / ENG 279||Black Women Writers||1.0|
|AFR 227 / EDUC 227||Black Girlhood||1.0|
|AMST 383 / ENG 383||Women in Love: American Literature, Art, Photography, Film||1.0|
|ANTH 238||The Vulnerable Body: Anthropological Understandings||1.0|
|ARTH 230||Frank Lloyd Wright and the American Home||1.0|
|ARTH 245||House and Home: Domestic Architecture, Interiors, and Material Life in North America, 1600-1900||1.0|
|ARTH 309||Seminar: Spiritual Space: Modern Houses of Worship||1.0|
|ARTH 325||Seminar: Strong Women in Renaissance and Baroque Italy||1.0|
|ARTH 339||Seminar: Who Was Frida Kahlo?||1.0|
|CAMS 203 / CHIN 243||Chinese Cinema (in English)||1.0|
|CHIN 245||Chinese Women in a Century of Revolution (In English)||1.0|
|CLCV 213||Gender in Antiquity||1.0|
|ECON 229||Women in the Economy||1.0|
|EDUC 214||Reimagining Youth: Exploring the Role of Family, Community and Society||1.0|
|ENG 272||The Nineteenth-Century Novel||1.0|
|ENG 294||Writing AIDS, 1981-Present||1.0|
|ENG 346||George Eliot and Her Readers||1.0|
|ENG 357||The World of Emily Dickinson||1.0|
|FREN 323||Liberty, Equality, Sexualities: How the Values of the French Republic Have Both Protected and Limited Sexual Freedom||1.0|
|HIST 293||Changing Gender Constructions in the Modern Middle East||1.0|
|ITAS 210||Queer Italy: LGBTQ and Culture in Italy from Dante to Pasolini and Beyond||1.0|
|ITAS 274||Women in Love: Portraits of Female Desire in Italian Culture||1.0|
|JPN 353 / THST 353||Lady Murasaki and The Tale of Genji (in English)||1.0|
|KOR 256||Gender and Language in Modern Korean Culture (in English)||1.0|
|MUS 222||Music, Gender, and Sexuality||1.0|
|MUS 224 / REL 224||Hildegard of Bingen||1.0|
|MUS 322||Music, Gender, and Sexuality||1.0|
|PEAC 205 / POL3 236||Gender, War and Peacebuilding||1.0|
|PHIL 218||Feminist Philosophy of Science||1.0|
|POL1 324||Seminar: Gender and Law||1.0|
|POL2 367||Women and Gender in Middle Eastern Politics||1.0|
|POL4 344||Seminar: Feminist Theory from the Margins||1.0|
|REL 106||Queer Bible||1.0|
|REL 225||Women in Christianity||1.0|
|REL 226||The Virgin Mary||1.0|
|REL 243||Women in the Biblical World||1.0|
|REL 323||Seminar: Feminist, Womanist, Latina, and LGBT Theologies||1.0|
|SOC 209||Social Inequality: Race, Class and Gender||1.0|
|SOC 315||Intersectionality at Work||1.0|
|SOC 308||Children in Society||1.0|
|SPAN 263||Women's Art and Activism in Latin America||1.0|
|SPAN 271||Intersecting Currents: Afro-Hispanic and Indigenous Writers in Latin American Literature||1.0|
|SPAN 277||Jewish Women Writers of Latin American||1.0|
|SPAN 278||Writing Women: Early Modern Spain||1.0|
|SPAN 291||Goddesses, Muses, Warriors: Women in Pre-Hispanic and Colonial Latin America||1.0|
|SPAN 327||Seminar: Latin American Women Writers: Identity, Marginality, and the Literary Canon||1.0|
|THST 200||That's What She Said: Trailblazing Women of American Comedy||1.0|
|THST 212||Woman, Center Stage||1.0|
|WRIT 110||Social Inequality: Race, Class and Gender||1.0|