DEPARTMENT OF GENDER AND RACE STUDIES (GRS)
Chairperson and Graduate Director: Professor
Office: 104 Manly Hall
The Department of Gender and Race
Studies (called Women's Studies until November 2009) offers a course
of study leading to the master of arts degree in Women's Studies.
The MA in Women's
designed to support feminist research. The program emphasizes
interdisciplinary and cross-cultural methodology. It provides a
conceptual framework, analytical training, and bibliography and
research tools for feminist studies. The program is designed for
students from a variety of humanities and social science backgrounds
with interest in gender studies and the status and roles of women in
society, past and present.
Graduates of the
MA program will have the skills to continue graduate work toward a
PhD in a humanities or social science discipline. Training in
feminist studies and research methods will also enable graduates of
the MA program to enhance their work in other careers, such as
law, health care, criminology, social work, public welfare, and
Graduate work in
Women's Studies and African American Studies is also available to students whose degree programs
permit them to select courses in other programs and divisions. A
master of arts concentration in Women's Studies may be taken through
the Department of American Studies of the College of Arts and Sciences and through other
cooperating departments and programs. Admission and programs of
study are subject to the guidelines presented by the appropriate
department or program.
detailed in the
section of this catalog. All applicants to the Department of
Gender and Race Studies must submit test scores from either the Graduate Record
Examination or the Miller Analogies Test in support of the
application. International students must submit results of the TOEFL
as well. It is preferred that each applicant to the MA program have
an undergraduate major or minor in Women's Studies, or the
equivalent, and a major in a humanities or social science
discipline. Each applicant should have a grade point average of at
least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and satisfy minimum requirements for
admission to the Graduate School. Students with deficiencies in
undergraduate preparation may be required to take additional credit
hours. Financial assistance is available in the form of
research/teaching assistantships and fellowships for qualified
students. Applicants who wish to be considered for research or
teaching assistantships or fellowships should file their
applications by February 15.
Degree Requirements for the MA in
must meet all requirements in the
Degree Requirements section of this catalog.
Students complete a minimum of at
least 30 hours in courses numbered 500 or above. All MA students
will successfully complete a 9-hour core program consisting of WS
530 Feminist Theory: Contemporary
or WS 535 Black Feminism; WS 532 Issues and Problems in
Women’s Studies Research; and WS 570 Gender, Race, and Class:
Cross-Cultural Approaches. Students have the option of writing a
thesis (Plan I) or passing a comprehensive exam described below
(Plan II). A grade of “B” or better must be earned in all courses.
Plan I (thesis plan) requires
at least 30 hours of coursework which will include 9 hours of core
courses, 15 hours of elective courses, and 6 hours of thesis
research. Students must submit a proposal before writing the thesis
and defend the thesis before a committee of three graduate faculty,
including at least one from outside the department.
Plan II (comprehensive exam)
requires 30 hours of coursework which will include 9 hours of core
courses and a comprehensive exam. The master’s comprehensive exam
is an oral defense of a portfolio of three exemplary research papers
written during the student’s program. The papers should be selected
by the student and be prefaced by an original 10-page essay
introducing the portfolio. The 10-page preface should explain how
the three are reflective of the student’s program of study. To pass
the exam, the student will defend the portfolio and preface before a
three-member graduate faculty committee.
WS 530 Feminist Theory: Contemporary
WS 532 Feminist Methodologies
WS 570 Transnational Feminisms
WS 599 Thesis Research
Electives (departmentally approved)
WS 500: Independent Study in Gender and
Race Studies. One to six hours.
Independent study on any subject pertaining to the study of gender
and race. Projects are conducted under the supervision of a
professor in the chosen field and must be approved in advance by the
WS 503: Seminar in Teaching Gender and
Race Studies. Three hours.
This course explores pedagogical theories and practices advanced by
feminist and cultural studies scholars and teachers. Students
actively develop their own teaching philosophies and strategies for
teaching gender and race in both small and large classroom settings
through an array of applied exercises, modules, and workshop
WS 510 Special Topics. Three hours.
Seminar format. The course offers an interdisciplinary approach to a
topic central to Women’s and Gender Studies, which varies by
WS 520 Women and Work and Labor. Three hours.
A study of various gendered facets of work, locally and globally,
changes in labor laws, patterns of labor migration, and labor
relationships, through assorted writings, such as testimonials,,
novels, reports, and essays.
WS 521 Gender and Race Studies Practicum. Three hours.
Allows graduate students the opportunity to participate in an
internship or service-learning project under the individual guidance
and supervision of a chosen faculty member in the department.
WS 525 Feminist Theory: Major Texts. Three hours.
Part I in a Women’s Studies course sequence, this course establishes
a baseline of knowledge of feminist theory in order to prepare
students for the study of contemporary feminist theory in WS 530.
This course is open to graduate students from all disciplines with
an interest in feminist theory and does not serve as a prerequisite
to Part II in the sequence. With an emphasis on issues of sex,
gender, and sexuality, this seminar focuses on feminist theoretical
challenges to prevailing narratives of subjectivity, power, and
WS 530 Feminist Theory: Contemporary. Three hours.
Part two in a graduate-level course sequence, this course is open to
graduate students from all disciplines with an interest in feminist
theory. Its interdisciplinary approach to contemporary feminist
theory focuses on recent debates spanning approximately the last two
decades of feminist theorizing.
WS 532 Feminist Methodologies. Three hours.
This course explores feminist research methodologies that emerge
from epistemological critiques of the traditional and
non-traditional methods that inform how knowledge is produced in
studies of gender, race, class, and sexuality. This course will
examine a number of qualitative research methods used across a range
of disciplines and prepare students for a reflexive and dynamic
encounter with the design of their own research topics.
WS 535 Black Feminism. Three
This seminar exposes students to the
key figures, texts, and concepts that constitute Black feminist
WS 540/WS 541 Seminar in Gender and Race
Studies. Three hours.
Topics vary each semester. Graduate students are required to conduct
extensive independent research. The course focuses on a topic of
specialization particular to the individual faculty instructor.
WS 560 Critical Readings of Slavery and
Emancipation. Three hours.
This course will introduce students to the major themes, issues, and
questions related to slavery and emancipation in the United States
through readings, discussion, and written assignments. Reading
selections will emphasize gender, resistance, identity, politics,
labor, cultural expression, and memory. Issues and questions
include: lives and experiences on enslaved people; what did it mean
to be an enslaved person? How did enslaved people understand their
own condition? What brought an end to the widespread use of slavery
in the Atlantic world in the nineteenth century? What was the fate
of newly freed people during Reconstruction?
WS 570 Transnational Feminisms. Three
Prerequisite: WS 530, WS 532,
WS 535 or equivalent.
This dynamic field of study works to decolonize the contested
terrain of knowledge production upon which the lives, histories, and
subjectivities of women are constituted and reconstituted within
global relations of power and privilege. Examines current
transnational feminist debates that think beyond national borders to
analyze postcolonial legacies and the impact of global capitalism
and neoliberal political economies on gendered lives.
WS 590 Women and Law. Three hours.
This seminar's major focus is the impact of the law on the status
and lives of women.
WS 592 Memory, Identity and Politics:
Gender, Race, and Class. Three hours.
This interdisciplinary course explores the ways in which memory and
the past construct political identities and the interplay of race,
class, gender, and ethnicity in its social construction through
readings, discussion, and student research. Reading selections
include core theoretical texts on memory studies and specific case
studies from the United States and the Atlantic World. Issues and
questions are: how memories are constructed, translated into
identities and political action; bases of shared memories and
contested memories; political memorialization and the effects of
collective amnesia; and how “communities of memory” are developed,
sustained, and dissolved.
WS 599 Thesis Research. Three to six hours.
The focus of this research may involve traditional or
community-related research on the student's approved thesis topic in
Gender and Race Studies.
WS 635 Seminar in Feminist Literary Criticism. Three hours.
Intensive study of the writings of one particular critic or
theorist, or an exploration of feminist criticism and theory
involving works by several key figures. This course is the
equivalent of EN 635 Seminar in Literary Criticism, when its subject
is feminist literary criticism and theory.