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COURSE NAME: "Introduction to Gender Studies"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2023

INSTRUCTOR: Alessandra Chiricosta
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 11:30 AM 12:45 PM

Gender Studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines gender and sexuality. This course offers an introduction to historical and current debates taking place within gender studies. Students will explore historical and contemporary feminist, masculinity and queer theories, paying close attention to both local and global issues, and learning the tools for critically engaging issues related to gender.

The course will adopt an intersectional perspective which illustrates how relationships between systems of oppression surrounding race/ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality, ability, age, and citizenship are interconnected and historically bound. As an introductory course, it is designed to offer a range of interdisciplinary tools and methods for understanding and analyzing issues at stake.

The course will consider a wide variety of texts—from personal narratives and historical documents to films and cultural criticism across a range of disciplines. Sudents will develop tools to critically analyze the ways in which social and cultural forces shape us as gendered individuals in the context of the world in which we live.

TEXTBOOK: There is no required textbook.  Course readings will be made available to students.

Selected readings will be taken from these and other sources:

Gender Studies

  • Michael Kimmel and Amy Aronson (2017). The Gendered Society Reader, 6th Edition, Oxford University Press. 

  • Fixmer-Oraiz, N., & Wood, J. T. (2019). Gendered Lives (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage. 

  • Kang, Miliann (2012). Introduction to Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies. University of Massachusetts - Amherst

  • Eckert, Penelope and McConnell-Ginet, Sally. (2013). Language and Gender. Second Edition. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Rajunove and Duane, Nonbinary, Columbia University Press, 2019

  • Selected articles

- Le Guin, Ursula. “Is Gender Necessary? Redux,”  In The Language of the Night: Essays on Fantasy and Science Fiction, edited by Susan Wood. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992. 160.; 

 Mohanty, C. "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses" , in BoundariesVol. 12, no. 3 - Vol. 13, no. 1, On Humanism and the University I: The Discourse of Humanism. Duke University Press, 1984

-  Chakravorty Spivak, G. "Can the Subaltern Speak?" in Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present,  1999.

- Crenshaw, K. "Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex:A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics", University of Chicago Legal Forum, Issue 1, 1989

- Lugones, M. "Toward a Decolonial Feminism" in Hypatia, vol 25, n.4, Fall 2010

- Lugones, M. "The Coloniality of Gender" In: Harcourt, W. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Gender and Development. Palgrave Macmillan, London. 2016

- Segato, R.L. "A Manifesto in Four Themes" Critical Times, Vol.1, 2018

- Butler, J. "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory" .Theatre Journal, Vol. 40, No. 4. (Dec., 1988), pp. 519-531

- Haraway, Donna J.."A Cyborg Manifesto" in Manifestly Haraway, University of Minnesota Press, 2016


At the end of the course, students should achieve the following:

  • Demonstrate an introductory understanding of the field of gender studies, and apply interdisciplinary methodologies for understanding and analyzing sex, gender, and sexuality in culture.

  • Develop a critical understanding of feminist, transfeminist and queer approaches to the social and cultural construction of gender and sexuality, and their complex intersections with other social, cultural, and biological categories, including but not limited to sex, race, ethnicity, class, nation, sexuality, ability, and age. 

  • Cultivate a language framework for thoughtfully articulating the critical vocabulary in the field of gender studies.

  • Develop critical thinking skills towards a deepened understanding of how social, cultural, and biological categories shape our lives, and our understandings of the world.


Midterm paper Students will be required to answer to questions related to topics discussed in class 30%
Final paper Students will be required to write a seven page research paper investigating a subject of interest to them agreed upon in advance with the professor 30%
Presentation Students will present a summary of their final papers to their peers 10%
Weekly reading reflections Students will submit two 350 word reading responses and reflections in response to all readings and film unless otherwise noted. Instructions for each response will be given in class. 30%
Attendance and Participation Students are expected to be fully present and participative during class lectures and discussions. 10%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.



(final version will be made available in class)


Week 1. What is Gender? Introduction to the Course

Week 2. What is Gender Studies? History and Key Concepts

Week 3. First and Second Waves of Feminisms. Theories and movements in the United States and Europe (with a glance at other countries). "Is Gender Necessary?"

Week 4. Gaining a Global Dimension. Transnational Women's Movement and the UN Women's Conferences

Week 5.The third wave. Intersectionality. Gender, race, class and the limits of “white suburban feminism”

Week 6. Post-colonial  Feminism 1. Traditional and modern ideas of gender through a postcolonial lens. Spivak's Epistemic Violence

Week 7. Post-colonial Feminism 2. The creation of the "Third Word Woman" according to Chandra Talpade Mohanty

Week 8. Review and Midterm exam

Week 9.Queer Theory. Judith Butler's Performativity of Gender

 Week 10. Gender and the Post-Human. Cyborgs and Companion Species

Week 11.The Fourth Wave of Feminism. Theories and Global Activism

Week 12. Decolonial Feminisms1. Maria Lugones

Week 13. Decolonial Feminisms2.  Rita Segato