Introduction to Women's Studies  WMST 2500B


Session: F/W 1999-2000




Course Directors: Caitlin Fisher/Any François
Tutorial Leaders: Any François/Liz Millward

Lectures:  Tuesdays, 11:30-1:30                                                    
Location: 204 York Hall


  • Tutorial 1 1:30 rm 245A
  • Tutorial 2 2:30 rm 245A
  • Tutorial 3 1:30 rm 245B
  • Tutorial 4 2:30 rm245B

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Required Texts

1. Roberta Hamilton, Gendering the Vertical Mosaic: Feminist Perspectives on Canadian Society. 

2. Barbara Findlen,  Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation.

3. Reading kit

4. Toni Morrison, Beloved

5. One additional novel for a novel studies project. See assignments.

6. Additional material available on our website

Suggested but not required:

Thinking it Through: A Practical Guide to Academic Essay Writing. Academic Skills Centre, Trent University, 1989

The Journal Project: Dialogues and Conversations Inside Women's Studies. Second Story Press, 1995.

Web Page


Many compulsory readings for this course are available only through this website.  In addition to readings, copies of all assignment handouts, review sheets and some lecture notes will be made available to you on-line. The website will also connect you to style guides, tips on essay writing, administrative and academic resources and community events – check it out!   A library information session will be arranged near the beginning of class to familiarize you with the library and the Internet.  York provides free dial-up accounts for students.




Unit 1. What is Women's Studies?  Interdisciplinary perspectives on women and feminist strategies


Sept. 7         Introduction                                         

                                           Course outline and design

                                           Introducing ourselves

                                           Assignments and expectations

                                           Tutorials meet next week


September 11

Black family day at York university:  The York university Black Students' alliance invites students and their families to the second annual black family day celebration, September 11, 1999 10 am to 6 PM Vanier field (in front of Vanier college, behind student centre).  For more information call (416) 736-2100 ext. 60272 or E-Mail yubsa@yorku.ca


Sept. 14 Lecture: Patriarchal knowledge and feminist challenges   (CF)              



Adrienne Rich  “Taking Women Students Seriously” in Gendered Subjects, the Dynamics of Feminist Teaching (kit)

Linda Carty -- Black Women in Academia (kit)

Veronica Chambers, Betrayal Feminism Listen Up

web resource:

Roberta Buchanan, Changing Our Minds: the Impact of Feminism on the Academy, a Personal View


Organizing tutorials  & sign up for novel studies project

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Sept. 21 Lecture: Defining Oppression (AF)

Reading: Marilyn Frye "Sexism" in The Politics of Reality (kit)
Iris Marion Young  "Five faces of Oppression" (kit)

Sept. 28 Lecture: What is feminist theory ? (CF/AF)

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Reading:  Roberta Hamilton "Feminist Theories" [Ch. 1]

Adrienne Rich "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" (kit)

Mary Eagleton "The Politics of Location" (kit).

Judy Sayles, “Why I want a Wife”
web resource: pocket guide to feminist theories

Group Presentation: Book of Eve

Note: this week students will attend information sessions at the library during their assigned tutorial slot. You will learn how to access the online library catalogue, how to search the Internet, and how to explore our class web site.

Oct 5 Lecture:  Feminism and anti-racism (CF and AF)


Philip, Marlene N.,  "Looking for Mr. Livingstone" (kit).                                                                             

Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider  "The Uses of  Anger: Women Responding to Racism" (kit).

Hazel V. Carby, "White women listen! Black Feminism and the boundaries of sisterhood" (kit).

Mary “Things I’m gonna stop doing with my white privilege” (kit)

Ruth Frankenberg “Points of Origin, Points of Departure” White Women/Race Matters (kit)


Group Presentation: Marlene Nourbese Philip, Harriet's Daughter

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Unit 2. Roots of  struggle


Oct 12 History of the Women's Movement I: the subjection of women (AF)
Reading: Roberta Hamilton, Ch.5 p 139-151
Declarations of Sentiments and Resolutions, Seneca Falls (kit)
John Stuart Mill  The Subjection of Women (kit)

Web resource: Distinguished Women of Past and Present

Group presentation:  Room of One’s Own

Reading Strategy Sheet Due

Oct 19 History of the Women's Movement II : the second wave (CF)
Reading: Roberta Hamilton, Ch.5 p 151-177
Ellen Neuborne "Imagine my surprise" Listen up

web resource: Marge Piercy: Consciousness raising guidelines for a Radical feminist Collective (1970)

Group presentation: Valerie Solanis, Scum Manifesto




Oct. 26 Film: Kanesetahke (AF)

Reading: Colonizing Mohawk Women: Representation of Women in Mainstream Media RFR 20(1 and 2) 1991(kit)
Hamilton "Colonization and Dispossession" [ch 4 113-121]
web resource:  Aboriginal super information highway

NOTE: this film is slightly over 2 hours and will be shown in its entirety -- this means both tutorial sessions will begin late and be slightly shorter this week.

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 Nov. 2 Lecture: Kanesetahke:  resistance  (AF) 

Reading: Shirley Bear with the Tobique Women’s Group “You can’t change the Indian Act” (kit)

"Tides, Towns and Trains" (kit)

Web Resources: Native Canadian Women Writers Published in English

Report on 'Kanesetahke spiritual gathering'


Group presentation: In Search of April Raintree

Nov 9 Lecture: Women in Legends, Myths and Symbols (CF)

Reading: Robin M. Neidorf "Two Jews, Three Opinions" Listen Up
Andrea Dworkin, "The fairy tales" (from Woman-hating) (kit)

Bhargavi C. Mandava, “Ghosts and goddesses”  Listen up
Patricia Hills Collins, "Mammies, Matriarchs and other controlling images" (kit)

The creation and Fall of Man and Woman: Genesis (kit)

web resource: Lilith web site

Group Presentation: Woman  Warrior

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Nov 16 Historical perspectives on Female Sexuality (CF)

Reading: Foucault History of Sexuality vol 1 "We other Victorians" (kit)
Martha Vicinus "They wonder to which sex I belong: the Historical Roots of the Modern Lesbian Identity" (kit)
Ellen Carol DuBois and Linda Gordon, Seeking ecstasy on the Battlefield: Danger and Pleasure in 19th century Feminist Sexual Thought" Feminist studies 9(1) (kit)

web resource: The influence of Foucault's History of Sexuality on modern studies of sex and gender.

Group presentation: Henrik Ibsen, A Doll's House
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Unit 3. Contemporary Issues

Nov 23: Contemporary perspectives on Female Sexuality I 

Film: She's Gotta Have It

Readings: Carol Vance, "More Pleasure More Danger: a Decade After the Barnard Sexuality Conference" (kit).
Rebecca Walker, "Lusting for Freedom" Listen up
Sonia Shah "Tight jeans and Chania Chorris" Listen up
Hattie Gossett, "Is it true what they say about colored pussy?" (kit)
(these readings repeat next week)

Annotated Bibliography Due

Nov 30 Contemporary perspectives on Female Sexuality II(AF)

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Review: Carol Vance, "More Pleasure More Danger: a Decade After the Barnard Sexuality Conference" (kit).
Rebecca Walker, "Lusting for Freedom" Listen up
Sonia Shah "Tight jeans and Chania Chorris" Listen up
Hattie Gossett, "Is it true what they say about colored pussy?" (kit)

Dec 6th is the last day of classes this term.  It’s also the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (watch for commemorative events around campus)  


happy holidays    


Jan 4  Sex, Lies and the Global Economy (AF)

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Film:  Sex, Lies and the Global Economy

Reading:  Marilyn Waring, If Women Counted  Introduction and  Prologue (kit).

ILO report (kit)

Web resources: women and development website: “Women are half the world's people, one third of the official workforce and do two-thirds of the world's workhours. Yet they receive only one-tenth of the world's income and own less than one-hundredths of the world's property.” UN Source

feminists against sweatshops:

"Women make up 90 percent of sweatshop laborers. The majority of these women are between the ages of 15 and 22. Companies that use sweatshop labor to increase their own profit margins are taking advantage of predominantly young women."

Jan 11   Globalizing Feminism  (AF)

Reading: Ofelia Schutte Cultural Alterity: Cross-Cultural Communication and Feminist Theory in North-South Contexts (kit)

Loraine Code How to Think Globally: Stretching the Limits of Imagination (kit)

Linda Archibald and Mary Crnkovich "Intimate outsiders: Feminist Research in a Cross Cultural Environment (kit)
web resource: virtual sisterhood

Group presentation:   Edwidge  Danticat,  Krik? Krack


A text by E. Danticat (the author of this week's novel) about the history of resistance amongst Haitian women,

and its invisibility, etc. is available online!

E. Dantikat: We Are Ugly but We Are Here

Jan 18  The Social Construction of Gender I : your life as a girl (CF)

film: Still Killing Us Softly or Dreamworlds

Reading:  Social effects of some contemporary myths about women, Ruth Hubbard in Woman's Nature (kit)

Emily Martin The Egg and the Sperm (kit)
"Your Life as a Girl", Curtis Sittenfeld Listen up

web resource: girl clothes in a box

Jan 25 The Social Construction of Gender II: the Social Production and Reproduction of Femininity (CF)

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Film: Body Beautiful

reading:  Dorothy Allison “A Question of Class” Talking about Sex, Class and Literature(kit)

Mariana Valverde, “Lesbianism a country that has no Language” Sex Power and Pleasure 1985

Jennifer Reid Maxcy Myhre “One bad hair day too many”  Listen up

Elissa Nelson Girl Picnic (kit)

review: Adrienne Rich "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence" (kit)

web resource: Eroticize my fist: Asian webzine

Group Presentation: Boys Like Her

Feb 1 Image and Representation (AF)


bell hooks “Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexuality in the Cultural Marketplace” (kit)

Myra Macdonald, "From Mrs. Happyman to Kissing Chaps Good-Bye: Advertising Reconstructs Femininity (kit).

Marion Blackwell-Stratton "Smashing Icons: Disabled Women and the Disability and Women's Movements" (kit).

Abra Fortune Chernik “The body politic”  Listen up

Nomy Lamm “It’s a big fat revolution” Listen up

Hamilton “Representation and Subjectivity” [ch 6]

Group Presentation: Wide Sargasso Sea

web resource: Adbuster's 'Obsession' campaign (take a look!)

Feb 8  Technology and Space (LM)

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Readings:  Helen Humphries Leaving Earth (excerpt)  (kit)

Gillian Rose,  Feminism and geography:  the limits of geographical knowledge (kit)

web resources:  Women In Aviation Resource Center

The history of women and technology: Quotes, comments and on-line resources


N.B: Feb 10th – last day to drop classes without receiving a grade.


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Unit 4. Women and Cultural Production

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Feb 22 Towards a history of Women in the  Arts (CF)

readings: Linda Nochlin "Why Have there been No Great Women Artists?" (Kit)

web resources: 

  • Guerrilla Girls Women artists/activists who make posters about discrimination: "conscience of the artworld"
  • Orlan page"Orlan is a French performance artist whose most recent work is herself. Entitled The Reincarnation of Saint Orlan, she has since May 1990 undergone a series of plastic surgical operations to transform herself into a new being, modelled on Venus, Diana, Europa, Psyche and Mona Lisa."
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Feb 29 (leap!)  Film and Feminists (CF)

film:  selection of shorts

Reading: Annette Kuhn “The Production of Meaning and the Meaning of Production” Women’s Pictures: Feminism and Cinema

bell hooks “The oppositional Gaze: Black Female Spectators” Black Looks: Race and Representation  (kit).

Julia Lesage, "The Political Aesthetics of the Feminist Documentary Film" (kit).

Web Resource:  women and film noir

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March 7  Lecture: Toni Morrison and Beloved (AF)

Reading:  Beloved

Web resource:  Toni Morrison -- short biography

iwd.gif - 91844 Bytes March 8th is International Women’s Day!   Plan to attend IWD events on and off campus.

March 14  FILM: Beloved (AF)

NOTE: this film is over 2 hours and will be shown in its entirety -- this means both tutorial sessions will begin late and be slightly shorter this week.

Major project due

March 21: Where do we go from here? Review (AF/CF/LM)

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Reading: Christine Doza “Bloodlove” Listen up

Wendy Brown  “The Impossibility of Women’s Studies” (kit)

Web Resource:  The Third Wave:   Feminism for the next millennium

Marge Piercy Poem

2nd term journal due

March 28: in class exam


March 31: end of term