What are methodologies and methods? While methodologies address the branch of philosophy that analyzes the principles and procedures of inquiry in particular fields of study, and are linked to an under-girding theoretical assumption (or epistemology), methods refer to the specific tools and techniques, or specific sets of research practices, used to conduct research. What makes the latter feminist is their utilisation via a feminist epistemology, that is their role in engaging researchers in non-oppressive politics of knowledge production and the utilisation of this knowledge in processes of social change.
This course aims to examine the nature and practice of feminist research through an investigation of both the methodologies and methods used by feminist researchers (Fall term) as well as giving students the opportunity to engage in research (Winter term). In the Fall term we will ask how feminist theory and politics shape the kinds of research questions feminists ask as well as how feminists think about knowledge production, and whether a specific feminist methodology exists. We also explore the methodological diverseness of Women’s Studies – not least between the humanities and social sciences - and how feminists have used various methods, both qualitative and quantitative, and research designs. In the Winter term students will engage in a variety of research exercises and become familiar with the practice of research techniques and ethics. The course will combine readings, class discussions, guest speakers, group work and individual assignments. Finally, the course is designed to meet the needs of Doctoral students in the Women’s Studies graduate programme, and is based on the assumption that students will come from a broad range of backgrounds with different levels of familiarity with feminist research methods.
The purpose of the course is to assist students in developing research and analytic skills appropriate for exploring the vast literature of Women's Studies and to relate it to research in their fields of interest as well as how research can relate to efforts for social change and justice.
Specific objectives (F= Fall; W= Winter):
(F) To acquaint students with current discussions of feminist epistemology, including feminist critiques of science and positivist theories of knowledge and the development of feminist epistemologies.
(F) To familiarize students with key methodological issues and debates in feminist scholarship and interdisciplinary research in both the humanities and social sciences.
(F) To encourage students to think critically about how and by whom knowledge is produced; the links between the researcher and the researched; the issues (ethical, political, epistemological, methodological) that arise in studying "others"; and the relationship of knowledge to questions of power, identity, and social change.
(F) To familiarize students with a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods such as: fiction and other creative writing genres, interviews, discourse analysis, participant observation, life histories, archival research, surveys, statistics, etc., for making visible the frequently invisible and undercounted aspects of women's lives and gendered issues.
(F) To enable students to both critique the limitations of various research methods as well as recognizing and critiquing the research method(s) in secondary sources.
(W) To enable students to identify inclusive research strategies appropriate to the topic of their studies and to formulate and write a research proposal with a clear, well-focused research methodology and to also provide a forum where students can discuss some of the methodological questions raised by their OGS and SSHRC applications as well as their comps. readings.
(W) To provide students with hands-on experience with some of the aspects of doing research, such as: conducting critical literature reviews, designing and conducting an interview, using the internet and electronic databases in research, critically interpreting numerical data from secondary sources, giving an oral presentation of research results, working in a collaborative research team, and writing a research proposal.
By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate that:
- They are well-acquainted with the nature of feminist research and a range of research methodologies and methods;
- They can engage with a critical analysis of primary research materials and are also able to recognise the most appropriate methods for conducting research in their fields of interest;
- They have an understanding of research ethics, values and power relationships.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS (Fall term)
|Participation i.e., discussion
||20% (bet. 21st Sept. – 30th Nov.)
|Short essay on feminist epistemology
|| 25% (due October 19th)
|Journal articles critique OR Methods essay
||25% (due November 30th)
| Field Methods Protocol
|| 20% (due December 14th)
The work load for this course is substantial, so it is imperative that you learn to budget your time. Not every article or assignment deserves the same amount of time and attention. One goal of this course is to help students learn to make those distinctions and act upon them accordingly - a crucial research skill!
The grading scale used in this course is as follows: there are 5 passing grades: A+, A, A-, B+, B one conditional grade, C; and one clear failing grade, F.
TEACHING METHODS AND STUDENT LEARNING ACTIVITIES
This course will focus on open, intellectual inquiry and rigorous reflection. Moreover, you will be expected to work independently outside class. For intellectual variety and to support a range of learning styles, this course combines a range of:
a. teaching methods (brief lectures, guest lectures, small and large group discussions),
b. course materials (philosophical essays, (possibly) visual media and film, theoretical analyses, methods papers); and
c. student learning activities (essays, discussion groups, individual and group exercises, and class-based and non class-based research projects).
WEB SITE AND LISTSERV FOR THE COURSE:
There is a web site for this course that can be accessed at: http://www.arts.yorku.ca/soci/lpeake/
On the course site, students will find the syllabus and pertinent messages.
There is also a list serve that has been established for this course: firstname.lastname@example.org
How Do I SUBSCRIBE to this listserv?
Address your email message to email@example.com. In the body of your email message, issue the command: SUBSCRIBE listname LastName FirstName
For Example: SUBSCRIBE firstname.lastname@example.org Peake Linda
Problems Signing Up?
If there are any other questions like how to unsubscribe students can go
to http://www.cns.yorku.ca/computing/internet/listservuser.html and find the info.
Kit of course readings. The course kit is available from me and a copy has also been put in the Nellie Langford Rowell Library in Founders.
If you have no research background at all I would also strongly recommend an introductory research text in a discipline with which you are familiar plus a basic guide to terminology such as Jupp, V. (ed.), 2006. The Sage Dictionary of Social Research Methods. (London: Sage).