Gender Studies Department Profile

gender studies

What does it mean to be a woman in today’s society? What are the expectations placed upon the modern man? How do such ideas vary over time and in different cultures? Whitman College Gender Studies courses focus on gender identity and gender representation as central categories of analysis; under this rubric are included courses in women’s studies, men’s studies, and queer studies.

Courses in Gender Studies are taught within and by the faculty of many departments including art, art history, education, English, foreign languages and literatures, history, music, philosophy, politics, religion, the sciences, and sociology; there are also courses in gender studies specifically. Courses available vary each semester; for a list of offerings available for the current academic year, see the Gender Studies major in the Whitman College catalog.

Introduction to Gender Studies is required for the major and the minor. Topics in this 100-level course include the construction of gender identity and sexuality, and the relationship of gender to past and present social and cultural institutions; gendered representations in the arts and literature; and feminist and related theoretical approaches to various disciplines.

Gender Studies majors take courses in four areas: theory, history, social sciences, and humanities. In consultation with an adviser, Gender Studies majors design a concentration of upper-level courses closely related in topic or methodology (e.g., three history courses, or three courses on Latin America or on theory, from three different departments). In the senior year, Gender Studies majors take Senior Seminar, prepare a thesis, and take an oral examination on the work done for the major.

Outside the classroom, several student groups, including the Coalition Against Homophobia (CAH) and Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment (FACE), meet to discuss political, social, and cultural issues raised by questions of gender and sexuality, such as acquaintance rape, sexual harassment, equality in the workplace, and same sex marriage. Questions concerning gender, sexuality, and power arise so frequently in modern societies that Gender Studies is an essential component of contemporary education.