Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGS)

College of Liberal Studies
Department Co-Chair: Deb Hoskins and Jodi Vandenberg-Daves
423A / 424 Wimberly Hall,
(608)785-8714 or (608)785-8346
email: hoskins.debo@uwlax.edu or


Professor: Krajewski, S., Vandenberg-Daves;
Associate Professor: Hoskins;
Co-faculty: Anderson, Bratina, Caravella, Chavalas, Crutchfield, Delgado, Denlinger, Dickmeyer, L., Giddings,  Jessee, Lloyd, Manrique, Miller, C.D., Morgan, Niedzwiecki, Oyster, Rees, Scherwitz, Sullivan, S., Williams, Wycoff-Horn;
Self-Sufficiency Program (SSP): Sullivan, A.

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Courses in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) provide students with new perspectives on the roles of women and men as individuals and as participants in society across cultures.  Based on research and analysis by WGSS scholars, courses examine how social structures, ideals, stereotypes, mores, and institutions shape people as gendered and sexual beings and in terms of their access to power.  Courses also examine how people have responded to limitations systematically organized around gender as it intersects with race, class, sexual orientation, colonization, ethnicity, and other social hierarchies and explore solutions to contemporary problems.  Because of its emphasis on communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving, WGSS courses are valuable in a broad range of employment settings.  WGSS programs include courses within the interdisciplinary department as well as specialized courses in many other departments across the university. 

Self-Sufficiency Program (SSP)

In addition to the following courses, the department of women’s, gender, and sexuality studies sponsors the Self-Sufficiency Program (SSP). This program, which concentrates on critical reading, writing and thinking, prepares low-income parents for successful college work. Classes meet one night per week and child care is provided. For more information, call the director of the Self-Sufficiency Program at 608.785.8733.

Women’s Studies Major

(All colleges excluding teacher certification programs) — 33 credits – 24 credits must be 300 - 400 level; courses may not count in more than one category. Admission to the major requires a grade of “C” or higher in the courses taken for the introductory and transnational categories. Students majoring in women’s studies and another major must satisfy requirements for both majors; no more than six credits can count for the women’s studies major and another major or minor.

Category I: Introductory: three credits from WGS 100, 210, 230

Category II: Transnational: three credits from WGS 215, 373, 410; HIS 360, 386

Category III: Intimacy, Sexuality, and the Family (six credits): WGS 270, 375; WGS/HIS 305, 376, 410; CST 334; HED 472; PHL 240; PSY 305, 318; SOC 370

Category IV: Gender Stratification (six credits): WGS 230, 255, 259, 301, 320, 340, 370, 374, 376; ANT 250; ARC/HIS 372; ECO 336; ENG 220; HED 412; POL 205; SOC 338

Category V: Feminisms/Social Change (six credits): WGS 225, 370, 371, 373, 450; WGS/SOC 375; ENG 385, 482; PHL 324; SAH 307

Category VI: Theory and Practice (nine credits): WGS/HIS 315; WGS 390, 499

Women’s Studies Minor

(All colleges) — 24 credits – courses may not count in more than one category.

Category I: one course from WGS 100, 210, 230; WGS 499

Category II: nine credits minimum from WGS classes, with at least six credits at the 300-level or above: WGS 210, 215, 225, 230, 240, 250, 255, 259, 270, 300, 301, 315, 320, 330, 338, 340, 370, 371, 373, 374, 375, 390, 410, 450; WGS/ HIS 305, 376

Category III: nine credits minimum from classes in other departments: ANT 250, ARC 372, CST 334, 338, ECO 336, EFN 485, ENG 220, 385, 482; HED 412, 472; HIS 301, 315, 359, 360, 370, 371, 372, 386; HIS/ WGS 305, 376; PHL 240, 324, 494; POL 205; PSY 305, 318; SAH 307; SOC 338, 370, 375

+ next to a course number indicates a
General Education

+ WGS 100 Cr. 3 Gender, Race, and Class in American Institutions

This course provides an introduction to how gender, race and class have intertwined over time to produce women’s social roles and status in American culture. The creation, transmittal, interpretation and institutionalization of gender roles will be examined using family and kinship, the educational system, the media, work, government and the health care system. The course provides a critical, interdisciplinary perspective on scholarship which omits or distorts the female experience. Offered Fall, Spring, Summer.

+ WGS 210 Cr. 3 Women’s Voices/Women’s Culture

An examination of how women have expressed female experience in a variety of forms, including fiction, autobiography, oral traditions, and song. By analyzing women’s words and forms of self-expression, students will explore what is individual and what is common in women’s lives, and will learn tools for understanding female experience and culture. Offered occasionally.

WGS 215 Cr. 3 Transnational Women’s Issues

An introduction to women’s issues across nations, continents, and cultures. Students will examine women’s status and power, their cross-cultural differences, reproductive rights, paid and unpaid labor, participation in religion, politics, sexuality, their country’s stand on gender-based violence, the effects of globalization and gender equality movements on women. The course will also study how common issues create connection for women and how these common issues and gendered challenges provide the basis for transnational feminist movements. Offered Fall

WGS 225 Cr. 3 Women and Leadership

This course investigates women’s leadership and develops students’ leadership skills. Students will examine women’s under-representation in formal public positions of power while also evaluating the strengths women can and do bring to leadership, and the emerging possibilities for women’s’ leadership capacity in a rapidly changing world. Special attention will be paid to women’s changing roles in the workplace. Students will critically evaluate leadership models, especially as they pertain to gender, race, and class. Offered alternate years.

+ WGS 230 Cr. 3 Women’s Diversity: Race, Class and Culture

This course explores the diversity of women’s experience in America as it has been affected by race, ethnicity, class, and other factors, and the effects of gender on women of different groups. Issues that have united and divided women in movements for social change are also addressed. Offered alternate years.

WGS 240 Cr. 3 Contemporary Women’s Issues

Contemporary women’s issues will provide the student with an overview of women’s studies scholarship from the late 1960’s to the present. Contemporary theory, social change movements, and women’s lives will be integrated in order to examine the relationship between theory and practice in women’s studies. Offered occasionally.

WGS 250 Cr. 1-3 Topics in Women’s Studies

Intermediate and interdisciplinary analysis of a social issue, idea or institution from the perspective of women and women’s studies. Repeatable for credit. Department approval is necessary to apply more than three credits toward the WGS minor. Offered occasionally.

WGS 255 Cr. 1 Women in the Military

This course will provide students with an understanding of the struggles and successes of women’s lives in the U.S. Military. Beginning with an historic overview of women’s changing roles in the military, it will proceed to analyze the reasons for the limitations to women’s equal participation. Finally, the course will recognize the accomplishments of women in the military.  Offered Spring even-numbered years.

WGS/PSY/ESS 259 Cr. 1 Girls and Women in Sport

An introduction to the involvement of girls and women in sport. Topics include a historical perspective on women’s sport participation, cultural images of women athletes, physiological and psychological benefits of sport participation as well as negative correlates, teaching and coaching implications of current research, Title IX, and recreation/leisure approaches to physical activity. (Cross-listed with ESS and PSY, may only earn credit in ESS, PSY, or WGS.) Offered annually.

WGS 270 Cr. 3 Women and Friendship

An examination of women’s friendships historically, psychologically, sociologically, and politically in the context of a sexist, racist, classist, and homophobic culture. Beginning with defining friendships in women’s lives and continuing through a woman’s life span, the course will go on to examine how sociocultural changes have interrupted women’s friendship in the past and the present. Women’s friendships with women, men, kin, and mentors will be examined. Lastly, women’s friendships will be explored as a way to reconstruct community. Offered alternate years.

WGS 300 Cr. 1-3 Independent Study

Topics to be selected by the individual instructor or by the student and instructor together. The topics must relate to women’s experiences and/or issues. Prerequisite: WGS 100 and consent of the department chair. Repeatable for credit – maximum six. Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.

WGS/HIS 301 Cr. 3 Women in the Modern United States: 1890-Present

This course introduces students to key issues in modern women’s history in the United States. It explores women’s experiences as workers, activists, consumers, citizens, and family members. It also examines the various ways in which generations of Americans have defined “woman’s place” and “women’s issues,” and raises questions about the possibility for defining common women’s issues today. (Cross-listed with HIS, may only earn credit in WGS or HIS.) Offered alternate years.

WGS/HIS 305 Cr. 3 History of Motherhood in the U.S.

This course considers motherhood in nineteenth and twentieth century United States history from a variety of perspectives. It explores women’s experiences as mothers, across lines of race, class, and relationship status. It also examines the politics of motherhood in U.S. history, and considers both the restrictive and the empowering dimensions of ideologies of motherhood. (Cross-listed with HIS, may only earn credit in WGS or HIS.) Offered alternate years.

WGS/HIS 315 Cr. 3 History of Feminist Thought

An examination of the history of feminist ideas in the United States and the historical context, both western and international, from which they emerged. (Cross-listed with HIS, may only earn credit in WGS or HIS.) Offered alternate years.

WGS 320 Cr. 3 Violence Against Women

This course will examine from an interdisciplinary perspective, the connections between violence against women and the power distributions within our society. Three specific types of violence against women will be examined in-depth: sexual assault, incest and battering. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, EFN 205. Offered alternate years.

WGS 330/530 Cr. 1-3 Topics: Women, Gender and Society

Interdisciplinary analysis of a social issue, idea, or institution from the perspective of women and women’s studies. Prerequisite: One of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, EFN 205 for undergraduates only. Repeatable for credit – maximum nine . Department approval is necessary to apply more than three credits toward the WGS minor. Offered occasionally.

WGS/SOC 338 Cr. 3 Sociological Aspects of Work and Life

This course will explore the sociological impact of work and life demands in contemporary American society. Special emphasis will be given to how gender, sexual orientation, social class, race and ethnicity, and family structure affect individuals’ ability to balance the demands of work and life. Prerequisite: SOC 110, 120 or 200 or ANT 101. (Cross-listed with SOC 338; may only earn credit in SOC 338, WGS 338 or PSY 444.)  Offered occasionally.

WGS 340 Cr. 3 Women, Learning and Knowledge

An analysis of how women’s learning experience has been and continues to be limited by conceptions of gender, race, and class. Through an examination of how knowledge is acquired and how society defines knowledge, students will come to a better understanding of how women can “reclaim” their educations. Prerequisite: One of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, EFN 205. Offered alternate years.

WGS/HIS 370 Cr. 3 The History of Black Women’s Activism

An historical overview of the thoughts, actions, and creative products of Black women activists in the United States, from slavery to the present. Students will examine historical analyses, speeches, essays, economic activities, organizational styles, political issues, and various forms of artistic expression that women of African descent have produced in order to query, resist, and defy the interlocking oppressions of racism, sexism, and classism in the United States. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, EFN 205, ERS 100. (Cross-listed with HIS, may only earn credit in WGS or HIS.) Offered alternate years.

WGS/HIS 371 Cr. 3 Women, Agriculture and the Environment

Beginning with the ancient notion that the earth was both alive and female, a concept indigenous to western as well as other cultures, this course will examine subsequent ideas that have historically shaped attitudes and actions toward women and the earth, especially as those values and actions have affected agriculture in the U.S. The course will examine such topics as the roles of women as builders of community in the rural world; the impact of the industrializing of the production of food and fiber on concepts of femininity; the development of the modern corporate state and its impact on women and agriculture; and how women and men are working to re-shape the way we see, think about, and act on, and interact with the earth. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, EFN 205. (Cross-listed with HIS, may only earn credit in WGS or HIS.) Offered alternate years.

WGS 373 Cr. 3 Gender and Human Rights

This course will provide an overview of transnational women’s human rights movements in a variety of locations around the world. Included in this overview will be the study of women’s political participation as a human rights issue; women’s bodily integrity as a human right; violence against women and reproductive sexual health and rights; human rights as a framework for social and economic and gender justice; and human rights as (quasi) legal accountability; UN agreements, treaties and venues of redress. Prerequisite: one of the following:  WGS 100, 210, 215, 230, EFN 205 or ERS 100. Offered Fall odd-numbered years.

WGS 374 Cr. 3 Women, Poverty and Public Policy

The course analyzes the historical underpinnings to the creation and evolution of welfare with special attention paid to the ways gender, race, and class oppression have shaped welfare in the past and today. Wage differentials, occupational segregation, unpaid work, and gender violence are discussed in relation to the construction of poverty. How poverty affects the lives of poor women and their children also is be explored. Current welfare policy will be analyzed and suggestions for reform based on current research is developed by the class. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, POL 205, PSY 318, EFN 205. Offered alternate years.

WGS/SOC 375 Cr. 3 Lesbian Studies

Examines the social construction of sexual orientation and its meaning for women and women’s equality. The course draws on a range of sources, including scientific research, history, literature, psychological theory, and popular culture. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, WGS 210, WGS 230, EFN 205. (Cross-listed with SOC, may only earn credit in WGS or SOC.) Offered alternate years.

WGS/HIS 376 Cr. 3 History of Childhood in the United States

This course explores the vast diversity of children’s experiences in American history, while also examining contemporary issues for children. The course explores historical change in the socialization, experiences, economic, cultural and social positions of children. It also examines change and continuity over time in our cultural ideals of childhood and children’s rights. Offered alternate years.  

WGS 390 Cr. 3 Social Justice Research Methods

Students will engage in the process of strategizing social justice research methods in a variety of settings such as (a workplace, neighborhood, campus, and beyond). Course activities organize around the processes behind social change: strategic analysis, organizing, action planning, and evaluation, developing students’ ability to create the knowledge necessary for complex problem-solving. Students learn and use the quantitative, qualitative, and critical research methods necessary to inform decisions at each step along a generalized pathway to change. Students going on to graduate school and students entering the workforce in a variety of fields like social work, community organizing, communication, and management will benefit from this course. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, EFN 205, ERS 100; plus nine additional credits in courses approved for WGSS. Offered annually.  

WGS 410 Cr. 3 Women’s Issues in the Third World

A broad overview of women’s issues in AALA (Africa, Asia, and Latin America), this course will investigate the impact of colonialism, unilateral economic imperialism, and multinational corporations on women’s traditional roles in AALA and explore the processes that have produced both women’s and feminist movements in these regions of the world. Exploring the meaning of women’s movements in international politics following the Mexico City, Nairobi, and Beijing conferences, the course will analyze relationships between women in the U.S. and the women of AALA. Topics might include: the international economic power of U.S. women as consumers, international labor issues and organizing, environmental issues for U.S. and AALA women, and the challenges of AALA feminisms. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, EFN 205, and another 300-level WGS course or cross-listed course. Offered occasionally.  

WGS 450 Cr. 1-6 Internship in Women’s Studies

The internship is an academically relevant field experience for minors in women’s studies which combines women’s studies scholarship with practical experience. The field experience will be supervised by the women’s studies staff. Prerequisite: junior standing and six credits of women’s studies and a minimum 2.50 GPA. A maximum of three credits will be counted toward the minor. Repeatable for credit – maximum six.  Offered Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer.  

WGS 499 Cr. 3 Seminar in Women’s Studies

Intensive interdisciplinary study of particular areas in women’s studies. Topics will be chosen by the instructor and the students. Prerequisite: one of the following: WGS 100, 210, 230, and at least two other courses approved for the women’s studies major or minor, and declared women’s studies major or minor. Offered Fall.