Our women’s and gender studies minors gain a rich understanding of gender as a social construct – then use that understanding to break new ground in their personal and professional lives.

Women’s & Gender Studies Course Offerings

WMGS 110 / HUMA 110 Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
This introductory course will focus on one central question: What difference does gender make? By examining a variety of texts (articles, novels, film, popular culture), we will learn not only how to analyze issues of power, gender and identity, but we will also relate those issues to the wider world around us. Specific thematic units include socialization, violence, work, the female body, language, sexuality, motherhood and the family, race, globalization, and voices from the third wave of feminism.

WMGS 206 / ENGL 206: Sexuality and Literature: Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender Texts – GS 5
When Lord Alfred Douglas famously said, “I am the love that dare not speak its name,” he articulated a conundrum in gay identity: How do you tell your story when it is unspeakable? This introduction to the lesbian, gay and transgender tradition in literature tackles this question among others. The course focuses on 20th-century U.S. texts, examining how sexual identity, along with race, class and gender, changed over the course of the 20th century.

WMGS 260 / SOCI 260 Gender and Culture
What is gender and how is it related to culture? This anthropology course takes a cross-cultural look at the concept of gender, examining men’s and women’s roles, masculinity, femininity and sexuality as they are expressed around the world. Particular attention will be given to gender as it relates to popular forms of culture and everyday life. Both the history of anthropological studies of gender and new directions in the field will be introduced. Extensive use of films, videotapes and student-directed projects. Spring semester, alternate years.

WMGS 268 / RELS 268 Sexuality, Intimacy and God
This course will examine the ethics of intimate and sexual relationships in light of Christian theological and scriptural traditions as well as reason (including social scientific sources) and contemporary human experience. Specific topics under examination will include “hookup culture” on contemporary college campuses; the social construction of gender and sexual expression; unmarried sexuality; same-sex relations; contraception; abortion; and sexual violence. We will engage various theological, philosophical, natural and social science sources, including imagery in the popular media, traditional Roman Catholic teaching, “revisionist” theological perspectives, and feminist insights regarding the body, sex, and human relationships more generally.

WMGS 309 / HIST 309 Women in Latin America
This course examines the diverse experiences and roles of women in Latin American history from the Spanish Conquest to the present. While emphasizing national, ethnic, racial and class diversity, the course also addresses common themes in these women’s lives such as cultural ideals and norms, work and economic influence, marriage and family, and participation in civic and political life. Additionally, in the shrinking global village, women everywhere are increasingly involved in and connected by international issues such as cultural imperialism, human rights and the global economy. International issues will be explored and comparisons with women in other regions of the world will be made. Alternate years.

WMGS 311 / ENGL 311 Women and Literature
Exploring literary texts by women, we will examine how the construction of “woman,” sex and gender has changed over time and investigate how it intersects with issues of race, class, sexuality and nation. By using feminist literary theory, we will engage with the most pressing issues in the field, from early ideas of a particular women’s literary voice to contemporary claims that challenge female authorship altogether. Special topics may include contemporary women writers, gender and the 19th-century novel and ethnic women writers. Authors may include Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich, Gloria Anzaldua, Audre Lorde, Bharati Mukherjee, Dorothy Allison, Edwidge Danticat and Marjane Satrapi. Alternate years.

WMGS 318 / RELS 318 Feminist Theology – GS 1 (Upper)
This course introduces students to feminist theology as a theology of liberation, examines its foundations in feminist theory and Christian revisionist sources and explores its contributions to the Christian, especially the Catholic, faith tradition.

WMGS 324 / RELS 324 Women in the Bible – GS 1 (Upper)
This course uncovers the untold and often troubling stories about women in biblical literature. The material provokes thought and dialogue regarding the biblical writers’ perspectives on gender, sexuality and personhood. Students will learn new methodologies of analyzing gender and sexuality in order to rethink long-held social norms. We will regularly reflect on how biblical representations impact the roles of women and men in contemporary society.

WMGS 335 / HIST 335 Women and Work
This course examines the topic of women and work historically, with attention to change over time in the work histories of African and American women. Throughout, we will explore women’s working lives in the context of the gendered social norms within which they have lived. Within this general framework, the course will examine types of occupations such as domestic work, prostitution, farming, agricultural work, market trading and professional/ managerial work. The course will also explore the intersections of work with marriage and parenting and the effects of race and class upon women’s working lives. Alternate years.

WMGS 351 / HIST 351 Women, Gender and Imperialism
From the 1850s through the 1950s, Western women played significant roles in British colonies in Africa and India in the fields of education, public health and missionary work. These woman believed that they could improve the lives of non-Western women by acculturating them to the norms of their own middle-class, Western and Christian lives. The course will explore how these women tried to reshape key social institutions in Africa and India such as marriage, parenting, medical practices and religion. This course will also explore how the women and men these individuals came to “civilize” in turn shaped the cross-cultural encounter through their powerful reactions to the often unwelcome acculturating messages they received. The course draws upon historical materials and autobiographical, literary, missionary and travelers’ accounts to investigate these events. Spring semester, alternate years.

WMGS 360 / HUMA 360 Feminist Theory
This course takes a sociology of knowledge approach to the development of feminist theory from the 18th century to the present. The variety of modern and postmodern feminist theories are placed in social, political and historical context. Primary source examples of each school of thought are read, applied and evaluated. Because feminist thought has been a response to the conditions of women throughout history, women’s oppression at various points in history will be covered. Prerequisite: Instructor’s consent. Alternate years.

WMGS 359 Women and Islam – GS 11
Since medieval times, nothing about Islam has perplexed the West more than the role of women. Students at St. Norbert College often graduate with limited knowledge of Islam and stereotypes of women within Islam. We consider the current Western view of Muslim women as victims before reading translated Islamic texts on gender and historical evidence of Muslim women’s religious and social activities since the sixth century. We will look at these texts from various points of view, including the feminist. Attitudes toward the body – involving sexuality, purity, fertility and seclusion – will be examined in a comparative context. Finally, how are current Muslim women scholars and activists bringing about new identities for Muslim women worldwide?

WMGS 490 Independent Study
This course allows staff and students to explore together topics of special interest. Prerequisite: approval of the women’s and gender studies advisory committee.

WMGS 494 Internship in Women’s and Gender Studies
This internship experience allows students to apply their studies in a supervised work situation. Students benefit from an inside look at different kinds of organizations by having a chance to work in their field of study and by gaining experience with state-of-the-art equipment and practices. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and instructor’s consent.

Alumna Perspective

“The first two courses I took toward my minor [in women’s and gender studies] changed the way I thought about literally everything around me, helping me describe and contextualize things I’d instinctively felt since I was young. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue more than the minor the college offers in the field.

When I realized that taking four women’s and gender studies classes while studying abroad would help toward fulfilling the 10-course requirement for a major and still allow me to graduate in May 2011, I talked with Dr. Crowley, my academic advisor and the women’s and gender studies program director, about proposing an individualized major.”

Kellie Herson ’11