Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Feminist Theory

Comparative Women’s Studies 471: Feminist Theory in Practice

Spring 2008


                      Instructor Moya Z. Bailey

Class meets: 6:00 pm - 8:40 pm Wednesday 217 2nd Floor Cosby

Office Hours: by appointment only

Email: mzbaile@emory.edu (Use this address only, all email will be read between 9-5 on weekdays)



Course Description

This course will introduce students to major tenants and thinkers in feminist theory. Specific attention will be paid to feminist theory produced by women of color and theorists that students will encounter in graduate school. Students will also generate their own feminist theories that are grounded in their experiences and future goals.

Goals and Objectives

Students will

  • Learn theoretical concepts in feminism
  • Familiarize themselves with major theorists, particularly theorists of color
  • Develop their own theories
  • Apply what they’ve learned to real life situations

Required Texts

Feminist Theory: A Reader by Wendy Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski

Additional readings will be provided


  1. Weekly blog post and response (20%)
  2. Active participation in class discussions (15%) (preparation, reading books/articles, attendance, etc.)
  3. Activist practicum (20%)
  4. Manifesto Project (25%)
  5. Assigned discussion leadership (15%)
  6. Sustainable classroom efforts (5%)

Class Blog

All students will post 11 weekly blog entries that reflect their reaction to the required reading material and shows a connection to larger issues happening in the world. You will be graded on the evolution of your responses over the course of the class as well as your ability to draw parallels between class material and local/global events. Each entry should be at least two paragraphs. Blog entries must be posted no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesdays. Students must also comment on another classmate’s entry once a week. By the end of the semester students must have 11 posts and 11 responses. Students are expected to read each others responses. Students who go beyond this minimum may receive extra credit. FYI- Blogs are a public forum so other people from around the world can drop in our class conversations and will. Be prepared for this. http://scfemtheory.blogspot.com/

Class Participation

Students must participate in classroom discussions. To do so students must be present. Students can miss one class without penalty. Students must submit in writing their reason for being absent before it occurs and must still turn in the week’s assignment. Any absence beyond one will result in a percentage decrease from your class participation grade. Tardiness is unacceptable. Excessive tardiness will result in a percentage decrease from your class participation grade.

Activist Practicum

Students must participate in and/or observe an activist oriented group or organization through out the semester dealing with issues of race, class, gender, and/or sexuality. This could include volunteering at the Feminist Women’s Health Center or participating in their programming, attending a SisterLove healthy love party, or getting involved in Spelman organizations like Afrekete or FMLA. Early in the semester students will submit a proposal on their possible practicum action and at the end of the semester a presentation on the experience. I will meet with each student to discuss the dimensions of the presentation as they develop. Students should spend at least 5 hours participating/observing over the course of the semester. You will be graded on your ability to connect the class material to the experience in your presentation.

Class Assignments

All assignments are detailed on the syllabus or on the web. Late work will receive a letter grade deduction for each day it is late. It is your responsibility to alert me in writing (an e-mail) when you will miss class and how you intend to make up the lost time.

Manifesto Project

Students will create their own manifesto, a paper detailing their theoretical outlook and beliefs about the world. The papers should be 10 or more pages in length, excluding bibliographic references. Students may opt to present the paper in a format other than a paper presentation such as a documentary video, Zine, power point etc. upon conference with the professor. Alternative projects must maintain the same level of scholarly rigor of the academic paper and students opting for this option will help the professor in the development of grading rubric for their project.

Assigned Discussion Reading

During the semester student pairs will be assigned one day to facilitate a class discussion. You are responsible for guiding the class through the assigned reading for that day as well as fostering discussion for an hour of class time. You should also integrate blog comments and/or related information from the media. Provide a bio sketch of the authors of the articles you are assigned including a list of their major works, theoretical perspectives, and critiques of their work. Students may sign up for a day on the class calendar. You may use handouts, powerpoint, or a medium of your choice to engage the class.

Sustainable Classroom Efforts

We will attempt to tread a little lighter on the planet, at least in the context of this classroom. Papers, assignments, and grades will be submitted electronically and you are encourages to use both sides of the page if you prefer for print assignments and handouts. Recycling backs of paper is encouraged, as well as students’ suggestions of other sustainable practices that can be employed in the class.

Extra Credit

Students may attend events detailed on the Class Calendar for this class and write a two page reflection on the event. Other extra credit opportunities will be announced in class.


A 100 – 94

A- 93 – 90

B+ 89 – 87

B 86 – 84

B- 83 – 80

C+ 79 – 76

C 75 – 73

C- 72 – 70

D 69 – 64

F 64 – Below

Any students who feel they may need academic adjustments and/or accommodations should speak with me during the first two weeks of class. All discussions will remain confidential. Students with disabilities should also contact the Office of Disability Services.

Academic Honesty and Classroom integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with the Academic Honesty policy of the college. If you have any questions, be sure to come see me during office hours or send me an email. You are also expected to be respectful of your classmates. Many of the issues discussed are highly contested and your opinions will often differ so it is important that everyone is courteous with their contention.

Reading and Discussion Schedule

1. Introduction (1/16)

  1. Hey! How are you? Who are you? Why are you here?
  2. Syllabus

2. Sex


  1. “The Importance of Feminist Critique for Contemporary Cell Biology.” by THE BIOLOGY AND GENDER STUDY GROUP http://zygote.swarthmore.edu/fert11a1.html
  2. Sandra Harding, “From the Woman Question in Science to the Science Question in Feminism” (1986)


  1. Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century”
  2. Evelyn Fox Keller, “Making Gender Visible in Pursuit of Nature’s Secrets” (1993)

    3. Gender


    A. Judith Halberstam, “Transgender Butch: Butch/FTM Border Wars and the Masculine Continuum” from Female Masculinity

    B. Judith Butler, from Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990)

    C. Woman Identified Woman


    D. Beyond Beats and Rhymes, The Aggressives, and/or Paris is Burning

  1. Excerpts from Gender Talk
  2. Activist Practicum Proposal Due

4. Sexuality


    A. “Towards a Genealogy of Black Female Sexuality: The problematic of Silence.” By Evelyn Hammonds

    B. Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan, “Global Identities: Theorizing Transnational Studies of Sexuality” (2001)

    C. “Sexuality” from Toward a Feminist Theory of the State (1989) by Catherine MacKinnon

    D. Something New and/or Daddy’s Little Girls


D. Ann Koedt, “The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm” (1970)

    E. Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” (1980) from Blood, Bread, and Poetry (1984)

    F. Scum Manifesto

5. Race


  1. Patricia Hill Collins, “Defining Black Feminist Thought” (SW)
  2. Combahee River Collective, "A Black Feminist Statement"



  1. Anna NietoGomez, “Chicana Feminism” (1976)
  2. Mitsuye Yamada, “Asian Pacific American Women and Feminism” (1981)
  3. Norma Alarcon “The Theoretical Subject(s) of This Bridge Called My Back and Anglo-American Feminism”
  4. Winona LaDuke, “Mothers of Our Nation: Indigenous Women Address the World” (1995)

6. Disability


  1. Rosemarie Garland-Thomson. (Bb) “Integrating Disability, Transforming Feminist Theory”
  2. “The Social Construction of Disability.” by Susan Wendall
  3. “Bodies Out of Bounds: Fatness and Transgression Editor’s Introduction”
  4. Cancer Journal Excerpts

(4/2) Guest Lecturer

7. Class


    A. Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards, “Third Wave Manifesta” from Manifesta (2000)

    C. Chapter 2 of Race, Gender, and Work

    D. Movie Assignment

8. Globalization


  1. “No Remedy for the Inuit: Accountability for Environmental Harms under U.S. and International Law.” by Anne E. Lucas
  2. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, "Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses"
  3. Uma Narayan, “Contesting Cultures: Westernization, Respect for Cultures, and Third-World Feminists”
  4. Cynthia Enloe, “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions” Maneuvers: the International Politics of Militarizing Women's Lives

9. Presentations and Wrap Up

(4/23) Activist Practicum Presentations

(4/30) Manifesto Presentations

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