The -isms: Race, Class, and Gender

Course Description

In this course you will have an opportunity to develop your own questions and to hone your abilities to think critically about the intersections of race, class, and gender with respect to a wide range of issues in the United States and in relationship to the transnational context.  While the emphases of this course are race, class, and gender, other categories of difference will be woven throughout (sexuality, gender identity, disability, etc).  We will use an interdisciplinary lens to deepen our knowledge about the following topics: social stratification; globalization and neoliberalism; the historical process of racialization; and social class, sex, sexuality, and gender across time, cultures, gender ideologies, and feminisms.  We will analyze how race and ethnicity are reproduced, maintained, contested, and resisted in social relations, institutional structures, and cultural practices.

Learning Objectives

It is assumed that, consistent with Gonzaga’s mission, students desire and are committed to working toward a more just world.  Our responsibility is to demonstrate understanding and comprehension, thoughtful consideration, dialogue, and mutual respect.  Although we may not always agree about our interpretations of the various materials, we can commit to encounter and engage course readings, course goals, and each other with openness, careful listening, honesty, and mutual respect.  The learning objectives for this course are:

Knowledge and Understanding

1) Distinguish and identify key concepts pertaining to race, class, and gender in the U.S., and contextualize these transnationally.

2) Identify and explain salient practices of gender, race, social class as well as sexuality, (dis)ability, and nationality, as these are experienced in U.S. society.

3) Recognize and explain how certain theoretical and political orientations to race, class, and gender are historically grounded and relate to activism and social change movements.

Skills: Analysis & Synthesis

5) Analyze and critique the content, theoretical orientation, and methodologies in the materials assigned for class.

6) Explore and express how your knowledge affects your actions beyond the classroom both verbally and in writing.

7) Critically apply class frameworks to in-class materials, service learning, and activist experiences.

8) Increase your capacity to synthesize materials critically in group dialogues and presentations to the class.

Everyday Life

9) Reflect on and become more critically aware of how social privilege and oppression play out in your own life.

10) Recognize the uniqueness of each individual in the context of group memberships.

Required Texts


Grades will be updated and published periodically via blackboard.  You may wish to set it to notify you when new grades are posted.  You can find a link to the gradebook on the Blackboard.

20%     Participation

20%     Daily Response

30%     2 Papers (15% each)

10%     Group Presentation

20%     Lead Class Two Times (10% each)


The TENTATIVE schedule of readings and topics is listed below.  Paper due dates are, however firm. The reading schedule is subject to change to accommodate our learning objectives.  I will notify you of any changes and update this schedule as necessary.

WEEK ONE:  Introduction

W 8/29 Introduction
F 8/31 A&C Why Race, Class, and Gender Still Matter  p. 1Lorde – The Master’s ToolsGoals Due

WEEK TWO:  Introduction                 

M 9/3 Labor Day Holiday – No Class
W 9/5 A&C 1 Madrid – Missing People and Others,  p. 16A&C 2 Sayeed – Chapels and Gym Shorts, p. 21

A&C 3 Trask – From a Native Daughter, p. 27

F 9/7 A&C 4 Torres – Label Us Angry, p. 34A&C 5 Takaki – A Different Mirror, p. 37

A&C 6 McIntosh – Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, p. 49

A&C 7 Block et al. – Race, Poverty, and Disability: Three Strikes and You’re Out!, p. 54

WEEK THREE:  History of the Categories Race, Class, Gender

M 9/10 Schiebinger – Selections of The Mind has No Sex?
W 9/12 Kaplan and Rogers – Race and Gender FallaciesFausto-Sterling – Gender, Race, and Nation
F 9/14 Gould – Measuring BodiesBB LeBesco – Quest for a Cause

WEEK FOUR:  Systems of Power & Inequality: Race & Racism

M 9/17 A&C Systems of Power & Inequality, p. 61A&C 8 Martinez – Seeing More Than Black and White, p. 85

A&C 9 Gallagher – Color-blind Privilege, p.  91

W 9/19 A&C 10 Ferber – What White Supremacists Taught a Jewish Scholar, p. 96A&C 11 Kibria – The Contested Meanings of “Asian-American”, p. 100

A&C 12 Gans – Race As Class, p. 110

F 9/21 Lipsitz – Possessive Investment in Whiteness

WEEK FIVE:  Systems of Power & Inequality: Class & Inequality

M 9/24 A&C 13 Scott & Leonhardt – Shadowy Lines That Still Divide, p. 117A&C 14 Acker – Is Capitalism Gendered and Racialized?, p. 125

A&C 15 Jacobs & Morone – Health and Wealth, p. 134

W 9/26 A&C 16 Oliver & Shapiro – Sub-prime as a Black Catastrophe, p. 138A&C 17 Lifting as We Climb, p. 143
F 9/28 Ransby – Katrina, Black WomenFilm: Tim Wise – The Pathology of White Privilege

WEEK SIX:  Systems of Power & Inequality: Gender and Sexism

M 10/1 A&C 18 Zinn, et al. – Sex and Gender through the Prism of Difference, p. 151A&C 19 Ortiz Cofer – The Myth of the Latin Woman, p. 160

A&C 20 Harvey – Becoming Entrepreneurs, p. 165

W 10/3 A&C 21 Barber – The Well-Coiffed Man, p. 176A&C 22 Connor et al. – The Culture of Black Femininity and School Success, p. 187
F 10/5 Bederman – Remaking Manhood

WEEK SEVEN:  Systems of Power & Inequality: Ethnicity and Nationality

M 10/8 A&C 23 Snipp – The First Americans: American Indians, p. 194A&C 24 Rubin – “Is This a White Country, or What?”, p. 201

A&C 25 Waters – Optional and Ethnicities, p. 209

W 10/10 A&C 26 Bank Muñoz – A Dream Deferred, p. 218A&C 41 Hondagneu-Sotelo – Families on the Frontier, p. 348

Phizacklea – Women, Migration

F 10/12 Mohanty and Alexander – Genealogies, Legacies, MovementsPaper 1 Due

WEEK EIGHT: Systems of Power & Inequality: Sexuality and Heterosexism

M 10/15 Founders Holiday – No Class
W 10/17 A&C 27 Collins – Prisons for Our Bodies, Closets for Minds, p. 224A&C 28 Katz – The Invention of Heterosexuality, p. 231

A&C 29 Gill – An Intersectional Analysis of ‘Sixpacks’, p. 243

Mid-Term Self-Evaluation Due

F 10/19 A&C 30 Han – Darker Shades of Queer: Race and Sexuality at the Margins, p. 251A&C 31 Brennan – Selling Sex for Visas, p. 258

A&C 39 Weston – Straight Is to Gay As Family Is to No Family, p. 335

WEEK NINE: The Structure of Social Institutions: Work & Family

M 10/22 A&C The Structure of Social Institutions p. 265A&C 32 Amott & Matthaei – Race, Class, Gender, and Women’s Works, p. 277

A&C 33 Andersen – Seeing in 3D, p. 286

W 10/24 A&C 34 Williams – Racism in Toyland, p.  293A&C 35 Bertrand & Mullainathan – Are Emily and Greg More Employable …?, p. 300

A&C 36 Weissinger – Gender Matters, So Do Race and Class, p. 305

F 10/26 A&C 37 Thornton Dill – Our Mother’s Grief: Racial-Ethnic Women and Families, p. 314A&C 38 Gerstel – Rethinking Families and Community, p. 327

A&C 40 Childs – Navigating Interracial Borders, p. 340

WEEK TEN:   The Structure of Social Institutions: Media and Pop Culture

M 10/29 Collins – Mammies, MatriarchsA&C 43 Dubrofsky – The Bachelor: Whiteness in the Harem, p. 369
W 10/31 A&C 42 Boyd – White Flight in Networked Publics?, p. 355A&C 44 Churchill – Crimes Against Humanity, p. 379

A&C 45 Mantsios – Media Magic: Making Class Invisible, p. 386

A&C 46 Malveaux – Gladiators, Gazelles, and Groupies, p. 394

F 11/2 Ray – A 21st Century “Hottentot Venus”?Karkazis et al – Out of Bounds

Monroe – Gender Fraud

WEEK ELEVEN: The Structure of Social Institutions: Education

M 11/5 A&C 47 Orfiled & Lee – Historic Reversals, Accelerating Resegregation, p.  399A&C 48 Theoharis – “I Hate It When People Treat Me Like a F***-up”, p. 408

A&C 49 Jensen – Across the Great Divide, p. 416

A&C 50 Pérez – How a Scholarship Girl Becomes a Soldier, p. 423

W 11/7 Election Debrief, Readings TBD
F 11/9 No Class

WEEK TWELVE: The Structure of Social Institutions: Gender, the State, and Violence

M 11/12 A&C 53 Wriggins – Rape, Racism, and the Law, p. 448A&C 54 Meyer – Interpreting and Experiencing Anti-Queer Violence, p. 456
W 11/14 A&C 51 Silliman – Policing the National Body: Sex, Race, and Criminalization, p.  434A&C 52 Alexander – The Color of Justice, p. 443

Fine and Weis – State Violence Against Women

F 11/16 Chang & Thompkins – Corporations Go to PrisonsShaylor & Davis – Prison Industrial Complex

WEEK THIRTEEN:  Health and Environment

M 11/19 A&C 58 Balasubramanian – Sustainable Food and Privilege, p. 493Hynes – Consumption: North American Perspectives

Principles of Environmental Justice

WEEK FOURTEEN:  Pulling it All Together

M 11/26 A&C Pulling it All Together p. 467A&C 55 Taft – We Are Not Ophelia: Empowerment and Activist Identities, p. 471

A&C 56 Ulen – Tapping Our Strength, p. 477

A&C 57 Comstock –  “Whosoever” Is Welcome Here, p. 484

W 11/28 A&C 59 Kelley – How the New Working Class Can Transform Urban America, p. 495A&C 60 Bunch – Women’s Rights as Human Rights, p. 503
F 11/30 Smith – Using the Master’s House to Dismantle the Master’s ToolsRE-READ: Lorde – The Master’s Tools

WEEK FIFTEEN:  Women of Color Feminist Theories

M 12/3 Collins – The Social Construction of Black Feminist ThoughtTrask – Feminism and Indigenous Hawaiian Nationalism
W 12/5 Yamada – Invisibility is an Unnatural DisasterAnzaldua – La Conciencia de la Mestiza
F 12/7 Lorde – The Uses of AngerPaper 2 Due

WEEK SIXTEEN:  Wrapping it Up

Th 12/13 Group PresentationsSelf-Evaluation Due