Feminist Thought

Course Description

This course examines the major strands of feminist thought.  Though our primary focus will be on Western and American feminisms, we will situate these within global feminist thought by including non-Western thinkers from inside and outside the United States.  We will begin the semester by building an understanding of the global history of feminist thought by grounding our study in the theories and movements toward women’s equality starting in the 17th Century and working toward the mid-Twentieth Century.  We will then examine several varying types of US/Western feminisms which deal with identity, difference, boundaries, and epistemology from the 1970s to the present.

Key questions include:  What is feminism?  How are sex and gender social constituted?  What does it mean to say that gender and sexuality exist on a continuum rather than as a dichotomy?  How have feminists approached women’s emancipation and empowerment?  What theoretical frameworks structure feminist movements?  What is gained/lost when a particular political framework is adopted?  Who is included/excluded?  Who benefits from such inclusions/exclusions?  How are gender identities mediated by our other class, race, or other categories of difference?   What is intersectionality and how is it useful for building a more just world?  What would a gender just world look like?

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. Students will be expected to “claim their education” and stretch their thinking in a variety of ways during the course of the semester.  The learning objectives for this course are:

Knowledge and Understanding

1)     To achieve a deep understanding of the theoretical basis of varieties of feminist thought.

2)     To differentiate between different manifestations of feminism and their connections to social movements.

3)     To historicize feminisms and feminist theorists within the social, political, geographic, and economic contexts in which they emerged.

4)     To develop an understanding of how gender has been used by feminist theorists as an analytical lens to make sense of social relations, political dilemmas, and to make a case for social justice.

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)     Increase your capacity to synthesize materials critically (identify common themes and political frameworks that support traditions of feminist theories) in group dialogues and written expression.

8)     To analyze the ways feminists have (or have not) articulated interlocking dimensions of heterosexism, racism, ableism, nationalism, capitalism, globalization, transphobia, fat-phobia, in addition to sexism.

9)     To use gender and gendered experience as analytical lens in social analysis and to generate new ideas about how such analyses may be used to better understand social relations, solve political dilemmas, and advance social justice.

Everyday Life

10)  Reflect on and become more critically aware of how the personal and political and the political is personal in your own life.

11)  Recognize the ways in which gender and other categories of oppression and privilege shape your life experience and the experience of those around you in our class, in the community, the country, and the world.

12)  Reflect on the ways that feminist thought has shaped the way you understand your own life.

Required Texts


Grades will be updated and published periodically via blackboard.

30%     Participation (In-class and online)

30%     Weekly Response Papers

30%     Final Paper

10%     Final Presentation


The TENTATIVE schedule of readings and topics is listed below.  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 M&K – Introduction, p. 1

M&K – Section I: Groundings and Movements: Introduction, p. 13

Freedman – Introduction, p. 1

Goals Due

WEEK TWO:  Introduction

M 9/3 Labor Day – No Class
W 9/5 Lugones & Spelman – Have We Got a Theory for You!
F 9/7 Crenshaw – Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK THREE:  Groundings & Movements, Continued

M 9/10 Freedman 3 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz – The Reply to Sor Philotea, p. 15

Freedman 6 Li – Flowers in the Mirror, p. 37

W 9/12 Mass of the Holy Spirit – Class Cancelled
F 9/14 Freedman 5 Wollstonecraft – A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, p. 24

Freedman 11 Mill – The Subjection of Women, p. 73

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK FOUR: Groundings & Movements, Continued

M 9/17 Freedman 14 Ibsen – The Doll’s House, p. 92

Freedman 15 Toshiko – Daughters in Boxes, p. 99

W 9/19 Freedman 9 Stanton – Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, p. 57

Freedman 10 Truth – Two Speeches, p. 63

F 9/21 Freedman 16 Engels – The Origin of the Family, p. 104

Freedman 18 Cooper – A Voice from the South, p. 116

Freedman 21 Amin – The Liberation of Women, p. 145

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK FIVE: Groundings & Movements, Continued

M 9/24 Freedman 27 Capetillo – Mi Opinión, p. 186

Freedman 24 Goldman – The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation, p. 168

W 9/26 Freedman 30 Du Bois – The Damnation of Women, p. 204

Freedman 31 Sanger – Woman and the New Race, p. 211

Freedman 37 Ransome-Kuti – We Had Equality till Britain Came, p. 247

F 9/28 Freedman 38 de Beauvoir – The Second Sex, p. 251

Freedman 40 Friedan – The Feminine Mystique, p. 269

M&K 11 – No More Miss America!, p. 90

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK SIX: Groundings & Movements, Continued

M 10/1 M&K 5 Kreps – Radical Feminism 1, p. 46

M&K 13 The Combahee River Collective – A Black Feminist Statement, p. 106

W 10/3 M&K 6 hooks – Feminism: A Movement to End Sexist Oppression, p. 51

M&K 16 Feinberg – Transgender Liberation, p. 133

F 10/5 M&K 7 Delphy – Rethinking Sex and Gender, p. 58

M&K 9 Kandiyoti – Bargaining with Patriarchy, p. 80

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK SEVEN: Theorizing Intersecting Identities, Continued

M 10/8 No Readings – Day for Synthesis
W 10/10 M&K Section II: Theorizing Intersecting Identities, p.147

M&K 17 Jordan – Report from the Bahamas, p. 160

M&K 24 Rushin – The Bridge Poem, p. 252

F 10/12 M&K 25 Anzaldúa – La Conciencia de la Mestiza, p. 254

M&K 26 Pratt – Identity: Skin, Blood, Heart, p. 563

M&K 28 Lorde – I am Your Sister, p. 276

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK EIGHT: Theorizing Intersecting Identities, Continued

M 10/15 Founders Holiday – No Class
W 10/17 M&K 23 Wittig – One is Not Born a Woman, p. 244

Mid-Semester Self-Evaluations Due

F 10/19 M&K 18 Hartmann – The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism, p. 169

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK NINE: Theorizing Intersecting Identities/ Feminist Knowledge, Agency, and Politics

M 10/22 M&K 30 – Matsuda – Beside My Sister, Facing the Enemy, p. 291
W 10/24 No Readings – Day for Synthesis
F 10/26 M&K Section III: Theorizing Feminist Knowledge, Agency, and Politics: Intro., p.303

Freedman 55 Rich – Notes Toward a Politics of Location, p. 367

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK TEN: Theorizing Feminist Knowledge, Agency, and Politics, Continued

M 10/29 M&K 31 Hartstock – Feminist Standpoint, p. 316
W 10/31 M&K 32 Narayan – The Project of Feminist Epistemology, p. 332
F 11/2 M&K 35 Haraway – Situated Knowledges, p. 370Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK ELEVEN: Theorizing Feminist Knowledge, Agency, and Politics, Continued

M 11/5 M&K 33 Collins – Defining Black Feminist Thought, p. 341
W 11/7 Sandoval – U.S. Third World Feminism the Theory and Method
F 11/9 Anzaldua – La Facultad

M&K 42 Moya – Chicana Feminism and Postmodernist Theory, p. 463

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK TWELVE: Theorizing Feminist Knowledge, Agency, and Politics, Continued

M 11/12 Mohanty – Under Western Eyes
W 11/14 M&K 41 Mohanty – Under Western Eyes Revisted, p. 446
F 11/16 M&K 20 Abu-Lughod – Orientalism and Middle East Feminist Studies, p. 203

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK THIRTEEN: Theorizing Feminist Knowledge, Agency, and Politics, Continued

M 11/19 M&K 37 Mani – Multiple Mediations, p. 390

WEEK FOURTEEN: Theorizing Feminist Knowledge, Agency, and Politics, Continued

M 11/26 M&K 38 Bartky –  Foucault, Femininity, p. 404
W 11/28 M&K 39 Butler – Performative Acts and Gender Constitution, p. 419
F 11/30 M&K 43 Walters – From Here to Queer, p. 482

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK FIFTEEN: The Third Wave?

M 12/3 M&K 44 Ong – Sisterly Solidarity, p. 503
W 12/5 M&K 45 Ndlovu – Out of Now-here, p. 521

Freedman 57 Guerrilla Girls, p. 391

Freedman 58 Hanna – Riot Grrrl Manifesto, p. 394

Freedman 59 Walker – Becoming the Third Wave, p. 397

F 12/7 M&K 27 Sayeed – Chappals and Gym Shorts, p. 270

M&K Baumgardner & Richards – Manifesta

Reading Response Paper Due

WEEK SIXTEEN: The Future of Feminist Theory

M 12/13 Final Presentations in class

Final Paper Due

Final Self-Evaluation Due