2016-17 Catalogs

WGS Studies Overview

Director: Lisa Walker, 94 Bedford St., Portland
Women and Gender Studies Council: Professors: Chapkis, Feiner, Fineran, Messerschmidt, Raimon, Savage; Associate Professors: Carroll, Cole, Eagan, Kent, Kuenz, Laz, Thompson, Walker, Wininger.

The Women and Gender Studies Program offers students an opportunity to examine the lives, words, and ideas of women too often hidden from history, and to explore ways of thinking about gender. Our interdisciplinary program focuses on such issues as the gendered construction of science, women's cultural creativity, histories of gender inequality and social transformation, visual representation and popular culture, queer and transgender politics, gendered inequities in work and pay, eco-feminism and the natural environment, and critical intersections of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, class, sexuality, and gender.

As they develop skills in feminist analysis, critical thinking, and writing, Women and Gender Studies students investigate and challenge long-standing assumptions about gender and society. Students also encounter new ways of research, analysis, and communication, from community-based learning, to archival research and digital history projects. Our students often apply their theoretical knowledge through internships with local organizations and agencies. Women and Gender Studies majors are prepared for graduate and professional schools in a variety of disciplines, as well as for careers in business, in public service, and in nonprofit organizations.

Committed to an international/global perspective, the program has hosted visiting scholars from many countries, including Russia, Croatia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Scotland, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, Iraq, and Sweden. In addition, Women and Gender Studies received a federal grant to encourage cooperation between USM and women faculty in the United Arab Emirates.

Each semester, co-curricular presentations by nationally and internationally acclaimed scholars, activists, and performers enrich our classroom experiences. Recent programs include “Feminist Perspectives on Sports and Fitness,” (panel with Courtney Marshall, Erica Rand, and Alex Poulis); "Witches and Witch Hunts across the Ages" (lecture, Michele Tarter); "New Mainers" (stories of survival and arrival by Mainers from Africa, Europe, and Asia); "Damned Dreams and Dangerous Desires" (performance, Kate Bornstein); "Globalization, Social Justice, and the Environment" (lecture, Nawal El Saadawi); and poetry readings by Sonia Sanchez and Jackie Kay.

Our annual celebration of women’s history month reminds the university and the wider community of the past as well as present lives of women. Speakers have included “Building a World Where Black Lives Matter,” (lecture, Alicia Garza); “Gender Equality in a Global Economy,” (lecture, Sarita Gupta); "Labor Feminism and the Future of Women's Rights" (lecture, Dorothy Sue Cobble); and "Is God Love" (lecture, bell hooks).

Prerequisites and Grade Policy

There are prerequisites for many of the women and gender studies courses. See departmental course listings for specific information. A minimum grade of C or better is required in major/minor courses. Courses taken pass/fail must be approved by the Director.

Curriculum Summary and Guide

The Women and Gender studies curriculum is built upon a shared commitment to the principles of educational excellence and educational opportunity. It is structured to ensure that students are exposed to the sophisticated body of knowledge that now defines women and gender studies as a discipline, while allowing students the opportunity to develop skills in research, writing, and analysis. Consequently, there are prerequisites for upper-division courses. The first-year student is encouraged to complete Core curriculum requirements, including Introduction to Women and Gender Studies (WGS 101 or EYE 109) and College Writing (ENG 100). In the second year, students should take Women, Knowledge, and Power (WGS 201), followed by Contemporary Feminist Theories (WGS 390) and Politics of Difference (WGS 380). Students who minor in another discipline should also begin the suggested sequence in that year. Third-year schedules should include at least two women and gender-studies-sponsored topics courses, drawn from two of our four subject areas. Thus a student might take WGS 335 Topics in Gender and Science, Technology, and Health I, in the fall, and WGS 465 Topics in Women, Gender, and Institutions III, in the spring. Fourth-year students are required to take the Capstone Experience in Women and Gender Studies (WGS 490) and select either the internship or thesis option. These courses offer advanced experience in feminist theories, research, and practice, while allowing students to pursue their own interests under careful guidance. Students should be aware that while any course offered under these "topics" will address the general goal outlined in the catalog, the specific content of the topics courses will change from semester to semester. Course descriptions will therefore be published and distributed during the preregistration period.

To graduate from this program, the student must have:

  • completed 36 hours of required coursework, as described above;
  • attained a cumulative GPA of B- (2.67) in all required WGS courses.

Students who wish to graduate with honors in this major must:

  • maintain a cumulative GPA in WGS course work of 3.50;
  • maintain a cumulative institutional GPA of 3.00;
  • have demonstrated superior work in the thesis or internship;
  • be recommended by a faculty member who teaches courses within the program; and
  • be approved by the Women and Gender Studies Council.