Tuesday and Thursday: 2:30-3:45

Sturges 103


Instructor: Prof. Rose-Marie Chierici                                               

Office: Department of Anthropology, Sturges 13

Office hours: Tuesday 11:30-1:00 and Wednesday 10:00-12:00



Teaching Interns:       Dana Fitzpatrcik




Using a feminist lens, this course explores the context of women’s lives across cultures. It offers an overview of theories that seek to explain the position of women in different societies and the connection between culture and gender roles. It places women at the center of a nexus of cultural relationships and power structures predicated on gender inequality, political oppression, economic exploitation, and ideological hegemony. The readings highlight that, as social actors, women often face difficult choices and develop creative strategies to achieve desired goals and give meaning to their lives. The readings also explore the social and cultural changes brought about by feminist movements and by globalization.



·       Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the relationship between gender and culture, the theories that seek to explain the position of men and women in different societies, the institutions that maintain gender inequality, and the range of social and cultural issues that confront women across cultures by writing two essays and a taking final examination.

·       Students will demonstrate their ability to apply the anthropological approach as well as methods and theories of the discipline by researching and analyzing gender roles, patterns of inequality, etc. in short assignments, essays, and class discussions.

·       Students will demonstrate their understanding of cultural institutions and diversity through the development of a poster and a journal.

·       Students will demonstrate the ability to compare and contrast their own culture with others from the perspective of cultural relativism (multiculturalism) in classroom discussions and class projects.



This course fulfills one course in the social science general education requirements. The guidelines for social science core courses stress the development of the following characteristics of a responsible member of society:

·       an acquaintance with major empirical, analytical, or theoretical approaches to human behavior, institutions or culture;

·       an acquaintance with social, economic, political, or moral alternatives;

·       an acquaintance with major problems, issues, institutions, practices or trends in the social world;

·       a capacity to express ideas clearly, coherently and grammatically in written form as one component of the evaluation process. This written work must total at least 1500 words, at least half of which must be prepared outside of class.



            Albert. Brothel: Mustang Ranch and its Women. Random House: 2001.

            Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman. Colonize This!: Yound women of color on today’s feminism. Seal Press: 2002.

            Holloway. Monique and the Mango Rains. Waveland: 2006. 

            Kali for Women. The Slate of Life: More Contemporary Stories by Women Writers from India. The Feminist Press: 1994


Additional readings can be found in myCourses.



The course material will be presented through lectures, discussions and films. The lectures and films will complement the readings and the discussions will highlight the connection between theory and everyday life. This course stresses cross-cultural explorations and emphasizes a collaborative and participatory approach to learning. Therefore, class discussions are a significant component of the course (you are warmly invited to join in and bring your own questions and comments) and students work in small groups for discussions and class projects. Due dates for all assignments are also indicated in the syllabus.


Besides readings assignments, course requirements include:

1)     Each group of students will be expected to lead a 20 min discussion session (worth 15% of your final grade) focusing on a specific reading or section of a book; dates will be assigned during the first week of classes.  Suggestions for a good discussion: to enhance our understanding of the topic, go beyond the reading and add material from other sources; challenge your audience to examine difficult questions; make your session interesting by coming prepared with questions and/or an activity that will involve the whole class. Your challenge is to get the class to examine a specific issue in a “big picture” and make this exercise a fun experience for all.  Activities may involve anything from a game, a skit, a short video clip, websites, personal interpretations of the topic, an examination of how theorists/critics view your topic, etc.  (Please no PowerPoints!) You can also complement class material with handouts, short readings sent to the class ahead of time, etc.  We will go over expectations and format more thoroughly in class.  Keep in mind presentations and discussion combined should take roughly 20-25 minutes.  Each group must meet with Dana or me at least a week prior to the date of their presentation. 

2)     Two Response Papers (40%). Response Papers address a set of readings and should follow this format: 1) summarize one of the major topics discussed in the readings, films and student discussions; 2) relate this topic to the theme of the class; and 3) add your personal thoughts on this topic. These papers should be short (3-4 pages) and concise. Don’t forget to cite your sources and add a bibliography.

3)     A minimum of 10 weekly postings (10%) -- write a short reflection on the week’s readings/discussions and drop it in the folder entitled Weekly Summaries in myCourses.

4)     A “Poster Session/Performance” (20%) will take place during the final’s scheduled time. This is a group project.

5)     Take home final (10%) will be returned on the day of the final (during the Poster Session).

6)     Class participation (5%) will be evaluated in several ways: participation in discussions, attendance, and short assignments.


You can earn 2 extra credit points by attending four events related to the topic of this class and writing a short summary of these events.


I strongly encourage you to keep abreast of the syllabus, attend all classes and complete assignments on time.  Late assignments will be penalized.


            1st Response Paper:  February 21           

            2nd Response Paper: March 28           

            Essay:  April 25

            Poster Session:  May 15

            Final: May 15, 3:30-6:30



Readings/assignments are due on the day indicated on the syllabus.


 1/22            Introduction and overview

                                    Discuss Course Expectations and form discussion groups.


 1/24                        Theoretical perspectives: Woman as “nature” and Woman as “other”

                                    Reading: Ortner: “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?” and Simone de Beauvoir “Woman as Other” (Reserve)

                                    Discussion questions: What are the main points that these articles make? How do Ortner and de Beauvoir’s interpretations of the subordination of women similar and different? 


1/29            Myths as models of and models for society

                        Reading: “The Book of Genesis,” Pagels, Introduction to Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, Rousseau, “Eve and Lilith: Two Female Types of Procreation” (Reserve)

                        Discussion questions: Interpret these readings through Ortner’s and de Beauvoir’s perspectives. What do you see? Do these readings illustrate behaviors, norms, and beliefs found in contemporary societies?

                        **Assignment: Bring to class an article that illustrates sanctioned or tolerated violence against women in American culture or in a foreign culture.


1/31            The role of ideologies and beliefs in creating cultures and social structures

                        Case Study: India, The Slate of Life

                        Reading:  The Slate of Life, Introduction

                        Film: Saheri’s Choice


All students will read the whole book but each group will be invited to read particular stories more thoroughly. Be prepared to provide additional information about gender roles, ethnic group, an aspect of Indian culture that the story highlights.  Tie your story to issues outlined in the Introduction to the book and to other concepts we have covered so far. The first six stories will be discussed on 2/5 and the others on 2/7.

                        Group #   is responsible to lead a discussion on Saheri’s Choice and Intro to Slate of Life.


2/5            Reading: The Slate of Life

                        We discuss the first 6 stories.

                        Group #  will discuss themes illustrated in this first set of readings


2/7            Reading: The Slate of Life

                        We discuss the last 6 stories


                        Group #  will discuss themes illustrated in the second set of readings


2/12            Case Study: Latin American Women

                        Reading: Gender in Latin America (Reserve)


                        On Thursday and next Tuesday, the class will read the three short stories assigned for discussion on that day. These readings will be on myCourses.


                        Group  is responsible to lead a discussion of short stories assigned for today


2/19            Group  is responsible to lead a discussion of short stories assigned for today


2/21            Film            

                                    ***First Reaction Paper due today


2/26                        Reproductive health and the status of women

                                    Case Study: Monique and the Mango Rains


2/28                        Reading: Monique and the Mango Rains, Introduction to chapter 4

                                    Film: Every Mother Counts


3/5                        Reading: Monique and the Mango Rains, chapters 4-9

                                    Also read this short article:


                                    Group #   is responsible for this reading           


3/7                        Reading: Monique and the Mango Rains, finish the book.

Video: Watch this video before coming to class: Birth of a Surgeon

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day


3/12                        Race, class and gender

                                    Case Study: Colonize This!

                                    Everyone will read the Introduction. We will meet in small groups to discuss selected stories in each section.

                                    Reading: Colonize This!: Family and Community


3/14                        Reading: Colonize This!: Our mothers, Refugees from a world on Fire.



                                    Spring break!



 3/26                        Reading: Colonize This!: Talking Back, Taking Back

                                    Group #  will evaluate key issues discussed by the authors featured in this anthology.


3/28                        ** TA lecture: title TBA


                                    ***Second reaction paper due


 4/2                        Conflicting roles and images of women 

                                    Reading: Brothel, chapters 1 through 3.


4/4                        Reading: Brothel, chapters 4, 5, and 6.

                                    Film: Born in Brothels

                                    Group #  will explore the pros and cons of legalized prostitution.           


4/9                        Reading: Brothel, finish reading the book.


The Business of Brothels:



4/11                        Violence against women

                                    Sex trafficking

                                    Reading:  find other readings “The Girls Next Door “and “Freeing Sex Slaves: A Year Later” (Reserve)


Plan for following two class discussions:  Tuesday is GREAT Day. On Thursday April 18, groups 1, 3, 5, and 7 will select articles dealing with violence against women. On the following Tuesday the 23rd, groups 2, 4, 6, and 8 will talk about changes that come out of protest led by women. Send links to your articles the day before your scheduled discussion.           


4/16                        GREAT Day

                                    You are required to attend some sessions


4/18                        Class discussion of cases of violence against women

                                    Reading: please read the articles that your colleagues submitted


4/23                        Class discussion on changes that have happened and changes that are happening as a result of grassroots activism and protests

                                    Reading: please read the articles that your colleagues submitted


 4/25                        Topic TBA

                                    Group # will discuss

                                    ** Essays are due today- no exceptions.


4/30                        New Reproductive strategies

                                    Reading: “Womb for Rent” (Reserve)


5/2                        Reading: Stenzel, “Gay Donor or Gay Dad?” (Reserve)


                                    Group #  is responsible for this reading


5/7                        Last day of classes                       


Final Exam: Wednesday May 15, 3:30-6:30

Poster session

Take-home final due