POLSC303: Feminist Politics

Course Syllabus for "POLSC303: Feminist Politics"

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Comprehending the role that feminism has played in identifying, critiquing, and, at times, altering the distribution of political and economic power is integral to understanding democratic citizenship and government.  In this course, we will examine the history of feminist thought, beginning in the late eighteenth century and continuing through the early twenty-first century.  An overarching goal of this course is to encourage you to develop and shape your own concepts and ideas about feminist political thought as a potent and multifaceted global force.  In working toward this goal, we begin the course by defining feminism and engaging with some of the cultural and political stereotypes of feminism and feminist thinking in contemporary politics and popular culture.  Next, we explore the history of feminist thinking.  We conclude by examining current topics in feminist politics. Throughout the course, we will examine and discuss questions important to feminist politics, such as citizenship, political participation, and political rights; work and family; reproductive rights and birth control; gender representation in the media; and finally, the role of gender in militarism and national security.  In considering each topic, we will draw on historical analysis and seek to consider the variety of women’s experiences.  Though this course will focus on feminism in the U.S., we will also attempt to incorporate international perspectives on women and feminism. Finally, it is important to note that our course materials are, by their very nature, political.  They are not, however, political in a narrowly partisan sense.  Feminist theory does presume that gender inequality is unjust.  Nevertheless, you are free to challenge and disagree with this presumption, just as you are encouraged to critically evaluate all of the arguments advanced in materials presented in the course.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Explain what feminist theory is, and describe the breadth, depth, and variety of feminist approaches.
  • Identify key feminist theorists from the Enlightenment era through the Suffragist movement into contemporary political theory, and describe their respective arguments.
  • Identify the key issues in each “wave” of feminism.
  • Identify the explicit and implicit ways in which gender influences the distribution of political and economic power.
  • Critically evaluate the way in which gender influences the portrayal of political candidates in the media.
  • Evaluate existing political and cultural stereotypes of feminist politics and feminists more generally, based on key historical and contemporary feminist readings in academia, journalism, and popular culture.
  • Apply feminist theories to engage and critique contemporary political arguments.

Course Requirements

In order to take this course you must:

√    Have access to a computer.

√    Have continuous broadband Internet access.

√    Have the ability/permission to install plug-ins or software (e.g., Adobe Reader or Flash).

√    Have the ability to download and save files and documents to a computer.

√    Have the ability to open Microsoft files and documents (.doc, .ppt, .xls, etc.).

√    Be competent in the English language.

√    Have read the Saylor Student Handbook.

Course Information

Welcome to POLSC303.  Below, please find general information on this course and its requirements.
Course Designer: Amy Gangl, and Professor Angela Bowie
Primary Resources: This course is composed of a range of different free, online materials.  However, the course makes primary use of the following materials:

Requirements for Completion: In order to complete this course, you will need to work through each unit and all of its assigned materials.  You will also need to complete the Final Exam.  In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the Final Exam.  Your score on the exam will be tabulated as soon as you complete it.  If you do not pass the exam, you may take it again.
Time Commitment: This course should take you a total of approximately 107.75 hours to complete.  Each unit includes a “time advisory” that lists the amount of time you are expected to spend on each subunit.  It may be useful to take a look at these time advisories and determine how much time you have over the next few weeks to complete each unit and to then set goals for yourself.  For example, Unit 1 should take you 20.75 hours to complete.  Perhaps you can sit down with your calendar and decide to complete subunit 1.1 (a total of 4.5 hours) on Monday night; subunit 1.2 (a total of 4.25 hours) on Tuesday night; etc.
Table of Contents: You can find the course's units at the links below.