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Women, Gender & Representation

Students studying Sylvia Plath in class

Explore your interests in women in politics and history, intersectional feminism and race in literature and beyond. All of the courses in this program give attention to historical context and use an intersectional analytical framework.

Program Dates: July 24–August 6, 2022

The Smith Precollege Programs must comply with regulations of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and be licensed by the Local Board of Health (LBOH).


Smith Precollege is offering in-person opportunities for summer 2022. We do not plan to offer remote summer opportunities at this time.

Program Details

Women, Gender & Representation Tuition

Tuition: $4,285 | Deposit: $850

To learn more, see the Apply to Summer Programs webpage.


Courses in this program include discussions of nonbinary and transgender embodiment and grapple with the production of gender and its relationship with racialization, gender oppression, queer resistance and structural violence. All of the courses in this program give attention to historical context and use an intersectional analytical framework.

Women, Gender & Representation Schedule

July 24–August 6, 2022

Classes Monday–Friday

Morning Classes

Shaping a New World: Analyzing Race, Gender and Feminism in Science Fiction for a Better Tomorrow

Rebellious Women in History

Representing Queer and Trans Life

Afternoon Classes

Playing Like a Girl? Gender in Sport

Women in Rock

Reproductive Rights, Justice and Archival Knowledge



Fiona Maurissette

Course Description

This class is for students who recognize that we need a paradigm shift and want to change the world. What kinds of futures have you been made aware of through science fiction and fantasy texts, and how can you use your analyses to create change in the world? In this class, you will be a world builder. This is an interdisciplinary course that examines feminist science and speculative fiction narratives as political texts that critique society’s racial and gender hierarchies. By analyzing science and speculative fiction texts, you will find inspiration for your own constructions of the future. Your words will push the boundaries of what others believe is possible. You will produce a project about how to make our world better. Join others in suspending disbelief and believing in your power to promote change.  Writers may include Adrienne Maree Brown, Octavia Butler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Nalo Hopkinson, Shirley Jackson, N.K. Jemisin and Sheree Renée Thomas.

We want to foster an open and welcome community of thinkers and learners. This class will support you in sharing your ideas and thoughts while keeping in focus that not everyone in the class has the same background.


Tanya Pearson

Course Description

Smith College and the surrounding area are home to unparalleled archival collections and cultural heritage institutions that offer an immersive experience in women’s history. During your time in the course, we will explore women’s lives through archival research, tapping into this wealth of resources on campus. With a focus on women and social change, you will be introduced to women who have altered the course of American history through reform, mobilization, cultural interventions and outright rebellion. We’ll gather insights about women who’ve made a difference—what inspired their passion and dedication to women’s equality, and how their words and actions changed the possibilities for women. We’ll explore various time periods and social justice movements, paying close attention to both the ideas and the strategies of key thinkers.

Our class time will be a mixture of conversation, small group work and archival research. We may do an off-campus excursion if time permits.


Jess Pfeffer

Course Description

Representation matters, particularly for folks who are pushed to the margins of society. For queer and trans folks, representation is growing in popular culture, but is representation enough? And what do these growing types of representation tell us? This course is for students who want to learn how to read media and the world around them, who want to ask questions about what we see and what we don’t see, and who want to imagine new forms of representation. We will read queer and trans theory, look at TV, film and graphic novels, and produce our own frameworks and pieces that move beyond how representation has been and consider what representation could be. Authors might include Susan Stryker, Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Gabby Rivera and Reina Gossett; possible media might be episodes of Pose and One Day at a Time or films such as Some Like it Hot and San Junipero. 


Anna Baeth

Course Description

Playing Like a Girl: Gender in Sport explores questions around gender and the involvement of all women in sport, physical activity, and exercise in the United States. Drawing from various texts, podcasts, videos, current events, and our especially our own experiences, we interrogate the histories of women in sport and physical education and use critical feminist theories to decipher the ways sport creates, supports, and resists dominant ideologies of inequality. This course will focus on the creation and legacy of women's sports, patterns of inclusion and exclusion in sport with particular attention to women of color and gender nonconforming athletes, and the social construction of gender, race, and sexuality in sport. This course is experiential and students may be asked to participate in some light activity which will be accessible and available for every body. 


Tanya Pearson

Course Description

The cultural narrative of popular women musicians offers a unique view from which to study American history. In this course, students will explore the Women of Rock Oral History Project, a collection of digital interviews and written transcripts documenting the lives and careers of women-identified musicians, analyze their oral testimony, and identify emerging threads, topics and themes. Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of the history of women in rock, develop a greater understanding of their impact on culture, society and politics, gain a greater sense of women’s lives and the pervasive ways in which women musicians address societal issues, and develop and refine skills in critical thinking, discussion and writing.

The tools we will be using are: Moodle, YouTube (Women of Rock Oral History Project YouTube channel), SquareSpace and a podcasting software. We will work individually and in small groups, and the class will consist of exploring the Women of Rock archive, outside research and Zoom visits with Women of Rock Oral History Project narrators.


Amy Howe

Course Description

In recent years, U.S. state legislatures are working to restrict and protect reproductive health in efforts to gear up for a potential Supreme Court debate about Roe v. Wade. How do we understand the histories of these reproductive and sexual health debates today? How are they located within larger historical conversations about gender, race, equity, and community belonging? In this course, we will look at selections from contemporary legislative debates alongside materials about reproductive health and justice collected and accessible through the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History at Smith College. This collection is a rich archival repository and includes material such as the Activist Life Oral History Project, the Black Women’s Health Imperative Records, the National Latina Health Organization Records, and a number of personal archives of well-known feminist thinkers and activists. Students will leave this course with curiosity about how historical conditions, social movement materials, and critically-informed questions shape contemporary possibilities and projects for our gendered and gender-nonconforming bodies and experiences.