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About the Program

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Curricular Goals

The study of women and gender is a large interdisciplinary program, with many department-based courses. The committee on this program recognizes that much that we learn in our courses is through conversation, and we want to avoid any efforts to codify our practice in ways that seem reductive or restrictive.

We have identified these broad, shared areas of agreement to describe our practice and our syllabi for ourselves, our students and for faculty who want to cross-list courses in the program.

Not every course will use each of these principles for organizing, yet students will, over the course of the major, become familiar with these concepts.

Social construction

The Program for the Study of Women and Gender interrogates and destabilizes familiar or naturalized categories; yet in questioning these categories, we also acknowledge that these constructions have a real effect in subordinating groups and in marking bodies.

Agency, resistance

Agency and resistance are counterparts in examining the social construction of institutions, ideologies and identities.


This explains the mutual and simultaneous constitution of identities and categories such as gender, race, sexuality and nation, understood as a historical process.


We intend to historicize, localize and contextualize the experiences we study and the processes of social construction; we agree that it's important to expose students to historical periods and beliefs unlike the current moment; often we use theories from the present to illuminate the past.

Social change

Social change can be viewed as a product of history and as an effect of agency and resistance.

Representation/discourse and materiality/structure

These concepts are always in tension in shaping experience and explaining it; some courses may give more attention to some factors than to others, but both realms are crucial.


Our students should be able to think theoretically, to read and write about theoretical texts and to recognize that theory emerges from different sites (different disciplinary locations as well as local knowledges).


Interdisciplinarity is a hallmark of the field, whether in the materials we draw upon or the methods we use.


A form of advocacy studied as social movements, collectivities, networks and as a mode of critique.