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Instructor: Hoover (Fall 2006)

Texts    Content    Objectives    Requirements    Schedule
There are no texts to buy in the bookstore (you are now $70.00 richer--you can buy all those philosophy books, you've been just dying to read).  Most course materials will be available as electronic texts through the course website.  Our texts will be an assortment of materials, articles, excerpts, clippings, etc. from many different sources and will be posted throughout the term on the "Assignments" page of the course website. These texts are not to be read on-line, but are made available so that each student can print their own copy of each text and bring to class.  These texts will be made available as ".pdf" files which can be read and printed by Adobe Acrobat Reader (all computers on campus should have Acrobat Reader already installed).  Due to copyright issues, these texts will only be accessible on Coe's intranet.

In this course we will explore an area of philosophical study that has only recently emerged as a distinct field within philosophy (during the past twenty-five years).  This field does not have very clear boundaries and can be approached in a variety of ways, it could focus on historical writings in philosophy by women which were underappreciated or it could focus on feminist criticism of traditional philosophical content. I have chosen to approach this topic in yet another way by examining several aspects of feminist “theory”.  Feminist theory is, briefly, the attempt to understand and to criticize the way in which  power and knowledge is structured by gender differences.

The first part of the course is centered around the issues of understanding what feminist theory is and what its motivations are.  Since this is a philosophy course we will be studying feminism not from a historical or sociological perspective, but from a theoretical perspective—what are the intellectual commitments that underlie feminist projects.  At the beginning we will focus on the concerns and interests that unite and motivate feminist theory. In the two subsequent sections we will move into specific areas of feminist theory. First, we will look at theories of gender differences, and some of the various ways of conceiving female (and male) identity. And, in the final section we will examine a variety of distinct political theories/movements that fall under the umbrella of feminism.

Since this is a course on feminist philosophy, most of the views we will encounter in this course will be sympathetic to feminist thought. Some readings will be critical of feminist views, though they will not make up a substantial portion of the course. In any case, reasoned  critiques which challenge the views and assumptions of the authors we are reading are always welcome in a philosophy course.

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1. Gain a better understanding of the many ways in which various social groups are kept from being fully equal members of society.
2. Gain some appreciation of the ways in which the classifications of gender and sex are socially constructed.
3. Investigate the diversity of perspectives within feminist thought and to develop an appreciation of these differences.
4. Assess the ways in which so-called “feminist” perspectives can be used to transform, enhance and undermine traditional institutions and behavior.
5. Stimulate critical and creative thinking about power and authority.

Course Requirements
Each student will be expected to attend class regularly and to have prepared the reading for each class.  Occasionally there may be in-class writing exercises that pertain to the readings and which will serve as a springboard for class discussion.  This class also includes a web-based discussion room (see course website), where students can pose and respond to questions related to course materials.  These forms of participation all count toward a class participation grade.  Class participation will be graded on the basis of student performance in four areas: attendance; prep-aration; performance on in-class assignments and quality of class participation (including on-line forums).  The class participation grade will  count for 15% of the course grade.

Each student will also be required to complete three exams during the course of the semester. These exams will include a substantial essay component.. The first two of these exams which will occur during the term will each be worth 15% or final grade. The final exam will be worth 25% of the final grade. Together the exams will be count for 55% of the course grade.

There is also a multiple-element writing project. The writing project will be tied to the third and largest unit of the course. Each student will choose a topic related to one of the topics in our last unit of the course (a list of suggestions will be provided). In conjunction with the instructor, additional reading beyond what  is required reading for class on that topic will be selected and on the relevant class period, the student will be responsible for leading a brief discussion (10-15 min.) in class of the supplementary materials/viewpoints that they have encountered in their reading. Using these additional readings as well as the regular class readings, students will engage in a critical analysis of the topic they have chosen, presenting a reasoned case for their view on the chosen issue. A draft of this paper will be due no later than the last Friday before Thanksgiving break. A final version of these papers will be due no later than the last day of classes. The target length for these papers will be seven to eight pages. There may be need for substantial re-writing between the first and final versions of the paper. The class discussion and the first draft of the paper will receive a single combined grade that is worth 10% of the course grade. The final version of the paper will be worth 20% of the course grade.

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Proposed Schedule

(This schedule is for planning purposes only.  The actual day-to-day assignments
will be given in-class and posted on the "Daily Assignments" webpage.)

Aug.  31    Th    (Course Syllabus, etc.)
          Feminism: Theorizing Relations of Power and Oppression               
Sept.    5    Tu    Frye, “Oppression”
Sept.    7    Th    McIntosh, “White Privilege and Male Privilege”
Sept.  12    Tu    Young, “Five Faces of Oppression”
Sept.  14    Th    McKinnon, “Feminism, Marxism, Method and the State”
Sept.  19    Tu    Bartky, “Foucault, Femininity and the Modernization of Patriarchal
Sept.  21    Th    (EXAM)
           Gender Theory: Sex Classification and Gender Construction
Sept.  26    Tu     Fausto-Sterling, “How Many Sexes Are There?” +
            Angier, "New Debate Over Surgery on Genitals
Sept.  28    Th    Kaplan & Rogers, “The Definition of Male and Female”
Oct.      3    Tu    Holmstrom, “Do Women Have a Distinct Nature?”       
Oct.      5    Th    Ortner, “Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?”
Oct.    10    Tu    Gilligan, "Women's Place in Man's Life-Cycle"
Oct.    12    Th    Jaggar, "Love and Knowledge"       
Oct.    17    Tu        (NO CLASSES--FALL BREAK)
Oct.    19    Th    Kimmel,  "Masculinity as Homophobia"               
Oct.    24    Tu    (EXAM)
      Feminisms: Diverse Social and Political Projects
Liberal Feminism
Oct.    26    Th    Wollstonecraft, “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman” + Stanton,  
                                   “Constitutional Argument” + Equal Rights Amendment
Oct.    31    Tu    NOW, “Bill of Rights” + Norton, "Hearings on Women's Rights"
Nov.     2    Th    Ferguson, "Androgyny as an Ideal for Human Development"
                Conservative Feminism
Nov.     7    Tu    Elshtain, “Against Androgyny” + Stacey, "Are Feminists Afraid to Leave Home?"           
                Radical Feminism
Nov.     9    Th    Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Experience” +   
                             Frye, “Some Reflections on Separatism and Power”   
Nov.   14    Tu     King, "Healing the Wounds"
                Black  Feminism
Nov.   16    Th    Hooks, “Black Women: Shaping Feminist Theory”       
Nov.   17     F    (not a class day, but PAPER DRAFT DUE (by the end of the day)   
                Multicultural  Feminism
Nov.   21    Tu    Lugones, “Purity, Impurity, and Separation”   
                Responses to Second Wave Feminism   
Nov.   28    Tu    Paglia, "No Law in the Arena"
Nov.   30    Th    Wolff, "Fire with Fire"
Dec.      5    Tu    Alfonso & Triglio, "Surfing the Third Wave"
Dec.      7    Th    (Course Wrap-up)  FINAL PAPER DUE

Dec.    14    Th   (5:00 PM)    FINAL  EXAM

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