Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary department for students who wish to explore gender and its relation to other axes of power: race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality. We use these concepts to analyze human experience in its bodily, political, economic, and cultural dimensions. Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies covers a complex variety of theoretical and empirical scholarship both within traditional disciplines and in interdisciplinary frames in the humanities, in the social sciences, and in the natural sciences, as well as combinations of the three. The Department is committed to critical perspectives and bodies of knowledge that contribute to possibilities for transformation and change.
Early in their sophomore year, students interested in the major should consult the Department to plan their major. Students also have the option of electing a combined major and a minor. Areas of faculty research specialization include feminist and queer politics and ethics in U.S. public life; contemporary and historical social movements; gender and global political economy; sexuality and the state; sociology of the body, sex, and gender; critical science studies of gender and sexuality; transnational feminisms; Asia-Pacific cultural studies; and comparative literature and critical theory.
Complementing the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, the Barnard Center for Research on Women maintains an extensive and expanding resource collection on women’s issues. Many of these resources, including BCRW’s own online journal, The Scholar & Feminist Online, are available on BCRW’s multimedia website. BCRW also sponsors a variety of events that are invaluable to students interested in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies participates in a Consortium with Africana Studies and American Studies that supports the development of intellectual and curricular projects across the three fields and offers a concentration and minor in studies of race and ethnicity, with an attention to global and diasporic frameworks. We are particularly interested in relations between and among, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, and nation. The Consortium is working to create models for research and teaching that contribute to new ways of understanding processes of social differentiation and that help to create new possibilities for social relations.
Student Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of the major, students will be able to attain the following outcomes:
1) Identify and denaturalize core assumptions that are attached to present-day systems of gender, race, and sexuality;
2) Understand the variability and complexity of social identities in multiple historical, social, and cultural contexts;
3) Demonstrate through oral and written presentations their understanding of gender, sexuality, and race as mutually constituted and relatively autonomous categories of social difference;
4) Develop an awareness of a broad range of historical and transnational contexts for studying gender in relation to other social relations of power;
5) Develop a familiarity with major theoretical perspectives and concepts of feminist thought and practice;
6) Distinguish between different kinds of feminist claims and critically assess their effects in the world;
7) Understand and apply key social theory concepts and perspectives as these have been used in critical scholarly and activist engagements with contemporary issues and problems;
8) Integrate gender, race, and sexuality theoretical frameworks along with a critical awareness of the politics of knowledge production in the conception and writing of an original research paper.
What You Can Do with Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Among our alumnae are filmmakers, doctors, artists, lawyers, professors, writers, librarians, counselors, teachers, and a rabbi. Majoring in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard teaches students to view the world with a complex analytical approach, to have a conscious point of view, and to retain a sense of responsibility to other women and of the need to work for women throughout their lives.