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WGST 460 is a comprehensive three-credit course offered by AU’s Women’s and Gender Studies program. Through transnational and postcolonial approaches, it chronicles feminist responses to economic, social, religious, and political systems that had reinforced gender inequality from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century.
Academic Coordinator Nicola Dove says that studying the works of key feminist figures and the development of feminism as a social movement over time is imperative for understanding the evolution of feminism and the significance of what feminism has achieved to date. By the end of WGST 460 students will be able to describe key issues presented over the six units, define feminism, discuss the influences on the conception and history of feminism, and compare the contributions and backgrounds of feminists they studied throughout the course.
Classified as both an arts and humanities course, WGST 460 is cross listed under HIST 460 and GLST 460. Students cannot take it for credit if they have already received a credit for HIST 366, GLST 366, WGST 366, HIST 401, WGST 400, or WMST 400. While the course has no prerequisites, students may see benefit in taking other History and/or Women’s and Gender Studies courses before attempting it. WGST 460 also provides a Challenge for Credit option.
Who Should Take This Course and Why
Nicola invites students who wish to broaden their understanding of feminist history and are interested to learn more about the prominent advocates represented in this course to give it a try. She also feels WGST 460 will be suitable for students looking to hone their research and writing abilities, particularly if they find life histories fascinating.
Course, Assignments, and Exam Details
The introductory unit lays the groundwork for the course objectives and questions to consider as students work their way through the material. It ends with five short essays to be submitted as one assignment worth 20% of the final grade, which tests students’ comprehension of the unit readings.
The second unit, Feminism: “Liberal Democracy’s Younger Sister,” covers feminism during the Age of Enlightenment. The third unit, Social Revolutionaries: Flora Tristan, Alexandra Kollontai, Emma Goldman, and James Oppenheim, explores feminism through the Industrial Revolution.
The fourth unit, Feminism, Nationalism, and Colonialism: Qasim Amin, Huda Shaarawi, Shareefeh Hamid Ali, and Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, observes feminist activity in nineteenth- and twentieth-century nationalist movements. Students are then expected to turn in a research paper proposal comprising 5% of their grade upon completing the unit.
The fifth unit, Women and the Family: Friedrich Engels, Alva Myrdal, and Margaret Sanger, contextualizes the socialist aspects of feminism. By applying the readings, students will produce ten short essays as one assignment that makes up 40% of their grade at the end of the unit.
The last unit, Feminism, Madness, and Creativity: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Virginia Woolf, reflects on the challenges faced by feminists all through the aforementioned historical periods. To complete the course, students will prepare a research project that is based on their proposal and accounts for 35% of their grade.
Nicola and Course Tutor Dr. Halladay suggest that students familiarize themselves with the suggested study schedule provided at the beginning of WGST 460 to gauge the amount of time they should dedicate to each unit and assignment.
How to Be Successful in the Course
Course Tutor’s Advice for the Course
Dr. Halladay is accessible through telephone during tutor’s hours and email at any time; students should contact her about “specific course-related questions as they arise,” brainstorming ideas for essays, and academic etiquette such as “paper formatting and creating citations.” Her comments on submissions are always thorough so that students can gain a clear sense of how to improve their writing. The AU Write Site is also a helpful tool for less experienced writers. Taking initiative, Nicola says, “lessens the likelihood of procrastination!”
WGST 460 fosters creativity in student engagement; Nicola and Dr. Halladay advise students to support each other through relationship and knowledge building. They explain that, for example, students may use the forums to nurture insights and peer interaction; another useful resource is the student-generated glossary of principles and terminology that includes text and visuals.
Students’ Advice for the Course
Much of Nicola and Dr. Halladay’s recommendations is mirrored in the recent experiences shared by two students who were successful in WGST 460.
Elizabeth H. specified her methods:
“I found the best approach to HIST 460 was using each of the surveyed feminists as an example of how history is experienced by different populations, particularly by non-European and European women considered to be in lower economic classes. Once I understood how a historical event was interpreted by one representative of a group, I used that individual as a resource to search out their proponents and their opponents. The next step, after understanding these females’ perspective in the context of their times, was writing about these individuals. I imagined my audience – in this case, my professor – as clearly as possible as I researched and wrote the essays, but it also helped to consider students I knew so that I could write with an aim to educate, as well as to express an academic argument. I’d also suggest that students reach out to the professor and to AU’s Write Site personnel to receive more guidance on essay style, Chicago citations, and generating focused arguments – along with peer-reviewed evidence to support those arguments.”
Afope S. expressed similar thoughts:
“One of the ways I reached the goals I set for this course was by choosing to communicate with my instructor. My professor gave helpful feedback and offered any clarification as I implemented new learnings from the feedback given. I made sure to read as many primary sources as I could and attempted to understand them independently before reading any commentaries. Again, whatever ideas I was unsure about, I either wrote down questions or pressed further in the reading to investigate. Lastly, give yourself time to proofread your work. I failed to do this efficiently in my last assignment and the lack of proofreading cost me easy marks.”
If you have any further questions regarding the course, please do not hesitate to contact Nicola Dove at email@example.com or Dr. Alexa DeGagne, who will return as Academic Coordinator in February 2022, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy learning!