Spring 2010
WGS 180.005
MW 3:00-4:15 Knight 308

Mary Ann Drake, Ph. D.
Phone: Office (301-5616) Home (477-4399) e-mail drake_ma@mercer.edu
Home Page: http://faculty.mercer.edu/drake_ma/
Office Hours:
Calendar of Events     Policies and Grades         Link to Blackboard


Ibsen                A Doll House ISBN:0-451-52406-3
Hurston            Their Eyes Are Watching God ISBN:0-06-091650-8
Nawal El Saadawi Woman at Point Zero ISBN:978-1-84277-873-9

Other readings as assigned. 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: In Ibsens novel, A Doll House, when Nora is told that above all else, she is a wife and mother, Nora replies: That I no longer believe. I believe before all else I am a human being.   What is our human nature? How do we separate into two forms? What does it mean to be a woman or a man in our culture and world? What variations are there? What is the nature, construction, and role of parenting, that is mothering and fathering? Do we need marriage? What if women don’t want children? Who should work and where? Can we distribute economic worth with equity? How do we raise our children? Are men really more aggressive and women more moral?  Who should control our bodies? Who controls conversations? Is silence passive or active? What have we learned historically? Who has shaped our thinking? Are we our own ideas or does the media play with our psyches? How would we behave and think differently in another culture? How is our thinking and behavior different in this culture if we come from a race or class different from our own?  

Can we answer all these questions? No! We can, however, begin the journey and this class is a beginning. It is a survey course designed to wet your appetite, to encourage you to quest further, to provide you with a foundation for further learning, and to give you some tools for critically viewing yourself, your gender, and the cultural constructions of race, class and gender beliefs and behaviors. We will read broadly to expose you to historical, cultural, fictional, and non-fictional works; to open little port holes in a variety of directions that will hopefully tug at you for further inquiry.  

The purpose of the course is the quest.: an interdisciplinary quest to examine the biological, social/psychological, and historical events, theories, beliefs, and customs which have shaped definitions of sex and gender. Explorations will be about how and why we live our lives as "women and men”. The implication of gender as a cultural construction will be broadened with historical and cross-cultural examples along with the personal experiences of our service learning, as we focus on contemporary issues.  

The major goal of the class is to assist you in learning to critically examine cultural assumptions about gender, race, and class, and to identify and critique these gender assumptions in theories and research of various disciplines which inform our thinking. To assist you in achieving these goals, we have a service-learning project.

Specific goals are: To provide a demanding intellectual experience for students.

To recognize the ways in which race, gender, sexuality, class, and other aspects of identity intersect in shaping experience and theory-making.

To appreciate the ways in which different disciplines contribute to the understanding of gendered selves.

To analyze ones own experience as a gendered individual and recognize some contexts and processes which have framed one’s own development.

To effectively and critically use a variety of writing styles for critical thinking, analysis, and persuasive communication.

To learn about womens contributions to knowledge.  


Attendance includes participation: To  participate means not only being in attendance in class and in your community setting, but also providing thoughtful, and informed input as your part of the classroom discussion.

You are expected to be logged on to the Mercer e-mail system, our private Facebook group, and the Mercer Blackboard system for out of class communication, grading updates, calendar changes, and syllabus information.  

Leading Discussion: In pairs or individually, depending on class enrollment, students will take turns leading class discussion on readings and activities.

Papers: There will be three papers, four to five pages in length, redrafted and developed to articulate a particular theme. The due dates are noted on the calendar.

Discovery Journals: (Shamelessly copied from Dr. Deneen Senasi)

For your Discovery Journal, you will need a journal with heavy-weight paper (like an artist’s sketch book available in craft or office supply stores). You will also need a glue stick to attach various items to the journals’ pages, especially if you prefer typing to more old-fashioned  means of inscription. I encourage you to decorate your Discovery Journal in any way you like. since such creative embellishments, in addition to providing creative outlets, will  literally map out your intellectual and emotional journey through the
course. In this and other ways, the time you spend on your Discovery Journal will help to cement what I hope will be your own emerging awareness of yourself and your place in the environment.

In practical terms, the assignment calls for you to insert questions from our texts, web sites, activities, photo assignments, etc. to the journal and then share them in our class discussion. Remember to cite, to help you revisit thoughts later. I will announce dates on which I will collect and evaluate your Discovery Journals. The final grade for the Discovery Journal will be an average of these evaluations. You MUST bring your Journal to class daily; you need your questions for our discussion, We may want to look at pictures or revisit an issue from  an earlier time.


Final: Your final is a digital story highlighting one of your passionate "ah hahs" from this class as it relates to you. The digital story process will be thoroughly explained in class and supported with a lab in the media center. Script writing and story circles are part of the process of developing digital stories. For additional information go to webct or to this webpage: DS Instructions.

Grades Per Activity:
Attendance and Participation:           15%
Leading discussions:                         10%  
Paper One                                       15%
Paper Two                                       15%
Paper Three                                     15%
Completed Digital Story                   15%
Journal                                            15%

90-100 = A                                    77-79 = C+         
87-89 = B+                                    70-76 = C
80-86 = B                                      60-69 = D

You are responsible for the Policies and Grading section of the syllabus. See link above or use the link in webct.