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Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSX) is a cross-disciplinary area of inquiry that investigates the social, psychological, biological, and cultural construction of gender, as well as the ways women and men locate themselves within gender systems. Because femininities and masculinities vary as a result of cultural, historical, political, and institutional forces, gender inquiry helps students understand the multiple ways gender and gender relations are socially constructed, and how these understandings of gender in turn shape virtually every aspect of our everyday lives: political institutions, law, the economy, the family, education, work, literature, the arts, media, philosophy, religion, and sexuality.
Courses in the WGSX cross-disciplinary curriculum identify gender as a fundamental category of analysis in theory and practice. The goals for the study area are to analyze the variations in gender systems that have occurred across cultures and over time; to identify the relationship between biological difference and social inequality; to explore constructions of sexuality and sexual identity; and to recognize how gender inequality is related to other social hierarchies such as race, ethnicity, class, and sexuality.
The study area is committed to the centrality of the study of women, while at the same time interrogating gender and sexuality as organizing categories. Courses will allow students to focus their study on materials that illustrate women’s condition, history, and achievements; to investigate how women have been portrayed and how those representations are changing; and to examine feminist critiques of academic areas of knowledge, including the contributions of queer theory and new feminist research. In order to provide a new site for knowledge production that engages differences constructively, the WGSX study area not only locates women within traditional disciplinary categories, but also fosters interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary exploration of the conditions that have shaped women’s experiences both as objects and as subjects of knowledge.