WS 470: Seminar in Women’s Studies

“Feminist Journeys”


Professor LeeRay M. Costa                                                                  Spring 2006

Office: 324 Pleasants Hall                                                                      M/W 1:10 – 2:40

Office Hours: T/TH 8:30-10:00 and by appointment                                             

Contact Info: x6254,


Course Description

This is the capstone seminar for women’s studies majors and minors. In this course students will examine feminism as a journey both historically and politically, and in their own lives. The course has a strong autoethnographic component, situated within a broader analysis of feminisms over the past century. Course readings and assignments will provide opportunities for students to look broadly at the development and transformation of feminist thought and movements, and to reflect on their own journeys as feminists and women’s studies majors. How were you politicized as a feminist? What key moments, issues, texts, course assignments, internships and experiences were integral in your own feminist journey? What will you take away from your experiences as a women’s studies student at Hollins University and how have these experiences been transformative? The goal of the course is to integrate the personal and political in innovative and creative ways. Students will have a significant role in shaping the class and will complete a major final creative project in a form of their choice.



Course Objectives

1.       To further students’ knowledge and analysis of the history of feminist thought and movements, including attention to intersectionality and difference.

2.       To assist students’ understanding of the ways that the personal and political intersect in feminist movement and in their own personal lives.

3.       To provide students with opportunities to reflect on their own journeys as feminist students, scholars and citizens, and how these journeys intersect with larger trends in feminist thought.

4.       To assist students in developing creative projects that allow them to combine their education in women’s studies with other skills and interests they have acquired during their academic career which will serve as both a testament to their education at Hollins and an evaluation of the Women’s Studies program.



Required Reading

·          Freedman, Estelle B. (2002) No Turning Back: The History of Feminism and the Future of Women. New York: Ballantine.

·         King, Katie (1994) Theory in its Feminist Travels: Conversations in U.S. Women's Movements. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

·         Various articles (listed at end of syllabus)

Course readings are available on Reserve at Wyndham Robertson Library.



Course Requirements

For this seminar course to be successful and mutually beneficial to all, it requires the full participation of all members of the class.  It is essential that students come to class prepared, having completed ALL the required readings and any written assignments due.  This is a senior capstone class in the WS major, therefore you should arrive ready to thoughtfully discuss, analyze and share your insights into/confusions about the material. Each class period one student will be responsible for leading the discussion.


·         Attendance is required. Excessive absences will result in a grade reduction. Regular attendance and participation in course discussions are critical to your learning. On the first day of class we will collaboratively create an attendance policy that outlines grade reductions for number of absences.


·         Class participation is required and is part of your final grade. As part of the participation grade, students will be expected to summarize points from the readings in class, to engage in discussion with classmates and the teacher, and to lead at least one class seminar.


·         Reading assignments are required.  Readings should be read BEFORE the class period in which they will be discussed.  Make sure to read the endnotes/footnotes as well.  Please come prepared with questions.


·         Assignments must be turned in on-time. NO LATE ASSIGNMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED.


·         Exams and Assignments:


1.       Participation & Attendance:  This is your senior capstone course in the Women’s Studies major. Hence, you are expected to actively participate in all class discussions. You will have several opportunities to lead class discussions. I encourage you to make use of outside materials and alternative pedagogies when possible. You are also encouraged to ask classmates to share reflections from their journals/reading logs (see below). As part of your participation in this course, you will also act as peer mentors for each other on the final project.  You will have opportunities to provide critical and constructive feedback throughout the project process. This will be discussed further in class. (20)

2.       Short Writing Assignments and Journals/Reading Logs: For each reading assigned you should write a journal entry/reading log summarizing key points and offering your own reflections on the reading.  In these essays you should attempt to bridge the personal and political, the practical and theoretical. This is your opportunity to discover the ways that you make sense of feminist theory and analysis, and your relationship to various feminist ideas. Keep these essays in a bound folder or journal as I will periodically collect and review them. (20)

3.       Reading Assignment/Lead Discussion: Each student will have one class period for which she is responsible for assigning two readings and leading discussion.  The first reading should be one that you have read before sometime during your college education but wish to revisit. The second should be about the same topic, but written from a different theoretical perspective or viewpoint. It could have been published before or after the other piece. Ideally these readings should be relevant in some way to your own feminist journey and/or to your final project. Your choice should be made in consultation with the professor. (20)

4.       FINAL Project and Oral Presentation: At the end of the semester, each student will make an oral presentation to the class about her final project.  Presentations should be well-organized, clearly presented and engaging for the listener. Tips on oral presentations will be provided in class. 20 minutes per student plus 5-10 minutes for questions from the class. (This time limit is FIRM. If you go over your time limit, your grade will be reduced accordingly.)  (40)


More information on class assignments will be provided in separate handouts.



·         Style Guide for Written Assignments:


1.       All papers should be typed, using 12 pt font only (12 pt Times is the preferable font), double spaced, with one-inch (1”) margins on all sides.

2.       Please DO NOT USE COVER SHEETS. I consider this a waste of precious resources. Type your name, course number, paper title and any other identifying information at the top of the first page.

3.       Remember to always KEEP A COPY of your paper in case of an emergency!

4.       Please NUMBER ALL PAGES and using the footer, place your name at the bottom of each page.

5.       USE THE SPELL CHECKER ON YOUR COMPUTER.  Excessive and needless misspelling will result in a reduction of your paper grade.

For citing material in your papers, please use the Turabian style. Style guidelines can be found on the web through the Hollins Writing Center at  If you have any questions re: this style, please ask! If you fail to follow the appropriate guidelines, your grade will be reduced.


Policies & Expectations

By enrolling in this course, you agree to adhere to the following policies and expectations in addition to those cited above and those outlined in the Hollins Honor Code.


1.       You will participate in the course in a manner that is open, honest and respectful of other people’s opinions, ideas and beliefs.  This means allowing others the space to assert their views. Although you may not always agree, there is much to learn by listening to and considering viewpoints different from your own. 

2.       Because you may find that many of the ideas presented in this course challenge your own beliefs and assumptions, it is important to remember that people can agree to disagree.  In other words, the goal of the course is not to “convert” individuals to a particular point of view. Rather, the goal is to present alternative ideas in an articulate and comprehensive way, and to assist students in figuring out their own positions on a particular issue. Thus, dialogue and respectful contestation are likely to be an inherent part of the course.

3.       Issues and personal experiences discussed in the course may often be personal.  Therefore, you agree to respect your classmates’ privacy and to keep discussions confidential.

4.       There is no such thing as a “stupid” or “silly” question.  All questions and ideas will be addressed thoughtfully and respectfully.

5.       The syllabus is subject to change.  Thus, if you choose to be absent from class it is your responsibility to find out if any changes have been made.

6.       Your suggestions and interests are valued.  Therefore, if you have any ideas for videos, readings or specific authors you would like to see included in the class, please discuss them with me during office hours and we will consider adding them to the course materials.

7.       Cheating and plagiarism--including the use of work submitted to another course at Hollins without the consent of both instructors, the use of work by another person, or the use of someone else's words, ideas, or arrangement of ideas without giving proper reference to the author--is a severe violation of the Honor Code. This applies to all electronic sources found on the Internet (including term papers for purchase), to all on-line databases, and to all other published materials. Cheating or plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course. Thus, please be very careful about your research and citation practices.  If you are ever in doubt, please ask!

8.       If you have any special learning needs, please notify the professor immediately. It is your responsibility to discuss special learning needs with the instructor.  Every attempt will be made to address your needs accordingly.  Please do not wait until after the midterm to discuss your needs with the professor.

9.       If you are having any problems in the course, please come and discuss them with the professor during office hours or by making an appointment. Problems should be addressed right away, and not put off until after exams or until the end of the semester.


Cell Phones, Text Messaging, etc…

All cell phones should be turned off or on vibrate during class time.  I consider the use of cell phones

for any purpose during class time to be disrespectful and offensive. If I discover you using your cell phone during class time I will ask you to leave the class and it will be counted as an absence.  If you have some emergency situation for which you must have your cell phone on during class time, please come and discuss this with me before the class period.


Schedule of Classes, Topics and Readings:



Feb. 1                                      Introduction and Course Overview

Student objectives; some reflection assignment; gathering up your WS portfolio


Feb. 6                                      Feminist theory and reflexivity

Read: hooks; Walker;


Feb. 8                                      Autoethnography

Read: Allen & Piercy excerpt; Harde & Harde; O’Brien

Talk about creating portfolios/journal prompts

DUE: Journals/Logs



Creative Journeys


Feb. 13                                     Consciousness raising; activism and the academy

Read: Piercy & Freeman; TBA


Feb. 15                                     Activism/organizations

                                                Video: Louder than our words ? / Women Organize

                                                Read: Boonin & TBA


Feb. 20                                     Manifesto/as

Read: Baumgardner & Richards: Third Wave Manifesta; Combahee, Redstockings, BITCH, Radicallesbians, OWL, Koyama


Feb. 22                                     Zines, blogs, websites (Video: Grrlyshow) 

                                                Guest: Joan Ruelle, Director Wyndham Robertson Library

Read: Bikini Kill; Bleyer; Wong

DUE:  Journals/Logs


Feb. 27                                     Art and Performance (visual art, song, dance, audio show, play, spoken word, poetry, video)  video: The Righteous Babes ?

Guest: Dr. Kim Rhodes, Art History

Read: Pough & TBA



Historical Journeys



Mar. 1                                      Baumgardner & Richards A Day without Feminism p. 3-9

Freedman p. 1-42 (Before Feminism)


Mar. 6                                      Freedman p. 45-119 (Historical Emergence of Feminisms)


Mar. 8                                      Freedman p. 123-199 (Politics of Work & Family)


Mar. 13                                     Freedman p. 203-302 (Politics of Health & Sexuality)

DUE: Your own “A Day without Feminism”


Mar. 15                                     Freedman p. 303-347 (Feminist Visions & Strategies)


Mar. 20 – 24                             NO CLASS, Spring Break


Mar. 27                                     Panel: Hollins WS Professors talk about their own feminist journeys


Mar. 29                                     Work on projects

                                                DUE: Journals/Logs



Theoretical Journeys


Apr. 3                                       King p. xi-xvi; 1-54 (ch. 1: What Counts as Theory?)


Apr. 5                                       King p. 55-91 (ch. 2: Writing Conversations in Feminist Theory)


Apr. 10                                     King p. 92-123 (ch. 3: The Politics of the Oral & the Written)

                                                DUE: Journals/Logs



Your own Journeys


Apr. 12                         Student readings, TBA


Apr. 17                         Student readings, TBA                        


Apr. 19                         Student readings, TBA                        


Apr. 24                         Student readings, TBA            


Apr. 26                         Work on projects

                                    DUE: Journals/Logs     


May 1                           Project Presentations             


May 3                           Project Presentations             


May 8                           Wrap Up

                                    DUE: Final projects, Journals/Reading Logs               



Bibliography of Articles (in order they are to be read):


hooks, bell. 1994.  Theory as Liberatory Practice. In Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. Pp. 59-75. New York: Routlege.


Walker, Rebecca. 1995. “Being Real.” In To Be Real. Pp. xxix-xl. New York: Anchor books.


Allen, Katherine R. & Fred P. Piercy. 2005. Feminist Autoethnography. In Research Methods in Family Therapy.  Second edition. New  York: The Guilford Press.


Harde, Roxanne and Erin Harde. 2003. Voices and Visions: A Mother and Daughter Discuss Coming to Feminism and Being Feminist. in Catching a Wave: reclaiming feminism for the 21st century. Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier, eds. Pp. 116-137. Boston: Northeastern University Press.


O’Brien, Mary. 1998. “Collective Pilgrimage: the political personal.” Canadian Woman Studies 18(4):86-91.


Piercy, Marge & Jane Freeman. 1972. “Getting Together: How to Start a Consciousness-Raising Group.” Adapted from “Getting Together,” a pamphlet by Cape Cod Women’s Liberation.


Boonin, Sarah. 2003. “Please-Stop Thinking about Tomorrow: Building a Feminist Movement on College Campuses for Today” in Catching a Wave: reclaiming feminism for the 21st century. Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier, eds.  p. 138-156. Boston: Northeastern University Press.


Baumgardner, Jennifer & Amy Richards.  2000. “Third Wave Manifesta” in Manifesta: young women, feminism and the future. Pp. 278-281. New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux.


Combahee River Collective. “A Black Feminist Statement.” In Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim, eds. Pp. 164-171. New York Routledge.


Redstockings. 2005[1969]. “Redstockings Manifesto.” In Feminist Theory: A Reader. Second edition. Wendy K. Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski, eds. Pp. 220-221. Boston: McGraw Hill.


Freeman, Jo. 2005[1968]. “The BITCH Manifesto.” In Feminist Theory: A Reader. Second edition. Wendy K. Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski, eds. Pp. 213-218. Boston: McGraw Hill.


Radicallesbians. 2005[1970]. “The Woman-Identified Woman.” In Feminist Theory: A Reader. Second edition. Wendy K. Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski, eds. Pp. 239-242. Boston: McGraw Hill.


Older Women’s League. 2005[1970]. “Why OWL (Older Women’s Liberation)?” In Feminist Theory: A Reader. Second edition. Wendy K. Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski, eds. Pp. 242-243. Boston: McGraw Hill.


Koyama, Emi. 2003. “The Transfeminist Manifesto” in Catching a Wave: reclaiming feminism for the 21st century. Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier, eds.  p. 244-259. Boston: Northeastern University Press.


Bikini Kill. 2005 [1995]. “Riot Grrrl Philosophy: Revolutions from Within” in Feminist Theory: A Reader. Second edition. Wendy K. Kolmar and Frances Bartkowski, eds. Pp. 532-533. Boston: McGraw Hill.


Bleyer, Jennifer.  2004. “Cut-and-Paste Revolution: Notes form the Girl Zine Explosion” in The Fire this Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism. pp. 42-60. New York: Anchor books.


Wong, Kristina Sheryl. 2003. “Pranks and Fake Porn: Doing Feminism My Way” in Catching a Wave: reclaiming feminism for the 21st century. Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier, eds.  p. 294-307. Boston: Northeastern University Press.


Pough, Gwendolyn D. 2003. “Do the Ladies Run this …?: Some Thoughts on Hip-Hop Feminism” in Catching a Wave: reclaiming feminism for the 21st century. Rory Dicker and Alison Piepmeier, eds.  p. 232-243. Boston: Northeastern University Press.


Baumgardner, Jennifer and Amy Richards. 2000. “A Day without Feminism” in Manifesta: young women, feminism and the future. Pp. 3-10. New York: Farrar, Strauss, Giroux.