Girl Power Through the Ages: An Introduction to Feminist Theory and Practice

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Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
July 12, 2021 - July 28, 20217/12 - 7/282 WeeksOnlineWaitlistedOnlineUrszula Rutkowska
Emily Simon

Course Description

Have you always wondered what it means to be a feminist? Then this is the course for you; a basic introduction to feminist theories and practices both historically and contemporarily in the United States. Reading and discussing foundational texts, engaging with depictions of feminists (both in popular culture and other forms), and exploring feminist activism will introduce students to the intersection of theory, representation, and practice.

This course will not only familiarize students with the foundational works of feminist theory, but also equip them with the tools to think critically about key issues such as the public/private divide, sex/gender debate, gendered labor, reproductive rights, feminist political economy, and queer theory. Upon familiarization with key theories/theorists, we will delve into the practice of feminism through personal and public politics, activism, academic writing, social media, and popular culture.

The holistic goal of this course is for each of us to gain a deeper understanding of the historical roots and contemporary manifestations of feminist thought and practice. What has it meant historically to identify as a feminist? How have the issues addressed by feminism changed over the ages? Why and how has feminism become a dirty word? How are feminists depicted (and even maligned) in popular culture?

By engaging this process of exploration and reflection through a conscientious, nuanced, and purposeful feminist framework, we will also open ourselves to understanding the impact of gender construction and variant articulations of feminism as issues that concern us all equally. This concern will hopefully present itself as a matter of personal and intellectual responsibility that will stay with each of us for a lifetime.

Students in this course will:

  • Read, write, and speak carefully, conscientiously, and with critical application of the terms and concepts discussed in the course and introduced in assigned readings.
  • Understand and explain the importance of foundational theoretical texts while also engaging with popular culture especially in relation to gender and feminist thought.
  • Understand the ways in which women contemporarily (inclusive of all classes, ages, races, sexualities, ethnicities) are affected by U.S. culture, institutions, and society.
  • Understand women as a diverse body of people with differing historical and lived experiences.
  • Understand and demonstrate functional knowledge of feminist scholarship on popular culture and gender through verbal and written analysis of popular culture.
  • Make practical application of these theories to understand and critique depictions of feminists/feminism in the media.
  • Critically analyze the successes and failures of feminist political interventions through the ages.
  • Understand how and why gender shapes theories, methodologies, and modes of inquiry.
  • Produce original exploratory and analytical response papers, to develop clear, articulate, and grammatically correct assignments that respond to appointed prompts.
  • Utilize class discussions as a platform for interrogating and understanding theories.

Prerequisites: Though no particular prior knowledge is required, having read Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" would be excellent preparation for the course. Rising High School juniors and seniors preferred, along with open-mind and willingness to learn and engage with others in an honest and respectful manner.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEAN0929

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

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