Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Program Description

The Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies (WGS) Program at Gettysburg College provides opportunities for research and informed activism.

The WGS curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, global perspectives, and the diversity of human experiences through analysis of:

  • Cultural constructions and structures of gender and sexuality; and
  • The intersections of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, class, age, and ability.

The WGS Program includes courses -- both interdisciplinary and in a variety of disciplines such as history, literature, anthropology, sociology, economics, and media studies -- that are informed by feminist, queer, critical masculinity, and critical race theories. In addition to developing theoretical analyses, students participate in hands-on experiences that involve them in activism. Empowered to use what they learn, students become engaged citizens.

Program Requirements

Major Requirements

 Ten courses are required for the major in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies:

  1. WGS 120: Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  2. WGS 300: Theories
  3. WGS 320: Practicum
  4. WGS 340: Methods
  5. WGS 400: Senior Seminar
  6. Five courses from the categories of core, cross-listed, affiliated courses, or approved courses of Individualized Study:
    (a) At least one course must be a core or cross-listed course above the 100-level that focuses in depth on the experiences of women outside the United States and Europe.
    (b) At least one must be a core or cross-listed course above the 100-level that focuses in depth on the experiences of historically marginalized women or on the ways that gender intersects with other forms of inequality or on LGBT or Queer scholarship.
    (c) No more than two courses may be from the category of affiliated courses

Prospective majors are strongly encouraged to talk with a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies advisor as early as possible in their academic career and to take WGS 120 in the first or second year

 Minor Requirements

 Six courses are required for the minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies:

  1. WGS 120: Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
  2. WGS 300: Theories
  3. One core or cross-listed course above the 100-level that focuses in depth on the experiences of women outside the United States and Europe OR one core or cross-listed course above the 100-level that focuses in depth on the experiences of historically marginalized women or on the ways that gender intersects with other forms of inequality or on LGBT and Queer scholarship.
  4. One core or cross-listed course.
  5. Two additional WGS courses (core, cross-listed, affiliated, or approved courses of Individualized Study)

Students planning to minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies are encouraged to talk with a WGS advisor about the program of courses and de­clare the minor in their sophomore or junior year.


Planning Your Courses:
Prospective majors and minors in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies are encouraged to discuss their plans with a WGS faculty advisor as early as possible in their academic careers.  Procedures for declaring a Major/Minor.

Because there is a preferred sequence of courses, all mandatory courses require careful planning.  Students are strongly encouraged to follow the following timeline:

  • WGS 120 in the first or second year
  • WGS 300 and WGS 320 in the third year (Note: WGS 300 is taught in the Fall semester; WGS 320 in Spring)
    Students planning to study abroad in their junior year are strongly encouraged to do so in the Spring in order to take WGS 300 in the Fall.
  • WGS 340 and WGS 400 (taken in the senior year as a sequence-WGS 340 (Fall); WGS 400 (Spring)
    (also note that WGS 340 is required beginning with the Class of 2013)

In order to help students design their majors and minors, the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty has designated the following course categories:

  • Core courses
  • Cross-listed courses
  • Affiliated courses

Core Courses with full course descriptions 

Cross-Listed Courses

Reflect the latest feminist and LGBTQI scholarship and are located in other academic departments

  • AFS 248: African American Women Writers
  • AFS 267: Race, Gender and the Law
  • ANTH 218: Islam and Women
  • ANTH 228: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Sex and Gender Roles
  • ANTH 231: Gender and Change in Africa and Afro-Latin America
  • CWES 346: Women and the Civil War
  • ENG 253: Images of Women in Literature
  • ENG 258: African American Women Writers
  • ENG 334: Nineteenth-Century English Women Writers
  • ENG 355: Radical American Women
  • ENG 403: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centry Literature
  • FYS 130-1: Women's Health and Sexuality
  • FYS 133-2: Gender and Politics in Latin America
  • FYS 172: The Role of Gender in Science and Technology
  • HIS 209: Women's History Since 1500
  • HIS 323: Gender in Modern Japan
  • ITAL 270: Objects of Desire/Desiring Objects: A Survey of Italian Women Writers of the 20th Century
  • ITAL 280: Women and Italian Film
  • LAS 222: Bridging the Borders: U.S. Latina and Latin American Women Writers
  • LAS 231: Gender and Change in Africa and Afro-Latin America
  • POL 321: Gender and American Politics
  • POL 382: Feminist Theory in American Politics
  • POL 412: Women and the Political Economy of Development
  • SOC 217: Gender Inequality
  • SOC 240: Sexualities
  • SOC 244: Global Sexualities
  • SPAN 310: Mujeres Escritoras En La Literatura Peninsular: Siglos XIX-XXI

Affiliated Courses

Offered by academic departments and containing significant feminist or queer content

  • ANTH 226: The Archaeology of the Body
  • ANTH 240: Modernity and Change in Asia and the Pacific
  • AS 238: Classical Japanese Literature and Its Modern Interpretations
  • CLA 121: Survey of Greek Civilization
  • CLA 264: Ancient Tragedy
  • CLA 266: Ancient Comedy
  • ENG 257: Sex and Love in Jewish Literature
  • ENG 333: Victorian Aesthetics
  • ENG 371: The Dream of the Artificial Wo/Man: Golems and Cyborgs from Adam to Bladerunner
  • FREN 345: Turmoil and Loss in Québécois Literature by Women
  • FYS 113-5: Women in the Law
  • GER 351: The German-Jewish Experience
  • SPAN 351: Lyric Poetry  

Course Listing

Course level:
100 | 200 | 300 | 400
WGS-120 Introduction to Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Introduction to the conceptual tools for studying women and LGBTQIA individuals. Course introduces issues in feminist and sexuality studies theories, examines the diversity of experiences, structural positions in society, and collective efforts for change of women and LGBTQIA individuals.


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WGS-210 Topics in Women, Gender, and Sexuality
Study of a topic not normally covered in depth in the regular curriculum of the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. Offered irregularly.


WGS-214 Native American Women
Study of traditional roles of primarily Eastern Woodlands indigenous women from pre-colonization to contemporary times. Indigenous women’s centrality in their nation’s sociopolitical structures, cosmology, and distribution of wealth is discussed. Additional emphasis is on ceremonial rites for women and girls, and traditional customs relating to sexuality, childbearing, and marriage. Ways in which indigenous women and men balance the responsibilities of their nation are a key topic.


WGS-218 Feminism and Pornography
This course investigates the controversial issues of pornographic discourse within a feminist context by examining the arguments that continue to divide feminists to this day. This course tracks the debate from a historical, theoretical and critical perspective. Particular focus is given to topics such as power structures and sexual oppression, the effects of pornography, the problems of a common definition, the implications of censorship, gender and representation, homosexual production and consumption of pornography, female subjectivity and agency, and the difference between pornography and erotica.


WGS-220 The Pleasure of Looking: Women in Film
Course explores various images of women as constructed for the male and female spectator in both dominant and independent film. Traditional ways in which women have been represented in film are examined critically through the use of feminist theories. Course aims to examine how various feminist filmmakers challenge the traditional uses of the female voice in their own films. Films from other cultures than the U.S. are included.


WGS-221 Bridging the Borders: U.S. Latina and Latin American Women Writers
Study of selected works in English by Latin American women and Latina women from the U.S. Course explores both connective links and dividing lines of women's lives in the context of a common cultural heritage that has evolved into multiple variants as a result of geographical, historical, economic, ethnic, and racial factors. WGS 221 and LAS 222 are cross-listed.


WGS-222 Women's Movements in the United States
Study of women's activism and social movements organized primarily by women. Through the study of a broad range of women's activism, the course places the development of U.S feminism in its larger socio-historical context.


WGS-226 Feminism in Global Perspective
Study of women's activism to improve their lives around the world. Course analyzes similarities and differences in the issues women activists address in different parts of the world, the theories they develop to analyze those issues, and the forms their activism takes. Course also considers the possibilities for a global women's movement and provides theoretical tools for analyzing modern feminisms in their global context.


WGS-230 Women & Development
An analysis of the impact of changing development strategies on the lives of women in the Third World, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as a review of how women have responded to these strategies. One major aim of the course is to examine how colonialism and later development policies have affected the status of women, and to examine critically the goal of the "integration of women in development." Differences of ethnicity/race, orientation, age, and class are taken into consideration.


WGS-231 Gender and Change in Africa and Afro-Latin America
An exploration of the diversity of women's familial, political, economic and social realities and experiences in West Africa and the African Diaspora in South America and the Caribbean. Particular attention is given to the processes by which indigenous West African gender and cultural patterns and their inherent power relations have shifted since pre-colonial times and across the Atlantic into the New World. Finally, the course examines the concept of Diaspora and theories relative to processes of cultural change, resistance, and retentions, as well as the role gender plays in these processes. No prerequisites. Anth 231, WGS 231 and LAS 231 are cross-listed.


WGS-253 Images of Women in Literature
Survey of literature and film from the second half of the 20th century. Drawing on novels, short stories, popular movies, and social and political history, this course takes an interdisciplinary look at women's and men's differences and commonalities, examines the various ways women and men have been imagined, how these images affect us, and how they have transformed as a result of the feminist revolution. ENG 253 and WGS 253 are cross listed. Counts toward WGS major. Offered occasionally. Fulfills humanities and conceptualizing diversity requirements.


WGS-255 Identity and Imagination: Jewish American Women Writers
Identity and Imagination: Jewish American Women Writers. A study of Jewish American women in literature and film. Praised as Yiddische mamas, derided as over-bearing Jewish mothers, condemned as materialistic Jewish American princesses, identified as red-hot mamas and sob sisters, active in Zionism, socialism, and feminism, Jewish American women fashioned complex identities for themselves. Fascinated with the ambiguity of identity in all its ramifications – gender, sexual, racial, religious – they used their literary and visual imaginations to explore and expand possibilities.


WGS-260 Queer Eye on America: Gender and Sexuality in American Popular Culture
This course examines representations of gender and sexuality in American popular culture (primarily film and television shows), with an emphasis upon both representations of queer (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual and questioning) practices and the reception of these various representations by audiences both queer and straight. Students consider how these various representations both structure and reflect contemporary notions of "queerness", "straightness", femininity and masculinity. In conjunction with weekly screenings, students read both central texts in queer theory and scholarly analyses of the media under consideration.


WGS-270 Objects of Desire/Desiring Subjects: A Survey of Italian Women Writers of the 20th Century
A survey of some of Italy's most prominent women writers of the twentieth century in English translation. The course covers a variety of themes dealing with the existential condition of women that surface in the writers' texts. Topics such as gendered writing, feminism, violence, gender (ex)change, feminine monstrosities and motherhood are the subject of students' analyses. Taught in English. Cross-listed with ITAL 270


WGS-280 Women and Italian Film
A study of the work of four prominent Italian women directors: Liliana Cavani, Lina Wertmuller, Francesca Archibugi and Francesca Comencini. While focusing on their depictions of social, cultural and historical issues affecting modern and contemporary Italian society, the course also analyzes the relationship between gender and theories of visual and filmic representation. Topics include social realism, social satire, World War II, concept of family, violence, mechanisms of gender construction, gender and film. Taught in English. Cross-listed with ITAL 280.


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WGS-300 Theories
Theoretical approaches to the experiences, representations, and relative positions of women and LGBTQIA individuals in diverse societies. Contemporary and earlier works are discussed in order to evaluate and synthesize multiple approaches. Prerequisite: WGS 120 and one other core or cross-listed WGS course, or permission of instructor.


WGS-320 Practicum
Examination of the relationship between theory and collective action to improve societal conditions for women and LGBTQIA individuals. Course considers both theories of collective action and how theories inform collective action. Format combines seminar meetings with student internships in community organizations. Readings about collective action and about the relationship between theory and action provide a basis for analyzing students’ internship experiences. Prerequisites: WGS 120 and one other core or cross-listed WGS course, or permission of instructor. Recommended: WGS 300.


WGS-330 Classical Mythology
Examination of ancient myth in written and visual media, with special attention to mythic traditions, the development of religion, contexts for the creation and performance of myth, and various critical approaches to mythology.


WGS-340 Methods
Introduction to the various research methodologies represented in the interdisciplinary field of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Course studies feminist and LGBTQIA critiques of traditional disciplinary methods. Goal is to familiarize students with the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques of inquiry in their disciplinary perspective of choice through explicit examples and a series of lectures. Emphasis is on preparation for senior research project to be completed during the Senior Seminar. Prerequisite: WGS 120 and one other core or cross-listed WGS course, or permission of instructor. Recommended: WGS 300.


WGS-350 Democratic Labors in Athens and America
Survey and role-playing simulations of the Athenian democracy in 403 BCE and the Woman’s Suffrage and labor movements in Greenwich Village in 1913. Students research and play roles based on historical individuals and/or principles, exploring the complexities, challenges, and limits of democratic practice. Students test democratic theories in relation to specific historical events and social forces (e.g., class, gender, and race) in a practical environment of negotiation and compromise. Prerequisite: One 100 or 200 level course in Classics, History, Philosophy, Political Science, or Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies or permission of instructor.


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WGS-400 Senior Seminar
Examination of a topic from a variety of in-depth perspectives. Selected topic is broad enough to allow students to engage in projects of their own devising. Course serves as a bridge between the undergraduate experience and the world beyond Gettysburg College as students learn to put their feminism into actions. Prerequisites: WGS 120, WGS 300, 340 and one additional core or cross-listed WGS course.


WGS-450 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


WGS-451 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


WGS-452 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


WGS-453 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


WGS-460 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


WGS-461 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


WGS-462 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


WGS-463 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor graded S/U


WGS-464 Honors Thesis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies



WGS-470 Individualized Study-Intern
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


WGS-471 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


WGS-472 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


WGS-473 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


WGS-474 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded A-F, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office.


WGS-475 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded S/U, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office


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