Loyola University Chicago

Women's Studies and Gender Studies

Course Descriptions

This course introduces students to the interdisciplinary fields of both Women’s Studies and Gender Studies, exploring the ways in which sex and gender manifest themselves in social, economic, cultural, and political arenas. It draws upon scholarship in women’s and feminist studies, masculinities studies, and queer studies, fields that in turn draw upon a variety of intellectual perspectives or disciplines, including history, psychology, rhetoric, sociology, literary studies, and biology, among others. Students will use gender-based theory to look at the ways in which gender identification and representation influences individuals and societies.

This course explores current feminist understanding of women’s local struggles and transnational initiatives in different parts of the world. In the 1980’s, Postcolonial feminism brought to light the need to reject homogenization and universalization of women; meanwhile, transnational feminist networks have developed, and women’s rights fights are both global and local, in western and non-western countries.

This course focuses on non-western feminism with an emphasis on indigenous feminist movements, and issues such as health, environmental resources, citizenship and cultural rights.

Gender is one of the primary ways that people, both historically and now, attribute identity and distribute power. It is a key element in defining human relationships. It has often been used to subjugate one sex, usually women. This course is designed to introduce you to ways in which gender can be understood as a social construction and the results of that construction. At the end of this course, you will have a better understanding of feminist theory and feminism as a socio-political perspective on social change. You will be more attuned to what it means to be male or female in society. No less importantly, you will be equipped with concepts and skills that will enable you to appreciate the capacities and contributions of both women and men.

This particular section of WOST 201 employs narrative and documentary film to explore these feminist issues. Films and film excerpts are used in two ways: first, as illustrations of the issues themselves and, second, as illustrations of how popular culture functions as part of the hegemonic process both in terms of maintaining such social structures as patriarchy but also in terms of challenging them.

This course explores feminist contributions to research in the field of social sciences. In particular, it addresses the importance of feminist methodology in the understanding of women’s experience, as well as that of the marginalized. Over the last decades, feminist theorists have developed frameworks that enable researchers to identify and alter relations of power in society. Feminist theory challenges conventional approaches to the production of knowledge and promotes research as a tool of transformation at institutional and individual levels. Various feminist research practices, that incorporate concepts such as that of intersectionality, will be discussed as means of emancipation for women and other marginalized groups.



(Betsy Hemenway)

Wednesdays 6:00-8:30 PM (LSC)

A requirement for the WSGS MA, this course focuses on the history and development of feminist thinking since the late eighteenth century and the impact of feminism on western and transnational culture. We will concentrate on some of the important texts of this period and consider their influence on the lived experiences of women. We will also study the various ways feminists have envisioned social, political, and cultural inequality and change. While primary focus of this course is on U.S. and European feminist history, we will place that history within the larger context of feminist thinking and women’s movements around the world.

(Cristina Lombardi-Diop)

Thursdays 6:00-8:30 PM (LSC)

This course fulfills Global requirement for WSGS Graduate Students.

The course maps the field of global feminist studies and offers critical tools to understand a series of interconnected phenomena (Western material and cultural hegemony and its impact globally, the condition of black and non-Western women and their activism, non-binary and non-normative sexual identities and their rights, transnational and postcolonial female migrations) globally. The course also considers the impact of works by global feminists on issues such as human rights, violence against women and transgender individuals, and sex labour and exploitation.  ​


(J. Brooks Bouson)

TTh 1:00-2:15 (LSC)

Crosslisted with Women’s Studies, English 306 will focus on literature written by twentieth- and twenty-first-century women authors. This course is designed to help students gain knowledge of women’s writings and to understand the ways in which women novelists use fiction to challenge inherited cultural and literary assumptions; to show them the difference gender makes to the writing, reading, and interpretation of literature; and to help them become familiar with the application of feminist theory to works by women authors.  In English 306, the instructor will provide necessary background information on the works covered and will model how to perform close readings of literary texts as she guides students in the investigation of the structures and strategies of representative works of women-authored fiction. The instructor will also place emphasis on the gender scripts and psychological dramas encoded in the works read in the course, paying special attention to the various ways the authors represent coming of age, coming to age, the female body, romantic love, mother-child relationships, and female friendships in their works.  The authors covered will include Doris Lessing, Margaret Atwood, Jamaica Kincaid, Toni Morrison, and Nancy Mairs.  There will be reading quizzes, papers, a midterm and a final exam.

(Bridget Kelly)

Tuesdays 7:00-9:30 PM (WTC)

Instructor consent required

This course is an exploration of social justice theories, multicultural issues and practice. We begin by offering foundational definitions of terminology used throughout the course and delve into understanding systems of oppression, social identity development, privilege, power, and activism. Through the use of intergroup dialogue, relevant exercises, as well as key literature, we will identify and examine multiculturalism for social justice in our professional lives. Our goal in the course is to envision how we can practice higher education in a way that values and affirms each person’s experiences and creates an environment of liberation.

(Suzanne Bost)

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30 PM (LSC)

This course will introduce students to important questions, developments, and approaches in contemporary Feminist Theory – including women of color feminisms, postmodern feminisms, queer theory, disability feminisms, new materialisms, and global feminisms, among others.  Our readings from the anthologies will present breadth and diversity of arguments and styles to be balanced by in-depth exploration of the different critical trajectories of two leading theorists, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick and Donna Haraway.  Course assignments are designed to engage students in a real practice of Feminist Theory, including regular written responses, discussion leadership, and a final research paper.  Most of the readings will be challenging, and there are many difficult ideas to absorb from these readings, but there will also be much room for student contributions, dissent, debate, and fun.  

(Tanya Stabler)

Thursdays 2:00-5:00 PM at the Newberry Library

To take this course, you must apply through the Newberry Library by May 1: https://www.newberry.org/09292016-gender-bodies-and-body-politic-medieval-europe

This course will examine the relationship between gender, sex differences, and politics—defined broadly—in medieval Europe, exploring the ways in which systems of power mapped onto perceived sex differences and bolstered, reproduced, or authenticated those systems. Through a close reading of political treatises, sermons, mystical literature, and church decrees, we will evaluate the ways in which gendered discourses supported or weakened institutional, political, and religious authority, even in situations that seemingly had nothing to do with “real” women. Thus, our investigations will move beyond “exceptional” women who exercised political power (for example royal and noblewomen), illuminating the effects of gendered symbols and discourses on institutions or spaces from which real women were increasingly marginalized (for example royal authority) or completely excluded (for example the medieval university). In this way, this course will take up the challenge of Joan Scott’s influential historiographical essay “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis.” Nevertheless, we will not lose sight of the effects gendered constructs and discourses had on real women, nor the specific strategies women employed to manipulate or subvert the systems and institutions that limited their agency.

(Jill Terzakis)

Wednesdays 7:00-9:30 PM (WTC)

This class provides an introduction to the political issues involved in public policy-making and the major theories of the policy-making process.  We consider how issues are defined and how different population groups are perceived by the general public, how these perceptions affects policy choices, the different actors and government institutions involved in determining policy outcomes, their relationship with each other, and how their interests affect the outcomes.  Our objectives are three-fold. You will have the opportunity to: (1) develop a deeper understanding of politics and policy making, (2) hone your professional skills, and (3) consider the role you will play in the process. 


(Jennifer Parks)

Tuesdays 2:30-5:00 (LSC)

‪This course explores some contemporary ethical and social policy questions concerning human procreation. Feminist and non-feminist perspectives on these issues will be discussed. Possible topics include the following:  Are there good (or bad) reasons for procreating? Can there be an obligation to procreate? Or not to procreate? Is Julian Savulescu right in claiming that human beings have a duty of “procreative beneficence”? To what extent are people responsible for their gametes and reproductive behavior? Should all prospective parents be licensed? What is the moral status of contract pregnancy (“surrogacy”)? Would ectogenesis (gestation in an artificial uterus) be good or bad for women?

Texts to be used for the class include Shulamith Firestone's The Dialectic of Sex, Gena Corea's The Mother Machine, and a new collection entitled Family-Making: Contemporary Ethical Challenges. We will be using a variety of published articles as well.

(Bridget Kelly)

Wednesdays 7-9:30 PM (WTC)

Instructor consent required; appropriate for students who have already taken WSGS 402.

This course introduces students to the practice of qualitative research.  Course content is applicable to research and evaluation contexts in education as well as other social and human service practices.  As a result of this course, you will be able to: 1. Read and understand a range of qualitative research studies, including how qualitative researchers define research problems, nature of explanations, and aims of inquiry (Conceptual Framework 1) 2. Differentiate a variety of means of generating qualitative data, including interviews, observations, and document analyses; 3. Carry out aspects of a qualitative research study, including developing research questions, generating data, and analyzing data; 4. Practice reflexivity, including awareness of your own subjectivities, understanding of research as relationship, and the ethical responsibilities of qualitative researchers.  

Tuesdays 11:30-2:00 (WTC)

Prerequisites for SOWK students: 500 level courses except for SOWK 506 and SOWK 509; Completion of 1st level internship (SWFI 530, SWFI 530S, SWFI 531, & SWFI 531S) or concurrent enrollment with SWFI 531 & SWFI 531S), or permission of the WSGS Graduate Program Director

This is an advanced clinical social work elective that builds on foundation social work courses. The focus of the course is the identification and application of clinical social work assessment and intervention relevant to practice with women. The circumstances of women are directly relevant to the studies of children and families, as well as health and mental health, sense they generally are the primary caregivers for others in our society. This general fact influences the health and mental health of women, men, and children. The general topics for the course are chosen specifically to cover the various arenas and circumstances of women’s lives. For example: family and other relationships, sexuality, mental health/illness, poverty and oppression. Practice issues include:  1) Battering; 2) Wife rape;  3) Alcohol abuse;  4) Sexual abuse;  5) Severe and persistent mental illness; and  6) Eating disorders and others.

Relevant theoretical orientations as well as women’s developmental theories and life cycle issues are included.  All issues and topics are considered within an historical and contemporary socio-cultural as well as political context. Sexism and stereotyping are identified and discussed as they form and influence the context of women’s lives. The course includes content on women of color, specifically on the feminist approach for women of color, racism, discrimination, oppression and other forms of pernicious social and economic justice. The interface of gender and age, culture, ethnicity, race, class, sexual orientation, and disability is an integral part of the course. Different models of practice and developmental theories are discussed. All topics and practice issues are expressed from the perspective of feminist theories and feminist social work principles. Social work values are compared with feminist theories and discussed in relation to theories of women’s development.  Students learn how to maintain a feminist social work perspective across different models and theories with women in diverse contexts and different relationships. Relevant research is reviewed as it informs clinical social work practice. Research is evaluated for its biases against women. Students are expected to become aware of their own biases and the impact of such prejudices on their practice with women.

(Priscila Freire)

Tuesdays 2:30-5:00 (WTC)

Prerequisites for SOWK students: 500 level courses except for SOWK 506 and SOWK 509; Completion of 1st level internship (SWFI 530, SWFI 530S, SWFI 531, and SWFI 531S) or concurrent enrollment with SWFI 531 and SWFI 531S; or permission of the WSGS Graduate Program Director

Violence is endemic in our society.  This course will focus primarily on interpersonal violence between couples and on the occurrence of intrafamilial violence.  Content of the course will examine the various epistemological conceptualizations of violence, and the treatment of violence as it is experienced by various family members. 

This is an advanced clinical social work elective that builds on foundation social work courses.  The content of the course will be the identification and application of clinical social work assessment and intervention relevant to violence within couples and families.  The general topics for the course have been chosen specifically to cover the arenas of violence experienced by  family members, including children who witness violence within the family; adult survivors of childhood physical and sexual abuse; women and men who are battered and sexually assaulted by partners; and battering in same sex relationships. In addition, it addresses the treatment of offenders, specifically batterers and adult and juvenile physical and sexual offenders.   Relevant theoretical orientations (e.g., feminist, family systems, psychosocial, cognitive-behavioral), developmental theories, and life cycle issues will form the foundation for clinical social work practice. All issues and topics are considered within an historical and contemporary socio-cultural and political context.  Sexism, racism, ageism and the stereotyping of various ethnic and cultural groups will be identified and discussed as they form and influence the context of family life.  The myths of family violence will be identified and demystified.  Issues of social and economic justice for clients will be addressed. The efficacy of different models and modalities of practice will be discussed, including the recent impetus toward theoretical integration. Relevant research will be reviewed and assessed for biases as it informs clinical social work practice.  Students are expected to become aware of their own biases and the potential impact on their practice.  The course will examine the social construction of violence and the socio-cultural maintenance of violence as it informs treatment.



(Katherine Kaufka Walts)

Wednesdays 12:00-2:00 (WTC)

Prerequisites for SOWK students: 500 level courses except for SOWK 506 and SOWK 509; Completion of 1st level internship (SWFI 530, SWFI 530S, SWFI 531, and SWFI 531S) or concurrent enrollment with SWFI 531 and SWFI 531S; or permission of the WSGS Graduate Program Director

This interdisciplinary, graduate seminar will explore legal, social, and practical issues confronting children who are survivors of human trafficking within the United States, as well as an examination of efforts to prevent and intervene in this social problem.  The seminar will begin with an overview of contemporary laws and policies addressing human trafficking, and explore various frameworks (including gender, criminal justice, public health) around movements to combat child trafficking. The students will then analyze current research in the field, and explore case management, services, and techniques utilized by service providers. Assignment and exercises (both in and out of class) will include mock interviews, critical analysis of legislation, and a complete a final project addressing ways to better advance the movement to combat child in the United States.  Scholars and practitioners in the field will provide occasional guest lectures. The course is open to law students and graduate level social work students [and WSGS MA students with permission of the WSGS Graduate Program Director].

(Michael Dentato)

Thursdays 11:30-2:00 (WTC)

Prerequisites for SOWK students: 500 level courses except for SOWK 506 and SOWK 509; Completion of 1st level internship (SWFI 530, SWFI 530S, SWFI 531, and SWFI 531S) or concurrent enrollment with SWFI 531 and SWFI 531S; or permission of the WSGS Graduate Program Director

This course within the School of Social Work is designed to provide students with an in-depth and critical understanding of issues related to individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ), as well as their families and the communities in which they live.  A variety of perspectives (including historical, political, sociological, psychological, etc.) are examined throughout the course to assist students in understanding the complexity and dynamics of the person-in-environment perspective when working with LGBTQ individuals. The course builds on foundation content in the areas of human behavior in the social environment, practice, policy, and research, and further advances and integrates these content areas through the readings and class discussions.

(Shweta Singh)

Tuesdays 6:00-8:30 (WTC)

Prerequisites for SOWK students: Completion of all 500-level MSW coursework or approval of the WSGS Graduate Program Director

FOR WSGS GRADUATE STUDENTS: This fulfills the Global requirement

This course will cover curriculum tailored to understanding women and their institutions and their representation in media including migration in a Global Context. The course will be structured in a seminar and a hybrid format and will be open to both graduate and undergraduate students. It aims to complement and supplement the knowledge of students of social work, women’s studies, migration, and communication. As the name suggests, the course will place women’s perspectives, identities, and positionality at the center of the discussions as we review an array of material that highlights the intricate links between population dynamics and the global political economy. This course will review social, cultural, economic and political conditions across societies that play a role in promoting and /or limiting women's rights. The course explores the relationships between population, institution, and policy surrounding issues of poverty, suppression of women’s rights, environmental sustainability, and violence in Asian, African, and South American context. It will compare women’s situations (social-political-legal -economic) using examples from these countries. The primary streams of feminist thoughts with an emphasis on postcolonial/ postmodern/ poststructuralist thought will be applied to policy analysis. The reading material comprises policies and other literature produced by the international development agencies, local non-profits, and ethnographic and documentary videos.

Course Description: This course links content from social work policy, Women and Gender Studies, and Communications. It provides an exposure to international institutions of relevance to populations of women and policies from across Asia, Africa, and South America with an emphasis on media products like documentaries, television and newspaper media.

Course Outcomes: Gain experience in analyzing policy; understand the approaches that can serve as models for addressing women’s issues including narrative analysis, post-structuralism, and postcolonial feminism; build skills in working with audio software; advocacy through new media for changes across the global women’s community.

(Aana Vigen)

Tuesdays 4:15-6:45 (LSC)

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This graduate course will engage central themes in Christian theologies and ethics, focusing on perspectives found especially in white feminist and black feminist/womanist thought.  However, it will also highlight select authors and issues from Latina/mujerista, Asian American, global, and secular feminist sources.  We will read both classic texts along with more recent works as we observe the difference that gender and other components of social location (e.g. race, socio-economic class, globalization) make to the theological and ethical enterprise.  Thus, this course will briefly introduce students to the history of feminist theological and ethical thought and will also explore contemporary, pressing issues in theology and ethics by listening to distinct and sometimes contrasting, feminist/womanist etc. voices.

This course is intended not only for formal theology students, but for any graduate student curious about the particular lenses that feminist analyses bring to questions of faith, of religious practice and organization, and to those pertaining to pressing social, economic, interpersonal, and political issues.  All students need a keen interest in both theological and ethical concepts in order to appreciate and learn from the course content.

Prerequisite: one WSGS course. NOTE: *Graduate Program Director consent required

This supervised field experience allows students to work with a women's political, cultural or educational organization or project. It gives students an opportunity to learn about public and private sector responses to women's issues and concerns.*

Please note: WSGS Director Betsy Jones Hemenway has a specific practicum project in program development. Please inquire if interested in our advising appointment.

Graduate Program Director consent required*

WSGS Graduate Program Director consent required. 

Thesis Supervision; GPD consent required

Capstone; GPD consent required