Loyola University Chicago

Women's Studies and Gender Studies

Course Descriptions

This course examines the social injustices in the criminal justice system’s naming and sanctioning of harmful behaviors as crimes.  Discussions will unpack the values, ethics, and ideologies underlying the current retributive system of sanctioning compared to social justice responses. Harmful and oppressive crimes of states, nations, and corporations such as genocide, violence, and environmental crimes illustrate key concepts underlying justice models.  Students will learn how the following concepts apply in retributive justice models and more inclusive, peace-oriented, and restorative models: marginalization, stigmatization, stigma, power, privilege, bias, oppression, resistance, compassion, inclusivity, community, and the limitations of a rights-based approach.

This course focuses on the turbulent years from 1960 to 1974 in American history, a period of active social movements and foreign wars. Outcome: Students will be able to demonstrate historical knowledge of American social, political, gender, and cultural change during the 1960s, to draw links between popular mobilizations, countercultures, and social change, and to develop critical thinking and communication skills.

This course, which is required of all English majors, introduces students to critical terminology and to issues in contemporary criticism and theory.  Readings may include critical works that have informed and established formalist, feminist, psychoanalytic, and Marxist approaches to literary analysis, as well as those associated with gender studies, cultural studies, postcolonialism, and deconstruction. Outcome: Students will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of significant texts and theories relating to issues in contemporary criticism.

Note from Professor, Pamela Caughie: “However, I teach it as an introduction to poststructuralism, the crux of so many contemporary feminist and gender theories, and I teach students how to think theoretically, not just to know certain theorists. I would argue that feminist and gender scholars need to know Derrida, Saussure, and the Frankfurt School as well as Foucault and Butler, but … WSGS students may find my theory course too male-heavy... I do teach Butler, Sedgwick, Gayle Rubin, Nancy Armstrong, Gayatri Spivak, and Toni Morrison, and I'm going to add Woolf this spring. But I don't teach them only as feminists; I connect them to other movements and focus on how to read theoretical texts.”

Prejudice from a psychological perspective. Applying psychological concepts, research, and theory to understand the origins and consequences of prejudice as well as potential remedies. Outcomes: Students will learn the origins of stereotypes and prejudice, the nature of prejudice against different social groups, how people are affected by prejudice and cope with prejudice, and the processes that may change stereotypes, reduce prejudice, and improve intergroup relations.

This course explores Hindu goddesses and their worship in the Hindu tradition. We will examine the nature of specific goddesses as well as ritual practices associated with goddess worship, including meditation, dance, blood sacrifice, possession, and devotional ritual.We will look at the way that the Hindu Goddess is linked to nationalist movements and tendencies in contemporary India. And we will consider potential connections between goddesses and women, probing whether or not the Hindu goddess tradition is supportive of feminist aims. Some prior knowledge of Hinduism is very helpful but not required for students in this course. 

Prerequisite: Graduate students only; familiarity with US Public Policy required

*combined section with LAW 421

Students will analyze strategies for assessing the political feasibility of enacting and implementing public policies.  Crafting a message, use of media to communicate that message, identification of allies and opponents, and how to navigate legislative and bureaucratic processes will be covered. Outcomes:  Ability to craft and implement a comprehensive political strategy to change public policy outcomes.  Includes: creating messages, use of media, development of grassroots campaign, work within legislatures and government agencies.


Prerequisite: 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 *Approval of the WSGS Graduate Program Director.

This course provides basic knowledge about the physiology and psychology of human sexuality as well as consideration of some areas of sexual dysfunction. In addition to the knowledge component, attention is focused on cultural, societal, and personal attitudes which may affect the student's response to this area of practice. The problems of sexual dysfunction are considered within the context of the client relational patterns and individual adjustments. Current treatment modalities are reviewed and examined within the context of social work values.

Prerequisite: 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 *Approval of the WSGS Graduate Program Director.

This practice elective focuses on engagement, assessment, intervention and termination with couples. Various theoretical orientations (i.e. communications, cognitive behavioral, family of origin, feminist therapy, and narrative/postmodern) of couples practice are covered.  This course also addresses special issues that arise in working with couples such as substance abuse, violence, sexual dysfunction, incest survivors, infidelity, separation, divorce counseling and mediation services.  Also covered in this course are special considerations in working with issues of social class, race, ethnicity, physical disability, culture, gender issues and sexual orientation. The values and principles of the liberal arts perspectives are reflected in this course through the use of short stories, novels, plays and movies as well as through the course=s exploration of issues of diversity.  This course utilizes "classic" and contemporary sources of literature in the couples therapy field.  It is important for students to be exposed to original sources of practice literature rather than an exclusive reliance on newer synopsis of classic material.

Prerequisite: 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 *Approval of the WSGS Graduate Program Director.

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 of the major migrant groups, to prepare students to provide advanced clinical services to individuals and families who are currently living in the U.S. The course will build a knowledge base necessary to effectively work with immigrant and refugee populations, in general, and with immigrants who have suffered violence and trauma in particular. Experiences of the migrants and the group and individual characteristics relevant to immigration will be explored and discussed.  The general topics for the course have been chosen specifically to cover the arenas of immigration: (1) the migration experience; (2) the characteristics of immigrants who are currently relocating in the U.S., including an analysis of the Western perspective ; (3) the process of acculturation and assimilation, including the controversies embedded in these concepts; (4) the interface of migration, violence and trauma; and (5) the multi-theoretical, multi-systemic ecological process of assessment and intervention with a greater awareness and understanding of  non-Western perspectives on mental health and healing among the various immigrant and refugee populations.

Theoretical orientations based upon a bio-psycho-social assessment (e.g., ecological, feminist, family systems, psychosocial, cognitive-behavioral), as well as developmental theories, and life cycle stages will form the foundation for social work practice. All issues and topics are considered within an historical and contemporary socio-cultural and socio-political context.  Sexism, racism, ageism and the stereotyping of various ethnic, racial, and cultural groups will be identified and discussed as they form and influence the context of individual and family life in a new host country. 

Prerequisite: Fluency in Spanish required (students may opt to write in English for WSGS credit only)

A comparative study of 20th century peninsular and Latin American women writers who practice a variety of genres: autobiography, memoir, novel, short story, and poetry.  Special emphasis will be given to the construction of the female subject; the representation of gender; the relations between men and women, and among women--mothers and daughters, sisters and other female family members, and friends--the relationship between creativity and sexuality; and the intimate interplay of gender, politics, and social mores in the formation of female identity.

The purpose of this course is for students to acquire the tools to examine how Jewish and Christian thinkers have struggled with questions around gender.  We will also examine the variety of tools that Jewish and Christian ethical thinkers have used to connect and mediate between their religious texts and their ethical reasoning.  We will look at the diversity of gender roles in Jewish and Christian communities.  Finally, we will examine the challenges of feminist theology to Jewish and Christian theological thinking.  

Students will be expected to complete a substantial research paper. 

Required texts:  Lois K Daly, Feminist Theological Ethics, Westminster John Knox Press, 1994; Rachel Adler, Engendering Judaism, Beacon Press, 1999. 

This course examines methods of reading, writing, and conducting research that have emerged from feminist thought. How do gender and sexuality shape the production of knowledge?  What is a feminist text?  What is a feminist research question?  What is a feminist archival practice? The answers to each question are as multiple and divergent as the variety of feminisms that we can imagine.  Students will explore such questions in practical assignments as they develop their own feminist research practices. 

Readings will be primarily theoretical as we examine the assumptions that underlie our research and writing processes.  The course will culminate in a long independent research project and paper.  

This is a required course for all MA WSGS students. 

This graduate level course maps the field of queer theory from an interdisciplinary perspective in order to cover a wide range of theoretical approaches (lesbian and gay studies, sexuality studies, radical feminism, race theory, postructuralism, transnational theory) and interpretative applications (film, literature, pop culture) that reflect the professor’s fields of expertise and scholarship. The course is divided into two modules: foundational theories and interdisciplinary applications, and literature, film, and popular culture. The ‘queering’ nature of the course makes its interdisciplinary approach open to both ‘high culture’ (cultural theory, literature, film) and ‘low culture’ (music, mass media) and is designed to break boundaries, including national ones, beyond dominant cultural heteronormativity. The course envisions final collaborative projects in which students are encouraged to explore different disciplinary and analytical tools, as well as media. For this reason, the course is specifically designed to complement the studies of graduate students in various disciplines (English, Modern Languages and Literatures, Women’s Studies and Gender Studies, International Studies, Sociology, among others) and with a background in critical theory and a strong interest in queer theory, transnationalism, and (trans)cultural studies.

What is Masculinity Studies?  While masculinity and manhood are concepts that many believe as fixed, unchanging, and “natural”, this course will argue that they are, in fact, a social construction and both historically and culturally dynamic. What a society thinks of as “normal male behavior”and hegemonic masculinity are ultimately also interconnected with questions of gender, race, ethnicity, class, (homo)sexuality, and nationalism. For this reason, the course utilizes a feminist approach to the study of gender and sexuality and has been designed to not only highlight the intersectional exploration of how masculinity is embodied, experienced, and replicated in the United States but also in Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East. With this international lens, the course aims to give students a solid grounding in the academic study of masculinity as well as a better understanding of contemporary global masculinity sociocultural issues and concerns which include the “crisis of masculinity.”

Readings and films include: R.W. Connell; J. Butler; M. Kimmel;Fight Club; bell hooks; J Halberstam; M. Gutmann; M. Messner; Dependencia sexual/Sexual Dependency; D. Gilb; F. Aldama; Y tu mamá también.

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.