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The Roots of Feminism

Overview of class

This course will introduce students to major milestone texts in the development of feminist thought and the women's movement. We will read and discuss the work of major feminist "names" from 1790-1990, and will consider the importance of both Marxist and Freudian analyses for feminist theory. Readings will be contextualized in terms of social, political, and intellectual background. We will explore the emergence of liberal, cultural, socialist-feminist, and radical feminism, and will consider issues of race and sexuality. The course seeks to develop an understanding of why feminism looks the way it does today; in fact, why we must talk about feminisms rather than assume the existence of a single, unified voice or movement. We cannot, however, hope to cover everything, and it is to be emphasized that this is an introductory course. All are welcome, but open minds and a capacity for hard work are pre-requisites. Be ready to do a lot of reading!

Evaluation Method


10% section participation

50% two term papers

40% final examination


MANDATORY attendance at the first meeting

2 classes per week + one 1 hour discussion section

Class Materials (Required)


Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology

Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

Josephine Donovan, Feminist Theory

Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Mary Wollstonecraft, Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

Class Attributes

Historical Studies Distro Area

Attendance at 1st class mandatory

No P/N option for this section Back to top