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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2013/2014

Term: 1

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Dr. Melinda Gough


Office: Chester New Hall 329

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23716

Office Hours: @ CNH 329, Thurs. 11:30-12:30 & by appointment

Course Objectives:

  • Identify and discuss ideas and concepts addressing the relationships between gender, sexuality, class, race, nationality, and culture.
  • Apply the critical frameworks they have studied and skills they have developed to the analysis of popular culture, media texts, and cultural practices.
  • Critically compare and contrast representational practices and discourses in mainstream mass media and in feminist media sources.
  • Articulate their understanding of course concepts in class discussion, written assignments, and examinations.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

WOMEN ST 1A03 courseware packet

Collins, The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008) OR Meyer, Twilight (Little/Brown Books,

     2008) – choice to be determined by students the first week of term


*available through the Campus Store

Method of Assessment:


  • Tutorial participation – 15%
  • Reading quizzes – 10%
  • Midterm Exam (February 12 during the scheduled lecture period)  – 20%
  • Paper:  Reading the Feminist Media (annotated bibliography and in-person presentation the week of March 3-7; paper due March 12 or March 19) – 25%
  • Final Exam (scheduled by the Registrar’s office) – 30%




Our weekly readings will introduce key concepts for the course. These materials provide contexts, ideas, and concepts that will help shape and focus our discussions and provide common ground from which we can explore important links between gender, culture, and power. At the beginning and end of term we will also be looking at popular fiction as a way of focusing and illustrating key theoretical and critical concerns. You are expected to complete each assigned reading prior to the corresponding lecture and to bring copies of the readings with you to all lectures and tutorials.


We will meet for one two-hour lecture each week. Lectures are the primary means of communicating information, including course concepts, readings, and other ideas and materials crucial to your success in this class. Lectures will also incorporate relevant audio-visual examples. Please come to lectures having completed the assigned readings, open to new ideas, and prepared to engage critically in small and large group discussions.


Tutorials, in which you meet in smaller groups with your TA, provide a crucial forum in which to discuss and clarify the concepts and issues raised in the lectures and the readings and to examine how these concepts may be applied.


Tutorial attendance and participation (15%): Tutorials begin the week of January 13-17. Students are expected to attend every tutorial. If you have an extraordinary situation that impacts your ability to attend tutorials regularly, please discuss this with Dr. Gough as soon as possible. As your tutorial leaders (TAs) assess participation, they will be looking for evidence of preparation (including having completed the assigned readings and bringing copies with you to consult during class) and active and focused verbal contributions to discussion. Tutorial work will also involve the completion of short tutorial assignments, including a presentation that will help you prepare your media analysis paper. If you feel uncomfortable speaking in tutorial – for whatever reason – please discuss this with your tutorial leader as soon as possible. Your TA can offer strategies to make you feel more at ease and may also have suggestions for alternate forms of participation.

Reading quizzes (10%): Throughout the semester, you will complete a series of short “pop” (unannounced) quizzes. These quizzes will test your knowledge of key concepts in the readings assigned for that week. They will give you a sense of how you are performing in the course. And they will help you to prepare for the midterm and the final exam. Quizzes will also be used to prompt discussion and debate. Late or missing quizzes cannot be made up except in cases of medical or family emergency.


Midterm Exam (20%): This 50 minute long exam will be held during the scheduled lecture period on February 12. It will build on readings, lectures, quizzes, and tutorial discussions to test your knowledge of materials covered in the lectures and readings for weeks 1-5, with particular focus on key terms and concepts. 


Paper: Reading the Feminist Media (25%): For your term paper, you will analyze recent media coverage of a current news item in mainstream and in feminist media (print or online). The object of this assignment is to identify feminist interventions in the media and compare self-identified feminist treatments of current events with that of more mainstream news outlets. The assignment includes two written components: (1) an annotated bibliography for your paper combined with a short in-tutorial presentation, and (2) the final paper.

To begin working on your annotated bibliography: (a) read Penni Mitchell’s “The Pen and the Picket” (available on Avenue), (b) find a feature article in a feminist media outlet on which you would like to focus in your paper (a list of suggested outlets will be provided), and (c) find an article in a mainstream media outlet that focuses on the same news item and which provides a comparative or contrasting viewpoint to that of the feminist media source you have chosen. Your annotated bibliography, due in tutorial the week of March 3-7, will provide scholarly citations and brief annotations (80-100 word summaries) for these three sources (Mitchell’s essay, your chosen feminist media article, and your chosen mainstream media article). In tutorial, you will give a short presentation to the group outlining your topic and sources.

The paper itself is a comparative analysis of your current news item as taken up in the two media sources you have chosen. Please see our Avenue site in early February for further details. Completed papers are due at the beginning of lecture on March 12. Papers handed in on this date will receive full commentary and a grade. Papers may also be handed in one week later, at the beginning of lecture on March 19, with no late penalty; papers handed in on this second date will receive a grade but no commentary. No papers will be accepted after March 19.

You will be required to submit electronic copies of your annotated bibliography and paper to the appropriate drop box (with integration) on Avenue to Learn. You are also required to keep a printout, photocopy, or electronic file of your research notes, as well as drafts of your work. You may be required to produce these materials. Failure to do so may result in loss of credit for the assignment.

Final Exam (30%): Our final examination will take place during the official examination period, as scheduled by the Registrar. Exam questions will draw from all materials in the course, including readings, film screenings, lectures, large and small group discussions, and student essays. During the last week of class, we will discuss the exam format as well as review and preparation strategies.

Bonus Assignment: In this class you have the chance to earn a 5-point bonus to be added to your grade on the final exam (this means that if you complete the bonus mark perfect, and the final exam is out of 120 points, you could theoretically get a final exam mark of 125/120). To qualify for the bonus, you must attend a seminar, lecture, protest, or cultural event on campus or in your community that is not a part of your scheduled course activities and which is related to the themes of this course. An event related to women’s studies or women’s concerns on campus would qualify, as would many other events on campus (if in doubt, ask). To complete the bonus assignment, attend the event and then write a 2-page written summary and response. Your written will briefly describe the event, noting particularly important details, and then outline your considered interpretation, tying the event (where possible) to course concepts and readings. Your written response must be submitted via the designated drop box on Avenue to Learn no later than 7 days following the event. You can find relevant event listings on posters around campus, and on our Avenue to Learn course site. You can only earn one bonus, but that doesn’t mean that you should restrict yourself to one event!

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:


Course Announcements: Check Avenue to Learn regularly for course-related announcements, information and materials.


Classroom Etiquette: The classroom is a shared space for learning and exploring intellectual challenges. A respectful and civil environment is an absolute necessity. Undoubtedly, due to the nature of our course material, disagreements are likely to arise. All students are expected to treat their peers and the teaching team with respect. Sexist, racist, homo/transphobic, and other oppressive language and behaviour is not acceptable. If you are unsure of what this means, or you feel you are being silenced or marginalized in the classroom, please speak with your instructor or TA.

Appropriate classroom etiquette also includes attentive listening while others are speaking and during the playing of audio-visual examples. Please be respectful of your fellow students’ needs to concentrate during lectures, audio-visual screenings, large and small group discussions, and quizzes. Try to avoid disturbing others—arrive on time, do not pack up until you are dismissed, etc. If you have to step out during class, please do so as quickly and quietly as possible. Laptop computers and other personal electronic devices may only be used for note-taking or consulting course materials. Browsing of websites, checking email, instant messaging, and other uses are distracting to other students and are therefore prohibited in class. Students violating this policy may be asked to put their computers away and/or leave the classroom.


Communication: Students are encouraged to consult with the instructor and teaching assistants in person about course material, assignments, and various course-related academic challenges. If you cannot make the dates and times of your TA’s or Dr. Gough’s office hours please contact the person you need to see, in advance, in order to arrange an appointment.

Please note that email queries that require more than a 2 sentence response are better suited for discussion in person during office hours or by appointment. Emails may not be answered immediately – please allow 48 hours for response time, not including weekends. When emailing, please be professional and courteous and identify yourself by your full name.

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from the student’s own McMaster email account or the student’s own Avenue to Learn email. In this course, all email to instructor and/or TAs must be sent from your Avenue to Learn email account. This policy allows the TAs and instructor to keep an accurate record of course-related email. It also protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student. Instructors and TAs will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email or Avenue to Learn account. 


Assignment Submission: All assignments should be submitted in person to the course instructor or TA and/or to the designated drop box on Avenue to Learn on the appropriate deadline. PAPERS SUBMITTED VIA EMAIL OR SLIPPED UNDER OFFICE DOORS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. Work not submitted in class can be placed in the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies assignment drop-off box outside of TSH 313, clearly marked on the first page with your name, your TA’s name, and the course number. Please note that if your assignment is received after the due date and time, it will be counted as late; no papers will be accepted after the final due date (March 19), after which the grade awarded is zero (0). You are responsible for picking up your marked paper in tutorial or during your TA’s office hours. All inquiries about paper grades must be directed to your TA.


Extensions and Missed Work: Requests for extensions or SAS-related accommodations must be directed to Dr. Gough well in advance of the deadline. Missed work or deadlines can only be made up or excused in the case of formally documented medical issues, family emergencies, or religious obligations on the date in question. Use the MSAF self-reporting tool up to once per term for minor medical situations ( If you are absent for reasons other than medical ones for more than 5 days or exceed 1 request per term you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office (Faculty Office). Make-up assignments are not otherwise available.


Special Needs: Please note that the McMaster Student Accessibility Services (MUSC Basement, Room B107) approves all accommodations for students with disabilities. These accommodations are designed to ensure that each student has a fair opportunity to perform in McMaster courses. Students with disabilities are responsible for identifying themselves to SAS in order to receive accommodations. If you have an accommodation letter from SAS, please bring it to Dr. Gough (or inform her that it is coming) by the second week of classes. We want to help you, but we have to know what you need. For further information, please see


Policy On Academic Ethics and Academic Dishonesty: Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy at:

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

(1) Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one's own or for which other credit has been obtained;

(2) Improper collaboration in group work;

(3) Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

The instructor may require the use of (via Avenue to Learn) for the submission of written assignments (see Where required, failure to submit assignments to will result in a grade of zero (0), except where students with a principled objection to using have let the instructor know within the first four (4) weeks of class and where alternate arrangements for establishing academic honesty can be made. Students are responsible for learning how to use the Avenue to Learn/Turnitin assignment submission system properly. 

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:


Week 1 - Jan. 8

Setting up our Frameworks:

Bestseller Fiction, Advertising, Consumption, and Body Image

Fielding, Bridget Jones’ Diary (excerpts displayed in lecture)


Week 2 - Jan. 15 (TUTORIALS BEGIN)

Abelson, “Urban Women and the Emergence of Shopping” (CW)

Scanlon, excerpt from “Inarticulate Longings” (CW)

Coward, “The Body Beautiful” (CW)


Week 3 - Jan. 22

Mernissi, “Size 6: The Western Women’s Harem” (CW)

Bordo, “Pills and Power Tools” (CW)

Parks, “Mad Men, Mad Women” (link within AVENUE)  


Week 4 - Jan. 29

Stepping Back:  What is Women’s Studies? Why Feminism?

Kesselman et. al., “What is Women’s Studies?” (CW)

Ahn, “Not Post-feminism” (CW)

hooks, “Feminism: A Transformational Politics” (CW)


Week 5 - Feb. 5

Building our Theoretical Toolbox: Interlocking Systems of Domination and  Privilege

Kimmel, “Men and Women’s Studies” (CW)  

McIntosh, “White Privilege and Male Privilege” (CW) 

Koyama, “The Transfeminist Manifesto” (CW)



Midterm Exam

López, “Social Construction of Race” (CW)


Feb. 19 - WINTER BREAK no lectures or tutorials


Week 7 - Feb. 26

Representation and Resistance I:  Guerilla Girls/Grrrls

Pollock, “Women and Art History” (CW)

Lustig, “The Guerilla Girls” (CW)

Davis, “Screaming as Loud as the Boys” (link in Avenue)

Screening (clips): Harrison, Guerillas in Our Midst (1992)


Week 8 - Mar. 5

 “Symposium:  Feminist Zines,” from Signs Autumn 2009:

 Zobl, “Cultural Production, Transnational Networking” (CW)

 Chidgey, “Free, Trade” (CW)

 La Mestiza Colectiva, “This Mestiza is Feminist” (CW)

 Screening: Herold, Grrlyshow (2000)

Annotated bibliography due in tutorial (and via Avenue dropbox) plus in-person tutorial presentation


Week 9 - Mar. 12

Representation and Resistance II: State, Nation, Imperialism, Globalization

Pettman, “Women, Gender, and the State” (CW)

Yuval-Davis, “Gender and Nation”

Molokomme et al., “An Open Letter to the Attorney-General” (CW)

Screening (clips): Deer, Club Native (2008)

First paper deadline (to receive comments): hardcopy in lecture, e-copy to Avenue dropbox, March 12


Week 10 - Mar. 19

Leveen, “Dora the Explorer and the Dirty Secrets of Global Industrial Economy”(CW)

Human Rights Watch, “Sex Discrimination in the Maquiladoras” (CW)

Mika and Trotz, “Organizing Across Borders, Organizing for Change” (CW)

Downe, “Trafficked Prostitutes, Current Realities, and Utopian Possibilities” (CW)

Second paper deadline (grade only): hardcopy in lecture, e-copy to Avenue dropbox, March 19


Week 11 - Mar. 26

Representation and Resistance III:  Bestseller Fiction (Redux)

Downe, cont’d

Collins, The Hunger Games OR Meyer, Twilight



Collins, The Hunger Games OR Meyer, Twilight (cont’d)

Catch-up and review for final exam