Courses in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies are offered every spring and fall semester at Penn State Altoona. The eighteen-credit Women’s Studies minor, which is available at Penn State Altoona, enriches study in many majors, including human development, political science, criminal justice, communications, theatre, English, engineering, and the natural sciences. The minor provides students with a competitive edge in their professional lives.
It is also possible to design a Women’s Studies/Gender Studies or Diversity Studies major at Penn State Altoona through the Multidisciplinary Studies program. Contact Dr. Sandra H. Petrulionis at [email protected] for information about Multidisciplinary Studies. Research with productive faculty can be done at our college.
Graduates with degrees in Women’s Studies attend top-tier professional, law, and graduate schools. They have careers in professional fields as diverse as legal advocacy, counseling, public relations, journalism, management, non-profit administration, teaching, medicine, politics, and government.
Contact Dr. Megan Simpson at [email protected] if you are minoring in Women’s Studies to ensure courses are going into the right places on your Academic Requirements Report in LionPATH.
Spring 2024 Courses
WMNST 100: Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
Dr. Kim S. Ménard
T/R 1:35–2:50 p.m.
This multi-disciplinary introductory course on women, gender, and sexuality will explore women’s experience and status here in the U.S. and abroad. We will examine how women’s lives are shaped by the social construction of gender, as well as its intersection with class, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. In addition, we will explore how societal institutions (e.g., economic, familial, reproductive, criminal justice, educational, and political) serve to maintain the “status quo.” The course will use feminist theory and research to understand and potentially find ways to dismantle patterns of oppression affecting all people regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. Students of all genders, races, orientations, backgrounds, and perspectives are most welcome in this course.
(GS; US; IL)
WMNST/HIST 117: Women in Modern History
Dr. Lindsay Keiter
MWF 1:25–2:15 p.m.
What has it meant to be a woman, and how has that changed over the past four centuries? This class explores how gender shaped individual and group experiences from the 17th century through today. Students will apply historical analysis to consider women not as a monolith but as people with complex identities shaped by race, ethnicity, class, and religion. At the end of this course, students will be able to provide historical context for current debates around and challenges facing women of various backgrounds today.
(GH; US; IL)
WMNST/HIST 166: History of Sexuality in the U.S.
Dr. Lindsay Keiter
MWF 12:20–1:10 p.m.
Why do we care so much about who has sex with whom and how? How did we arrive at our current “obvious” understanding of sexual behavior and identity? HIST/WMNST 166 explores how ideas and practices of sexuality have changed over the last 400 years and how ideas about sexuality are also ideas about power and social order. We’ll explore questions like: Have there always been homosexuals – or heterosexuals? How has the relationship between gender identity and sexuality changed over time? How do race and class come into play? How have “normal” and “deviant” sexuality been defined over time – and why has it changed? Is sex work empowering or exploitative? What forces led to the #MeToo movement? You’ll leave this course with a better grasp of why Americans continue to debate about what constitutes “good,” “bad,” and “normal” sexual behavior.
Prerequisite: one introductory course in either history or women’s studies.
WMNST/COMM 205: Gender, Diversity, and the Media
Dr. Kevin Moist
T/R 10:35–11:50 a.m.
This course investigates the role of media representations in shaping our ideas about society and culture, with particular attention paid to how portrayals of gender, race, and ethnicity influence perceptions of different social groups. Course topics focus on case studies involving a range of different media and groups. Class activities include weekly readings and reading quizzes, several short response papers, class discussions, and two examinations.
(GS; US; satisfies Non-Western Women/Women of Color requirement for the WMNST minor)
WMNST/ENGL 225N: Sexuality and Modern Visual Culture
Dr. Laura Rotunno and Dr. Douglas Page
MWF 9:05–9:55 a.m.
Sex Sells ... So What, Exactly, Are We Buying? Our world bombards us with images, and we contribute to that barrage each time we post a picture. This class will engage you in vital discussions about those images as well as those that came before us and continue to shape what we see and create today. At its core, this class will be driven by our discussion of visual presentations that use “sex” to “sell” us a story; that story might be about what family is or should be, about what political activism looks like, about how a society thinks about love, beauty, hate, even its future hopes or its present fears. To spur those discussions, we’ll offer you readings by and about artists and their subjects—both fictional and real—and a rich, diverse historical background in visual representations that reflect how Western society, from the mid-19th-century to today, has viewed itself through the lens of sexuality, which always intersects with race, gender, gender identity, and class. For example, the terms “feminist” and “homosexual” were invented by the Victorians and reflect profound shifts in conceptions of identity. Another 19th-century invention was the idea of the literary and artistic “avant-garde” as a minority contingent with politically and/or aesthetically advanced views. These ideas of minority culture were deeply enmeshed with one another and still have effects on our world today. Discussions of these ideas then, hopefully, can help us all navigate the flood of images that today’s media presents as well as the self-images we cast into the world.
(GA; GH; Interdomain)
WMNST/ENGL 227: Introduction to Queer Theory - Seeing Medieval Masculinities
Dr. Jeffery Stoyanoff
MW 4:00–5:15 p.m.
In this course, we will first learn what Queer Theory is and how it is applied to a number of other disciplines. After we have established this context, we will specifically use Queer Theory as a lens to read medieval English texts – mostly medieval romances and other Middle English poetry and drama. Doing this work, we’ll need a working understanding of the sorts of masculinities available to men in the Middle Ages. The practice of chivalry dominates the various romances of medieval English literature, popularly stereotyped as the knight in shining armor saving the damsel in distress. Yet this particular type of masculinity is not the only one available to the various male and even at times female characters in Middle English romances. This course aims to unsettle preconceptions of medieval masculinity by reading a number of Middle English romances using gender and queer theoretical approaches. In so doing, it will provide students an opportunity to discover the multi-faceted nature of medieval English masculinity and how elements of it have influenced our current understanding of masculinity.
WMNST/EDTHP 412: Education and the Status of Women
Dr. Carrie Freie
MWF 2:30–3:20 p.m.
In WMNST 412, Education and the Status of Women, students explore the relationship between gender and education from historical, philosophical, and sociological perspectives. Some issues we will address include questions of educational access, the profession of teaching, curriculum, the current climate in education, Title IX, gender bias, LGBTQ+ issues, and children’s literature.
WMNST/CRIMJ 423: Sexual Violence
Dr. Kim S. Ménard
T/R 10:35–11:50 a.m.
This course examines sexual and interpersonal violence from victims’, society’s, and the criminal justice system’s perspectives. It begins by examining the nature of these crimes, including their legal definition and occurrence. Next, it reviews theories of violence and provides a more detailed analysis of the types, causes, and effects of sexual and interpersonal violence. Finally, the course focuses on college campuses, including laws institutions have to adhere to when dealing with these crimes, the policies implemented to try to reduce them, and victims’ demands for action.
WMNST/CRIMJ 453: Women and Justice
Dr. Kim S. Ménard
TR 3:05–4:20 p.m.
This course takes a feminist perspective to examine women in different roles (e.g., victim, offender, professional) within the criminal justice system. It begins by looking at women as victims within the criminal justice system, focusing on the etiology and outcomes of victimization. Next, it examines women offenders, the unique difficulties they face in prison, and the theoretical frameworks used to explain offending behavior. Finally, the course explores women as professionals working in the criminal justice system, including some of the challenges they face in these traditionally male professions. (US)
NURS 452: Women’s Health Issues
Dr. Victoria Kellogg
M 11:15 a.m.–2:15 p.m.
This course examines major health issues concerning women today. The topics covered include, but are not limited to: developing a healthy life style--nutrition and exercise; family planning--birth control methods; violence against women--relationship rights and signs of a batterer; eating disorders--anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating; sexual wellness; substance abuse--alcohol, prescription drugs; menopause signs and symptoms, treatments; and medical conditions affecting women today such as cancer, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and heart disease. The course emphasizes that women's lives are influenced by social, economic, political, and cultural conditions. (GHA)