Photographer: Prof. Carolyn Lewis GWSS seniors in the capstone course re-enacted the 1980s sex wars in a class debate. The 2018

About the Major

About the Major

Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies is an interdisciplinary field in which women, men, gender, and sexuality are examined by looking at various cultures and historical periods and by employing diverse methods of inquiry.

1991 GWS 495 cohortStudents in the major will gain theoretical and methodological tools grounded in feminist and queer scholarship. Majors will study the history and development of feminist and queer thought, as well as the evolution of the field of women's studies, with a strong emphasis on intersectional analyses — i.e., the ways in which race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, ability, and nationality interact.

Students will become familiar with how theorists and researchers in gender, women's and sexuality studies critically engage theoretical paradigms, such as liberalism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, and post-colonialism. Majors will be introduced to research methods that unearth invisible or silenced knowledge and that revisit and revise previous readings of cultural products and practices. They will study methods of feminist and queer research in the social sciences and humanities, including oral history, case studies, archival research, visual and literary criticism, survey content analysis, and field work.

Majors will learn to ask the basic questions underlying the production of new knowledge, including: Who does research? Does it matter who the researcher is? How does the social location (race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality) of the researcher shape the production of knowledge? What is the relationship between feminist and queer research and social and political change?

Photo image — Students from the 1991 GWS 495 cohort: Dawn Akey, Sarah Deel, Rashmi Dyal-Chand, Julie Goings, Ellie Gravitz, Kristin Hajny, and Jon Wentzl.

Image courtesy of Grinnell College Libraries Special Collections and Archives.