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WGST 250: Approaches to Research & Practice in Women’s & Gender Studies

WGST 250 Approaches

WGST 250: Approaches to Research & Practice in Women’s & Gender Studies

CRN 16554, TR 1:40PM-2:55PM

Prof. Kris De Welde

This is an inquiry-based course that offers a primer to the theoretical, conceptual and methodological frameworks in Women’s and Gender Studies. Students will engage with intersectional and interdisciplinary approaches to research and activism in an effort to understand more fully concerns of power, oppression, and liberation that are central to the discipline. Counts as an elective for WGS majors and minors.

Student Spotlight: Denver Tanner

What is your hometown, your pronouns, and your major(s)/minor(s)?Denver Tanner

My home town is Inman, South Carolina, a small mountain town on the outskirts of Spartanburg, SC. My major is political science with a concentration in Philosophy, Politics, and the law. My minors are Women’s and Gender Studies and Studio Art. 

What areas/aspects of gender activism and/or social justice do you find most engaging/interesting, and why?

I find LGBTQIA+ issues most engaging to me when it comes to gender activism and social justice due to my identity as a non-binary lesbian. This aspect of my identity is very important to me because I spent the first twenty-one years of my life in the closet. Now that I have a supportive community, a self-love mentality that enabled me to be out, I want to support those who continue to struggle with this aspect of their lives. 

Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations. 

I am involved in many extra circular activities. I currently work for the REACH department at the College of Charleston as their student assistant and academic tutor. I’ve worked in these roles for approximately four years. I also work part-time at Cru Catering as a banquet server. I am involved in multiple scholarship programs including HSS LEAP, Ketner-Crunelle Scholar, and the Phi Eta Sigma honor society. Last semester I was the vice president for the pre-law society at CofC.  I am also starting my Master’s degree in Public Administration this semester. In fall 2019, I traveled to Trujillo, Spain for a faculty-led study abroad trip. 

What impact have your WGS courses had on you? and/or: Why should every CofC student take a WGS class before they graduate? 

My first experience with a WGS course was as a tutor for the REACH program in spring 2020. I was tutoring a student in an introduction to WGS course. I actually took the same course last semester for a minor requirement and my professor used the same textbook. This introduction to the program was one of my first college experiences in intersectionality, equity, and greatly aided in my pathway to accepting myself as a member of the LGBT community. My second experience with a WGS course was in Trujillo, Spain with Dr. Kendra Stewart. She taught a comparison course about the lives of women in America and Spain. This class is what inspired me to make WGS one of my minors. 

What does being a Ketner-Crunelle scholar mean to you?

Being a Ketner-Crunelle scholar means I get to fulfill one of my childhood dreams – being supported by, while simultaneously, uplifting the local LGBTQIA+ community. It means so much to me to be out and proud and to help those in my CofC community, and the greater Charleston community, celebrate their identities in a safe space. 

What are your plans and goals after graduation?

After I graduate with my bachelor’s degree in Political Science, I will continue my education at the College of Charleston by getting my Master’s in Public Administration. I will continue volunteering with a local LGBTQIA+ activism organization. I am currently looking for full-time, salary-based employment at the College of Charleston. 

Student Spotlight: Marissa Haynes

What is your hometown, your pronouns, and your major(s)/minor(s)?Marissa Haynes

My name is Marissa Haynes, and my pronouns are she/her. I grew up in a suburb outside of Philadelphia called Newtown, Pennsylvania. At The College, I am a Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies double major and a Spanish minor.

What areas/aspects of gender activism and/or advocacy for women and girls you find most engaging/interesting/what you’re most passionate about?

Sexual assault awareness is an area of gender activism that I have found myself engaging with most in recent years. The empowerment of women and queer peoples has become a part of my calling. Self defense, for example, is about way more than just learning how to defend yourself physically. It is about challenging a culture that has normalized the constant violation and antagonism of the bodies of women and LGBTQIA+ folx. Another area of advocacy that I am passionate about is the protection and education of children, specifically children from families of a low socioeconomic status and/or who experience marginalization. Children are arguably the most vulnerable members of our society, and as such deserve better than to have decisions made on their behalf that do not prioritize their safety and well-being.

Tell us about any extracurricular work you’re doing (ex. volunteering/local activism), or any involvement you have on campus with clubs/organizations.

One of my favorite things that I get to do is being the teaching assistant for the Jiu Jitsu for Self Defense class at the College. In this class, we teach students how to defend themselves using the art of Brazilian jiu jitsu, which is a martial art that emphasizes the use of leverage and physics to overcome an opponent instead of brute force or striking. As the teacher’s assistant, I am able to incorporate Feminist theory into each lesson in order to combat rape culture and empower our students emotionally and mentally, as well as physically. I am also currently interning with an organization called Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) to help them upstart a national podcast called “Feminist Intersections.” As another part of this internship, I am currently working to launch a Women’s and Gender Studies podcast here at The College through which we hope generate important feminist conversations by highlighting the members of our WGS community here in Charleston who are doing important activist work and encouraging those in our community who want to know what they could do to help.

What impact did your WGS course have on you? and/or: Why should every CofC student take a WGS class before they graduate?

My academic career in WGS has pushed me to ask and begin to answer difficult questions about the functionality of society as we know it and my role in it. I truly believe in the power of a WGS education to make students not only productive members of society but constructive ones: instilling in students the tools to approach the real world issues that they will inevitably face post-grad and to make effective change in the world around them.

What does being a Ketner scholar mean to you?

It has been an absolute honor to be named a Ketner scholar. This scholarship has simultaneously fostered my passion for activism and provided me with the space and resources to step outside of my comfort zone to advance my potential for changemaking. It has meant the world to me to receive the support that this scholarship has offered me, and it will act as a jumping off point for all of my future activism and professional endeavors.

What are your plans and goals after graduation?

After graduation, I have goals to use my majors and minor to enter the social services and fight for those too often forgotten in the heightened political, economic, and social discussions throughout our country and the world: children. Specifically, I want to put my efforts into improving the child welfare system in ways that will provide better support and more effective systems that prioritize keeping families together in order to proactively and sustainably assist children in need. I’d like to someday earn a PhD in Sociology, and later in life, I hope to return to academia as a professor and mentor.

International Transgender Day of Visibility

Transgender Visibility Day

Women’s & Gender Studies in co-sponsorship with the Sustainability Literacy Institute, Gender & Sexuality Equity Center, Charleston Pride, and PRISM are excited to share this student organized event to celebrate International Transgender Day of Visibility!

National Today highlights the history of this special day:

There is no doubt that the transgender community continues to face discrimination worldwide. Be it in the workplace, schools, or society, it has been subjected to immense harassment and inequality in every part of the world for the ‘sin’ of being born different.

Rachel Crandall, a U.S.-based transgender activist, founded this day in 2009 to raise awareness for the incredible burden of discrimination the community faces in every setting imaginable. The need to bring a day of ‘visibility’ for the transgender community is indicative of the oppression they face in many sectors of life. Crandall wanted to highlight the fact that the only transgender-centric day that is internationally recognized is Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is in mourning of members of the community who had lost their lives, and that there was no day to pay homage to living transgender people. By 2014, the day was observed by activists in Ireland and Scotland while, in 2015, many transgender people took part in the event by participating in social media campaigns. They successfully made the day go viral by posting selfies and personal stories.

Therefore, on Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31, annually, we recognize and revere their contributions, successes, and relentless resilience in standing tall and strong in the face of injustice. Through this Day of Visibility, we hope to induce moral responsibility and tolerance, and lift the restrictions on the rights of transgender people.

Fall 2022 WGS Course List

Fall 2022 Course Schedule

Women’s & Gender Studies Fall 2022 Course Brochure is ready! Peruse course offerings – especially some of the amazing special topics courses being taught fall semester. Click on the WGS Fall 2022 Course Brochure button to download a PDF version with all descriptions. Below are summaries of special topics courses that are sure to fill up quickly. Need an advising session? Be sure to contact Prof. Kris De Welde or Prof. Claire Curtis to schedule an advising appointment before registration begins.

WGST 321.01 ST: Women, Globalization, & Migration

Women are vulnerable to poverty and commonly lack access to adequate social, cultural, institutional, and material resources necessary for survival. The collective
identity “woman” comprises more than half of the world’s population yet is regularly marginalized in local, transnational, and global economies. The collective
identity “woman” is also internally diverse. Many women endure compounded oppression (which makes them more vulnerable to impoverishment) related to
identity traits including but not limited to sexuality, gender expression, sex, race, skin color, languages, age, geographic location, education, familial relationships, and
gender-based violence. This course explores the experiences of diverse and intersectional women in an increasingly globalized world and in various geographic
locations. In this class students will consider how gender discrimination, intersectionality, migration, economies, and globalization are deeply and intimately
related. Students will reflect on their own positionality within global power hierarchies and will engage in the course material in a self-reflexive and investigative

WGST 321.02 ST: Latin American Feminists & Human Rights

International human rights are designed based on the ideology that all people deserve basic rights because of their shared humanity.  However, Latin American feminists commonly argue that the international human rights processes are rife with inequalities at the local, transnational, and global levels, are not effectively enforced, are resources for Western imperialism, and are Western and male centric.  This class problematizes human rights failures.  In particular, the class explores how human rights treaties and operations (in their present form) cannot adequately address the complexity of lived experiences, diversity, and intersectionality.  This course documents how feminists throughout Latin America have mobilized against colonialism, poverty, gender discrimination, and other inequalities by engaging in domestic as well as transnational activism around international human rights.  Latin American feminists have unrelentingly promoted equality and are transforming how human rights are understood throughout Latin America and the world.

WGST 321.03 ST: Revolutionary Lives

This course examines revolutionary movements in Latin America’s long Cold War through a biographical approach. We will explore how individuals navigated periods of upheaval and violence, how their revolutionary ideologies challenged or transformed how they thought about and formulated their own gender identities, and how they imagined different futures for themselves and their communities.

WGST 322.01 ST: Art & the Invention of Race, c. 1300-1800

This course explores the role of the visual arts in the development of the modern concept of “race” during the rise of European global empires. Specific topics to be covered include, for example, the depiction of “monstrous races” in ancient and medieval art and their connection (or not) to modern racial categories; early “ethnographic” representations of Asian, African, and Indigenous American peoples by European explorers; representations of European explorers by African, Asian, and American artists; and depictions of enslaved Africans in European and American artworks. We will pay particular attention to the methods artists developed to make visible the changing understandings of race and to the ways in which representations of racial differences intersect with perceptions/representations of gender, sexuality, and socioeconomic class.

WGST 323.01 ST: Queer Friendship, Kinship, Comradeship, and Community as Liberation Praxis

This course is an immersive and experiential study of the ways in which LGBTQ+ people engage queer friendships, kinship, comradeship, and community as liberation praxis. Centering WOC, QTBIPOC, and white anti-racist feminists and the traditions they have co-created including healing, disability, and transformative justice among others, we will explore theories, perspectives, and approaches to queer friendship, kinship, coalition, and community. Honoring our particular situatedness, a substantial portion of the course will highlight historical and contemporary examples of relational social justice work among QTBIPOC and white anti-racist LGBTQ+ social justice collectives and grassroots community organizations in the South. Lastly, we will take up somatic and relational culture informed community building practices as a part of in-class activities and outside-of-class assignments, experientially learning with one another and others ways of fostering and sustaining queer friendship, kinship, comradeship, and community.

WGST 323.03 ST: Camp, Kitsch, & Cult Movies

This course will explore the art, analysis, and legacy of transgressive cinema by focusing on three closely related but distinct categories: camp, kitsch, and cult films. In examining these films, as well as scholarly analysis of their role in criticizing mainstream culture, students will develop skills of observation, inquiry, and analysis that will deepen their understanding of the arts and empower them to engage challenging texts on a higher level. We will also be addressing larger issues including gender and sexuality, violence, genre and fan cultures.

WGST 323.04 ST: Examining Hollywood Film

This is an advanced writing course designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of film as an art form, “Hollywood” as a cultural institution and commercial enterprise, and as the ideological frameworks within and around cinema. Students will examine a variety of theoretical frameworks of film criticism, and be exposed to the films of Hollywood’s “Golden Age” to the late 20th century. To focus our discussion on cinema and representation, this course will use representations of gender and race as its primary lenses for understanding the impact, potential, and stakes of Hollywood representation.

WGST 324.01 ST: Sexuality of Childbirth

This course examines the sexuality of pregnancy and birth in the context of feminist thought and theory by carefully studying the medical model of birthing and comparing this with the midwifery model of birthing.  Medicalized childbirth tends to dissociate sexuality from the experience of birth, and a cultural anxiety around childbirth points to a larger anxiety about female sexuality in general. But a vaginal birth happens through female genitalia and needs to be understood physiologically as a sexual event. Childbirth really can be transformative, even positive and pleasurable: erotic, ecstatic, and orgasmic, yet currently in the United States there is so little education or exposure to pregnancy and childbirth in our culture, and the media tends to portray birth as a gruesome medical emergency. Here we will explore how supportive care potentially plays a key role in easing the physical, emotional, and psychological transition to motherhood while situating childbirth as a place of radical feminist discourse.


Gender Identity in Second Language

Ilan Yona Event

Join Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies and WGS on Tuesday, Feb. 22nd for Gender Identity in Second Language at 7PM in Arnold Hall or on Zoom! Register at bit.ly/spring22ilanyona.

Ilan Yona is a doctoral student at Middlebury College who researches the relationship between the acquisition of highly gendered languages such as Hebrew and student gender identity. He argues that highly genderized languages represent sexually oppressive structures for students, especially in terms of how they identify themselves in such languages. Hebrew is highly gendered language, and can pose certain problems for students coming to it from less gendered languages. This lecture will explore mutual interactions among the three elements of gender, identity, and second language acquisition.


WGS Spring 2022 Newsletter

WGS Connect Spring 2022 Newsletter Cover

WGS is excited to share the newest issue of our WGS Connect Newsletter! After a brief hiatus (last issue dropped in January 2021), we’re back to share an issue packed with exciting and informative details about what the Women’s and Gender Studies program has been up to over the previous year. We are fortunate to be a program with active majors/minors, faculty, and a flourishing supportive community outside CofC.

This issue contains features highlighting scholarship recipients, new faculty affiliates, a review of WGS’ commitments to racial justice, and so much more. We hope readers enjoy the current issue. WGS is already outlining the next newsletter, and we cannot wait to share the next iteration of WGS Connect this summer! In the meantime, be sure to check this blog site and our social media to keep up-to-date on Women’s and Gender Studies’ current events and spotlights.

WGS would also love to hear from you! Always feel free to reach out with ideas for the blog or newsletter. We embrace all things collaboratively produced and will continue to embody that philosophy in all that we do.

Use the button below to view this special digital PDF, complete with embedded links and lots of great info on WGS students, faculty, events, and more.

A Conversation with Abby Stein

Abby Stein

Join Yaschik/Arnold Jewish Studies and WGS on Thursday, Feb. 17th for A Conversation with Abby Stein at 7PM in Arnold Hall or on Zoom! Register at bit.ly/spring22abbystein.

Abby Stein is a Jewish educator, author, speaker, and activist. She was born and raised in a Hasidic family, attended Yeshiva, and completed a rabbinical degree in 2011. In 2012, she left the Hasidic world to explore a self-determined life. In 2015, Abby came out as a woman of trans experience. Since then, she has been working to raise support and awareness for trans rights and those leaving the ultra-Orthodoxy. Her book Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman, is a coming-of-age memoir that examines identity, gender, and religion through personal experience.

From the publisher, Seal Press:

“The powerful coming-of-age story of an ultra-Orthodox child who was born to become a rabbinic leader and instead became a woman

Abby Stein was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, isolated in a culture that lives according to the laws and practices of eighteenth-century Eastern Europe, speaking only Yiddish and Hebrew and shunning modern life. Stein was born as the first son in a dynastic rabbinical family, poised to become a leader of the next generation of Hasidic Jews.

But Abby felt certain at a young age that she was a girl. She suppressed her desire for a new body while looking for answers wherever she could find them, from forbidden religious texts to smuggled secular examinations of faith. Finally, she orchestrated a personal exodus from ultra-Orthodox manhood to mainstream femininity-a radical choice that forced her to leave her home, her family, her way of life.

Powerful in the truths it reveals about biology, culture, faith, and identity, Becoming Eve poses the enduring question: How far will you go to become the person you were meant to be?”

Jane: An Abortion Service Film Screening & Panel Discussion

Jane: An Abortion Service

Join WGS in partnership with WREN, Planned Parenthood South Atlantic, Carolina Abortion Fund, and Soda City Bail on Sunday, Feb. 27th for a film screening of “Jane: An Abortion Service.” This movie is a fascinating political look at a little-known chapter in gender justice movement history. The film tells the story of “Jane,” the Chicago-based women’s health group who performed nearly 12,000 safe illegal abortions between 1969 and 1973 with no formal medical training.

Following the film is a panel discussion featuring Meredith Matthews, Field Organizer with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic; Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler, Director of Engagement with Carolina Abortion Fund; Cora Webb, Program Director with We Are Family; and more! The panel discussion will focus on abortion justice and reproductive rights.

Seating will be outdoors at the Stern Center Garden and limited in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks will be required.

Follow the QR code to register or the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/screening-of-jane-an-abortion-service-with-panel-discussion-tickets-253456002727?aff=ebdsoporgprofile

Learn more about the panelists below. Image descriptions are provided thanks to Effy Francis.

Meredith Matthews

Image Description: A mint colored image graphic with hot pink accents, containing a close up photo of Meredith Matthews, a Black woman with dark brown hair in locs wearing round tortoiseshell glasses and winged eyeliner. She is smiling with an open mouth while looking at the camera, resting one hand against her temple. Her name is in hot pink, with the following text in black font: “Meredith Matthews (she/her) Originally from Walterboro, SC, Meredith has lived in Charleston for the last 7 years. Meredith credits her rural upbringing and the positive influence of strong Black women for her passion in public policy and advocacy. While studying Political Science in college, she became mother to son, Ulysses who continues to inspire her commitment to serving the community. She is currently a Field Organizer with Planned Parenthood South Atlantic and chair of the Lowcountry Sexual Assault Response Team (SART). Meredith is motivated by the need to protect historically marginalized communities and centering all intersections of Black identity in the conversation of social justice.”

Cora Webb

Image Description: A mint colored image graphic with hot pink accents, containing a waist-up photo of Cora Webb, a Black person wearing a white shirt, bright green hair scarf, and small, round hoop earrings. She is smiling widely at the camera, with arms folded across her chest. Cora’s name is in hot pink, with the following text in black font: “Cora Webb (they/them/all pronouns): As a graduate of the College of Charleston, double majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and Public Health, Cora Webb has developed a deep commitment to community advocacy and actively seeks to build communal care networks. Throughout her college career, she assisted with designing and implementing informative events that aimed to properly represent different cultures and advance the campus community’s understanding of gender, sexuality, and identity. As Program Director of We Are Family, Cora continues to prioritize community engagement while addressing community needs.”

Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler

Image Description: A mint colored image graphic with hot pink accents, containing a headshot photo of Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler, a white woman with long, dark brown hair, wearing a black top. She is smiling at the camera with an open mouth. Justine’s name is in hot pink, with the following text in black font: “(she/her) is the Director of Engagement for the Carolina Abortion Fund. Born and raised in Wilmington, North Carolina, she served as a CAF campus intern while attending UNC-Chapel Hill as an undergraduate. After earning her BAs in American History and Women’s and Gender Studies (her thesis focused on post-Roe challenges to abortion via the Supreme Court) in 2017, she volunteered as a helpline casework for CAF before joining the Board of Directors in 2018. Prior to joining staff in 2021, she earned her MA in Jewish Folklore with a focus on the Yiddish language and Holocaust resistance music from UNC-Chapel Hill.”

Tessa Torgovitsky

Image Description: A mint colored image graphic with hot pink accents, containing a headshot photo of Tessa Torgovitsky, a white person with shoulder length, light blonde hair, wearing large, dark brown glasses and a forest green shirt. They are smiling with a closed mouth at the camera. Her name is in hot pink, and the following text is in black font: “(they, them & she, her) is a queer, Jewish, anti-racist feminist born in the nation’s capital. They moved from DC to South Carolina to attend the College of Charleston, where they received a B.A. in Women’s & Gender Studies. Tessa now works at the Carolina Youth Action Project! CYAP is an abolitionist organization that centers political education and community organizing to build power among girls, trans youth, and gender nonconforming youth. Tessa is one of their Campaign Organizers, working specifically around the Sex Education Beyond Abstinence Campaign.”


Image Description: A mint colored image graphic with hot pink accents, containing a headshot photo of Anjali, a brown person with long, black hair and a nose stud, wearing a sapphire blue collared shirt, and a large, beaded, chain link style necklace. They are looking at the camera with a neutral facial expression, head tilted to the side. Behind them is a patterned wall of colorful lottery tickets. Anjali’s name is in hot pink, with the following text in black font: “(they/them) is the singer, electronic producer, and new media artist behind Diaspoura. Diaspoura’s sound and speech has brought forth a fresh perspective to the media of a poor, brown, and gay South. Their newest music, web art, and events discuss artist exploitation and solidarity.”

Astasia Williams-Bertles

Image Description: A mint colored image graphic with hot pink accents, containing a bust shot photo of Astasia Williams-Bertles, a white woman with long, light blonde hair, wearing a black top. She is smiling at the camera with mouth closed. Her name is in hot pink, with the following text in black font: “(she/her) is an Assistant Public Defender in Berkeley County, South Carolina. Astasia practices criminal law, representing juveniles in the Family Court and adults in General Sessions. Astasia is a member of the Reproductive Justice Lawyers Network, the Charleston County Bar Association, the South Carolina Bar Association, and South Carolina’s Young Lawyers Division. Astasia earned her Juris Doctorate from the Charleston School of Law in 2021. During her time in law school, she was the co-founder and co-president of CSOL’s Student Chapter of If/When/How: Lawyering For Reproductive Justice. She was the 2020 Elaine Fowler recipient, highlighting outstanding academic achievement, leadership and philanthropic potential, a strong commitment to the legal profession, and the promotion of diversity and inclusion. Astasia graduated from the New York Institute of Technology in 2018, earning her bachelor’s degree in political science summa cum laude, where she played collegiate soccer. In her spare time, Astasia enjoys painting and staying active with her pitbull, Nova.”



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