The “Big Idea” Gender Studies Syllabus

This is the third installment in my “Big Idea Syllabus” series inspired by Dr. Michael Wesch’s “Big Idea” Syllabus for Anthropology. My “Big Idea” Syllabus for History can be found here, for Writing here. The “Big Idea” Syllabus for Gender Studies follows. 

  • Gender is an important, valid field of inquiry, and because women and gender-nonconforming people have long been ignored, under recognized, and systematically Othered, gender studies is all the more important. 

  • People we call (and who currently identify as) women matter. Men, too. People who are in between or who are neither matter. People matter and are valid. Empowering all people is vital. 

  • Gender and sex are both social constructions–along with every thing else–exist on spectrums, and constantly change and vary by location. 

  • Such constructions and mores come from science, religion, fiction, traditions, laws, hopes, fears. Nothing has to be the way it currently is (and if you study the past, you’ll see how much it always varies). 

  • Cultural ideas about and representations of sex/gender shape every thing and manifest in how people think and live and manifest through what people are allowed to wear or allowed to think, where there allowed to labor, what dreams are permissible, what resources society provides, etc. 

  • We cannot begin to understand gender and its impact without fully considering other categories of identity created and deemed important by the powers at be and how all such identities are positioned, positions that can vary day-to-day, place-to-place. Intersecting identities include ability or disability, citizenship, economic standing, race, and religion. Understanding dynamics of privilege/oppression is vital. 

  • Life experience matters. Every one makes history. Every one has important perspectives.

  • To live is to protest. The fight for freedom must occur everyday. The personal is the political.

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda