women, art, and culture, an introduction to women’s studies

Tuesdays 2 pm – 3:40 pm at SQH 1120 [NOTE: starting at 2:30 was an error on some versions of the syllabus. Sorry!]
Sections on Th & F, various times and places: check section and TA (scroll down and look at right hand light blue column on this website) THESE DO NOT BEGIN UNTIL THE WEEK OF 21 FEBRUARY!

Professor: Katie King
Office: 2101C Woods Hall, University of Maryland, College Park
Katie’s office hours: Thursday afternoons 2-4 pm
Office phone: 301.405.7294 (voice mail)           
KK’s website with MESSAGES:
Katie tweets as: katkingumd

Class Website at:             

course description 

Women's art, art by women, feminist art, and art activism have been ways women have analyzed and changed everyday life. Art is one of the forms of passionate politics feminists have mobilized to make life better, for themselves and others. In this course we will investigate how artists and activists have asked sometimes hard, sometimes joyful questions about power, gender and sexuality, practices of racialization, nations and languages, abilities and disabilities, religion and meaning and more. We will examine assumptions we and others make about women, art, culture and feminism. We will especially consider how art can reshape possibilities and actualities for everybody. What counts as art? What do we do with public art? What is art activism?

To create our own community of thinking and action, we want to get to know and work with each other. Ours will be an active and ambitious learning community, one in which we will all gather together for lecture times on Tuesdays, and then work in small groups on Thursdays and Fridays. This term these small groups will be led by women’s studies graduate students Melissa Rogers, Michele Prince, Jessica Vooris, and Yuenmei Wong.

We will not be using Blackboard in this class, but rather working with Blogger, a public online site, using it for class multimedia presentations, for class preparation and review, and maybe for other possibilities! Please bookmark our class site:

All students please do come to office hours to just talk. The TAs and I want to get to know each of you personally! This should be a very fun class, demanding we hope in the most satisfying ways, and full of comradeship and excitement. We all want to know how the class is working for you, what touches and excites you, how your projects are going. So please make a point of coming to office hours and opening up conversations!

Let us know in office hours or after class when you need help, or any special accommodations, the sooner the better. Folks with disabilities or who need time from class to observe religious holidays, please contact Katie ASAP to make any arrangements necessary.

explore our readings!

our “book-museum”:
·       Pérez. 2007. Chicana Art. Duke. 0822338688 (also on Kindle but without pictures, which is a problem)

our handbooks to art, social movements, and feminisms:
·       Freeland. 2002. But Is It Art? Oxford. 0192853678 (also Kindle & Google ebook)
·       hooks. 2000. Feminism is for Everybody. South End. 0896086283
·       Moore & Prain. 2009. Yarn Bombing. Arsenal Pulp. 1551522551
·       Reed. 2005. The Art of Protest. Minnesota. 0816637717 (also Kindle and Google ebook)
·       Seeley. 2007. Fight Like a Girl. NYU. 0814740022 (also Kindle)

All readings are also on 24 hr. book reserve at McKeldin Library. One (Moore) is new though and awaits library purchase. Links to descriptions of these books and their places of availability were the first things up on our class site. Notice that several of the books are available on the Kindle, an ebook reader. You do not need the Kindle device to read these, but can download an app for your computer/laptop or smart phone or iPad to read them without one: Some are available as Google eBooks. To learn how to read these on your computer, look at: Usually the price is a bit lower for each of these, some for less than $10, although you cannot resell such books. Please ensure access to as many of our course books as you can, bring those you have obtained or notes about them to the first class if possible.

You are required to read these books, not to buy them, or even to own them. All are on reserve at McKeldin and many are available at other libraries. Share them, rent them, borrow them, xerox them, scan them. Fair use means producing copies for your own private research use. Of course you can help others in obtaining originals for such fair use copying. Always be sure to locate your books long before you need to read them, even if one or more turn out to be just coming out or even out of print. Find what you can and read them anyway! ISBN numbers are included to make ordering them easier if you wish to buy them.

how the class will be organized

This will be a media and technology intensive course. So-called constructionist learning and collaboration open up our analysis of women, art, and culture, and our introduction to the field of women’s studies, as well as to activist practices. Bring your own laptop, netbook or iPad if you can, to connect across media, to become increasingly savvy about web resources, and to use data visualizations and virtual environments for cognition and collaboration. Throughout the course we will share resources for all these.

The course will involve both taking things in, absorbing them and learning to put them in context; and also actively using what we come to know, sharing it others, thinking on one's feet, brainstorming and speculating, figuring out how it all fits together. Both require careful preparation before class and keeping up with the reading. Some educators call these forms passive and active learning. One can take in and absorb more complicated stuff than one can work with and work out, at least at first. We do both in the class, but we also realize that active learning requires patience and imagination, a bit of courage to try things out without knowing something for sure yet, and a willingness to play around with being right and wrong, guessing and a lot of redoing.

The website for our entire class is located at:
This is where graphics, mini-lecture materials and notes, communications and assignment help, and other vital class information and presentations are displayed. You can complete your assignments properly only if you stay very familiar with this website. Bookmark it immediately! Plan on visiting our class site and reading email every couple of days, and not just a few minutes before class. These are class requirements. If you have any difficulties getting access to these resources come and talk to us as soon as possible. Any announcements about cancellations due to weather or other considerations, and general class requirements will be sent out on coursemail and put up on the website and you need to see them quickly. To get help go to OIT's Help Desk at the Computer and Space Sciences Building, Rm. 1400, or checkout the help desk webpage at:

Get to know as many people in the class as you can, especially those in your small group, share contact information with these folks and if in emergencies anyone must be absent, support each other with class notes and discussion. Everyone should also have several class buddies to rely on. We will introduce ourselves early in the semester, and buddies can help each other brainstorm projects, edit each others’ work, provide feedback before assignments are due, and help each other work in drafts, starting projects early and completing them in good time.

graded assignments: individual museum paper, group flyer and event, individual or partner curation project, individual learning analysis, logbook

Five kinds of assignments are required in this class: • an individual essay about your museum visits & how you know something is feminist, • a group (your section) project in which together you create a feminist event, real or fictional, a flyer to let folks know about it, and a collective definition of the term “feminist,” included on the flyer as an important feature of event; all presented by group in class (presentation participation is required to receive a grade) • an individual or partner curation project linking intersectional identities and feminist art activisms (a presentation of this work is also part of its grade) • a final learning analysis (a presentation of which will also be part of its grade) • a running cumulative logbook, turned in with each assignment, showing exactly which graded assignments you have done so far and what there is still to do. LOOK AT CLASS WEBSITE PAGES TO DOWNLOAD ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR EACH ASSIGNMENT.

The logbook will help you organize your projects: when you started them, how many drafts you completed, who you worked with, where you are in what you have done, and what still needs to be done. It also allows your TAs and Katie to know how you are progressing in the class and keeps open our lines of communication about assignments, attendance, and concerns. It is turned in four times during the semester, each time you get credit for that particular assignment only as accompanied by the logbook, and credit for all the assignments of the course requires the final cumulative version turned in on the last day of class with the final version of the learning analysis. Together the museum paper and the group feminism project count for 1/3 of your grade, the curation project for another 1/3, and the learning analysis, info sheet, and all logbooks together count for the final 1/3.

Notice that presentations are an essential part of most assignments, necessary in order to receive credit for the assignment. That means you must build into your understanding of each one the idea that anything written is not all that is necessary to complete your work and to get credit for it. If an emergency or illness kept you from participation in presentations, to get full credit you will have to meet with three other students to share your work and their work outside class, and write up the experience and what you learned from it to complete the presentation portion and to get your grade. SO DO NOT MAKE OTHER PLANS FOR THOSE DAYS IN WHICH ASSIGNMENTS ARE DUE: BUILD THEM CAREFULLY INTO YOUR SCHEDULE FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE TERM! 13 MARCH FOR TUESDAY’S LECTURE, THE WEEK OF 17 APRIL FOR LECTURE AND SECTIONS, AND THE LAST TWO WEEKS OF TUESDAY’S LECTURE, 1 MAY & 8 MAY. Put these into your logbook from the beginning so that attending them will always be at the forefront of your term plans.

Obviously attending class faithfully and taking good notes will make all this work a lot easier. Lecture materials are displayed on the class website, to be reviewed at any time. In college courses ALWAYS use your projects to demonstrate how you uniquely put together, or synthesize, class readings, lectures and discussion. Make a point of displaying that you are doing all the reading and attending all the classes. Doing this clearly and carefully will demonstrate that this is your own work, and ensure your credit for honesty and for real engagement with the course.

Wondering how grades are determined? What they mean?

v  A work is excellent, unusually creative and/or analytically striking
v  B is fine work of high quality, though not as skilled, ambitious, or carefully presented as A
v  C is average or usual work fulfilling the assignment; should not be hasty, or insufficiently collaborated 
v  D work is below average or incomplete; shows many difficulties or cannot follow instructions
v  F work is not sufficient to pass; unwillingness to do the work, or so many difficulties unable to complete

for more discussion of each grade. Remember, you can always talk to Katie and / or your TA about grades and your evaluation concerns during office hours anytime. Feedback is always available, be sure to ask for it when you are concerned about it and note that grades are not the only sort of feedback either, or even the best sorts. Indeed, try not to let the grades structure your learning experiences wholly: it is the learning that matters most! Don’t eat the menu (the grades) instead of the meal (learning)!

what to do when you must unavoidably miss class, perhaps for illness:  

·       TALK TO AT LEAST TWO CLASS BUDDIES IMMEDIATELY. Before you even come back to class, call them up or email them and find out if any thing you need to plan for is happening the day you return, and make sure that you know about any changes in the syllabus. Try to have done the reading and be as prepared as possible to participate in class and with your projects when you return.
·       MAKE A DATE TO MEET WITH CLASS BUDDY TO GET NOTES AND DISCUSS WHAT WENT ON IN CLASS WHILE YOU WERE GONE. You are responsible for what happened in class while you were gone. As soon as possible, get caught up with notes, with discussions with buddies and finally with all the readings and assignments. Always talk with class buddies first. This is the most important way to know what went on when you were gone and what you should do. 
·       AFTER YOU HAVE GOTTEN CLASS NOTES AND TALKED ABOUT WHAT WENT ON IN CLASS WITH BUDDIES, THEN MAKE APPOINTMENT TO SEE YOUR TA. If you just miss one class, getting the notes and such should be enough. But if you've been absent for more than a week, be sure you make an appointment with your TA and possibly with Katie, and come in and discuss what is going on. We all want to know how you are doing and how we can help. Or, while you are out, if it's as long as a week, send your TA or Katie email (Katie at and let us know what is happening with you, so we can figure out what sort of help is needed. You may need to contact section members or class buddies as well.
·       IF YOU ARE OUT FOR ANY EXTENDED TIME be sure you contact Katie as well as your TA. Keep all of us up to date on what is happening, so that any arrangements necessary can be made. If you miss too much class you will have to retake the course at another time. But if you keep in contact, depending on the situation, perhaps accommodations can be made. Since attendance is crucial for the process of this special course and thus for your final grade LET KATIE AND TA KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING so that we can help as much and as soon as possible.
·       THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EXCUSED ABSENCE AND ANYTHING ELSE: generally speaking you are only allowed to make up work you missed if you have an excused absence. That the absence is excused does not mean you are excused from doing the work you missed, but that you allowed to make it up. Katie usually permits people to make up any work they miss, and does not generally require documentation for absences. Be sure to give explanations in your logbook and do make up all work you have missed. 

Reading, Writing, Assignment Schedule
Readings are of several sorts: some will be discussed in depth in class or section, 
some will help you with each assignment, some are background reading to enrich discussion and class experiences. You will need to faithfully complete all to do 
assignments well, especially the final learning analysis.



Tuesday, 31 January – Welcome to our course!
• Bring in as many course books as you have so far
• Bookmark the course website, be sure you are receiving coursemail
• Check out which section you are in and meet your TA
We jump right into the thick of it all! Today we will met each other, make some class buddies, learn about the books for the course, and think about how to use the course website. Katie King, Melissa Rogers, Jessica Vooris, Michele Prince, and Yuenmei Wong will introduce themselves. We will talk about how the class is structured as a series of experiences. And we will start immediately with experience #1 – your museum visits and what to do! It all starts right away and you should make plans for museum visits NOW!

Tuesday, 7 February – Women’s Studies, what is it about?
• Bring in our book-museum, Perez’ book, Chicana Art.
• You are encouraged to bring in laptops or other electronic devices. How will we use them in class?
• What is Web Action? How will we activate it?
• Start finding the artists in Perez on the Web. Bring in an example to share.
Women’s Studies is a scholarly field, a range of feminist actions, a set of issues that matter to women, an analysis of power and knowledge, and an intersectional intervention into dominant social structures. Our class is an introduction into all of these, by way of engaging the interrelationships between Women, Art, and Culture. How will we use Perez to help us care about it all? How will we activate web action to see how alive and dynamic women’s studies’ concerns are? That they involve people of passion individually and in groups? What is your stake in all this? How might it matter to you and to those you care about? You will be telling us about your museum experiences next week! Mentally prepare yourself to talk in class! Notice the Freeland readings for next week too!

Tuesday, 14 February – What counts as art? What counts as feminism? For whom?
• DUE ASS. #1: Museums & More: logbook 1 + hardcopy in class; (next week you'll learn how to leave electronic copies in TA dropbox in discussion section).
• You should have read Freeland, Chs 4,5,7 by today and be prepared to discuss!
• Check out Freeland’s website: What sort of passionate thinker is she?
• Sections start meeting next week!
Reports, thoughts, analysis of our first class experiences, the museum visits. What assumptions altered as you got involved here? What was surprising? What insights about feminisms emerged? What was new? What was exciting and fun? Where will this beginning take us this semester? What sort of journey have you begun? How will Freeland guide us?


Tuesday, 21 February – The F-word? What about Women’s Studies?
• Your section will meet this week. Make sure you know where to go and when. Attendance will be taken!
• You should have finished Seely, Preface,Intro,Ch1-3 for today
• She blogs at:  Be sure you’ve read parts of this.
• She tweets as: meganseely Be sure you’ve checked this out!
What do we learn about Women’s Studies from reading Seely’s book? This set of readings is the beginning of the experience that culminates in Assignment #2: your group’s event, flyer, and collective definition of feminism. Why is feminism defined collectively, in our project and in the world? Each feminist speaks from several collective locations. What are yours? How do they compare with Seely’s? Which collective locations might matter the most to you? To people you care about? To people you don’t know?

Tuesday, 28 February – Steps to taking Action
• Read Seely, choose at least one from Chs 4,5,6; all read 7,8,Apxs
• Look at artists in Perez, Ch 2. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Learn about it and tell us.
What does taking action mean in Women’s Studies? Which chapters did you choose to read? What feminist issues matter most to you and why? How do these issues connect feminists? What different forms of feminism address each? How do you know?

Tuesday, 6 March – The Art of Protest
• Read Reed Intro,Ch1-4
• Examine Reed’s book website: 
• Check out his teaching site: 
• Look at his cultural politics resources: 
• Look at artists in Perez, Ch 6. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Learn about it and tell us.
What sort of “art” is protest? How do social movements create culture? Which social movements do you know the most about? Which ones would you like to learn more about? Which arts have engaged the feminist issues you care about most? How do you know? How is women’s studies involved?

Tuesday, 13 March – Raising our Consciousness: What is Feminism?
DUE ASS.#2: feminist event project elements & logbook 2
Everyone will say something today! Everyone should be in class today, working with their group, and talking about the experiences that coalesce around this set of projects. Prepare with your group before hand so that your group’s 7 mins will allow everyone to be introduced and talk about feminist process and CR, and how definitions of feminism entail collective action. See guidelines for specifics for preparation!

Tuesday, 20 March – SPRING BREAK – NO CLASS but there is reading!
• During the break read Moore and Prain’s yarn bombing book
• Check out the book website:
• Look at Moore’s blog at:
• Check out Prain’s tweets as: LeannePrain  
• You’ll also be reading hook’s very small book, Intro & Ch1-8


Tuesday, 27 March – Working Out Visions
• For today you should have read about half of hooks: Intro,1-8
• And all of Moore & Prain
• Note hooks description on the Wikipedia: 
What do you notice when we read about yarn bombing and hooks’ book together? How do each of these work out visions of social justice? How do they think about how to include “everybody”? Which social groups are interconnected through these projects? How do they help us understand identities and power and action?

Tuesday, 3 April – Whose Worlds? Intersectionality and multiple identities
• Read Reed 5-6
• Look at artists in Perez, Ch 4. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Learn about it and tell us.
Art can speak powerfully about the worlds we live in, the differences among worlds created by uneven power and social structures, the forms of oppression and privilege that identities entail, and the histories in which some groups thrive at the expense of others. How does intersectionality help us understand these complexities? How do we live as individuals and as groups at the intersections?

Tuesday, 10 April – Altar, Alter – Self, Other
• Look at artists in Perez, Ch 3. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Learn about it and tell us.
• Read Perez, Conclusion
Self and Other, Otherings of various kinds are political and power transactions with implications for social justice. Perez is interested in how people survive oppression through art and spirit, creating culture and meaning, and “politicizing spirituality.” What are the implications for intersectionality? What feminisms are vibrant here?

Tuesday, 17 April – Offerings
• Look at artists in Perez, Ch1&5. Pick the artwork that speaks to you most. Learn about it and tell us.
• DUE ASS. #3: Intersectional curation project & logbook 3
Today we will learn about each other’s curation projects in a poster-session style event!

On Friday 20 April will be a conference celebrating the intersectional imaginations of African-American & LGBT SF author Samuel R. Delany! Details here!
• Read about Delany on the Wikipedia: 


Tuesday, 24 April – Blood and Beauty: Visions for Justice
• Read Freeland, Intro,1,2,3,Conclusion
• Read Perez, Intro
• Read hooks, 9-19
What are these three books about now you’ve worked with them and done projects that tie you into the insights they want to share with us? How do they each speak to the idea that feminism is for everybody? What feminist worlds do they open? Which aspects of Women’s Studies do you glimpse from these? How do they offer versions of intersectionality, feminist identities, visions of social justice?

Tuesday, 1 May – Our Feminisms
• Everyone should have a draft of the learning analysis ready to speak from and use for exercises today. We will draw lots, and half the class will talk about their learning analysis draft today.  

Tuesday, 8 May – Sharing Feminisms – LAST DAY!
• DUE ASS. #4: Final redrafted and edited version of your Learning Analysis: logbook 4 + hardcopy in class; electronic copies in TA dropbox – REMEMBER YOU WON’T GET CREDIT FOR ANY WORK IN THE COURSE WITHOUT TURNING IN LOGBOOK 4!
• The rest of the class will talk about their learning analysis today.

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