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Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Name: Danielle Nemzer

Year: Class of 2012

Hometown: Santa Monica, CA

Major: Public Health Studies

Minor: Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

I happened to fall into my minor without realizing it at first. My sophomore year, I took two classes within the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department (WGS), and pretty much felt like my entire worldview had changed afterwards. I was sold. I know that’s a bold statement – but trust me. Every WGS class I’ve taken has provided me with an awe-inspiring way to look at the way our society works. I think it’s because our gender and our sexuality is so intertwined in every aspect of our world – politics, medicine, culture, entertainment – that a theoretical background in this field is important for any student of any subject.

The coolest thing about the WGS minor is that it is interdisciplinary, meaning that a variety of classes count towards the minor.  A very typical WGS minor schedule includes courses in history, psychology, biology, anthropology, humanities etc! Every WGS class I take is different, it just applies fundamental theories to a breadth of subjects. I’ve found it very exciting to look at everything from science to literature with the tools that I’ve learned as a WGS minor. When I went abroad to Paris as a junior, I enrolled in a French university that allowed me to gain an international perspective on my minor.

As my major is very practical and applicable – Public Health studies – I have used my minor to pursue a more theoretical and philosophical education. One of the best classes I’ve taken at Hopkins was a “core” class for the minor (you only need one!) called Feminist and Queer Theory. It was a class of about fifteen students, and we grew really close throughout the semester. Once, we were reading a book on how the media portrays women and gays, and one of our assignments was to watch episodes from Will and Grace and Six Feet Under. I loved how interactive the course was, and how it felt like the other students and I were tackling these difficult issues together.

The program is small, but really flexible. I’ve found my minor advisor to be one of the most interesting people at Hopkins, and he teaches a few classes in the department too. I definitely would encourage anyone to check out at least a few WGS classes – the majority of them are cross-listed within other departments – so you might stumble upon one without even realizing it, like I did!


Click here to access more information about the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the WGS question thread.


Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Name: Laura Perazzoli

Year: Class of 2009

Hometown: Seattle, WA

Major: Writing Seminars

Minor: Women, Gender and Sexuality


Although I have written some about my major, Writing Seminars, and have certainly written a lot about my classes at Hopkins (check out the Senior Blog here!), I thought I would spend this post focusing on my minor: Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Women, Gender & Sexuality doesn’t officially have it’s own department–rather it is an interdisciplinary program.  The idea behind the program is for students to gain expertise in the study of WGS through a variety of disciplines.  WGS classes are crosslisted with classes in other disciplines in fields such as Political Science, Anthropology, History, English, Sociology, Public Health, Philosophy etc…

Additionally, there are a few classes that focus more specifically on the basics of WGS, including41iKtNyEzlL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_
Introduction to Feminist and Queer Theory.

I decided to become a WGS minor after my freshman year.  Three class I took during freshman year were cross-listed with WGS, and I really loved all of those classes. The one that especially sparked my interested in WGS was Feminist Epistemology, a course taught by Professor Maura Tumulty (who, unfortunately, now teaches at a different University).

I really loved the class because it was a small seminar, the subject matter was extremely interesting, Maura Tumulty was a fabulous professor, and the class discussion was always dynamic.  We studied a lot of Feminist Theory and the course really opened me to a new way of viewing/questioning social structures and politics. It was also the first philosophy class I took at Hopkins, so it was a very new field for me.

After taking Feminist Epistemology I knew that I was interested in pursuing a Minor in WGS.  I ended up taking about one or two courses a semester cross-listed with WGS in order to complete the requirements for the minor.

Since WGS is an interdisciplinary program, looking for classes each semester encouraged me to branch out into different fields of study. I’ve taken WGS classes in History, Philosophy, Anthropology, Public Health, Sociology and Literature.

While all of these classes have dealt with similar subjects, the different focus each has had has given me a very different perspective on the study of WGS.  For instance, through Anthropology and Public Health I took “Gender and Health”–a class that looked at the effects of gender, location and class on health, gender issues, and health care.  This class was entirely different than the class I took on Feminist Epistemology, although the background I had in Feminist 51+J-8SxjwL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_
Theory was incredibly helpful for the Gender and Health Class.  This has been the case across the board for WGS classes–although they are all different, each one builds upon what I have learned previously.

First Semester of my Senior Year I completed an Independent Study with Professor Aaron Goodfellow, the head of the WGS program.  For my study, I knew that I wanted to continue with Feminist Theory and Feminist Epistemology.  Aaron and I sat down together and discussed different authors I could look into reading and different ways to approach my project.  I also contacted Maura Tumulty, who taught the class on Feminist Epistemology which originally sparked my interest and she was also able to provide me with some ideas for my study.

I loved doing this project because I was able to pick readings that I was interested in, or that seemed like they might be interesting. I ended up reading five books by different authors (Donna Haraway, Emily Martin, Judith Butler, Sandra Harding and Londa Shiebinger) and a handful of related articles. Additionally I attended some of the talks that the WGS program sponsors each semester, since a few were relevant to my study.

During all of this I met with Prof. Aaron Goodfellow to both discuss the readings and to discuss the shape of my study.  Since I was working independentally with Aaron, I was able to shape the study as I wanted–adding or subtracting readings, topics or books as made sense.  This was a really fun experience, because when I was excited by something, I was able to explore more on that topic, rather than having to follow a set curriculum.

Although WGS is a tiny program, I have found the faculty who are involved in the program to be incredibly helpful and supportive.  Professor Aaron Goodfellow who is the head of WGS is always interested in helping students pursue their interests and in constantly lookingEmily martin for ways to improve the program.

The classes that I have taken through WGS have been some of my favorites. I especially loved Feminist Epistemologies, Comparative Freedom Rights Struggles: The American Civil Rights
Movement and The South African Anti-Apartheid, International Development and Gender, and of course my Independent Study.

Additionally, the WGS program is very supportive of students interesting in pursuing their own studies, research and projects.  Each semester the program offers a variety of independent studies, and also provides a Summer Grant for Undergraduate Research.

I would strongly encourage students to consider a minor in Women, Gender and Sexuality. I have had a great experience with the program, and furthermore it both encourages students to explore different fields of study and demonstrates the strength of interdisciplinary learning.


Click here to access more information about the Women, Gender, and Sexuality Undergraduate Program of Study.

To further your exploration of this academic program and ask any question you may have of current students, be sure to visit the Hopkins Forums’ Academics: The Insider Perspective and the WGS question thread.