Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Description

GLS 592: Women and Work

Instructor: Erin Sroka

In this course, we'll explore nonfiction narratives that discuss the relationship between women and work. The course will be part critical thinking and part creative writing; students will read and analyze course texts, and employ creative nonfiction as a tool for exploring course themes as they present in their own lives and the world around them.

Course readings will begin with historic perpectives, including Selma James' seminal essay, "A Woman's Place" (1952), and will continue through Sheryl Sandberg's popular title, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013). Readings will include work by scholars, activists, journalists, and writers, and will provide students with a historical context for understanding contemporary issues surrounding women and work today.

Course discussions will focus in on key concepts found in narratives of women and work, such as work-life balance, having it all, the second shift, the gender pay gap, women in caring professions, and women in science and technology. We will read feminist texts alongside popular titles, with an eye for how the intersection of race and class impact the many exhortations placed on women for achieving success in today's world.

Creative nonfiction writing assignments will serve as opportunities for deeper investigation of course concepts and current issues. Four written assignments over the course of the semester will be revised into a final portfolio. Three assignments will be creative nonfiction responses to personal or cultural prompts; one will be a research essay written from a semester-long investigation of a contemporary issue. Students will also write a critical introduction to their portfolios, identifying the theoretical and cultural influences that shape their own ideas and perspectives on the subject, and placing their writing within the larger context of narratives surrounding women and work.

Required Readings may include: Betty Freidan's The Feminine Mystique (1963), Arlie Hochschild's The Second Shift (1982), Kathi Weeks's The Problem with Work (2011), Hana Rosin's The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (2012), Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In: Women Work and the Will to Lead (2013), with additional work by Selma James, bell hooks, and more.

Last Update: February 25, 2015