Course Description and Objectives
How is inequality in its various forms produced, reproduced, and
experienced by women and men of different classes, races and nationalities?
"Gender" as practice, performance and representation has
differed for women and men according to race, class and other divisions throughout time.
Philosophy and Gender is a Philosophy course which examines key issues related to the
critical study gender or the "cultural invention and representation of masculinity
and femininity." Lectures and discussions examine areas such as: parenting in
todays families, pornography, gender and art, the relationship between gender and
rationality, the meaning of masculinity and femininity, gender and the body, womens
spirituality; the impact of gender upon research, knowledge, and other cultural
institutions; as well as feminism's cultural politics. The course emphasizes issues in
contemporary feminist thought. Feminist thought is varied and diverse; there are many
different kinds of feminists. What feminists share in common is the belief that
"women should not be disadvantaged by their sex, that they should be recognized as
having human dignity equal to that of mean, and that they should have the opportunity to
live as fulfilling and as freely chose lives as men can" (from Okin, Multiculturalism,
p.10). We will focus on how these issues affect men and women throughout the world in
order to gain a more accurate picture of how our local economic and social policies affect
us and members of other cultures.
If you have a disability which may require assistance or accommodations,
or you have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers,
etc..., please speak with me as soon as possible.
Required Texts (Available at Rowan University Bookstore--Phone:
1. Is Multiculturalism Bad For Women? Susan Moller Okin with
Respondents, Princeton Paperbacks, 1999.
2. Various Articles provided in class
Details, Details, Details
You all have valuable and important insights to make to the
courseThe more you contribute to the class discussions, the more the course will
become your own which is one of my goals as an instructor. Participation is a central
part of the course. Participation is judged on 1). Students grasp of the assigned
reading material; 2). their ability to apply ideas developed in the readings to new
situations, including their own experience; and 3). their ability to listen to, and
respond relevantly to, the comments of other students in the course. Students are expected
to complete reading assignments prior to class and to make careful note of all class
announcements. Students are expected to bring questions to class concerning aspects of the
readings that are difficult (Questions are crucial for philosophy!!I welcome them
always!). There will be frequent in class writing assignments and group work. You will
need to be in class in order to benefit from these activities and receive credit for them.
These class activities cannot be made up. Respect for your classmates arguments and
thoughts is required in all classes.
Specific instructions for papers will be given as the
course progresses. Criteria for evaluation are indicated in this syllabus. Please read
these carefully. There will be more discussion about suggestions for writing
philosophy papers in class. The most important criteria used for evaluating papers will be
the quality of argumentation, clarity, coherence, and creativity. Students are graded on
their ability to present established views in their own words and articulate their
assessment of those views. Those papers that display these attributes along with
originality and creativity will receive the highest marks. I am never judging what your
particular stance is on a given issue or whether your own views are the same as mine. I am
concerned with how you articulate your own views.
Academic Honesty Policy
All forms of academic dishonesty, namely, cheating on exams,
submitting plagiarized or fabricated work from another persons book or web-site,
submitting another persons work without informing the instructor, or engaging in any
kind of deception that would bear on the evaluation of submitted work will be dealt with
in a strict manner in accordance with Rowan University policy (See Undergraduate catalog).
If you find yourself thinking about submitting work that is not your own due to
pressure, frustration, or perfectionism, please come talk to me. I am here to help you
resolve these issues before they become a problem for your academic career at Rowan and
Plagiarism is an extremely serious academic offense. Penalties can range
from getting zero on the assignment through getting an F in the course to being expelled
from the university. The best way to avoid plagiarism is to be as thorough as possible in
documenting the sources you rely on for the claims you make in your papers. One common
reason for plagiarism is confusion about when documentation is and is not required. I am always happy to talk to you about any and all issues
related to plagiarism.
Attendance, Lateness, and Class Policies
This course will emphasize dialogue, exchange, and debate with your peers
and the professor. It is important that you attend class so that you can participate in
the discussions. Discussion-focused classes can be a wonderful learning experience, but
only if all participants are diligent in attending class meetings so that we can have a
good discussion each day. You all have valuable and important insights to make to the
courseThe more you contribute to the class discussions, the more the course will
become your own which is one of my goals as an instructor. If circumstances beyond
your control do prevent you from attending a class meeting, please inform me in writing or
by phone as soon as possible. There will be opportunity for students to practice writing
through informal class writing activities. I am not grading your attendncae per se, but if
you miss inclass activities, these cannot be made up. You need to be in class to beneift
from thse group activites and infomral writing assisngments.
Arrive for class on-time
Turn off cell-phones, pagers, and beepers before class
In order to enhance student learning, please do not engage in side
conversations during class
More than 6 unexcused absences will result in grade depreciation
V. Late Papers and Exams
Students are responsible for assignments, homework, group work missed
due to illness. Please check with instructor or classmate concerning assignments given
during missed classes. In class assingments cannot be made up.
Students are responsible for all scheduled and announced exams,
assignments, and papers. If you have an emergency, please notify the instructor as soon
as possible to arrange an extension. Extensions will be granted at the discretion of
the instructor only for legitimate circumstances. I understand that life involves lots of
unforeseen events, and I am more than willing to work with students who face such events.
I also know that most studnrets are also working outside school. However, having too much
work/too many classes, printers that dont work the day before assignments are due
are not legitimate reasons for missed/late work. I will provide ample time to complete
assignemnts, so please adjust your schedules accordingly.
Unexcused late work will receive a grade depreciation, 5% (half letter
grade) for each day late.
VI. Reading, Writing, and Communicating (Please read carefully)
By Rowan standards, this course is reading and writing intensive. The
course fulfills a writing intensive requirement for graduation. Every effort has been made
to provide you with recent, accessible, and well-researched literature concerning
Philosophy and Gender. Reading this literature (course books) should by our first
priority. That is, it is better to read and reread the course readings than to seek out
lots of secondary literature. The first assumption in this regard is that you are capable
of reading and comprehending 30-40 pages per week. This requires that you possess a
college level vocabulary and that you exercise good thinking skills. You will need to read
and re-read material sometimes in order to understand the views/language being presented.
I will do all I can to adjust assignments according to class needs. Although technical
terms peculiar to moral philosophy and ethics will be explained by the instructor,
students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with the meanings of new terms and
concepts encountered in the readings. In this connection, every student should own a
comprehensive collegiate dictionary (i.e.: Merriam Websters or The American Heritage
College Dictionary. In addition there is a Dictionary of Philosophy included in our
assigned course texts. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy has concise and helpful
summaries of major philosophical theories and figures. Weblinks will be provided
throughout the course to beneficial online resources. Please keep in mind that the
instructor is always available to assist you in clarifying any term, concept, idea or
argument that is initially confusing.
In this course, will not only learn about Philosophy and Gender, we will
also learn about the process of writing. Writing is difficult! In this class, we will
practice writing, discuss elements of good writing, receive feedback about our writing in
order to better express our opinions, beliefs, arguments, and ideas. Sometimes we will
engage in writing that will not be evaluated in order to practice and evaluate our own
work. Please feel free to ask questions about writing any time we are together in class.
In this course, we will discuss difficult and sometimes personal issues.
This involves a willingness to share your own views. I will do the same in class, though
part of my job is to present all sides of an issue and let students decide for themselves
what their views are. Philosophy is an amazing discipline where you can learn how to
appreciate opposing viewpoints and learn to better articulate your own views. This
requires courage though. I am never grading you on whether I agree with your position or
not. I have given poor grades to papers I completely agree with and great grades to papers
that express views I totally disagree with. This is important to keep in mind. Our classes
will be much better if we work towards creating an open environment where students feel
able to express their views. I will do my best as an instructor to create this
environment, but Ive learned that I cant do all of this! This is YOUR
CLASSLets make it great!!
V. Criteria for Evaluating Philosophy Essays
Appropriateness. Does your essay answer the assigned question? Does
your essay address the main topic stated in your thesis?
Clarity of exposition and argument. How clearly have you explained the
arguments and concepts from the course material that are relevant to the assignment? How
clearly have you expressed your critical evaluation of the arguments contained in the
readings? Have you clearly stated the reasons behind your evaluations?
Critical understanding of the material. Have you demonstrated a
detailed, thorough understanding of the relevant course readings? Is there any important
part of an argument that you have not considered? Do your accounts of the arguments make
sense in light of what you know about the larger context in which they are set?
Fairness to the authors' arguments. Are your interpretations of the
authors arguments charitable? Have you done your best to interpret them as good,
strong arguments? If you think a certain argument is badly flawed, can you identify any
beliefs that the author may have held which would make the argument stronger than you
first thought? If you have expressed doubts about whether a certain premise of the
authors argument is true, have you supplied an argument to show that that premise is
probably or certainly false?
Coherence of your explanations and arguments. Does your essay make
sense as a whole? Is it well-organized? At each stage of the essay, is it easy to tell
what you are saying and how that fits in with what you have already said? Are there any
conflicts between things you say at different points in the essay? Do your arguments flow
logically from your premises to your conclusions?
Ability to anticipate objections to your point of view. Have you
considered how the authors of the articles you discuss (or someone else who read your
essay and disagreed with you) might respond to your arguments? Are your arguments open to
any obvious objections? Have you committed any glaring errors of reasoning? Are any of the
assumptions you make obviously false?
Creativity.Have you introduced arguments, examples not
discussed in the readings or class? Have you presented your ideas in a unique way, an
innovative way? Have you contributed your own viewpoints in a way that is innovative,
Documentation of works cited. Have you noted where you refer to the
work of writers other than yourself? Have you included page numbers in parentheses in the
text of your essay to mark where you refer to works on the course syllabus? Have you
included full endnotes or footnotes to mark where you refer to works other than those on
the course syllabus? Have you included a bibliography listing all the bibliographical
information about books you refer to that are not on the course syllabus.