Gender, Politics, and Citizenship

Political Science/Women & Gender Studies


Course Description

In this class, we will examine American politics and citizenship through an interdisciplinary lens, engaging with texts from political science, women and gender studies, race and ethnic studies, sociology, law, and history. The course’s primary objective is to expand students’ understanding of how political institutions and processes shape norms of citizenship. In other words, this class should encourage students to think critically about how political institutions (such as executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, media, parties, and interest groups) and political processes (such as grassroots activism, voting, campaigning, and policymaking) influence social inequalities and “who counts” as a citizen.


Studying power structures that empower or disenfranchise people based on gender, race, class, citizenship, sexuality, ability, and other categories of social difference is essential to represent the diverse lived experiences of women. In this course, we will trace the historical roots of feminism in the U.S. and explore how the intersections of social identity markers influence women’s political behavior.


Traditional women and politics courses often emphasize studying women in formal political roles such as public officials and voters. While we examine this type of political behavior, this class privileges the political activism of women working “in the margins,” which questions and redefines our notions of citizenship.


Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to define and describe contesting theories, methods, histories, and representations of women in politics.
  • Students will be able to explain and situate the ways that citizenship is shaped through both the institutional foundations of governance and ideological mechanisms of politics.


Course Requirements

Attendance, Preparation, and Participation (20%)

Students are expected to regularly attend, complete the assigned readings, and participate. Class meetings will be discussion-based and include one or more of the following: lecture, group work, film analysis, and individual free-writes. I view my role as a facilitator whose primary objective is to work with students in stimulating thought and discussion. I ask that you actively participate in class by offering critical analyses of the course readings and themes.


FOUR Weekly Response Papers, 3-4 pages each (40%)

Students will be assigned randomly four dates to submit response papers throughout the semester. These papers are critical reactions to the assigned readings for the week, integrating major approaches and theories in a coherent essay. Students must include the main argument of each assigned reading in their papers and should consider how the social construction of differences shape power relations. Papers are due on the first day of the assigned week, which will be used as a springboard for discussion. Students who have submitted response papers will be expected to be the primary discussants that week and actively participate in class.


Frame Analysis, 4-5 pages (15%)

This paper requires class members to conduct a feminist analysis of news coverage of a contemporary public policy issue. Each student will be assigned a current topic debated in national politics. Students will conduct a search of four news articles on that topic from an approved list of sources and examine how the messages are communicated to the media outlet’s readership. In a thoughtful essay, students will use course themes and readings to interpret the gendered and racial implications of the framing devices employed in the articles. In addition to gender and race, students should consider other categories of difference in their analysis, including class, sexuality, nationality, and ability, where appropriate.


Final Exam (25%)

The final exam is comprehensive, testing your knowledge and understanding of all of the course material. It will consist of long and short essay questions. Sample questions and topics will be distributed in class two weeks before the exam, and the last day of class will be devoted to review for the final.


Course Readings

Week 1:  Introduction to Gender, Politics, & Citizenship: Sites of Power and Resistance

  • Ajinkya, Julie. 2010. “Intersecting Oppressions: Rethinking Women’s Movements in the United States.” In Women’s Movements in the Global Era: The Power of Local Feminisms, ed. Amrita Basu. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 415-44.
  • Goss, Kristin A. and Michael T. Heaney. 2010. “Organizing Women ‘As Women’: Hybridity and Grassroots Collective Action in the 21st Century.” Perspectives on Politics 8 (1): 27-52.
  • Cohen, Cathy J., Kathleen B. Jones, and Joan C. Tronto, eds. 1997. “Introduction: Women Transforming U.S. Politics: Sites of Power/Resistance.” In Women Transforming Politics: An Alternative Reader. New York: New York Univ. Press, 1-14.
  • Shames, Shauna. 2014. “Making the Political Personal: A Challenge for Young Women.” Politics & Gender 10 (2): 287-92.

Week 2:  Feminist Epistemologies and Theories of Intersectionality

  • Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams. 1991. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43: 1241-99.
  • Jordan-Zachery, Julia S. 2007. “Am I a Black Woman or a Woman Who is Black? A Few Thoughts on the Meaning of Intersectionality.” Politics & Gender 3 (2): 254-63.
  • Junn, Jane and Nadia Brown. 2008. “What Revolution? Incorporating Intersectionality in Women and Politics.” In Political Women and American Democracy, eds. Christina Wolbrecht, Karen Beckwith, and Lisa Baldez. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge Univ. Press, 64-78.

Week 3:  Gender & Politics in a Transnational Context

  • Anker, Elisabeth. 2012. “Feminist Theory and the Failures of Post-9/11 Freedom.” Politics & Gender 8 (2): 207-15.
  • Shaheed, Farida. 2010. “The Women’s Movement in Pakistan: Challenges and Achievements.” In Women’s Movements in the Global Era: The Power of Local Feminisms, ed. Amrita Basu. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 89-118.
  • Disney, Jennifer Leigh. 2008. Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press. 20-45.

Week 4:  Democracy’s Promise and The American Dream

  • Hochschild, Jennifer L. 1995. Facing up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 15-38.
  • Dahl, Robert A. 2003. How Democratic is the American Constitution? New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1-4, 15-20, 56-8, 83-6, 122-32, 136-9, 150-2, 175-7.
  • “An Exchange between Howard Zinn and Sidney Hook on Democracy.” 1989. In Points of View, eds. R.E. DiClerico and A.S. Hammond. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Week 5:  Suffrage, Abolition, and the Gendered Division of Labor

  • Blee, Kathleen M. 1991. Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press, 1-4, 101-22, 175-80.
  • Aniagolu, Emeka. 2011. Co-Whites: How and Why White Women “Betrayed” the Struggle for Racial Equality in the United States. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America, 69-87.
  • Glenn, Evelyn Nakano. 2010. “Gender, Race, and Citizenship.” In Gender Inequality: Feminist Theory and Politics, ed. Judith Lorber. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 56-62.

Week 6:  Intersectionality and Unequal Opportunities

  • Davis, Angela Y. 2003. Are Prisons Obsolete? New York: Seven Stories Press, 9-21, 60-83.
  • Hunt, Gerald and Monica Bielski Boris. 2007. “The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Challenge to American Labor.” In The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor, ed. Dorothy Sue Cobble. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 81-98.
  • Murphy, Sheigla and Marsha Rosenbaum. 1999. Pregnant Women on Drugs: Combating Stereotypes and Stigma, 1-16. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers Univ. Press.
  • McCall, Leslie. 2007. “Increasing Class Disparities Among Women and the Politics of Gender Equity.” In The Sex of Class: Women Transforming American Labor, ed. Dorothy Sue Cobble. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 15-34.

Week 7:  Gender, Privacy, Equity, & SCOTUS

  • United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. 573 U.S. (2014).
  • Lepore, Jill. 2015. “To Have and to Hold: Reproduction, Marriage, and the Constitution.” The New Yorker (25 May): 34-9.
  • Doan, Alesha E. 2007. Opposition and Intimidation: The Abortion Wars and Strategies of Political Harassment. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 105-29.
  • Baker, Peter and Neil A. Lewis. 2009. “Republicans Press Judge About Bias and Activism.” New York Times (15 July): A1.

Week 8:  Gendered Political Institutions

  • Acker, Joan. 1990. “Hierarchies, Jobs, Bodies: A Theory of Gendered Organizations.” Gender & Society 4: 131-58.
  • Hawkesworth, Mary. 2003. “Congressional Enactments of Race-Gender: Toward a Theory of Raced-Gendered Institutions.” American Political Science Review 97 (4): 529-50.
  • Conley, Patricia. 2005. “The American Presidency and the Politics of Democratic Inclusion.” In The Politics of Democratic Inclusion, eds. Christina Wolbrecht and Rodney E. Hero. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press, 314-34.

Week 9:  Women as Candidates

  • Film: Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed (2006)
  • Gallagher, Julie. 2007. “Waging ‘the Good Fight’: The Political Career of Shirley Chisholm, 1953-1982.” Journal of African American History 92 (3): 392-416.
  • Fox, Richard L. and Jennifer L. Lawless. 2010. “If Only They’d Ask: Gender, Recruitment, and Political Ambition.” Journal of Politics 72 (2): 310-26.
  • Carroll, Susan J. 2009. “Reflections on Gender and Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign: The Good, the Bad, and the Misogynic.” Politics & Gender 5 (1): 1-20.
  • Lizza, Ryan. 2015. “The Virtual Candidate: Elizabeth Warren Isn’t Running, but She’s Hillary Clinton’s Biggest Democratic Threat.” The New Yorker (4 May): 34-45.

Week 10:  Gender, Deliberation, and Policymaking

  • Mendelberg, Tali, Christopher F. Karpowitz, and J. Baxter Oliphant. 2014. “Gender Inequality in Deliberation: Unpacking the Black Box of Interaction.” Perspectives on Politics 12 (1): 18-44.
  • Newton-Small, Jay. 2013. “The Last Politicians: The 20 Women in the Senate are Cutting Deals, Passing Bills, and Looking Like the Only Adults Left in Washington.” Time (28 Oct): 24-8.
  • Stone, Deborah. 2002. Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 137-62.
  • Schneider, Anne and Helen Ingram. 1993. “Social Construction of Target Populations: Implications for Politics and Policy.” American Political Science Review 87 (2): 334-47.           

Week 11:  Ideology, Public Opinion, and Electoral Politics through an Intersectional Lens

  • Bejarano, Christina E. 2014. “Latino Gender and Generation Gaps in Political Ideology. Politics & Gender 10 (1): 62-88.
  • Smooth, Wendy. 2006. “Intersectionality in Electoral Politics: A Mess Worth Making.” Politics & Gender 2 (3): 400-14.
  • Michelson, Melissa R., Lisa García Bedolla, and Margaret A. McConnell. 2009. “Heeding the Call: The Effect of Targeted Two-Round Phone Banks on Voter Turnout.” Journal of Politics 71 (4): 1549-63.
  • Jacoby, William G. 2014. “Is There a Culture War? Conflicting Value Structures in American Public Opinion.” American Political Science Review 108 (4): 754-71.

Week 12:  Gender, Law, and Violence

  • Smith, Andrea. 2010. “Decolonizing Anti-Rape Law and Strategizing Accountability in Native American Communities.” Social Justice 37 (4): 36-43.
  • Corrigan, Rose. 2013. Up Against a Wall: Rape Reform and the Failure of Success. New York: New York Univ. Press, 21-51.
  • Sanday, Peggy Reeves. 2007. Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood, and Privilege on Campus, 2nd ed. New York: New York Univ. Press, 83-107.
  • Bazelon, Emily. 2015. “The Return of the Sex Wars: The Decades-Old Intellectual Debate Simmering Beneath the Current Conversation Over Sexual Assault on Campus.” New York Times Magazine (10 Sept), available at:

Week 13:  Interrogating “Choice Feminism,” Masculinity, and Conservative Agendas

  • Hancock, Ange-Marie. 2014. “Bridging the Feminist Generation Gap: Intersectional Considerations.” Politics & Gender 10 (2): 292-6.
  • Kirkpatrick, Janet. 2010. “Introduction: Selling out? Solidarity and Choice in the American Feminist Movement.” Perspectives on Politics 8 (1): 241-45.
  • Hochschild, Arlie. 2010. “Let Them Eat War.” In Voices of Dissent: Critical Readings in American Politics, eds. William F. Grover and Joseph G. Peschek. New York: Longman, 173-78.
  • Barton, Bernadette. 2012. Pray the Gay Away: The Extraordinary Lives of Bible Belt Gays. New York: New York Univ. Press, 23-42.
  • Video: I Got a Crush on Obama (last accessed Sept 2015), available at:

Week 14:  Interest Groups, Political Parties, and Coalition Building

  • Hajnal, Zoltan L., and Jeremy D. Horowitz. 2014. “Racial Winners and Losers in American Party Politics.” Perspectives on Politics 12 (1): 100-18.
  • Strolovitch, Dara Z. 2007. Affirmative Advocacy: Race, Class, and Gender in Interest Groups. Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 174-205.
  • Cohen, Cathy J. 1997. “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 3 (4): 437-65.
  • Wong, Janelle S. 2006. Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 177-96.

Week 15:  Review and Final Exam