WGS 4200

Course Name: 
Sex and Gender Go To The Movies

Over the past several generations, the mass media have become central to our understanding of the meaning of the categories of "woman" and "man" in American life.  In fact, many argue that the mass media have become central to the reproduction of the "sex-gender system" within which we all live, and under whose influence we form our identities as men and women in this culture.  In this course, we will examine the ways in which popular Hollywood film helps to define cultural ideas about gender differences both in the U.S. and globally.  We will also look at the ways in which feminists have responded to these definitions, by criticizing existing media images and by creating some alternatives of their own.
The course will begin by examining the notion that film might influence our development as gendered individuals, looking at those who have argued both for and against this notion.  We will then consider briefly the different forms of feminist theory which exist, and how they have been applied to the study of the mass media.  This introduction will be followed by an examination of the development of images of women and men in film, and an examination of how these images might function for different segments of the female audience.  We will look briefly at the history of popular Hollywood film, the history of its portrayal of women, scholarly criticisms of these portrayals, scholarly discussions of the appeal of specifically "female" genres such as  melodramas or "the woman's film" to the female audience, and of "masculine" films and feminist attempts to create alternatives to mainstream images in various media.  Throughout the course we will consider the issue of the representation of minorities in the dominant media, and examine some newly created alternative representation.
This course fulfills the Second Writing Requirement.

Instructor: 
Andrea Press
Special NOTE: 
Combined with MDST 4200
Course Category: 
Gender Concentration