Women’s, gender and sexuality studies has plans to expand in future

AJ Fournier, Campus Reporter

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The women’s, gender and sexuality studies department at Eastern has plans to expand and offer new classes as part of a nationwide movement.

Jeannie Ludlow, English professor and coordinator of the program, said this movement began about 10 years ago.

Ludlow said when women’s studies originally started being taught, it began as a corrective to change the curriculum and broaden students’ knowledge about women’s lives and experiences.

“What we found out when we did that was it was not just enough to learn about women’s lives and experiences,” Ludlow said. “When we think about gender and how it shapes our lives, we need to look at relationships because of how much they tie together.”

Ludlow said realizing this led to changing the name of the program from women’s studies to women’s, gender and sexuality studies.

“Some women’s studies programs changed their name to gender studies, some changed their names to gender and sexuality studies. But a lot of us are keeping women’s studies in the name to honor the history,” Ludlow said.

The women’s, gender and sexuality studies program at Eastern will be adding two new classes this fall and spring as part of this broader expansion.

French professor Ryan Schroth will be teaching Introduction to Sexuality and Gender Diversity, which is the first of the two courses being offered.

“It will educate students more on gender as a system of analysis and how gender and sexuality work together,” Ludlow said.

The goal is for students to learn about the history and importance of sexuality in society, AIDS activism, global queer rights and more.

“In this course, we will discuss about queer history, trans history and all about the terminology of (the LGBTQ+ community,)” Schroth said.

Schroth said readings for the class will be a combination of theoretical articles and different types of queer arts.

“We might engage with short films or documentaries and graphic novels,” Schroth said.

Ludlow said the difference between the two courses is that Queer Theory will be an advanced class about how being a gender minority group shapes a person’s reality.

“The Queer Theory class will be a mirror of the Feminist Theory class,” Ludlow said.

Ludlow said the department hopes to add additional classes within the next few years, though a low amount of faculty members makes this challenging.

Sexuality and Gender Diversity will begin in spring 2018. It will be offered Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 3:15 pm. Queer Theory will be offered fall 2018.

AJ Fournier can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].