Spring 2003

Instructors: Sally Merry and Nan Stein



This course joins an anthropological approach to the study of gender with the analysis of forms of intervention developed to ameliorate and change a range of gendered violations of women. The main topics of concern are domestic violence, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. The course combines social science research with questions about policymaking as it examines the construction of masculinity and femininity along with the race/class dimensions of this process. Major modes of intervention considered in the course are those of law, policing, and punishment as well as therapy, religion, and education, such as the development of curricular materials to combat sexual harassment in K-12 schools. The course examines how research informs policy and how policy initiatives toward wife battering and sexual harassment have changed over time. The course examines gendered violations in the United States and in other societies, exploring variability across race, class and community. Finally, the course examines the global dimensions of this movement, exploring the extent of gendered violations worldwide and human rights efforts to change them.

There will be two short essays, a longer project, and a final take-home examination. Students are also expected to do the reading and participate in class discussions. There will be an all-day field trip and students are expected to take part in it unless there are unavoidable conflicts. The short essays are each worth 15% of the grade, the class project and the take home exam each 30%, and class participation 10%. The purpose of the course is to promote critical thinking and to link this thinking to action, however, not to grade students.

There are three required texts. The rest of the readings are available on the course website and can be downloaded and printed.

Required Books:

Schechter, Susan. 1982. Women and Male Violence. Boston: South End Press.
Lancaster, Roger. 1992. Life is Hard. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
Ptacek, James. 1999. Battered Women in the Courtroom. Boston: Northeastern University Press.

Jan 29: The Creation of Gender Violence as a Problem

Feb. 5: The History of the Movement How has the definition of gender violence changed over time and space?

Guest Speaker: Heisoo Shin, CEDAW expert. "How to Use CEDAW and its Optional Protocol for Women's Rights"

Also attend her talk Feb.4, 7:30 PM on "The 'Comfort Women' and the International War Crimes Tribunal"

Required readings:

Feb. 12: Gender Violence as an International Human Rights Issue

Required readings:

Feb. 19: Theories about Gender Violence

Required readings:

Recommended readings:

Feb. 26: Field Trip

Required readings: These readings provide good background for the field trip, but if you can’t finish them, read them for March 5 and 12.

March 5: Criminalization and its alternatives

Required readings:

March 12: Debates about criminalization

Guest Speaker: Wendy Murphy, Attorney.

Required readings:

Finish readings from Feb. 26.

March 26: Gender Violence and Political Violence:

Guest Speaker: Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian

Required readings:

April 2: Public Education Initiatives: Developing Curricula and Educating Teachers and students

Assignment #2 Due: (Short paper: 5 pages). Thinking of all the ‘remedies’ to gender violence you have observed and read about and discussed in this class, which do you think is optimal? Why? Consider and discuss issues of intersectionality in your response.

Required readings:

April 9: Zero Tolerance Policies and the Intersection with Sexual Harassment

In class project: We will review existing curricula addressing gender violence in schools. You will then (in groups) select a specific gender violence and issue and design your own curriculum based on reviewed material. Elements of your product may be used in assignment #3.

Required readings:

April 16: Designing a curriculum on violence for schools

Guest Speaker: Laura Murray

The first half of class will be used to introduce and work on final assignments.

Assignment #3 (to be presented to class May 7): 10 page paper. You can work individually or in a small group. Select a piece of literature or issue that would be covered in a school curriculum on a regular basis and develop an interpretation which highlights issues of sexual violence or harassment. Describe how you would convey this in a constructive manner to a school age audience, specifying the age of the students you have targeted.

April 23: Violence Against Women and the UN

Required readings:

April 30: No class – Ruhlman Conference

Attend lecture by Radhika Coomaraswamy, 5:30 PM April 28, Library Lecture Room

May 7: Project Presentation (Assignment #3)

Assignment #3 due.

TAKE HOME EXAM: due last day of exam period.