Introduction & Policies

Prof. Melissa M. González

GSS 101, Chambers 1003, MWF, 9:30-10:20, Fall 2016

Course Description for Introduction to Gender & Sexuality Studies

gss101GSS 101 provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the analytical tools, key scholarly debates, history, and research subfields of gender and sexuality studies. Working within a transnational and multi-ethnic framework, we pay particular attention to the construction and deployment of gender as a cultural category across various social institutions. Students will learn to assess and analyze documents pertaining to the history of and contemporary state of feminisms and women’s rights, masculinity, queer theory, disability studies, trans* studies, intersectionality, as well as a host of gendered questions related to race, class, size, body image, health, work, the family, violence, and politics. [NB. This syllabus draws from the Master Syllabus for GSS 101, created by Professors González, Kaufman, McMillan, Taft, and Tilburg.]

Learning Goals:

By the end of the semester, you should be able to:

  • Define key concepts such as gender, sexuality, intersectionality, and heteronormativity
  • Understand key debates and divergences (e.g. constructionism vs. essentialism)
  • Summarize the development of feminist thought and the history of theories of sexuality in a global and non-Anglo-centric framework
  • Apply gender and sexuality analysis to a variety of texts and media
  • Identify moments when a scholarly text addresses its disciplinary/interdisciplinary methods


  • Readings are available on our course website, and students will also post entries there:
  • Three to Infinity: Beyond Two Genders (2015). Stream for $4.99 on Vimeo
  • Attendance at two GSS-related events on campus are required for the course. Events will be announced via e-mail, and failure to attend will impact the participation grade.


Office Hours:

There are two types of Office Hours:

  • Drop-in: You can drop in any time, without advance notice, from 3:30-5:30pm on Wednesdays. My office is in Chambers 2256.
  • By Appointment: Alternatively, you can sign up for an appointment, at least 24 hours in advance, on another day and time via my Google Appointment Calendar:

You should make every effort to make drop-in hours or appointment hours; however, if you cannot, please email me to schedule a meeting outside of these times.

Every student is required to visit office hours at least once in the semester, to discuss the Literature Review assignment. You are all highly encouraged to come to office hours at any time, beyond this required visit, to discuss your progress in the course as well as any academic interests I may be able to help you with.

E-mail Policies:

  • Students are expected to read their email at least once daily in order to keep up with important announcements regarding our class.
  • I aim to reply to all e-mails within 48 hours during the semester, not including weekends. If ever I do not respond to an e-mail within 48 hours, please e-mail me again. Sometimes e-mails get caught in the spam folder or get buried under the sometimes very large number of e-mails I receive daily.
  • If you want a quick response, e-mail during office hours. Please do not expect a quick response in the evening or on the weekends.
  • Please do not send e-mails asking for information that you could find on the syllabus or the course website. I may or may not respond to such e-mails. If you need information about anything you missed because you were not in class, please come to office hours instead of e-mailing.

Access and Accommodation Policy:

We all learn in different ways, and each student will work differently in order to meet the learning goals of the course. Any student, at any time, is welcome to discuss with me their learning style in order to strategize, with my support, how best to approach work for the course.

If you are a student with a disability documented by Davidson College who might need accommodations, please identify yourself to me within the first week or two of class so that I can learn from you as early as possible how best to work with your learning style. Students with other issues requiring accommodations are also encouraged to self-identify so that we can explore accommodations that will enhance your learning experience. If you suspect you may need accommodations but do not have any, or if you need help with time management, please contact Nance Longworth ( to discuss further.

All such conversations will be fully confidential unless you otherwise stipulate.

Electronics in the classroom:

Because computer screens block faces and provide distraction, please take notes by hand. Because tablets are flat and annotating the readings is a crucial part of your work for the class, you can use a tablet to read PDFs in class as long as you have an annotation tool installed that allows you to mark up your readings. If you feel that your own circumstances warrant your bringing a laptop to class, please speak with me about it.

Finally, it should go without saying, but every year I see more and more students using their smart phones during class discussion, reflecting perhaps changing social mores around phone use. Sometimes, it is appropriate to use our digital tools to look up a word or concept during class; but it’s never acceptable to use your phone for personal tasks during class. I always notice even the more surreptitious texting, and it distracts me, and at least some of your peers. Please remember to silence your cell phones and always refrain from text messaging or using your smart phone for personal tasks during class.


Regular and prepared attendance is a course requirement. More than three unexcused absences will result in your final grade being lowered by a third (a B becomes a B-), and this will repeat for each additional absence. According to College Policy, missing a substantial number of classes will result in automatic failure of the course. E-mail me before or after every absence with an honest explanation so that I am aware of your situation. You are responsible for determining and completing any work that you miss because of any absence, in office hours.

An important note about religious observance:

Please look carefully at the syllabus during the first week of class.  If any of the assignments or class meetings conflict with a major religious holiday for your faith, then please let me know.  I will make every effort to make the necessary accommodations. Religious observance warrants a legitimately excused absence.

Late Assignments:

You are expected to complete all readings, viewings, and assignments on time. Extensions will not be granted at the last minute, but if you have several projects due at the same time and contact me several days or weeks in advance, I will accommodate you.

Honor Code:

All students are expected to work within the bounds of Davidson College’s Honor Code. Acts of plagiarism on class assignments are considered an honors violation, and are cause for failure in the course.

Grade Scale

100-95 A; 90-94.9 A-; 88-89.9 B+; 83-87.9 B; 80-82.9  B-; 76-79.9  C+; 72-75.9 C, etc.



Library Research Consultations:

Davidson librarians have drop-in hours for research consultations, and you can also make an appointment online. Students are strongly encouraged to have a research consultation before beginning work on their Final Paper. See this page for all the information you need:

The Speaking Center:

The center can help you prepare to make an oral presentation. They are a free service. See this site for more information and hours of operation:

The Writing Program & THE WRITING Center:

The Writing Program maintains a useful site with a wealth of resources:

The Writing Center is another free and highly useful service on campus, located in the CTL in the library. Students are highly encouraged to visit the Writing Center with drafts of any assignment for the course. For more information: see for tutor schedules and areas of expertise, or to make an appointment.