Introduction & Policies

GSS 101, Fall 2021

Prof. Melissa M. González

Office: Chambers 3287

Watson 147

MWF 10:50-11:20am

Course Description for Introduction to Gender & Sexuality Studies

GSS 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, Horowitz, Kaufman, and Tilburg.]

Learning Goals:

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

  • Define key concepts such as gender, sexuality, intersectionality, race, 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
  • Participate in dialogues that reduce stereotyping and increase mutual understanding.


  • Readings are available on our course website, and students will also post entries there:
  • You will be asked to watch material that requires borrowing a friend’s streaming subscription, or using a free trial of one, if you don’t have your own subscription.
  • Attendance at two GSS-related lectures or events on campus are required for the course. Multiple opportunities will be emailed throughout the semester to fulfill this requirement; it is recommended that you plan to complete this by early November.


Office Hours:

There are two types of Office Hours:

  • You can drop in any time, without advance notice, from 4:00-5:30pm on Mondays. My office is in Chambers 3287.
  • Or you can use Calendly to make an appointment for Zoom or in-person office hours:

You should make every effort to make these times; however, if you can’t, email me to schedule a meeting outside of these times.

As indicated on the Schedule of Readings & Deadlines, you are expected to meet with me several times during the semester. You are also highly encouraged to come to office hours at any time 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 experience 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 un-documented issues requiring accommodations are also encouraged to self-identify so that we can explore accommodations that will enhance your learning experience. All such conversations will be fully confidential unless you otherwise stipulate.

Davidson Access Statement:

The college welcomes requests for accommodations related to disability and will grant those that are determined to be reasonable and maintain the integrity of a program or curriculum. To make such a request or to begin a conversation about a possible request, please contact the Office of Academic Access and Disability Resources, which is located in the Center for Teaching and Learning in the E.H. Little Library: Beth Bleil, Director,, 704-894-2129; or Alysen Beaty, Assistant Director,, 704-894-2939. It is best to submit accommodation requests within the drop/add period; however, requests can be made at any time in the semester. Please keep in mind that accommodations are not retroactive.


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; I recommend the Notability app, but many exist. 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 entirely appropriate to use our digital tools to look up a word or concept during class, during group work, or to respond to a live poll in SLIDO; 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.

Attendance & Participation:

Regular and prepared attendance is a course requirement. According to College Policy, missing a substantial number of classes will result in automatic failure of the course. (Exceptions will be made for students who are sick, quarantining, or facing other life emergencies.) 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.

The Specifications Grading Policy also specifies the relationship of number of absences to different bundles. 

If you are sick, please do not come to class. E-mail me about the possibility of zooming in to the class when you feel up to it. Any required quarantines will be accommodated. If you miss class because of illness, email me right before or after, review the PPT, do the reading and the reading/viewing summary, and get discussion notes from a classmate, the absence will be excused (ie. it will NOT count toward the absences specified for each bundle).

Participation and Reading: Students should expect to participate actively in all class discussions and to come to class having completed all the reading and viewing, prepared with questions and comments on the week’s readings. I am happy to discuss during office hours strategies for increasing participation at any point in the course. Occasional reading quizzes may occur during class. Participation in social media sharing (Discord in Fall 2021) and in blog comments also counts toward as participation; please refer to the grades in the bundle on the Grading page.

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:

At the start of the semester, please look over deadlines for assignments in the syllabus and note any conflicts with your own schedule (e.g. multiple assignments or exams due in a brief period). Repeat this schedule cross-comparison at the start of every week. Extensions will be automatically granted if you notify me of a conflict at least 10 days in advance and propose an extension of 1-5 days. This class also has a system of Tokens/Fichas, which you can choose to participate in without informing me until it is complete, to rework deadlines; check the details in the Specifications Grading Policy, below.

If you encounter difficulties completing work by the deadline outside of the indicated time frame above (i.e. at least 10 days in advance), don’t panic. Contact me with an honest explanation by the original due date, and we will negotiate an extended deadline that works for both of us. (Extensions may not be possible for group projects, but still contact me with an honest explanation that your group should also include in the final reflection on the collaboration.)

Experience has shown me that this extension policy supports student learning, but I also know that accountability mechanisms support everybody’s ability to turn in work on time; please remember that if you miss an extended deadline, a late penalty will apply.

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.