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GWSS 290 A: Special Topics in Women Studies

Body Politics

Angela Ellsworth & Tina Takemoto, Her/She Senses Misfit Attire, performance art work, 1992.
Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm
THO 202
Sasha Su-Ling Welland

Syllabus Description:


TTh 10:30am -12:20pm
Thomson Hall 202

Instructor: Professor Sasha Welland (Links to an external site.)
Office: Padelford Hall B-110P
Office Hours: Mondays 1-3 pm | sign-up
Email:* (How to Email Your Professor)

*Please note: Every effort will be made to respond to email within 72 hours. 

Her-She Senses Misfit Attire.jpg

Artwork: Angela Ellsworth & Tina TakemotoHer/She Senses Misfit Attire, performance art work, 1992

Performance description: For three hours, Takemoto sharpens chopsticks in an electric pencil sharpener bound up in her hair and stabs them into her dress. Meanwhile, Ellsworth pulls the marshmallow tops off of pink Hostess Snowballs and stuffs them into her fishnet stocking.

Course Description

This new special topics course provides an introduction to foundational concepts in feminist inquiry through a focus on the body as a social-historical situation, in terms of gender, sexuality, race, class, and disability. How is something so intimately experienced as the body shaped by political, economic, scientific, and cultural norms? Through a diverse set of materials—cultural criticism, ethnography, memoir, art, film, and literature—students will examine the ways bodies are made through medicine, labor (productive and reproductive), war, and the environment. Course assignments and discussions will guide students to critically reflect on the bodies they inhabit as a form of ethical, imaginative reorientation toward social norms and practices that produce injury and injustice.


EReserves: Book chapters and articles in the syllabus are available through the Canvas course site. They can be found in Files and are organized by week. Books listed with the annotation (eBook) and linked below are available as electronic books through the University of Washington Libraries (UW NetID required).

Books: Available at The University Bookstore and requested for 2-hour reserve at Odegaard Library.


Each student’s performance will be evaluated as follows:

Class Participation: 10%
Class Facilitation: 10%
Discussion Board Posts (3 total, 5% each): 15%
Slow Looking Feeling Thinking Essay (draft + revision, 5% each): 10%
Bodies in the Making Entry (draft + revision, 10% each): 20%
Rhymed Bodies Final Presentation: 10%
Final Paper: 25%

Grading Criteria:*

4.0 – achievement outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
3.0 – achievement significantly above the level necessary to meet course requirements
2.0 – achievement meeting the basic course requirements in every respect
1.0 – achievement worthy of creditthat does not meet basic course requirements

*This course uses the GWSS departmental grading scale.

Class Participation: Active participation in each class session is a requirement of this course. Attendance, a pre-requisite of participation, is therefore critical. You are responsible for completing the assigned readings before class and preparing for discussion. Everyone is encouraged to be a thoughtful discussant and to raise questions, in class and through comments posted on the course discussion boards. Please bring the assigned texts, whether the books or the articles, to class each day so that you can refer to them.

Class Facilitation: Throughout the quarter you will have the opportunity, in groups of two to three, to lead the class in a discussion of the assigned readings. To prepare you should read in depth the materials for that class meeting and think about how to guide your classmates toward a deeper understanding of them. How you design this 30-minute facilitation is up to you. For example, you could prepare a series of questions to launch discussion in small groups or with the whole class, or create a simple assignment for your peers to do in class. Please feel free to talk to me in advance about strategies.

Discussion Board: Three substantive posts (approximately 500 words each) will serve to immerse you in the themes and questions of the course and help you develop ideas for your own work. The board will open each Friday and close on the Wednesday before our Thursday class meeting. Pace yourself and post to three of them. Evaluation of posts will include: timeliness, demonstration of understanding of assigned readings, thoughtfulness of ideas and questions posed, and persuasiveness and complexity of the inquiry. These posts will be graded as follows:  check+ (5 pts-excellent), check (4 pts-good), or check- (3 pts.-does not fulfill assignment).

Slow Looking Feeling Thinking Essay: This class fortuitously coincides with two related exhibits at the Henry Art Gallery on campus: Martha Friedman: Castoffs and Between Bodies. For the first draft of this essay, you will visit the museum, spend time exploring these exhibits, settle into deep looking at one artwork of your choice, and write two-page response to it. Later in the quarter, we will visit the museum as a class later. You will return to that artwork to experience it again in the context of our class discussions and then revise and expand your original essay to four pages. A handout with further instructions will be provided.

Bodies in the Making Entry: You will craft an entry (500-1000 words) for a collaborative class-produced online Bodies in the Making exhibit/anthology, a collection of “body notes” developed in relation to course concepts, questions, and debates. We will use the digital platform Scalar to develop this work; an in-class tutorial will guide you on how to use Scalar. This assignment gives you the chance to explore a topic, site, artifact, or phenomenon of interest to you and do further research and thinking about it. In-class exercises and a handout with prompts will guide you in developing your ideas. You will post a first draft of your entry, receive feedback from your classmates, and then revise your entry to complete the full assignment.

Rhymed Bodies Final Presentation: For the last week of class, small groups of students whose Bodies entries “rhyme” in some way to produce new connections will design and give an interactive presentation that puts their projects in conversation with one another and raises new questions for us to consider. Think of this as a form of collaboration, as a way of “being between” bodies, that will help you expand your thinking for the final reflection paper.

Final Paper: A final six-page reflection paper that explores connections between your Bodies project and that of at least one other student, as well as course readings, is required.


Classroom Community: This is your education. Make the most of it. You are learning from the course materials, the professor, and from each other. I expect that you may have different viewpoints and perhaps even strong feeling about certain topics discussed in class. I also expect you to listen to each other with respect, interest, and attentiveness. Interacting in an informed way requires responsibility to yourself and others to keep up with the readings so that you can contribute to the best of your abilities in class. It also means doing the work agreed upon in collaborative work so that your partners are not forced to pick up your slack; and being assertive about a group member who may be slacking.

Technology: Please turn cell phones and all alerts off or on vibrate during class so that you can devote your full attention to lecture and discussion and provide a distraction-free learning environment. Students may use laptops or tablets to take notes and/or refer to readings, but demonstrate respect for the classroom by refraining from any other activity. YES, that means no texting or social media!

Late Assignment Policy & Communication: With great exception in the case of documented illness or emergency, no late assignments are accepted. Please feel free to speak with me for further clarification of assignments or if you have questions about course materials. I make every effort to respond to email within 72 hours. Students who have lengthy or complex questions should meet with me during office hours. See the sign-up link above.


Odegaard: The Odegaard Writing and Research Center offers a variety of support for writers, including 45-minute consultations with peer tutors, which you can sign up for through their website. If English is your second, third, or fourth (!!) language, you can join their Targeted Learning Communities program. You’ll be paired with three to five fellow students from your course or similar courses and two tutor-facilitators for meetings once a week to support your classroom learning.

Interdisciplinary Writing Studio: As a student in a GWSS course, you can also sign up for tutoring sessions at the Interdisciplinary Writing Studio. The IWS offers tutoring sessions for students working on projects in AES, AIS, CHID GEOG, and GWSS. Our tutors have experience writing and tutoring in these departments and can work with you on all aspects of writing and research from brainstorming and planning, through writing and revising. All kinds of projects are welcome. We can talk with you about drafts, research strategies, disciplinary expectations, and finding your own voice in writing. We are located in located in Smith Hall 113B. For more information or to book a session, visit our website or contact the director Caitlin Palo at for more information.


Student Conduct

Admission to the university carries with it the presumption that students will conduct themselves as responsible members of the academic community. As a condition of enrollment, all students assume responsibility to observe standards of conduct that will contribute to the pursuit of academic goals and to the welfare of the academic community. That responsibility includes, but is not limited to: Respecting the rights, privileges, and property of other members of the academic community and visitors to the campus, and refraining from any conduct that would interfere with university functions or endanger the health, welfare, or safety of other persons; complying with the rules, regulations, procedures, policies, standards of conduct, and orders of the university and its schools, colleges, and departments. Misconduct includes student conduct that intentionally and substantially obstructs or disrupts teaching.


Students at the University of Washington are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic conduct. Most UW students conduct themselves with integrity and are disturbed when they observe others cheating. The most common form of cheating is plagiarism, presenting someone else’s work as your own. The University of Washington takes plagiarism very seriously. Plagiarism may lead to disciplinary action by the University against the student who submitted the work. To avoid unintentional misconduct and clarify the consequences of cheating see the Student Academic Responsibility Statement at the following link:

Grade Appeal Procedure

A student who believes that an instructor erred in the assignment of a grade, or who believes a grade recording error or omission has occurred, should first discuss the matter with the instructor, before the end of the following academic quarter. If the student is not satisfied with the instructor's explanation, the student, no later than ten days after his or her discussion with the instructor, may submit a written appeal to the chair of the department, with a copy of the appeal also sent to the instructor. Within ten calendar days, the chair consults with the instructor to ensure that the evaluation of the student's performance has not been arbitrary or capricious. Should the chair believe the instructor's conduct to be arbitrary or capricious and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the chair, with the approval of the voting members of his or her faculty, shall appoint an appropriate member, or members, of the faculty of that department to evaluate the performance of the student and assign a grade. The dean and Provost should be informed of this action. Once a student submits a written appeal, this document and all subsequent actions on this appeal are recorded in written form for deposit in a department or college file. (UW Student Guide, General Catalog, Grading)


An Incomplete is given only when the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work until within two weeks of the end of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student's control. A written statement of the reason for the giving of the Incomplete, listing the work that the student will need to do to remove it, must be filed by the instructor with the head of the department or the dean of the college in which the course is given. (UW Student Guide, General Catalog, Grading)

Concerns about a Course, an Instructor, or a Teaching Assistant

If you have any concerns about a GWSS course, instructor or teaching assistant, please see the instructor or teaching assistant as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or teaching assistant, or are not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the chair of the department in Padelford B-110.


Equal Opportunity

The Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA) supports the University’s compliance with the law and spirit of equal opportunity and affirmative action as it relates to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran, or other protected veterans. For more information see:

Disability Resources for Student

Embedded in the core values of the University of Washington is a commitment to ensuring access to a quality higher education experience for a diverse student population. Disability Resources for Students (DRS) recognizes disability as an aspect of diversity that is integral to society and to our campus community. DRS serves as a partner in fostering an inclusive and equitable environment for all University of Washington students. The DRS office is in 011 Mary Gates Hall.

Sexual Harassment

University policy prohibits all forms of sexual harassment. If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment or if you feel you have been discriminated against, you may speak with your instructor, teaching assistant, the chair of the department, or you can file a complaint with the UW  Office of the Ombud. Their office is located at 339 HUB, 206-543-6028. There is a second office, the University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office, that also investigate complaints. UCIRO is located in Roosevelt Commons East.

Other Student Resources

A list of helpful links regarding all aspects of student life can be found here:

Please also see the linked pages below for further resources: 

Health and Wellness

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Week 1

T 01/08


  • Introduction to course
  • Student introductions




Th    01/10

Body Politics

Week 2

T       01/15



Th    01/17


No Class 

Week 3

T       01/22



Th    01/24

Week 4

T       01/29


  • Audre Lorde, The Cancer Journals, Intro + Parts I and II


Th    01/31

Week 5

T       02/05



Th    02/07

Week 6

T       02/12

Brilliant Imperfection

  • Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure, Intro + Chapts. 1-3
  • DUE: Slow Looking Feeling Thinking Essay—Revision

Th    02/14

  • Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure, Chapts. 4-7

Week 7

T       02/19

  • Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure, Chapts. 8-10
  • DUE: Bodies in the Making Entry—Draft


Th    02/21


Week 8

T       02/26

Embodied Ecologies


Th    02/28

  • Curtis Marez, “Racial Ecologies: A View from Ethnic Studies
  • Dian Million, “‘We Are the Land and the Land Is Us’: Indigenous Land, Lives, and Embodied Ecologies in the Twenty-First Century”
  • Julie Sze, “Denormalizing Embodied Toxicity: The Case of Kettleman City,” all three in Racial Ecologies
  • DUE: Bodies in the Making Entry—Revision

Week 9

T       03/05

Radiation Ecologies

  • Kate Brown, excerpts from Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters
  • Kathleen Flenniken, excerpts from Plume
  • FILM (shown in class): Atomic HomefrontDirector: Rebecca Cammissa


Th    03/07

Week 10

T       03/12

Between Bodies


Th    03/14

  • Rhymed Bodies Final Presentations

Finals Week

T       03/19

DUE: Final Paper

Additional Details:

This course provides an introduction to foundational concepts in feminist inquiry through a focus on the body as a social-historical situation, in terms of gender, sexuality, race, class, and disability. How is something so intimately experienced as the body shaped by political, economic, scientific, and cultural norms? Through a diverse set of materials - cultural criticism, ethnography, memoir, art, film, and literature - students will examine the ways bodies are made through medicine, labor (production and reproduction), war, and the environment. Course assignments and discussions will guide students to critically reflect on the bodies they inhabit as a form of ethical, imaginative reorientation toward social norms and practices that produce injury and injustice.

Catalog Description: 
Exploration of specific problems and issues relevant to the study of women. Offered by visiting or resident faculty members.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:05pm