Feminism and Philosophy

Spring 2005

Philosophy/Women's Studies 381

MWF 9:30-10:20, 4008 Wescoe

Professor Ann E. Cudd



Office and hours:                                                                    Phone:4-2310(WS); 864-3976(Phil)

M 2-3 (WS office: 2010 Wescoe)                                                                  e-mail: acudd@ku.edu

W, F 10:45-11:45 (Phil office:3051 Wescoe)                                homepage: www.ku.edu/~acudd

and by appointment                                                                                                                          




            This course is an introduction to systematic philosophical reflection about feminism, sex, and gender. This semester we will examine five major themes in philosophical feminism: the nature of sexist oppression, sexual difference and how it is constructed and/or discovered, what it means to say that knowledge or reason are gendered, care and trust as central concepts of feminist ethics, and the concept of an autonomous self and its liberation. This course is by no means an encyclopedic survey of philosophical feminism, but it is designed to introduce the main topics of current interest to feminist philosophers.



The objectives of the course are to introduce the student to philosophical concepts and ideas regarding sex, gender, and feminism; to give the student practice writing philosophical essays; and to help students develop a sensitivity to systematic oppression.



The following text is available at the bookstore for this course:

Feminist Theory: a philosophical anthology, edited by Ann E. Cudd and Robin O. Andreasen.

There will also be occasional articles that I will post on the website for you to read. I recommend that you print them for your repeated use.



            I have constructed a Blackboard course website for this course. If you have or have had other courses on Blackboard, you simply need to log in to the site in the usual way (go to http://courseware.ku.edu and follow the instructions). If you have not used Blackboard before, you need to point your browser to http://courseware.ku.edu and follow the instructions for setting your password. Once you have done this successfully, Blackboard will automatically load your courses with Blackboard sites on your opening page. You can then click on the Feminism and Philosophy course to get to our site. To successfully log in to Blackboard you need to have an Exchange account (i.e., a "ku.edu" account), and you need to use that when you log in. If you do not have an Exchange account you can get one for free from the Academic Computing website, which is linked to the www.ku.edu website. Please see me if you have any difficulty in logging into the course website.



-      You will write four short papers (5-6 pgs) through the term. The papers together will account for 60% of the course grade, with each counting for 15%. Unexcused late papers will be penalized at a rate of one letter grade per week.

-      There will be a take home final exam worth 30% of the course grade.

-      Each student will take part in leading class discussion on a Friday for part of the class; this will count for 10% of the course grade.

-      There will be the opportunity to engage in a service learning experience to replace two of the papers for the course. (See additional handout on service learning.) Those participating in service learning will present their project to the class in place of leading class discussion on a Friday or on the last day of class.

-      Plagiarism will not be tolerated; it will result in a grade of 0 for the assignment, and will be reported to the Dean. If you are unsure about the rules, please ask me.



            The KU office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) coordinates accommodations and services for all students who are eligible. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodations and have not contacted SSD, please do so as soon as possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number is 785-864-2620 (V/TTY). Information about their services can be found at http://www.ku.edu/~ssdis. Please also contact me privately in regard to your needs in this course.



            Reading philosophy is not like reading a novel or the newspaper or People; it is slow going and requires re-reading, note-taking, and active engagement with the arguments if you want to make sense of what the author is saying. In this class I will expect you to have a good grasp of the author's thesis and her or his main arguments for it. The reading assignments are relatively short, but the reading is demanding. I recommend that you read the texts twice before class time, and once again after you have heard the lecture and discussed the reading in class. The first time through a text I normally make marginal notes with a pencil: questions, brief outlines of the arguments, my quick evaluations, doodles, epithets, and other little notes that I use as signposts for myself when I go back through the text. The second time through I normally take notes on my computer or the old fashioned way, with paper and pen. After class you might want to add a few notes, or correct some misunderstandings in your notes.



            You will be doing this in teams of about 4 students (depending on how many choose not to do a service learning project). What I want you to do is to work together to come up with four or so (at least one for each member of the group) themes/questions for discussion on your day that covers or relates to the reading for the week that your discussion happens. Discuss in your team, in advance, what you think are some good points to make. Let the class discuss the themes/questions, and see if they come up with your answers. If not, then propose them to the group. Make sure that each member of the discussion leading team has a chance to speak. After the class, post on the BlackBoard website (as a new thread in the on-line discussion section) your questions/themes and your answers. The class may then feel free to add comments to the thread to continue the discussion out of class. You will be evaluated on the quality of your questions/themes and the discussion that they raise.


All readings come from Feminist Theory: a philosophical anthology and are listed by author and chapter number, except where noted.


WEEK 1 - Jan 24-28

What is Feminism?

M:       Cudd and Andreasen, Introductions to book and to Part I

Wollstonecraft, ch. 1

W:       J.S. Mill, ch. 2

F:         De Beauvoir, ch. 3

WEEK 2 - Jan 31- Feb. 4

What is Feminism?

M:       Millett, ch. 4

W:       hooks, ch. 5

F:         class discussion will be led by the graduate students, and there will be one short, required practice essay.


WEEK 3 - Feb. 7-11

What is Sexism?

M:       Cudd and Andreasen, Intro to Part II

Cudd and Jones, ch. 6, Frye, ch. 7

W:       Young, ch. 8

F:         Discussion in learning teams of paper #1 – bring 2 copies of first draft of paper to class


WEEK 4 - Feb. 14- 18

What is Sexism?

Paper #1 due Monday, Feb. 14

M:       Bartky, ch. 9

W:       Ann Cudd, "Psychological Explanations of Oppression" (access on-line through Blackboard)

F:         Student led discussion

                                                            WEEK 5 - Feb. 21- 25

What is Gender?

M:       Cudd and Andreasen, Intro to Part III

Antony, ch. 11

W:       Butler, ch. 12

F:         Student led discussion

WEEK 6 - Feb. 28 - March 4

What is Gender?

M:       Haslanger, ch. 13

W:       E. Lloyd, ch. 10

F:         Student led discussion


WEEK 7 - March 7- 11

Is Knowledge Gendered?

Paper #2 due March 7

M:       Cudd and Andreasen, Intro to Part IV

G. Lloyd, ch. 14

March 8: International Women's Day

W:       Anderson, ch. 15

F:         Student led discussion           

                                                          WEEK 8 - March 14- 18

Is Knowledge Gendered?

M:       Longino, ch. 16

W:       Harding, ch. 17

F:         Student led discussion

Spring Break March 21-25


                                                      WEEK 9 - March 28- April 1

Is Value Gendered?

M:       Cudd and Andreasen, Intro to Part V

Baier, ch. 18

W:       Tronto, ch. 19

F:         Kittay, ch. 20

Student led discussion

                                                            WEEK 10 - April 4- 8

Is Value Gendered?

M:       Hampton, ch. 21

W:       Nussbaum, ch. 22

F:         Student led discussion

                                                           WEEK 11 - April 11-15

The Autonomous Self

Paper #3 due Monday April 11

M:       Cudd and Andreasen, Intro to Part VI

W:       Grimshaw, ch. 23

F:         Friedman, ch. 24

Student led discussion

                                                          WEEK 12 - April 18- 22

The Autonomous Self

M:       Allen, ch. 25

Discussion led by graduate students

W:       Brison, ch. 26

F:         Presentations of service learning projects


WEEK 13 - April 25- 29


M:       Cudd and Andreasen, Intro to Part VII

De Beauvoir, ch. 27

W:       MacKinnon, ch. 28

*** No class April 29 ***

                                                             WEEK 14 - May 2-6


M:       Okin, ch. 29

W:       Cornell, ch.30

F:         Student led discussion/Presentations of service learning projects


                                                            WEEK 15 - May 9-11


M:       Presentations of service learning projects

W:       Review and course evaluations

Paper #4 due on May 11


The final exam will be take home and will be due on the day of the scheduled final exam:

Tuesday, May 17, no later than 5pm.