Women in Philosophical Thought

January 29, 2001

This course is about the various ways society has thought about and portrayed women, and the impact these views have had on women's roles in society. The goal, however, is not merely passive acquisition of knowledge, but the development of authentic and well-informed responses to these philosophical views of women. Discussions will be loosely organized around three themes: ideas about and images of women's bodies, theories regarding women's rational abilities and the ways women gain knowledge, and opinions concerning women's ethical capacities. To help make the course content more meaningful, there will be an experiential component to the course–the opportunity to engage in service at Girls Incorporated of Wayne County–which will provide an occasion to develop relationships with, and learn from, future women. The course will be team-taught by Cathy Ludlum Foos of the philosophy department at IU East and Tracy Knechel, Executive Director of Girls Incorporated.

Course Objectives
The Indiana University East Strategic Plan lays out seven learning objectives which, taken together,describe the conception of an educated person to which this institution is committed. This course contributes to four of them. They are:
Educated persons should be exposed to a broad variety of academic fields traditionally known as the Liberal Arts in order to develop a critical appreciation of a diversity of ideas and creative expression.
Educated persons should be able to express themselves clearly, completely, and accurately.
Educated persons should be expected to have some understanding of and experience in thinking about moral and ethical problems.
Educated persons should have the ability to develop informed opinions, to comprehend, formulate, and critically evaluate ideas, and to identify problems and find solutions to those problems.

It is our goal that students in this course:
be able to express informed opinions regarding ideas about and images of women and their role in society;
live up to their potential to be STRONG, SMART, & BOLD.*

* The motto of Girls Incorporated

By this we mean …
STRONG: I am capable of thinking my own thoughts, feeling my own feelings, knowing what I know, being who I am.
SMART: I can make an informed decision based on my thoughts, feelings, and knowledge along with other information I gather.
BOLD: I can choose to take action based on my informed decision for the good of myself and others.

Requirements (Summary–more details will be forthcoming)

Journal Entries–alternating weekly between:
First reactions–your own initial thoughts and feelings about the readings;
Reflective, informed opinions–building upon your first reaction, but going beyond this to include knowledge acquired, and reasoned conclusions developed, through discussion in class and careful reading of the text.

Short Papers — 3
Synthesis of journal entries for The Handmaid's Tale
Synthesis of journal entries for
"Strong, smart and bold" analysis of the Course as a whole

Term Project
Information gathering through either
a)Approximately 20 hours service at Girls Incorporated
b)a research project
Term Paper

Details of the Term Project will be determined collaboratively by the class as a whole. To prepare for this discussion each student should spend a few hours at either Girls Inc. or the library gathering ideas before Jan. 26.

Class Participation
Attendance is required
Students are expected to prepare for and contribute to class discussion
Respectful listening is an important contribution to discussion
Each student will make a brief presentation on a topic of her or his choice to supplement class discussion. The first few will be modeled by the instructors.

Paper on The Handmaid's Tale 20%
Paper on Herland 20%
Term paper 20%
Final Paper 20%
Class participation & journals 20%

Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale
Eve Browning Cole, Philosophy and Feminist Criticism: An Introduction
Charlotte Gilman Perkins, Herland

Schedule Of Assignments

Jan 12: Introduction to course
Jan 19: Handmaid's Tale, chs. 1-9– "First reactions" journal entry due
Jan 26: Handmaid's Tale, chs. 10- 15–"First reactions" journal entry due
Feb 2: Handmaid's Tale, chs. 1-9– "Reflective" journal entry due
Feb 9: Handmaid's Tale, chs. 10- 15–"Reflective" journal entry due
Feb 16: Herland, all–First reactions" journal entry due
Feb 23: Herland, first half– "Reflective" journal entry due
Handmaid's Tale paper due

Mar 2: Herland, second half– "Reflective" journal entry due
Mar 9: Open House at Girls Incorporated (display projects)


Mar 23: Open House at IU East (display projects)
Herland paper due

Mar 30: Cole, ch. 3–"First reactions" journal entry due
Apr 6: Cole, ch. 4–"First reactions" journal entry due
Apr 13 Cole, ch. 5–"First reactions" journal entry due Term paper due
Apr 20: Cole, chs. 3-5–"Smart" discussion over course as a whole

Apr 27: Final paper due

School: Indiana University
Professor: Cathy Ludlum Foos
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