In Other Words
Summer 2000
Melissa Kesler Gilbert


In this course, we will be working with our community partner, the local non-profit feminist bookstore IN OTHER WORDS and their sister organization, The Women’s Community Education Project. Our project this term is to coordinate a series of *rap sessions* with local teen girls about current issues in their lives. We will use these group conversations to encourage the girls to become a part of our ZINE project — where they will write, edit, and publish a grassroots, mini-magazine with our class. Please take a look at the enclosed outreach plan for more detailed objectives. In preparation for this project, we will read feminist scholarship on women’s organizations, feminist bookstores, and teenage girls as well as focus group and zine publishing methodologies.


This CAPSTONE course is designed as an advocacy project-in-progress: We are building a bridge between women’s studies scholarship in the academy and praxis in our community. team, we will design our project with the following objectives in mind: As an interdisciplinary research team, we will design our project with the following objectives in mind:

1) A TEAM APPROACH: To work together as a collaborative research team — learning to value, respect, and incorporate our different standpoints.

2) FROM THEORY TO PRAXIS: To apply women’s studies scholarship (and the expertise you bring from your own discipline) to contemporary women’s issues in our community.

3) A BRIDGE TO THE COMMUNITY: To encourage you to become an active member of your community by introducing you to a network of women involved in grassroots organizing, feminist community building, and women’s educational resources.

4) A CRITICAL PIECE OF THE PIE: To enhance your ability to think experientially, analytically, and critically about girl’s/women’s everyday lives as they are experienced in your community.

5) FINDING A VOICE : To assist you in reflecting and interpreting the complexities of girl’s/women’s experiences, resulting in a variety of opportunities for both oral, written, and graphic communication.


Francesca Lia Block& Hillary Carlip. ZineScene: The Do It Yourself Guide to Zines. GirlPress. 1998.

Hillary Carlip. GirlPower: Young Women Speak Out. NewYork: WarnerBooks. 1995.

Brown. Raising Their Voices.

Pipher. Reviving Ophelia.

GirlPOWER! Capstone Workbook. Available at Clean Copy.

Selected research articles and agency literature to be distributed in class and/or on reserve in the women’s studies office (CH401). Please note that the office is open from 9-3:00 M-F


Scholarly & Personal Reflections: 100 points

third of your grade will be based on your reflective VOICE in this course — evidenced in a written response journal due each week. The following are required:

(1) Portfolio Assignment (not-graded, but required: 20 points see handout)

(2) Research Reflection journal (see handout) (EMAIL is required)
10 points per journal x 8 weeks = 80 points total

Community Work: 100 points

third of your grade in this course will be based on your informed community work as part of our research team. This work will take place both in and outside of the classroom and is dependent on the design of our project. This portion of your grade includes both PRIMARY and SECONDARY TASKS.

(1) PRIMARY TASK: Rap Sessions & Publishing a Teen Zine (75 Points)

Your primary task for this course is to make contacts with teen advocates in the Portland area and to conduct several rap sessions with teen girls, encourage them to participate in our project, solicit submissions, and design our zine. Your “focus group” work may include the following:

Background Reading
Focus Group Guide Design
Taped Focus Groups (rap sessions)
Legal Release Forms
Transcript (NOTE: 1 hour interview = about 10 hours transcribing- plan ahead!)
Editing Transcripts
Editing Zine Submissions
Running Zine Workshops
Writing Zine Article(s)
Research on books, movies, scholarship, internet sites related to Zine topics
Presentation to In Other Words

Final Products: At the end of the term you will be responsible for depositing the following materials in the Women’s Studies Program Oral Narratives Archives: tapes, transcript (on paper and disk), legal release forms & final papers. These materials will be a valuable source for future capstone courses.

(2) SECONDARY TASK: Of Your Own Design (25 Points):

You will negotiate a secondary task applicable to our project that you will be responsible for completing on your own with your mentor’s & community partner’s assistance. This task is your opportunity to use skills specific your major and should reflect your personal interest in an issue related to teen girls or the bookstore. It may or may not be directly related to the ZINE.

You will submit a proposal to your mentor and instructor on the second week of our class. We encourage these projects to be completed in small groups, but individual projects are also a possibility.

Team Work — Socially Responsible Learning: 100 points

third of your grade is based on evidence of your acting responsibly to each other and our community partner.

We are working as a group: We will move through this course together setting goals, designing projects, brainstorming, delegating tasks, negotiating expectations and setting deadlines. It is important that each of you is present and takes part in the decision-making process. The syllabus is here as a guide, but each of you has a voice in this agenda and may advocate changes as the course evolves. We are interdependent on one another to make our project work. Your BEING here is critical!

We are working with each other: Each of you will work closely with each other, your mentor, community partners, and the instructor. Each of us is responsible to the other members of our research team in meeting the expectations of the group. As members of both a research community AND a social community we need to appreciate the life choices of all of those involved in this project (from the person sitting next to you to the teen girls you will work with). I hope that this work will help us to practice our own capacities to engage in collective, ethical, interactive, and organizational challenges that mirror those in our local women’s community.

POINTS: You will earn 6.25 points for each working class session in which you:

(a) are in attendance in the classroom (or participate by a service/research task in the community
during class time);

(b) show evidence of careful preparation for our working session (including notes on readings, drafts, notes from research, etc. — you may be asked to turn these in);

(c) contribute to class discussions, planning sessions, and small group work; and

(d) confirm that you have carried out assignments on time and volunteer for additional research tasks when appropriate.

PLEASE NOTE: The 16 sessions include all T/TH sessions (including holidays) and the final presentation.

MISS A WORKING SESSION? If you miss a working class session, a community meeting, or other capstone-associated event it is up to YOU (not your instructor OR your mentor) to get notes from class, check on deadlines, retrieve materials passed out it class, and get up to speed with the project. If you know in advance that you will be missing class (an emergency, another priority, etc.) you should contact your MENTOR as soon as possible before the class and/or drop off material related to that working session. If you miss a class unexpectedly you should contact your mentor as soon as possible after the class session to explain your absence and arrange to pick up materials from the session. We understand that life is full of surprises and understand that everyday life may make demands on you that conflict with our work. If you keep us informed of unexpected events and make arrangements to complete your work, meet deadlines, and/or participate in some other agreed upon way, we will work with you.


Your final grade for this course will be based on:

(1) the completeness of the above requirements, as well as
(2) the quality of your analytical thinking, reflection, writing, and oral presentation.

Your mentor and I will assign grades to your journals after consultation with the instructor. Mentors will also keep records of your class participation. Final grades for your community work will be assessed by your mentor and instructor as the project evolves. In addition, you will be asked to assess your own work from time to time in this course. Please feel free to ask about the status of your work as the course progresses. You are encouraged to discuss feedback with us as often as possible.

Please NOTE: You will NOT receive a grade for this course until you have returned all loaned equipment and turned in the final products listed above.

Capstone Project Plan

Readings: With the exception of your texts, readings will be assigned as we move through the project (in order to make choices most relevant to the flexibility and design of specific content, issues, and methodologies). These readings will be on reserve in the Women’s Studies Office (CH 401) where you may borrow them to photocopy or loan for a two hour period between 9 and 3.


T June 20 Introduction to Capstones, Mentor, and Your Collective
What is a capstone? Issues of Confidentiality and Anonymity.
Video clips from past GIRLpower! classes

RESEARCH TASK: sign confidentiality agreements, fill out forms, get to know each other, review assignments

TH June 22 Starting Our Own Collective

Reading: Articles on Reserve (Feminist Bookstore Movement Articles); Capstone Handbook

RESEARCH TASK: A Group Process Exercise: How can we work together as a group? What kinds of ground rules should we establish as guidelines for our collaboration? Sharing Portfolios.

√ Portfolio Due
√ Short list of possible girl contacts from your own community

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:


T June 27 Meeting Our Community Partner & Local Girl Advocates

GUEST: Catherine Sameh from In Other Words; The Girl’s Initiative Network (GIN), et. al.

Reading: Articles on Reserve
Reviving Ophelia(Selected Chapters)
Zine Scene: CH. 1 & CH. 14

RESEARCH TASK: learning about local girls, setting group goals

√ Questions for Catherine and other GIRL advocates.

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:

TH June 29 Building Bridges with Community Contacts

Zine Scene: CHPS. 2-4

RESEARCH TASK: Laying out our constituencies, making preliminary contact assignments.
Reviewing contact protocol for phone calls to – – ! Review Contact Sheets

√ Secondary Proposal (might include a BOOKSTORE activity)

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:



Personal Research Tasks to Complete:

TH July 6 THEME ONE- The Ethics of Girl Talk

Reading: Raising Their Voices (Selected Chapters)
Zine Scene p. 41

RESEARCH TASK: Review oral history ethics, review consent forms for girls and parents, discuss legal issues: publishing work/distributing to teens, mandatory reporting, interruption skills training, handling flashbacks

√ a list of your concerns about this project, dealing with teens, publishing work, dealing with schools, teachers, agencies

√ FIELDTRIP to the Bookstore: Before class today you should make a trip to the bookstore. We will give you a list of questions to answer about the store and its resources. We encourage you to go with someone from class, take a friend, or a teen girl with you!

THEME TWO, Learning to Listen to Myself: Personal Standpoints

RESEARCH TASK: Applying ourselves to our work. How does my voice, my assumptions, my perceptions, and my inferences affect my role as a focus group facilitator?

√ Your Personal Identity Narrative

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:



T July 11 THEME ONE: Framing our Rap Sessions

Reading-. Articles on reserve
Zine Scene: CHPS. 5-6;
Girl Power (Selected Chapters)

RESEARCH TASK: Brainstorm about possible rap session formats, share ideas
√ Bring a design for your rap session

THEME TWO, A Session of Our Own

RESEARCH TASK: Practice sessions, interruption, facilitating and using our equipment. We will run our own rap session in class – be prepared to rotate in as a facilitator.

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:

TH- July 13 TALKING BACK: Reflections on Rap Sessions Writing Girl’s Voices … From Tape to Paper

Reading: Articles on Reserve

RESEARCH TASK: Our session will consist of us talking about what we are learning from the girls, processing their words and thinking through new directions., for our zine project. We may want to come up with questions to ask across all of the sessions — or a specific writing or art piece we would like the girls to work on! We will also discuss transcribing.

√ Revised Rap Session Formats

Personal Research Tasks:


T July 18 TALKING BACK AGAIN: More reflections, revising, rethinking

Reading: Articles on Reserve

RESEARCH TASK: Talking more about what we arc learning from the girls, processing their words and thinking through new directions. for our zine project. Discuss analysis/thematic organization

√ Thumbnail sketches

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:

TH July 20 TALKING MORE: Reflections on rap sessions

Reading: Zine Scene: CHPS. 7-10; Articles on reserve

RESEARCH TASK: Laying out what we have, what we still need. Scheduling follow-up rap sessions. Conducting more focus groups or follow-up sessions.

√ Interview Notes, Transcripts, Thumbnail sketches

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:



RESEARCH TASK Making format decisions, collecting submissions, deciding on a table of contents, identifying themes in our work, assigning sections

√ examples of zine submissions, freewrites, artwork, and a list of themes from YOUR sessions

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:


RESEARCH TASK Making more format decisions, collaborating in writing teams, prioritizing work and dividing tasks. How will the GIRLS be involved in the ZINE editing? How to WRAPUP with the girls — saying goodbye?

√ envelopes with quotes, freewrites, transcripts, artwork for each theme section

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:


T August 1 Writing & Editing
Reading: Zinc Scene: CHPS 11-13
RESEARCH TASKEdit sections, Invitations Out to People for our FINAL PRESENTATION!

√Drafts of submissions

Personal Research Tasks to Complete: –

TH August 3 Writing & Editing

RESEARCH TASK: Edit sections

√ Drafts of your zine sections

Personal Research Tasks to Complete:


T August 8 Layout, paste-up sessions & photocopying

RESEARCH TASK: Editing final copies, laying out pages; Organizing the final presentation –How will we present this to the community, the teens, teen advocates, agencies, and the university? What do we need to do in order to prepare? Follow-up phone calls. How do we want to celebrate privately? How to wrap-up?

Getting the Zine to the GIRLS! Making Distribution Plans

√ Final Submissions

Personal Research Tasks To Complete:

TH August 10

Invite your friends, family, teen girls, advocates, etc. to our
presentation. Please note that you are required to present for this presentation — so plan your schedule ahead of time! This counts as your final for the course.