Skip to body

Women's and Gender Studies

Recommended Reading

Some of the books Women's Studies faculty have enjoyed recently:

Halving it all: How equally shared parenting works by F. Deutsch.
Research based book that really explores the mechanics of sharing
parenting.

Colonize this: Young women of color on today's feminism, edited by D. Hernandez & B. Rehman.
A collection of essays exploring the construction of feminism and personal experiences growing up as a young woman of color in the US. Third wave perspectives that really speaks to students.

Feminism is for everybody by bell hooks.
Should be a required reading for every WS course!

Color of Violence: The INCITE Anthology.
This is a really powerful collection of essays that explore the multiple ways that women of color are often violated by the system and society.

Gender Vertigo: American Families in Transition by B. J. Risman.
Excellent model of what "fair families" can look like and how they can benefit everyone in the family.

Gendered Lives by J. Wood.
This is an incredibly comprehensive resource that highlights the ways the gender and culture influence communication at all levels of society.

Getting Off: Pornography and The End of Masculinity by Robert Jensen.
So far I have just read a review and am HUGELY impressed. This is written by a man who has a revelation that the dominant liberal discourse about porn being "progressive" and "empowering" is obscuring critical information about the industry. It includes ground level research about the REAL level of sexual violence and dominance/submission happening in films along with personal identity transformation as a man dealing with his privilege. http://www.alternet.org/sex/63671/

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy.
This gives excellent critical thinking skills about why women seemingly "choose" to sexualize themselves via Girls Gone Wild and consuming porn, supporting stripping as 'empowering', etc. It puts the analysis of this behavior on a race platform, comparing it to African Americans and "Uncle Tomming", in that women who identify with male sexual aggression against women gain (illusory) status - and how this ultimately is part of their gender oppression.

Bodies and Pleasures by Ladelle McWhorter.
Sexual identities are dangerous, Michel Foucault tells us categories of desire harden into stereotypes by which the forces of normalization hold us and judge us. In Bodies and Pleasures, Ladelle McWhorter reads Foucault from an original and personal angle in order to examine the differences her reading experience has made in her life. McWhorter's analysis advances discussion of key issues in Foucault scholarship: the genealogical critique, the status of the subject and humanism, essentialism versus social construction, and the relationships between identity, community, and political action.

Sexing the Brain by Lesley Rogers (1999) examines claims about sex differences based on genes and hormones and argues that the studies tell us more about the cultures of the researchers than about sex differences. Although this book is not brand new, it presents a very strong argument for why we should be sceptical of claims that seem to support conventional ideas about gender.

Between Women: Friendship, Desire, and Marriage in Victorian England by Sharon Marcus (2007) argues that Victorian women were expected to have close ties with other women and that these relationships were seen as supporting marriage rather than competing with it. Women in stable, long-term relationships with female partners were treated like married couples and not considered "gender outlaws," according to Marcus. The theory supports her original analysis of novels by Dickens and Anthony Trollope, as well as her examination of fashion and consumer culture.

History of the Breast By Marilyn Yalom.
The image of the nurturing Madonna, invented in 14th-century Italy, resurrected an earlier tradition of big-breasted Paleolithic figurines representing fertility or nursing goddesses, Yalom claims. But beginning in the Renaissance, she says, the breast, stripped of its relation to the sacred, became the playground of male desire, taking on in the West a predominantly erotic meaning that it has not possessed in other eras and cultures. According to Yalom, writings on the breast by Rousseau, Freud, Jung and novelist Philip Roth reflect a male-centered, sexist worldview. With wit and dispassionate scholarship, Stanford researcher and feminist scholar Yalom decodes the social constructions of the breast as political symbol of liberty in the French Revolution, idealized domestic comforter in the Dutch golden age, modern advertising commodity and source of titillation in the arts, entertainment, erotica and pornography. She charts women's increasing involvement in the sexual politics of controlling their bodies and breasts, from 1960s bra-burning to today's growing concern about breast cancer. Intriguingly and amply illustrated with reproductions of paintings, sculpture, prints, posters, ads and photographs, this enlightening, often surprising cultural history will compel men and women to think differently about the breast. -- Publishers Weekly.

History of Women Photographers by Naomi Rosenbloom.
In this landmark volume, Rosenblum (A World History of Photography) examines sympathetically the achievements of women in photography since its invention in 1839, and highlights society's failure to give them appropriate recognition. One research obstacle the author encountered was the 19th-century practice of men taking credit for work done by women. Here is work from 250 female camera artists, from Julia Margaret Cameron (b. 1815) to Annie Leibovitz (b. 1949), who, despite strong cultural resistance, mastered everything from early wet-plate views and portraits to 35 millimeter photojournalism, often initiating aesthetic and commercial improvements. Her chronicle of women's part in each era's artistic movements and media transitions, plus capsule biographies with an in-depth bibliography and index, make this a seminal reference work. The author's choice of 263 photographs seems to favor the esoteric, bringing to light a largely unknown world in vivid originality and broad archival conception. -- Publishers Weekly.