Effective: Late Spring 8-Week, 2018/2019

SOCI 485: *Feminist Theory And Methodology

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  Course Description

This course analyzes the intellectual debate feminism has inspired in academia. Analyzes the specific contributions of feminist researchers across the disciplines, specifically focusing on feminist methods of inquiry, challenges to the traditional science model, dilemmas of feminist research, and feminist theoretical contributions. Standpoint theory, researcher reflexivity, and questions of objectivity and subjectivity are among the topics covered. Cross-listed as SOCI/WMST 485.

Prerequisite: Junior standing

Proctored Exams: Midterm



  • Ramazanoglu, C., & Holland, J. (2002). Feminist methodology: Challenges and choices. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.  
    • [ISBN-978-0-7619-5123-0]
  • Hooks, B. (2014). Feminist theory: From margin to center (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: South End Press.  
    • [ISBN-978-1-1388-2166-8]
  • McCann, C. R., & Seung-kyung, K. (Eds.). (2017). Feminist theory reader: Local and global perspectives (4th ed). New York, NY: Routledge.  
    • [ISBN-978-1-138-93021-6]

Supplemental Texts - Pick one of the following texts for your Paper 3 - Social Research Project

Beauvoir, S. de. (2011). The second sex. (C. Borde & S. Malovany-Chevallier, Trans.). New York, NY: Vintage. (Original work published 1949) ISBN: 978-0-307-27778-7

Butler, J. (2006). Gender trouble: Feminism and subversion of identity. New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-38955-6

Collins, P. H. (2008). Black feminist thought: Knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-96472-2

DeVault, M. (1991). Feeding the family: The social organization of caring as gendered work. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 978-0-226-14360-6

MacKinnon, C. A. (1989). Toward a feminist theory of the state. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN: 978-0-674-89646-8

Naples, N. A. (1998). Grassroots warriors: Activist mothering, community work, and the war on poverty.  New York, NY: Routledge. ISBN: 978-0-415-91025-5

Rosen, E. I. (1987). Bitter choices: Blue-collar women in and out of work. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 978-0-226-72645-8

MBS Information

Textbooks for the course may be ordered from MBS Direct. You can order

For additional information about the bookstore, visit http://www.mbsbooks.com.

  Course Overview

The objectives of this course are multiple. The first objective is to sensitize students to feminist theory and its methodological, ontological and epistemological choices and challenges. Secondly, an objective is to understand the influence of the European Enlightenment ideals on feminist research methodology. The third objective is to grasp the multiple, unique characteristics of the feminist researcher including: the quest for valid knowledge by a knowing subject, objections to scientific method in social research, and the relationship between objectivity and subjectivity. These objectives are accomplished through readings and reflections of various feminist perspectives, including feminist standpoint theory, essays on the politics of difference, and postmodern theory.

Critical thinking is highly encouraged in this course by exploring the limitations of feminist theory. For example, students are challenged to question: does feminist theory encompass the lives and ideas of women on the margin, women of color, and global women? Finally, central to the feminist ideal of “subject as knower,” students will be challenged to re-think the practical uses of their everyday experiences. This is accomplished by examining the experience of sexual oppression, solidarity between women, the nature of work, parenting, power, education, emotions and expressions of love. 

  Technology Requirements

Participation in this course will require the basic technology for all online classes at Columbia College:
  • A computer with reliable Internet access
  • A web browser
  • Acrobat Reader
  • Microsoft Office or another word processor such as Open Office

You can find more details about standard technical requirements for our courses on our site.

  Course Objectives

  • To understand feminist theoretical perspectives and methodologies and how these challenge the natural science model of knowledge production.
  • To critically analyze and discuss exemplars in feminist scholarship, recognizing their feminist voice, epistemology and methodology.
  • To analytically and cohesively address this intellectual debate concerning ontology, epistemology and methodology in written form.

  Measurable Learning Outcomes

  • Describe and explain how feminist theoretical perspectives and methodologies challenge the natural science model of knowledge production.
  • Describe and explain epistemology, ontology, and methodology.
  • Critically interrogate the ‘natural science model.'
  • Describe and explain the debates surrounding feminist methodology in the social sciences.
  • Evaluate the feminist standpoint theory and the issues it has raised and poststructuralist theories and their implications for feminist methodologies.
  • Critically evaluate the value feminist theory adds to the social sciences as well as the limitation within it.


Grading Scale

Grade Points Percent
A 900-1000 90-100%
B 800-899 80-89%
C 700-799 70-79%
D 600-699 60-69%
F 0-599 0-59%

Grade Weights

Assignment Category Points Percent
Discussions 160 16%
Papers 400 40%
Quizzes 40 4%
Midterm Exam 200 20%
Final Exam 200 20%
Total 1000 100%

  Schedule of Due Dates

Week 1

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 1 10 Wednesday
Discussion 2 10 Sunday

Week 2

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 3 10 Wednesday
Discussion 4 10 Sunday
Paper 1 100
Proctor Information N/A

Week 3

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 5 10 Wednesday
Discussion 6 10 Sunday
Quiz 1 20

Week 4

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 7 10 Wednesday
Discussion 8 10 Sunday
Midterm Exam 200

Week 5

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 10 10 Sunday
Discussion 9 10 Wednesday

Week 6

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 11 10 Wednesday
Discussion 12 10 Sunday
Paper 2 100

Week 7

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 13 10 Wednesday
Discussion 14 10 Sunday
Quiz 1 20

Week 8

Assignment Points Due
Discussion 15 10 Monday
Discussion 16 10 Wednesday
Final Exam 200 Saturday
Paper 3 - Social Research Project 200
Total Points: 1000

  Assignment Overview


Postings should be completed by their respective deadlines. All posts are due on Wednesday and Sunday at 11:59 pm of each assigned week (except for the final week of the class, when they are due on Monday and Wednesday). In order to get full credit for your discussion posts, you must answer the discussion question(s) thoroughly and your answers must demonstrate your understanding of the assigned readings. In addition, you are expected to respond to at least 2 of your classmates in each discussion. Discussion questions vary between demonstrating comprehension of assigned readings and concepts and demonstrating critical thinking and analytical skills regarding various subjects from the readings. In most cases, citing outside references is not necessary in discussion postings, but citing the required course texts is encouraged to demonstrate reading and comprehension. Discussion postings will be graded according to these Discussion Expectations.​


Students are required to write three papers in this class, two worth 100 points, and one (Social Research Project) worth 200 points. They will be graded on the basis of analytical and critical thinking skills, completeness, correct spelling, correct formatting and citations, and neatness according to the rubrics found in the course. All papers are to be in APA format.

  • Paper 1: The learning expectation of the first paper is for students to describe and explain how feminist theoretical perspectives and methodologies challenge the natural science model of knowledge production. Write a paper describing the scientific method and feminist objections to it. The paper should describe the four positions on objectivity, subjectivity, and relativism as outlined in Chapter 3 of the RH text. I am looking for a thorough understanding of the feminist critique of scientific method. This paper is required to be 3 pages in length, double spaced, and clearly written with appropriate grammar and spelling. Please cite the textbook appropriately.
  • Paper 2: The learning expectation of the second paper is to demonstrate understanding of a feminist perspective from a woman of color and show an understanding of the role of identity, boundaries and multiple oppressions in women’s lives. In this paper, describe Andrea Smith’s description of Native American feminism. Describe the relationship between sexism, sexual violence and colonialism. Describe the concepts of sovereignty, reparations and “making power.” This paper is required to be 3 pages in length, double spaced, and clearly written with appropriate grammar and spelling. Please cite the textbook appropriately.
  • Paper 3 (Social Research Project): The learning expectation of the third paper is to critically analyze and evaluate the value feminist theory adds to the social sciences as well as the limitations within it. Students will do this by reading a text of feminist scholarship listed in the syllabus under the “Supplemental Textbook” heading. Each text is an example of feminist social research. Students are asked to read their chosen text in light of the debates they have spent the entire semester analyzing concerning what is science, how feminism has influenced what we know of as science, the objectivity/subjectivity debate, the “otherness” debate, etc. Student papers should discuss their text in terms of where it stands on these key issues, in addition to presenting the substantive argument being made by the author(s). This paper should be at least 6 pages in length, double-spaced, and is due on the last day of class.  Please cite the textbook and 4 additional sources appropriately.


There are two quizzes and they will consist of short answer questions based on your required readings up to that point. The quizzes serve as a form of preparation for your exams.


There is a midterm exam and a final exam in this course. Both exams will ask 4 essay questions, which must be answered in 4-6 well developed paragraphs. Each exam will also ask for 10 short answer definitions of key terms in the course, which must be answered in 1-3 sentences. The questions on each exam will cover the material learned in the previous 4 weeks only. Your midterm exam is proctored.


A twitter account has been set up for this course as a way to share feminist quotes, pictures and news. Although you will not be graded on your use of this social media account, it is an optional tool to enhance your learning experience in this classroom. You can follow course tweets here: https://twitter.com/FemTheory

  Course Outline

Click on each week to view details about the activities scheduled for that week.

  • RH (Ramazanoglu/Holland): Chapter 1 & Glossary (pgs. 170-173)
  • hooks: Chapter 3
  • FTR (Feminist Theory Reader): Introduction (pg. 1)
Discussion 1

Introduce yourself in the "Introductions" topic of our class. Please give us more than your name. Please share profession, hobbies, interests, and any other information that can help us get to know you. Moreover, if you are willing, please post a picture of yourself or of something meaningful in your life. Did you take a vacation recently? Post a pic and tell us about it.

Additionally, please define feminism in the twenty-first century according to your readings in both the RH and FTR texts. Are you surprised by this definition? If so, how? If not, why? Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday. 

Discussion 2

Demonstrate comprehension and reading by posting three things:

a)  Define methodology in social research.

b)  Describe the difference between ontology and epistemology.

c)  Reflect on one concept presented in hook’s chapter 3 regarding the significance of the feminist movement (meaning, this was something you had never thought about at all until reading this, or thought about in that particular way, for example).

Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.  

  • RH:  Chapter 2 & 3
Discussion 3

In separate paragraphs, briefly describe Enlightenment thought and Cartesian dualisms. Then, thinking creatively, provide three examples of dualisms that are not provided in the book (don’t copy other students ideas here!). How are dualisms helpful in understanding reality? How can they be limiting? Provide examples. Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday. 

Discussion 4
Feminist theory maintains that feminist researchers are knowing subjects producing knowledge of the real social world, but continue to debate the usefulness of objectivity and subjectivity (as outlined in Chapter 3). Critically evaluate the value this aspect of feminist theory adds to the social sciences as well as the limitations within it. Then, post a personal example of how each perspective (unbiased/biased or objective/subjective) can be helpful in understanding women’s realities. For example, how has your personal story helped you better understand a particular subject. Or, how has your inexperience and unbiased opinion of a subject helped you understand? I expect an example of each—please think creatively here. Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Paper 1
See full assignment description in the Assignment Overview. Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Proctor Information
Submit your proctor form to the appropriate Dropbox folder by the end of the week. Remember to “Save” the form before placing it in Dropbox. See the Content area for more information.
  • RH:  Chapter 4
  • FTR:  Essay 34 by Nancy Hartsock (pg. 368)
Discussion 5

A standpoint is a place from which to view the world that determines what we focus on as well as what is obscured from us. How do you know what you know? In this post, I want students to develop a complete standpoint position by specifying A) your social location and B) the type of knowledge derived from this standpoint. I want more than just your social roles (mother, manager, healer) and social groupings (class, race, gender)—try to locate how it is that these aspects of your life provide knowledge. What kind of knowledge do you gain? Is it superior to other forms of knowledge? Is it necessary to be in a particular role, say as a parent, to gain access to this perspective? Does being located in a social group (race, class, gender) empower or oppress your ability to ‘see’ the world? I expect several paragraphs here. Please read “My Body is My Own Business” by Naheed Mustafa in the Week 3 content section of the classroom as an example of a standpoint. Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday. 

Discussion 6
In this second discussion thread of the week, students are to reflect on Hartsock’s essay on “The Feminist Standpoint” (FTR: Essay 35, pg. 354). Critically evaluate the value this aspect of feminist theory adds to the social sciences as well as the limitations within it. What are her ideas on the sexual division of labor? What does she say about women’s work? What does she say about motherhood? I expect several paragraphs here. Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Quiz 1
Covers material in the readings from Weeks 1-3. Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
  • RH: Chapter 5
  • FTR: Essay 41 by Sandra Lee Bartky (pg. 466)
Discussion 7
In this Discussion thread, please explain Postmodern Theory and its implications on feminist theory as described in Chapter 5 of the RH text. Describe in at least two ways how postmodern theory challenges feminism? Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday.
Discussion 8
Bartky uses Foucault’s postmodern theoretical concepts to discuss the state of women in society as the “docile body” and describes the extensive cultural disciplinary practices that perpetuate gender roles. She emphasizes how women are given greater freedom in the modern era than ever before, but that an ongoing, omnipresent pressure to maintain traditional feminine ideals still exists. Yet, at the end, she addresses a missing piece of Foucault’s analysis: it precludes “resistance” of any type. What does she mean by this and how does this fit into the discussion of Foucault’s analysis? What is the role of the individual? Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Midterm Exam
The midterm exam is an online, proctored exam to be taken between Tuesday and Sunday of week 4. This exam is comprised of 4 essay questions, to be answered in 4-6 well-written paragraphs each. It also asks for 10 short answer definitions of key terms, to be answered in 1-3 sentences each. The exam must be completed with a proctor (the proctor must have been approved by the instructor by week 2 of the course). Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
  • RH: Chapter 6
  • hooks : Chapter 6
Discussion 10
Based on your reading of chapter 6 in the hooks text, describe at least one of her critiques of a traditional definition or understanding of power. How does she suggest women reconstruct ideas of power? Does her conception of power resonate in your life in any way? Please describe. Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Discussion 9
Ramazanoglu and Holland write, “’Otherness’ (or ‘alterity,’ from the Latin word for other) sits somewhat awkwardly in English (which is why we have given it quotation marks)…The idea that ‘otherness’ is a fluid, socially constituted, repeatedly performed relationship, rather than a stable essence, challenges the notion of an ‘other’ as naturally different from, and properly subordinate to, a dominant category of normal self.” (pg. 108). What does it mean to experience ‘otherness’? Is this a concept you can relate to? How? How does this concept pose as a challenge to feminist researchers?  Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday.
Reminder - Paper 3 - Social Research Project - Dropbox Assignment
You should begin reading for your feminist Social Research Project (Paper 3). See full assignment description in the Assignment Overview. Due by 11:59 pm on last Saturday of course.
  • hooks - Chapters 1, 4 & 5
  • FTR: Essay 35 by Patricia Hill Collins (pg. 384) and essay 24 by Andrea Smith (pg. 273)

Students should be reading their chosen text for Paper 3 (Social Research Project).

Discussion 11
According to your readings by hooks and Collins, how did early feminists silence Black women’s realities? In other words, were early feminist theorists racist, classist and even sexist? What unique position and perspective do Black women have in America? What is Black feminist thought? Who can be a black feminist and why? Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday.
Discussion 12
According to hooks, what is the difference between solidarity and support in sisterhood? What are her thoughts on men’s roles in the feminist movement? Do you think men can be feminists? Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Paper 2
See full assignment description in the Assignment Overview. Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Course Evaluation
Please evaluate the course. You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link sent to your CougarMail will allow you to access the evaluation. Please note that these evaluations are provided so that I can improve the course, find out what students perceive to be its strengths and weaknesses, and in general assess the success of the course. Please do take the time to fill this out.
  • hooks: Chapters 7-11
  • FTR: Essay 43 by Alison M. Jaggar (pg. 510)

Students should be reading their chosen text for Paper 3 (Social Research Project).

Discussion 13

Choose a subject (work, education, violence, parenting, or sexual oppression) from your readings in hooks (chapters 7-10) and discuss how she claims this particular arena of women’s lives could be better understood. In other words, how could feminist theory improve by re-evaluating this arena from a wider perspective? Can you relate to her ideas? Can you apply this information to your future career interests? Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday.

Discussion 14
After reading Jaggar, describe the “myth of dispassionate investigation” within the scientific method. Why have emotions been viewed as inferior to logic?  Provide an example of how emotions inform your understanding of reality? Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
Quiz 1
Covers material in the readings from Weeks 5-7. Due by 11:59 pm on Sunday.
  • RH – Chapter 8
  • hooks – Chapter 12
Discussion 15
After reading Chapter 8 in the RH text, imagine that you are about to embark on a feminist research project. Thinking creatively, what is your research question? What is your choice of theory? What is your ontological position? How does your question sit in relation to epistemology? (See pgs. 150-152 for assistance here). Due by 11:59 pm on Monday.
Discussion 16
Hooks argues that in order to “restore the revolutionary life force to feminist movement women and men must begin to re-think and re-shape its direction” (pg. 162). Do you think this is possible? In what ways can this happen on an everyday scale? Due by 11:59 pm on Wednesday.
Final Exam
Students must take an online final exam between Tuesday and Saturday of the final week. The final exam will be administered online and is comprised of 4 essay questions, to be answered in 4-6 paragraphs each. It also asks for 10 short answer definitions of key terms, to be answered in 1-3 sentences each. Final exam does not need to be proctored! You can take it from the comfort of your home or office.
Paper 3 - Social Research Project
See full assignment description in the Assignment Overview. Submit your Paper 3 (Social Research Project) by Saturday at 11:59 pm.

  Course Policies

Student Conduct

All Columbia College students, whether enrolled in a land-based or online course, are responsible for behaving in a manner consistent with Columbia College's Student Conduct Code and Acceptable Use Policy. Students violating these policies will be referred to the office of Student Affairs and/or the office of Academic Affairs for possible disciplinary action. The Student Code of Conduct and the Computer Use Policy for students can be found in the Columbia College Student Handbook. The Handbook is available online; you can also obtain a copy by calling the Student Affairs office (Campus Life) at 573-875-7400. The teacher maintains the right to manage a positive learning environment, and all students must adhere to the conventions of online etiquette.


Your grade will be based in large part on the originality of your ideas and your written presentation of these ideas. Presenting the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form as your own is plagiarism. Students who fail to properly give credit for information contained in their written work (papers, journals, exams, etc.) are violating the intellectual property rights of the original author. For proper citation of the original authors, you should reference the appropriate publication manual for your degree program or course (APA, MLA, etc.). Violations are taken seriously in higher education and may result in a failing grade on the assignment, a grade of "F" for the course, or dismissal from the College.

Collaboration conducted between students without prior permission from the instructor is considered plagiarism and will be treated as such. Spouses and roommates taking the same course should be particularly careful.

All required papers may be submitted for textual similarity review to Turnitin.com for the detection of plagiarism. All submitted papers may be included in the Turnitin.com reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. This service is subject to the Terms and Conditions of Use posted on the Turnitin.com site.


There will be no discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, ideology, political affiliation, veteran status, age, physical handicap, or marital status.

Student Accessibility Resources

Students with documented disabilities who may need academic services for this course are required to register with the office of Student Accessibility Resources. Until the student has been cleared through this office, accommodations do not have to be granted. If you are a student who has a documented disability, it is important for you to read the entire syllabus as soon as possible. The structure or the content of the course may make an accommodation not feasible. Student Accessibility Resources is located in Student Affairs in AHSC 215 and can be reached by phone at (573) 875-7626 or email at sar@ccis.edu.

Online Participation

You are expected to read the assigned texts and participate in the discussions and other course activities each week. Assignments should be posted by the due dates stated on the grading schedule in your syllabus. If an emergency arises that prevents you from participating in class, please let your instructor know as soon as possible.

Attendance Policy

Attendance for a week will be counted as having submitted any assigned activity for which points are earned. Attendance for the week is based upon the date work is submitted. A class week is defined as the period of time between Monday and Sunday (except for week 8, when the work and the course will end on Saturday at midnight.) The course and system deadlines are based on the Central Time Zone.

Cougar Email

All students are provided a CougarMail account when they enroll in classes at Columbia College. You are responsible for monitoring email from that account for important messages from the College and from your instructor. You may forward your Cougar email account to another account; however, the College cannot be held responsible for breaches in security or service interruptions with other email providers.

Students should use email for private messages to the instructor and other students. The class discussions are for public messages so the class members can each see what others have to say about any given topic and respond.

Late Assignment Policy

An online class requires regular participation and a commitment to your instructor and your classmates to regularly engage in the reading, discussion and writing assignments. Although most of the online communication for this course is asynchronous, you must be able to commit to the schedule of work for the class for the next eight weeks. You must keep up with the schedule of reading and writing to successfully complete the class.

No late discussion posts will be accepted.

No late assignments are accepted in this class. 

Course Evaluation

You will have an opportunity to evaluate the course near the end of the session. A link will be sent to your CougarMail that will allow you to access the evaluation. Be assured that the evaluations are anonymous and that your instructor will not be able to see them until after final grades are submitted.

Proctor Policy

Students taking courses that require proctored exams must submit their completed proctor request forms to their instructors by the end of the second week of the session. Proctors located at Columbia College campuses are automatically approved. The use of ProctorU services is also automatically approved. The instructor of each course will consider any other choice of proctor for approval or denial. Additional proctor choices the instructor will consider include: public librarians, high school or college instructors, high school or college counseling services, commanding officers, education service officers, and other proctoring services. Personal friends, family members, athletic coaches and direct supervisors are not acceptable.

  Additional Resources

Orientation for New Students

This course is offered online, using course management software provided by Desire2Learn and Columbia College. The course user guide provides details about taking an online course at Columbia College. You may also want to visit the course demonstration to view a sample course before this one opens.

Technical Support

If you have problems accessing the course or posting your assignments, contact your instructor, the Columbia College Helpdesk, or the D2L Helpdesk for assistance. Contact information is also available within the online course environment.

Online Tutoring

Smarthinking is a free online tutoring service available to all Columbia College students. Smarthinking provides real-time online tutoring and homework help for Math, English, and Writing. Smarthinking also provides access to live tutorials in writing and math, as well as a full range of study resources, including writing manuals, sample problems, and study skills manuals. You can access the service from wherever you have a connection to the Internet. I encourage you to take advantage of this free service provided by the college.

Access Smarthinking through CougarTrack under Students -> Academics -> Academic Resources.