Ensuring Equity: Women in 21st Century American Culture (MSON) (History/Social Science OR Literature Elective; US)

Spring; Grades 11–12
Prerequisite: US History or Accelerated US History a plus, but not required; MSON’s Establishing Equality strongly suggested, but not required

At the 2014 VMAs, Beyoncé performed in front of a 20-foot lit sign that read “FEMINISM,” and her performance ignited a flame for intersectional equity that has burned brightly ever since. In this course, not only will we consider, as the course title states, the experience and meaning of women in contemporary American culture, but we will also ask a series of questions to understand these experiences: What aspects of American culture shape the experience of being a woman today? How does focusing on contemporary American women allow us to explore and discover the issues that impact today’s American women? And, how and why is it that a pop culture icon like Beyoncé reignited the flame of feminism in 2014? By reading texts from many disciplines and perspectives (i.e. film, music, sociological theory, fiction, feminist and cultural studies—to name a few) we will look closely at the issues, experiences, and representations that shape American women today. And, while a strict definition of “contemporary” means the here and now, we will take a broader approach to “contemporary” by looking at American women and women’s issues from the past 30 years, making our starting point the beginning of third wave feminism and then coming up to the present. In the end, this course will help us all as a learning community to question, explore, and draw conclusions about the multiple aspects of American culture that give shape and meaning to American women.


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