J298 – Gender and Journalism



Time:  W 2:00 - 5:00

Location:  209 North Gate (Greenhouse)

Class Number:  16904

Section:  009

Units:  3

Length:  15 weeks

Course Material Fee:  None

Enroll Limit:  

Restrictions & Prerequisites

Gender and Journalism Spring 2019
Deirdre English

Gender is an increasingly relevant beat in journalism. This class will study reportage on women, men, and LGBTQ issues in intersectional perspective, as tempered by race, ethnicity, and class – as well as other factors such as religion, culture and ideology.

All genders, all personal identities and backgrounds, and all opinions are equally welcome in this class. After all, people of all genders and backgrounds will continue reporting on these issues in future years, as well as interacting with one another in workplace hierarchies, communities, and in private life. One of the gender gaps in society is between those women who have immersed themselves in scholarship on gender and men who may not have, or not as much. Same with gaps between, say, African Americans who have read their history and Causasians who haven’t, or between LGBTQ people and cisgender people. In the meantime, did a gap open with understanding the experiences, for good or for ill, of men and of identified white people? A small remedy for such gaps may be a classroom where we can reflect together on the best approaches to covering, and personally thriving, amidst the vast social changes in these areas. So come one, come all; we each have a lot to learn.

Together, we will study the recent Pulitzer Prize winning exposes of harassment that have helped spur the Me, Too movement, and the increased media attention to sexual assault, rape, and sex trafficking. There are many other topics to investigate as well: such as the terms of professional survival, success and leadership, in journalism and in other fields. We will study body issues: health, sexuality, gender identity, and reproductivity. We will look into work/life balance, family roles and alternative family, parenting and friendship formations. We’ll cover sexual abuse—as well as egalitarian movements – within the great religions, and in sects and cults. We’ll look at gender, race and class in social movements, including sexual liberation, gay marriage, Black Lives Matter, affirmative action, labor struggles and more. What about gender in power politics: who runs, who wins, who sets the agenda from Congress to the C suite? We will read some research on the deep history of male dominant society, the culture wars, populism and its roots in social issues, political correctness and its critics, gender among millennials, race relations in social movements, feminist waves and the backlashes against them, and the ecofeminist vision.

Like lawyers, psychologists or sociologists, journalists must be able to comprehend varieties of experience. Expect to read conservative and right wing views as well as radical left and liberal ones: many opinions that shape the current national conversation are to be studied. You may be assigned to informal debates, in writing or in class, perhaps taking points of view that are not your own, or trying to see through unaccustomed lenses from law, literature, religion, evolutionary biology, psychology and more. There is no correct line to be followed; more deeply understanding multiple voices is a goal. That, and seeking historical analyses that help place older and emerging voices in meaningful perspectives. And I do mean perspectives, plural.

The final syllabus, still in formation, will emphasize diversity. We’ll read short to medium selections from or about authors such as, Rebecca Traister, Michelle Alexander, Alice Walker, Wesley Yang, Roxanne Gay, Judith Butler, Hilton Als, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Ta- nehesi Coates, James Baldwin, Katherine Boo, Ronan Farrow, Jodi Kantor, Jordan Peterson, Maxine Hong Kingston, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bari Weiss, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Estelle Freedman, Jill Lepore, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Mac McClelland, Newt Gingrich, Adrienne Rich, Morgan Jerkins, Hugh Hefner, Helen Gurley Brown, Gloria Steinem, Patrice Khan-Cullors and Asha Bandele, Gabrielle Union, Dashka Slater, Katha Pollit, Sarah Jaffe, Emily Yoffe, Camille Paglia, Ayn Rand, Phyliss Schlafly, Gabriel Sherman, Laura Kipnis, Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller, Bernice Yeung, Jerry Falwell, A.K Ramanujan, Danielle McGuire, Pussy Riot, Margaret Atwood, Helene Cixous, the Combahee River Collective, Audre Lorde, Domatila Barrios de la Chungara, Huda Shaarawi, Peggy Orenstein, Susan Griffin, Wesley Morris, Arlie Hochschild, The Guerrilla Girls, Jonah Gokova, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Jennifer Baumgardner, and many more.

Among the many contemporary journalists we read (and in some cases meet) will be some J-School alums: Michelle Goldberg and Claire Cain Miller of the New York Times, Rebecca Ruiz, Rachel Lehman-Haupt, Becca Andrews, Sarah Broome, Jason Marsh, Rebecca Solnit and more. This list will expand to include a good mix of audio, multi-media and film/video.

The workload:

This is a seminar, not a production class. It involves substantial reading, with invited speakers, videos, podcasts and photography and art to absorb as well. There will be in-class writing exercises and structured as well as open discussion, and opportunities to give feedback to the instructor and help shape the course. Thorough preparation, open-mindedness, tolerance of ambiguity, critical thinking and civil conversation are, as always, the keys to making the classroom experience with your peers the best it can be.