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Syllabus for Graduate Seminar in Women and Poverty, Fall 2004

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Soka University Japan - Transcend Art and Peace
Created: August 22, 2004
Latest Update: August 24, 2004

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Index of Site Topics Syllabus Soc. 595-01:
Graduate Seminar on Women and Poverty
Instructor: Jeanne Curran, Ph.D., Esq.
Course: Soc. 595-01. Women and Poverty
Course Reference Number: Reference No: 41023
Academic Credit: 3 units
Scheduled Meeting Times: Tuesday, Thursday 5:30 - 6:45 p.m., to be arranged with planned seminar presentations by the students, some of which may occur at different times and places, as part of our community outreach project.
Meeting Room: SCC 11305, and alternate rooms scheduled as seminar presentations are set up.
Office: SBS-B 326
Telephone: 310-243-3831
Not presently working, but they're supposed to be fixing it. Office Hours: Tuesday, Thursday 1:00 - 2:15p.m.; Wednesday 4:00-6:45 p.m. Probably need an appointment for privacy, since we gather for mentoring and help during the office hours.
Teaching Assistant and Community Adjunct: Patricia Acone, A.B.T.

Course Description:

This course looks at the intersection between gender and poverty. Although gender has finally been accepted as a "suspect class," meaning that we recognize the social and economic and political consequences that often accompany it, poverty has not been so recognized. We choose not to recognize poverty as a social construct that pervades our collective lives. We choose to ignore the privilege that wealth provides, and we only grudgingly acknowledge the privilege that being male entails. In this course, we're going to talk a lot about this.

We will discuss the unstated assumption that children are the responsibility of women, and wonder about why there is no state interest in caring for all children, at least economically. We will wonder how a state economic interest in children might alter the male/female relationship. Consider the Kibbutzim of Israel.

Other social issues we will consider health and poverty along with the issue of health care and pharmaceutical profits and state interests. The war on drugs and on sex, how it differs across gender and the wealth gap. Population growth, ecology, religion, and ethnicity, as they intersect in the 21st century.

All these issues will be pulled together by Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of Hope, with his emphasis on how hope is an ontological need for humans, all humans.

Undergraduates will reference theory through a down-to-earth book on where theory fits into all these considerations. It's easy to read, easy to understand, and to relate to the focus of this course. I am counting on this text to help you see where a deeper understanding of theory will help you survive more effectively in an administrative society, a society overrun by bureaucratic process in most systems of power and authority, to the detriment of both women and the poor.

Graduate members of this class will contribute to our understanding through shared readings of Kenneth Karst's social issue agenda as it relates to the social and political issues on gender and poverty in the Presidential election. Shared reading handouts will provide enough in excerpts that both undergraduates and graduates will be able to follow the discussions.


    For Undergraduate Section:


    • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagory of the Oppressed. Continuum. New York. 1995. ISBN:0-8264-0843-5 (pbk.)

    • The Theory Toolbox: Critical Concepts for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Jeffrey Nealon and Susan Searls Giroux. Bowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003. ISBN: 0-7425-1994-5 (pbk)

    For Graduate Section:


    • Karst, Kenneth. Law's Promise, Law's Expression: Visions of Power in the Politics of Race, Gender, and Religion. Yale University. 1993. ISBN: 0-300-05760-1 Very readable text that looks at the social issues agenda and its meaning in a society very much divided by cultural issues. My primary emphasis will be on the political priorities in the choices we will be making this Fall and their likely results for the poor, particularly women. Karst emphasizes law as expression, and hence, power.

      This is the text we were unable to get. Shared excerpts will go up shortly. jeanne


    • Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Hope: Reliving Pedagory of the Oppressed. Continuum. New York. 1995. ISBN:0-8264-0843-5 (pbk.)

    • The Theory Toolbox: Critical Concepts for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Jeffrey Nealon and Susan Searls Giroux. Bowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2003. ISBN: 0-7425-1994-5 (pbk)

Course Objectives, Outcomes, and Measurement:

The objectives are drawn from the texts and the outlines I am using to teach the course. The outcomes are the ideas and understandings I would hope you come away with when the course is complete.

How will I know what you come away with, either what I hoped for, or something even more valuable for you? We have to agree on how we will measure what you have learned. Here are the structured measurements I have built into the course. You may choose others, if they are more effective for you, although you may NOT choose tests or term papers.

My basic standard is that your work must satisfice to participate meaningfully in:

  • Class discussions of shared readings, with a reminder e-mail for our records. Formal oral, brief written reminder.
  • OR A topic-related blog. Less formal written.
  • OR A small mentoring group during office or workshop hours or over lunch, with a reminder e-mail for our records. Less formal oral, brief written reminder.
  • OR A shared reading you've prepared. Brief class presentation, with written handout component.
  • OR Active participation in the Gallery Exhibition in December 2004. Project, with brief written conceptual linking for program and for parallel Internet Exhibition.
  • OR Management or leadership role in Gallery Exhibition in December 2004. Interactive role, with written reminder.

These options may be done alone or with others. All offer you a chance to measure your learning in traditional written ways; in oral dialog, with reminder followup; in casual written discussion; in casual small group discussion, with reminder followup; in creative use of art, prose, poetry, music, and its conceptual link to the issues related to the class. Whichever means you use, we expect you to perform as effectively as you would in a paying job - that's called satisficing: good enough to meet the needs of corporate or agency or institutional production.

Because the graduate seminar requires student presentations, it fits perfectly into our community outreach project for the semeseter. My suggestion is that you work together on these and plan them around a moot court framework, and then we will set up workshop discussions to which you can invite campus members. One measure of your work in this will be to help me be sure all preparations are carefull set, that invitations are widely disseminated, and that all goes smoothly at the presentations. How many will we do? Several throughout the semeseter, and you may want to include one of the presentations at a local community center. We will start planning next week. As part of your overall participation in our project classes, I would like you to schedule several small discussion groups during the December Gallery Exhibit.

Because our work product each semester is a Gallery Exhibit, which will run this semester for two consecutive days, Wednesday and Thursday, Dec 1 and 2, 2004, from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., it is important that everyone play some part in the major production work of the class. That might be by submitting a project for exhibition, as a group or alone, by acting as a guide in the exhibit, by setting up and taking down the exhibit, by leading discussions at the exhibit, or any of many other sundry ways. Consider leadership and management roles also. Your choice. (Moot Court will provide the means for integration this whole exhibit with Governance Discourse Performances.)

Basic Objectives and Outcomes for Women and Poverty:

  • Pedagogy of Hope Objective: I would like students to come away with a sense of how important a role hope plays in all our lives, and how one defines hope, how one holds onto hope across the ups and downs of life.

    Outcome: Students will have ample opportunity to choose shared readings from Paulo Freire's in accord with any of our structured measures, or some other of their own choosing.

  • Clash of Cultures Objective: I would like students to come away with a sense of just where the clashes are in our cultures, and how those clashes affect the intersection of gender and poverty. We will consider the hippies, The Vietnam War (current again through Kerry's oppositional statements), the split of the right into the religious right and the libertarian, and the counter culture of today's left.

    Outcome: Both Freire and Karst will provide adequate material through shared readings. Students are welcome to use the full range of measures available.

  • Praxis Objective: I would like each of us to develop a sense of answerability with respect to these issues. Recall that answerability in this sense does not mean accountability. It means the sensee of a voice, a response, a feeling that we come to after due consideration in good faith of all the perspectives presented. I would further like us to understand how "what we think changes how we act," (Nearon, Theory Toolbox, at p.2.)

    Outcome: This is a very intense, very personal outcome. I do not believe that I have the right as a teacher to ask you to reveal it. Thus, I will purposefully refrain from measuring it, except by discussing with you the importance that you guard with ferocity your right to answerability.

    Theoretical Objective: I would like each of us to come away from this course with a deep understanding of the role that theory plays in our lives. We can change oppression, if we have met the ontological need of hope, and if we understand how social issues politics works.

    Outcome: I hope that this objective will produce discourse for the Governance Discourse Performances and projects for the Gallery Exhibit in December. There is enormous possibility here for art and photographic narratives, for community action, for peer action. Students are welcome to the measurement of their choice.

  • Narrative Objective: I would like for students to come away with some sense of who poor women are, and how their stories read.

    Outcome: Make a friend. Engage in an illocutionary project. Try to imagine yourself as a poor woman. Create for a poor woman a "room of her own" or make the equivalent as you have been able to imagine it for the exhibit.

  • Academic Assessment:

      Congratulations! You have an A! We expect work that will produce a professional and competitive product in a real market. We also expect that even our most creative workers will recognize throughout the semester that an effective product presentation depends on good work standards from every member of the team. Team morale and expectations have a great deal to do with enforcing work standards collaboratively. Time to learn that process.

      If, for whatever reason, your work is not meeting our production standard, we are sure that you will be in touch with us to either seek employee assistance or counseling. One hot clue that you may be slipping is if your name appears nowhere on blogs, on shared readings, on small group discussions, and if we haven't heard from you. CSUDH has a student assistance counselor: Pat. See her for help.

    Common Sense:

    Permission to enroll in this course is premised on upper division status that should render you capable of performing competently. However, I recognize that crises occur and that you have many conflicting demands as students, family members, and workers. Please remember that A's are earned, not given for the status characteristic of "being a good student who could get an A if he/she made the effort." One way to deal with such crises effectively is to be sure that I know when they are happening. Because most of my lectures and your practice are on the site, it's easier to make up missed time over conflicts than you might think.

    Nota bene: If you have the flu, or some other highly contagious illness, please don't come and give it to the rest of us. We'll help you catch up when you're well. I lost three weeks to flu two year ago. The bugs are getting stronger and more resistant to medication, and I'm getting older. If I lose three weeks during classes, you'll be left with a substitute.

    If you haven't slept, and are falling asleep from exhaustion, please stay home and sleep. Sleep deprivation is a very real problem. We all drive freeways to get here, and go home often late at night. You can kill yourself and others that way. Please don't.

    If you have the privilege of assured income and support and the discretionary time to focus deeply and intently on your academic work, we are happy for you, and delighted to have the extra work you can then do. But in an urban or rural commuter college, such privilege is rare. Please do not denigrate those who are struggling to balance conflicting demands. If you can help someone, please do. If you can help make a silent voice heard, please do.

    I do not give specific deadlines, because I want you to use your common sense and your own discipline to study effectively. All work can be made up within university-imposed limits.


    Textual Readings in Women and Poverty
    Sociology 395-01; Sociology 595-01, Fall 2004
    Week 1
    Week of August 29, 2004
  • Hope as an Ontological Need
  • "What we think changes how we act"
  • "The social issues agenda"
  • Shared Reading: The Need for Hope
  • Shared Reading: Theory to Action
  • Shared Reading: Karst, Chapter 1: Imposing Order
  •   Rest of Table Under Construction
    Aug. 25, 2004
    Week 16
    December 11-17, 2004
    Exam Week

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