Program information

The Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies analyzes local and global entanglements of knowledge, power, pleasure, and resistance. Drawing on histories of anti-racist, decolonial, feminist, queer, and trans work, courses examine shifting dynamics of privilege, exclusion, and marginalization. The program also cultivates action, practice, and reciprocal engagement with the many communities of which we are part. To study gender and sexuality in these ways is to refute simple assertions about identity in favor of richly detailed accounts of the specific conditions through which particular social positions are maintained and transgressed. Students may choose to either major or minor in gender and sexuality studies.

The Program in Gender and Sexuality Studies was formerly the Program in Women and Gender Studies. Students who entered the college before fall 2017 and who major or minor in this program are women and gender studies majors or minors. Students entering the college in fall 2017 and thereafter are gender and sexuality studies majors or minors. The program codes that accompany course numbers have changed from WGS to GSS and from WS to GS. More information on the gender and sexuality studies program is available on the website (

Major Requirements. Students must complete ten courses, including:

1) All of the following:
GSS 100. Introduction to Gender and Sexuality Studies.
AF/GS 201. Race, Ethnicity, and Feminist Thought.
INDS 250. Interdisciplinary Studies: Methods and Modes of Inquiry.
GSS 400. Junior-Senior Seminar.

Majors should try to take GSS 100 and INDS 250 before the end of the sophomore year.

2) Additional Courses. Five additional gender and sexuality studies courses or program-approved courses offered by other departments and programs. At least two of these five courses must be at the 300- or 400-level. No more than one Short Term course may be counted toward the major. The list below includes committee-approved first-year seminars and courses from other departments and programs that may also be used to fulfill major or minor requirements:

ENG 238. Jane Austen: Then and Now.
FRE 376. Writing Gender in French.
FYS 135. Women in Art.
FYS 177. Sex and Sexualities.
FYS 305. Corporal Culture: Body and Health in America.
FYS 346. Desire, Devotion, Suffering.
FYS 483. The Death of Democracy?
PLTC 297. The Household and Political Theory.
RHET 260. Lesbian and Gay Images in Film.
RHET 265. The Rhetoric of Women's Rights.

3) GSS 457, 458. Senior Thesis.

Students should consult the program chair about transfer credits or other courses that may be used toward fulfillment of major or minor requirments.

The gender and sexuality studies course list represents only those courses which are currently part of the Bates curriculum. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, many courses in gender and sexuality studies have prerequisites in other departments. Majors should plan their schedules carefully and are urged to consult regularly with the chair to ensure that their program has both breadth and depth.

Senior Thesis. Planning for the senior thesis should begin in the junior year. In consultation with the chair of the program, each student chooses a thesis advisor according to the subject matter of the thesis. With the assistance of the thesis advisor, each major submits a thesis proposal to the faculty Committee on Gender and Sexuality Studies according to a schedule determined by the program. Students should consult the program website for thesis guidelines and a schedule of deadlines.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Aside from the thesis, which must be taken for a grade, there are no restrictions on the use of the pass/fail option within the major.

Minor. A minor in gender and sexuality consists of GSS 100, AA/GS 201, INDS 250, GSS 400, at least one other 300- or 400-level gender and sexuality studies course, and two other committee-approved courses. No more than one Short Term course may be counted toward the minor.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. There are no restrictions on the use of the pass/fail option within the minor.