SYLLABUS TEMPLATE & RESOURCE PAGE
Dr. Stephanie Y. Evans, Professor and former Director of the Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) at Georgia State University, created this course to share content that expands institutionalization of Black women’s studies in higher education. This "Foundations" course syllabus expands introductory curriculum by connecting pre-1970s history and archival sources with establishment of the field in the 1980s as groundwork for more recent critical innovations.
As a Department Chair over the past decade, I understand the imperative for curricular development and shared resources between local, national, and international scholarly communities. This open access syllabus template is designed for easy download and editing. The course template, when populated with specific instructor, department, and campus content, can be included in existing and proposed certificate and degree programs in Blacks Studies/Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies/Black Women's Studies programs and departments.
This "Foundations" syllabus adds to a collection of outstanding course drafts by professors like Drs. Jessica Marie Johnson, Martha Jones, and Daina Ramey Berry, along with popular reading lists on topics like activism (#Charleston Syllabus), popular culture (Lemonade Syllabus), scholar tributes (Eloquent Rage Syllabus), and disability studies (Black Disabled Woman Syllabus). Engaging this course raises several issues such as collective vs. individual scholarship, assumptions of exposure to "classics," and what should appear on comprehensive exams. These questions are part of ongoing discussions involved in creating degree requirements. Check back periodically, as additional resources and pedagogical discussions will be added to this website to enhance course content and collaborative learning.
Framed by two eras (1850-1983 and 1983-2000), this class in intellectual history traces academic origins of race and gender studies back to 1850, when abolitionist Lucy Stanton at Oberlin College earned what is recognized as the first four-year degree granted to a Black woman. Stanton’s commencement speech titled, “A Plea for the Oppressed,” is archived as a forbearer to other social justice education primary sources available at institutions like Howard University, Spelman College, Princeton University, Emory University, and University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
This inclusive survey course connects scholar-activists from Anna Julia Cooper, Mary McLeod Bethune, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander, and Pauli Murray to Toni Cade Bambara, Barbara Smith, Angela Davis, Patricia Hill Collins, and Kimberlé Crenshaw in ways that center the process of scholarly community building and creative resistance.
This foundational readings class contextualizes the 1970s growth in race & gender college course development and also complements the "Introduction to Black Women's Studies" and "Black Feminist Thought" courses where students explore foci like transgender and nonbinary studies, Afropessimism, Black socialism & communism, Diaspora, Afrofuturism, and other essential developments alluded to but not fully covered in these initial publications.
Essentially, BWST 101 shows how the field developed in universities and illuminates the gaps which new scholarship must fill.
Permission is granted to download and use this template for course creation. Content may not be published without permission. This "major works" foundation course is meant to be a continuation of ongoing discussions, not the final word. The syllabus was created in the spirit and collaborative nature of groups like Combahee River and Crunk Feminist Collective, and inspired by leadership gatherings like Chair at the Table, a network of Black women administrative leaders. Special thanks to Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall (Spelman College), Dr, Nneka Dennie (Washington & Lee University/co-founder of Black Women's Studies Association), and Dr. Trimiko Melancon (Rhodes College) for feedback and support.
BWST 101 can be offered at the BA, MA, or PhD level, as one 16-week semester, two 8-week quarters, or split into two full 16-week semester courses (Part I & Part II) to reduce reading load for undergraduate students. (It can be cross-listed as AAS 101/WGSS101, 102, or 201 or as an incoming graduate student seminar for example.) Selections can be assigned for undergraduate and full books for graduates. Book groups also reduce total reading load while enabling full content to be explored.
BWST 101 supplements existing courses nationwide and opens spaces for additional course enhancement and creation. BWST 101 grounds the discipline of Black women’s studies as a collective intellectual history, contextualizing innovations since 2000 in a way that creates more room in existing courses. On various campuses, a BWST Foundations course can add to university rationales for more than one class on Black women, gender, and sexuality. For those campuses with no course on Black women and gender, this gives departments a place to start.
Tweak as needed.
The BWST Booklist is an open access, online resource that contains over 1,400 entries. The Booklist is offered in two formats: thematic and alphabetical. The Black Women's Studies (BWST) Booklist connects foundational texts of critical race and gender scholarship to newer publications. This comprehensive bibliography identifies long-term trends and places recent contributions in historical context. Beyond a "generative" project, the BWST Booklist identifies past, present, and forthcoming work to create a robust, regenerative discussion. The BWST Booklist enables more clarity in the formal study of Black women's theories, identities, academic disciplines, activist work, and geographic locations.
The list is useful for research, citation, course instruction, and advising undergraduate or graduate student projects, theses, dissertations, and exams. The BWST Booklist has benefited from input by a diverse group of scholars in Black studies and women's studies departments, professional organizations, libraries, and academic presses.
CLICK HERE to download the bibliography PDF.