The State of Women's Studies, 1973, page 2

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ie villdgé Vo1€:E,‘Janr;» 21, 1973

Conflicts within Women’s Studies

y Allis Rosenberg Wolfe

Over the past few years, the
evelopment of Women’s Studies
rograms on American college
ampuses has paralleled the rapid
rowth of the feminist movement.
ow that the first programs are
lmost three years old, it is time
3 subject them to a critical evalu-
tion. For the past two years I
ave been teaching in the
I/omen’s Studies program at
Lichmond College. The program
; the only one within the City Uni-
ersity of New York system, and
ne of the first to be established in
rte country. At Richmond, stu-
ents can major or minor in
Vomen's Studies. The program
ires its own staff and develops
;s own courses.

When I first started to teach in
he program last fall, I was ec-
tatic at having the opportunity to
.articipate with a community of
yomen who were engaging in
‘ rious scholarship, and who

ere sharing in a teaching and

arning experience that would
eflect the positive energy of the
eminist movement out of which it
vas born. Now, after a year and a
Ialf, I can sadly report that this

Dodging baseball -
hats in

Search of

female culture

did not happen at Richmond
College.

The situation at Richmond,
precisely because it is one of the
first collegiate Women's Studies
programs, can serve as a model
for the pitfalls to be avoided in
the creation of such programs
elsewhere. It should be noted that
despite the__(_)ppositio_n_existing in
many institutionsrgfor the inau-
guration of Women’s Studies——the
usual case presented is the old
sexist view that women‘s past and
present is inseparable from that
of men—Women‘s Studies rests
on awareness that women have
had a separate historical experi-
ence whose changing forms can
be studied. It women‘s experience
and position is ever to be fully un-
derstood and changed, it necessi-
tates a separate curriculum of
study.

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There are different ways such a
curriculum has been developed.
Some colleges offer courses per-
taining to women—Women and
Literature within existing English
departments, or Women in Amer-
ican History taught within the his-
tory department. Other institu-
tions have moved to develop sepa-
rate departments of Women‘s
Studies. To leave courses within
existing departments, proponents
of the latter path argue. would be
to leave control of the courses in
the hands of men. Most depart-
ment chairpersons are men, and
it has been felt that once pressure
to present a course evaporates, it
would disappear from the curric-
ulum.

Others argue, however, that‘ to
put Women‘s Studies off by itself.
with limited financial resources.
would result in the field not being
taken seriously by the college
community. It might serve to
ghettoize women by establishing
an area of study that only
narrows their knowledge of the
rest of the world. Women should
be trained, these people argue, to

Continued on next page

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