Gender, Race, and Pop Culture

GNDS 125/3.0

Explores popular culture from feminist and anti-racist perspectives, with attention to sexuality, gender, race and nation in a variety of media.


This online gender studies course explores popular culture from feminist and anti-racist perspectives, with attention to gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation in a variety of media. Students will examine the constructions of gender – both femininity and masculinity – in popular culture and consider how social, political, and historical forces influence media practices, as well as audience consumption preferences. In particular, the course explores the cultural processes of production, consumption, and representation that shape popular culture. The purpose of this course, therefore, is to expose students to representations of gender and race in a wide range of forms of contemporary pop culture, invite critique of mass media and popular culture, and introduce students to using intersectional analysis. Because this course is an introduction to gender, race, and popular culture, no prior knowledge base will be assumed.


Reflection Paper10%
Online Discussions/Activity10%
Online Discussions/Activity10%
Online Discussions/Activity10%
Film Review or Meid Critique25%
Proctored Final Exam35%

* Evaluation subject to change

Final Examination

Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.


Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, students will be able to:

  • Define key concepts and theories drawn from gender and feminist studies, anti-racist and decolonization studies, and media studies;
  • Explain how power, privilege, and oppression are implicated in cultural processes of production, consumption, and representation;
  • Apply a feminist and critical-cultural lens for reading the construction and representation of gender, race, sexuality, class, and nationhood in popular culture;
  • Utilize an intersectional approach to analyze how the experiences of various social groups relate to popular culture;
  •  Analyze the relationship between media and ideology;
  • Demonstrate reflective written communication skills;
  • Develop their skills as “conversational partners” on difficult topics, taking into account their differences and multiple perspective


Topics covered in this course include:

Unit 1Introduction to Gender, Race and Popular Culture
Unit 2Gender, Race ande the Production of Popular Culture
Unit 3Representations of Gender and Race in Popular Culture
Unit 4Gender, Race and the Consumption of Popular Culture


My name is Dr. Melissa Houghtaling, and in this course you will explore and critically analyze popular culture from feminist and anti-racist perspectives. Here is a little bit about myself: I was born and raised in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, a small suburb of Philadelphia. I earned my B.A. in Sociology and Psychology (double major) at Millersville University; my M.A. in Society and Politics at Lancaster University (completed at the Centre for Social Studies in Warsaw, Poland); and my PhD in Sociology here at Queen’s University, with a concentration in sexuality studies and feminist theory. My teaching experience spans the departments of Gender Studies and Sociology and includes topics such as sexual and gender diversity, identity and difference, feminist thought, social psychology, research methodology, and the sociology of deviance. I also have experience designing online and blended learning courses. In 2012-2013, I was awarded the Gender Studies Teaching Award.

Time Commitment

Students can expect to spend approximately 10 hours a week (112 hours per term) in study / practice and online activity for GNDS 125.

Course Resources


SOLUS is Queen’s Student On-Line University System. You’ll have access to a SOLUS account once you become a Queen’s student. You’ll use SOLUS to register for courses, add and drop courses, update your contact information, view financial and academic information, and pay your tuition.


Moodle is Queen's online learning platform. You'll log into Moodle to access your course. All materials related to your course—notes, readings, videos, recordings, discussion forums, assignments, quizzes, groupwork, tutorials, and help—will be on the Moodle site.

About Credit Units

Queen’s courses are weighted in credit units. A typical one-term course is worth 3.0 units, and a typical two-term course is worth 6.0 units. You combine these units to create your degree. A general (three-year) BA requires a total of 90 credit units.

Computer Requirements

To take an online course, you’ll need a good-quality computer (Windows XP/Vista/7, Pentium III, or Mac OS X 10.5, G4 or G5 processor, 256 MB RAM) with a high-speed internet connection, soundcard, speakers, and microphone, and up-to-date versions of free software (Explorer/Firefox, Java, Flash, Adobe Reader). See also Preparing For Your Course.


The deadlines for new applications to Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are in our Dates and Deadlines section.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees vary depending when you start, your year, faculty, and program. Fees for 2014-15 first-year Distance Career Arts & Science Canadian students are as follows: for a 3.0-unit course, $605.31; for a 6.0-unit course, $1210.62. See also Tuition and Payment.

Grading Scheme

The information below is intended for undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. Academic Regulations in other Faculties may differ.

Letter Grade Grade Point

GPA Calculators
Have your SOLUS grade report handy and then follow the link to the Arts and Science GPA calculators.

How does this affect my academics?
See the GPA and Academic Standing page.

Follow the link above for an explanation of how the GPA system affects such things as the Dean’s Honour List, requirements to graduate, and academic progression.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Grading Scheme
Please follow this link to the FAQ's

Campus Bookstore

All textbooks can be purchased at Queen’s Campus Bookstore.

Non-Queen’s Students

All Queen’s Arts and Science Online courses are open to students at other universities. Before applying as a visiting student, request a Letter of Permission from your home university that states that you have permission to take the course and apply it to your degree. See also Apply.

Academic Integrity

Please see Queen’s policy statement on academic integrity for information on how to complete an online course honestly.