Women, Gender, Difference

GNDS 120/3.0

This course explores women, gender, and difference from feminist and anti-racist perspectives. It identifies the ways in which women’s activism, politics, and experiences intersect with other gendered identifications such as race, location, class, (dis)ability, and sexuality. Lessons and texts will introduce feminism, the body, colonialism, gender performance, and strategies of resistance.


This course explores women, gender, and difference from feminist and anti-racist perspectives. Essentially, it is an introduction to topics and perspectives in gender studies, and students will examine the ways women's activism, politics, and experiences intersect with other gendered identifications such as race, location, class, (dis)ability, and sexuality. Topics considered include intersectional identities and social relations; men and masculinities; feminisms; gender performance; power and privilege; gender in a racialized, globalized world; embodied experience; sexuality; representations of gender in media and popular culture; and, strategies of resistance. No previous courses or experience in Gender Studies is required. GNDS 120 serves as an introduction to the Gender Studies program at Queen's University.


Reflection Paper15%
Midterm Project:
Part 1 (Discussion)
Part 2 (Paper) 


Online Debate25%
Final Assignment (essay)20%

NOTE: Students must submit all assessments (Reflection Paper, Midterm Project, Debate, and Final Assignment) in order to pass the course.


Learning Outcomes:

The general objectives of this course are for you to:

  • Engage with key questions and issues in the field of gender studies;
  • Explore diverse interdisciplinary approaches used in gender studies;
  • Develop a capacity for feminist and anti-racist agency;
  • Develop your critical thinking skills and reflective communication skills;
  • Consider the role to be played by gender studies in your own education;
  • Develop an appreciation for the field of gender studies and diverse feminist perspectives


Unit 1What is Gender Studies?
Unit 2Power and Privilege
Unit 3Difference and Identity
Unit 4Resisting Inequalities
Unit 5Embodied Experiences
Unit 6Sexualities
Unit 7Representation


Welcome to Gender Studies!  This course is transformational; you will not be bored.

As a young woman growing up in Montreal in the 1960s, I was active in the Canadian women’s movement. Women’s issues were central to my life and, because of this long-standing commitment, I started teaching Women’s Studies at Queen’s in the late 1990s. 

Back the sixties, I did not know I was becoming a “feminist.” In fact, I didn’t know what a “feminist” was.  I suppose, if I really tried to visualize the word “feminist” then, I thought of angry women who didn’t like men.  It was not an appealing vision and it was inaccurate.  Still, because I saw injustice everywhere and especially directed toward women, I continued my journey in the women’s movement despite my doubts.  I have never looked back. My life, and the lives of many men and women, has been positively transformed because of encounters with feminist thought, the women’s movement and women’s studies. I feel certain you stand a good chance of changing your thinking, and possibly your life, as a result of your study of gender issues.  I know many students’ lives have been transformed because of their connection with the emancipatory study of gender and the interplay of gendered power relations. 

Today, I live in a remote area of Nova Scotia close to the Atlantic Ocean. I teach much less than I did in the past and I am a writer. Currently, I am working on a novel about coastal life with the working title Storm Stayed.

Warm wishes for a brilliant learning journey.

Jill Sherrill Smith
Email: js26@queensu.ca

Time Commitment

To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend, on average, about 10 - 12 hours per week on the course.

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.