Within the last decade, interdisciplinary academic learning fields such as the Woman and Gender Studies, Feminist Studies, and Queer Studies have emerged and become more popular amongst United States Universities. But before having any of these disciplines, the first of its kind was titled Women’s Studies. Women’s Studies first emerged in the late 1960s, early 1970s and has since grown. According to the National Census of Women’s Studies Programs, in 1977, there were a total of only 276 programs nationwide. This number continued to grow significantly in the following decade, growing to 525 in programs in 1989. However, the program’s growth slowed down within the last fifteen years, with the number of nation wide programs totaling in at 650 departments (2007).
The Women 's Studies curriculum was integrated into the academic setting in the early 1970’s out of necessity in order to combat the rampant and prevalent sexism experienced by womyn who were attending college at the time. One of the first and oldest programs in the country was created at San Diego State University in California (San Diego State University, 2015) in the early 1970s. The program was headed by Lois Kessler, consisted of classes that were related to womyn, womyn subjects, and womyn related interests, but was not an official department with full time faculty until 1975. It was not until the mid 1980s did universities starts changing the title to Women and Gender Studies.
Women’s Studies was the first of its kind at the time, and had no framework or curriculum to base itself from. It was a radical movement created by womyn for womyn for the advancement of womyn. During the birth of the discipline some of the terms that were used interchangeably to describe ...
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...with the normative behaviors and identities which define what is "queer" (by being their binary opposites)” (Klages, 2012). Queer theory followed feminist ideology in rejecting the notion that sexuality is predetermined by biology or that it should be “judged by eternel standards morality and truth” (Klages, 2012). Queer Studies is an academic discipline where fluidity of sexuality are encouraged to be studied, where social normatives are critiqued, and where institutional powers are questioned. The questioning of “what is normative and what is deviant at any particular moment, and which then operate under the rubric of what is "natural," "essential," "biological," or "god-given." (Harris, 2005) is the core tenet of Queer Studies. Queer Studies is presenting all around the country, with more spaces in academic settings emerging in uncharted territories.
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