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Integrating Lesbian/Bisexual Issues into Courses

The following is a compilation of messages sent to WMST-L or privately in
April 1995 offering suggestions for integrating lesbian and bisexual 
experience and concerns into Women's Studies courses.  For additional
WMST-L files now available on the Web, see the WMST-L File List.


Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 14:17:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Joan Korenman <KORENMAN @ UMBC2.UMBC.EDU>
Subject: including lesbian concerns in WS courses
        If the director of a Women's Studies program wanted to encourage WS
faculty to integrate lesbian and bi-sexual experience/concerns more
substantively into their courses, how might she best help this to happen?
Are there resource people who could/should be invited to campus?  Other
effective methods?  I'm not talking necessarily about an initiative
involving the faculty at large; my concern right now is primarily with the
Women's Studies faculty (and with what Women's Studies students get from
their WS classes).
        Many thanks for any specific suggestions you can offer.
        Joan Korenman        Internet: korenman  @  umbc2.umbc.edu
                             Bitnet:   korenman  @  umbc

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 12:08:39 -0700 (PDT)
From: nan @ atwc.teradyne.com (Nan Breedlove)
Subject: Lesbian Resource for WS Courses
I am sure that there are all sorts of resource people in your neck of
the woods. But if you wanted to bring someone from the west coast, I
couldn't recommend more highly Margaret Walker, director of the Pacific
Center for Human Growth in Contra Costa County. She has won several
awards for her service as health educator, HIV/AIDS counselor, sex
educator. She hails from the UK where she fought and won a suit against
a hospital for discrimination based on sexual preference. She is wildly
funny, as frank and frank can be about sexual matters, highly
knowledgeable, articulate. She is a marvelous spokesperson for lesbians,
bisexual, gay, transgender, and tranvestites.
Should you care for more information or a phone number or address, I can
supply that.

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 15:55:10 +0059
From: Ali Grant <g8926622 @ MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA>
Subject: Re: including lesbian concerns in WS courses
I am writing to the list rather than directly to Joan since I
imagine that this issue is of interest to many on the list. One
suggestion would be to read and discuss Marilyn Frye's Willful
Virgin (The Crossing Press, 1992), especially her essays "A Lesbian's
Perspective on Women's Studies", and "Willful Virgin or Do you Have To Be
A Lesbian To Be A Feminist".
I imagine that for those faculty and\or students who aren't familiar with
Frye's work, the issue of women's studies and lesbian perspectives will
never be quite the same again.
I hope this helps.
Ali Grant
Geography Dept.
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ontario
email address:    g8926622  @  mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 1995 08:53 -0600 (CST)
From: Castagna @ cla-po.liberal-arts.uiowa.edu
Subject: Re: including lesbian concerns in WS courses
          This does not directly provide a strategy, but...
          i did a survey of the course evaluation forms used here, primarily
          looking for ways in which departments were addressing multi-cultural
          issues.  what i found was that in the american studies and women's
          studies programs, questions appeared that assumed that every course
          was acknowledging diversity.  For instance, the American Studies
          evaluation form asks students, "How well did this course acknowledge
          American diversity (e.g. class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality)?  The
          Women's Studies form asks, among other questions, "Did the course have
          a heterosexual bias?  Is not, how was this avoided?  If so, how would
          you suggest it be revised?  Larger programs were not using similar
          questions, but the evaluation and examination service did work to make
          its standard forms, which can be custumized by instructors, more
          diversity conscious, and suggested three new questions (for a
          likert[sp?] scale):  The instructor encouraged mutual respect among
          students of diverse backgrounds; The instructor took into
          consideration ethnic and cultural differences in designing and
          teaching the course; The instructor made me feel uncomfortable in this
          course because of my gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class,
          sexual orientation, disability, or other personal characteristic.
          i guess a strategy i am suggesting is that if the institution uses any
          kind of student evalution forms, a discussion of those forms in a
          program/department is one point of departure.  the women's studies
          form used here represents a consensus of what the program expects
          courses to represent in approach.  it could help enculturate new
          joann castagna                        joann-castagna  @  uiowa.edu

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 1995 10:08:55 LCL
From: Green Deborah <dxgree @ FACSTAFF.WM.EDU>
Subject: Re: including lesbian concerns in WS courses
For the last three years we have had a workshop on heterosexism and
homophobia as part of a evening forum series that is part of our
introductory course.  Outside consultants have come in every year and
there is always an opportunity for faculty to at least have an
informal meeting with them.  In addition we have tried to follow the
same practice with sexual orientation that we have followed with
other issues such as internationalizing the curriculum--infuse
throughout the course(s) rather than only during a particular week or
section of the class.  One of these days, by the way, I WILL get
around to sending our intro course syllabus in for archiving!
Debbie Green
College of William and Mary

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 1995 12:08:26 -0400
From: "Brown, Melinda" <brownm.ils @ MHS.UNC.EDU>
Subject: Re: including lesbian concerns in WS courses
A really good resource to introduce bisexual women's concerns, would be
the book, _Closer to Home:
bisexuality & feminism_, edited by Elizabeth Reba Weise. (Seattle, WA :
Seal Press, 1992.)  This collection of essays by bisexual women from a
variety of backgrounds presents a variety of speakers and the issues they
face in claiming a bisexual identity, such as losing their community (if
coming from a lesbian identity), dealing with homophobia and developing
strategies to counter heterosexual privilege.
There are also a number of good bisexual speakers.  The editors of _Bi
any other name: bisexual people speak out_ (Boston : Alyson Pub., 1991.),
Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu, are both good speakers.  Loraine
lives in Washington, DC, and Lani lives in the San Francisco area.  I
could get contact information for anyone interested.
An educational note to all:  using the spelling bi-sexual is considered
offensive by many bisexuals.  I did a poll on the bisexual activist list
about this spelling to make sure it wasn't just me, and other people had
very strong reactions to it as well.  The most common objections were
that this spelling trivializes our identities (we have a real word for
our identities, bisexual) or places undue emphasis on the "sexual"
Thanks -
Melinda Brown
brownm.ils  @  mhs.unc.edu
School of Information and Library Science
UNC - Chapel Hill

Date: Wed, 26 Apr 1995 11:54:04 -0400 (EDT)
From: Bette.Tallen @ Rollins.Edu
Subject: Lesbian Concerns in WS courses
As chair of the NWSA Lesbian caucus I would be more than happy to
get you in touch with various resources and people.  The real question
is what discipline, what context, what audience etc. are we talking about.
Annette Van Dyke has compiled a list of lesbian studies syllabi.  I know
of several different resources and techniques to introduce the subject
of homophobia and heterosexism in introductory courses.  If the issue
is one of inclusion of lesbian material there are several good anthologies
to use in disciplines.  Please let me know how I can be of help.
Please also note that we will be discussing some of these issues in
our preconference day at NWSA.  I look forward to seeing you there.

Date: Tue, 25 Apr 1995 17:23:40 -0400 (EDT)
From: maria_p @ unity.ncsu.edu
Subject: ws faculty and glb issues
When I was at Emory (i.e., last year) we (the Presidents Committee on
L/G/B Issues)began making plans for a
seminar for interested faculty to attend, led by a visiting scholar.  We
envisioned a semester-long seminar, the point of which would be two fold:
1) to have a scholar of some note on campus for a semester or perhaps a
year and 2) to help faculty integrate g/l/b issues into their curricula.
I'm not sure what the status is of this project--or where the money would
come from (the idea was that we could apply for external teaching grants
such as the Luce Seminars). But it was an idea that a number of faculty were
pleased with.
Best of luck!
|                                                               |
| Maria Pramaggiore                       maria_p  @  unity.ncsu.edu|
| Department of English                   (919) 515-4138        |
| North Carolina State University                               |

Date: Thu, 27 Apr 1995 14:42:58 -0400 (EDT)
From: maria_p @ unity.ncsu.edu
Subject: Re: ws faculty and glb issues
I emailed Joan privately about a faculty seminar under discussion at
Emory last year--that would involve a visiting scholar who would
facilitate a faculty group interested in learning about g/l/b issues and
integrating them into their own courses. The goal of the seminar would
be the development of a syllabus (or two) by each participant.  The idea
was to give each participant a course off for taking the seminar.
At the time, we were particularly interested in bringing a scholar of gay
issues to campus and John D'Emilio was a top candidate.  In terms of
lesbian and bisexual women's issues, along with seconding the suggestions
already posted to this list, I would add: Julie Abraham (Emory, English);
Kath Weston (Anthro Dept at Arizona West);Lynda
Goldstein (Penn State, Wilkes Barre); June Jordan (not sure where
she's located); Cynthia Fuchs (I believe she's in
DC?);Sasha Torres (Brown).
The seminar was to be organized around reading several "seminal" texts,
including Sedgwick's *Epistemology of the Closet* and Abelove, Barale,
Halperin collection, *The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader* but would also
be focused on specific needs of the faculty attending (it was envisioned
as a small group of 8-10) and the expertise of the visiting scholar (for
example, were the scholar John D'Emilio, it would be historically focused).
If anyone involved in this planning process is a list subscriber, please
feel free to correct or enhance what I have represented here.  As I said,
this was in the "discussion" stage last year and I'm not sure where it
stands now.
|                                                               |
| Maria Pramaggiore                       maria_p  @  unity.ncsu.edu|
| Department of English                   (919) 515-4138        |
| North Carolina State University                               |

Date: Fri, 28 Apr 1995 14:13:08 -0500 (CDT)
From: "Pauline B. Bart" <U17334 @ UICVM.BITNET>
Subject: integrating lesbian issues into women's studies
In my opinion a good way to do this is to have the  material included in
a reader or novel. For example the textbook I always use is Feminist
Frontiers which has a number of lesbian articles, and the novel I use is
The Women of Brewster Place where the problems of a lesbian couple at
different stages of being "out" are discussed as weell as the horrible
violence against lesbians by men to punish them for not having sex with
men.  One of my friends, a heterosexual woman, used Nice Jewish Girls: A
Lesbian Reader.  If the class has any sophistication I alsouse Adrienne
Rich's article with all the critiques the followed it in Signs.  I too
find Marily Frye very useful.  But I still would start with Feminist
and Brewster Place.I do not think that using an entire book
about bisexual women without any other perspective would be appropriate
unless that lack were filled by the lectures.
Pauline B. Bart
U17334  @  UICVM.UIC.EDU (University of Illinois at Chicago)
AKA (also known as) Cassandra / Iphigenia
Don't kill the messenger!

Date: Sat, 29 Apr 1995 11:40:56 -0400
From: "Brown, Melinda" <brownm.ils @ MHS.UNC.EDU>
Subject: Re: integrating lesbian issues into women's studies
Pauline Bart wrote:
> In my opinion a good way to do this is to have the  material included in
> a reader or novel.
<<Good lesbian text suggestions deleted.>>
> I do not think that using an entire book about bisexual women without
> any other perspective would be > appropriate unless that lack were filled
> by the lectures.
As the person who made a suggestions for bisexual texts, I felt I should
respond.  I have been in a number of women's studies classes (my
undergraduate degree is in Women's Studies from UW-Madison), where
lesbian issues were discussed.  Bisexual women were seldom mentioned or
were presented as lesbians based solely upon same-sex behavior rather
than self-identification, and bisexual texts were never included.  Due to
the increased interest in the subject of bisexuality, the numbers of
women who are now identifying as bisexual, and the increase in available
materials written by feminist identified bisexuals, I felt it was
important to offer these resources.  I certainly did not mean to imply
that this was the only perspective that should be discussed.  The
original note did ask for lesbian _and_ bisexual women's experiences and
_Closer to Home_ is made up of a variety of articles, both personal and
theoretical, many of which would be appropriate additions to a women's
studies reader that includes a wide variety of perspectives.   Another
article that would be appropriate, "Moving away from binary thinking"
(sorry, I don't have the authors names), is included in _Homophobia : how
we all pay the price_, edited by Warren J. Blumenfeld.  June Jordan has
also written a wonderful article about the intersection of racism and
homophobia in which she self identifies as bisexual. (I can give the
citation to anyone who wants them. They are at home, while I'm at
Bisexual writers openly challenge the either/or dichotomy that our
society clings to.  Just as an instructor facilitating a discussion of
race and gender would seek to include the voices of women from Latina,
Asian, and Native cultures, rather than relying _solely_ upon the
African-American/White dichotomy fostered by US society, those who
facilitate sexuality discussions should seek to include the voices of
bisexual women.
- Melinda Brown
brownm  @  ils.unc.edu                     |<< Complacency is a far more
School of Info. & Lib. Science     |   dangerous attitude than
UNC - Chapel Hill                  |   outrage. >> - Naomi Littlebear

Date: Sat, 29 Apr 1995 15:05:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jo Ellen Green Kaiser <JGKAIS00 @ UKCC.UKY.EDU>
Subject: Re: integrating lesbian issues into women's studies
One of the best pieces of advice I ever read (and now I've forgotten
where) is to integrate discussions of heterosexuality into classes
in which you also wish to integrate discussions of lesbian issues.  That is
don't replicate our cultural norms by passing over references to hetero-
sexuality in silence while underlining references to lesbianism, since
doing so only affirms heterosexuality as "natural" or "normal."
For example, I teach a class on contemporary poetry in which we study
lowell, ginsberg, rich, baraka, lorde, and others.  I am very careful to
point out in class that Robert Lowell is heterosexual, and that his
heterosexuality is very important for his poetry.  Doing so signals that
sexuality generally will
be an issue in the course (and it forestalls students those students who
will claim that I am trying to "push" a particular sexual orientation)....
{note:  I also point out that Lowell, Ginsberg and Rich are white, and
that their whiteness is important for their poetry...etc.}  The goal is
to not replicate the process of "othering" in the classroom.
Jo Ellen Green kaiser, jgkais00  @  ukcc.uky.edu

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