Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description

This course investigates the relevance of gender, race, class and sexuality to technology, as well as considering the ways in which technology itself is implicated in the production of these same identity categories. Examining the contemporary and historical use of technology, the development of new technologies, and the cultural representation of technology, we will consider a wide range of questions, including: What role have women played in the development of technology, and how has technological change affected the roles of women and ideas of gender? How does technology offer possibilities for new social relations and how should we evaluate these possibilities? What are the social implications of technology and how is it understood and deployed in different cultural contexts? What is the relationship of embodiment to technology?



Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to do the following:

  • Describe and analyze gendered associations with various forms of technologies.
  • Explain the impact of gendered assumptions about the use of technology on the division of labor and women's work, both productive and reproductive.
  • Explain the ways in which new medical technologies have sharpened and/or blurred sex/gender difference.
  • Identify the promises and pitfalls of new technologies in terms of real, transformative outcomes—for women, for people of color, for the differently abled, and for people in the developing world.
  • Evaluate utopian claims about technology in consideration of questions of access and the cultural diversity of lived experience.
  • Apply a theoretical conceptualization of the cyborg to the contemporary use of mobile technologies and the perception of them as an extension of the self.
  • Interrogate the relationship between power and technology, particularly as it applies to violence, war, and gender relations.

Required Texts

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic Press, 2013. ISBN: 9788184771695. [Preview with Google Books]

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Basic Books, 2012. ISBN: 9780465031467.


Attendance and participation 10%
Weekly discussion questions 20%
Critical response papers 40%
Final paper/project 30%

Attendance and Participation

Attendance and participation are critical to your success in this course. Each class session will focus on one or more topics and be accompanied by appropriate readings. Please be sure to read all assignments in advance, come to class on time and be prepared to discuss your reactions and ideas. Failure to attend will adversely affect your grade. Missing more than two weeks of class is grounds for failure in this course. Active participation in discussion in class is necessary to receive full credit.

Discussion Questions

They may focus on a single reading of your choice, or respond to another student's discussion question or reaction to a text.

Critical Response Papers

Short critical response papers (2–4 pages each) will be due periodically during the semester. These essays are opportunities for you to reflect on a key concept through a close critical reading of one text, or a comparison of two. You may wish to pursue a theoretical question raised in our blog discussions or in class in more detail in your critical response papers.

Final Paper/Project

The final research paper should be 12–15 pages in length, and is an opportunity to research and analyze a particular technological phenomenon or cultural representation of technology from a critical perspective with attention to gender, class, race, sexuality, and/or ability. The final will demonstrate your proficiency in applying concepts we have been studying to a topic of your choice relevant to gender and technology.

Additional Requirements

Please be sure that all assignments are word-processed, double-spaced documents in 12 point type of a conventional font. Make sure to include page numbers when quoting from source texts. WGS.115 assumes abilities in spelling, sentence construction, punctuation and other basic writing mechanics. If English is your second (or third, fourth) language and you need or would like additional help with English composition, please speak to me right away.

Grading Policies

In order to receive a passing grade for this course, all assignments must be completed. Please talk to me in advance if you know you will have to miss class and/or need an extension on an assignment. It is preferable to negotiate an extension rather than be absent on a day a paper is due, as I will not accept late papers without prior notice.


1 Introduction: What is technology? How do we think about technology in relationship to history? What does a feminist analysis bring to technology studies?  
2 History of Gendered Technology, Household Technologies Guest lecture & demonstration of the technology of textiles by MIT Professor Anne McCants
Special Session Readings and Paper

First paper due

This is not a class meeting, however, students are required to post discussion questions related to the readings on the course website.

3 Gender and Biomedical Technologies  
4 Surgical Interventions  
5 Library Session: Doing Research  
6 Reproductive Technologies Second paper due
7 Gender, Technology, and Representation of Indigenous Knowledge Final project topic due
8 Ecofeminism, Technology and Development  
9 Surveillance, Cell Phones, and the Sex Trade

Guest Speaker: Mitali Thakor, Ph.D. student in MIT's History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, & Society program, on technology and sex trafficking

Draft of final paper due

10 Alone Together  
11 Mobile Technology, Networks, and the "Connected Presence" of Gaming/Telephony  
12 Globalization & Technology of Militarization Final paper due