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New Gender Studies Elective Incorporates Modern and Historical Feminism into Curriculum

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Brianna Rodriguez '20
17 October 2019


The English Department developed a new elective course for students in grades 11 and 12 called Gender Studies. The half-year course focuses on gender issues in the current world, while also overviewing feminism throughout history. Mrs. Dellanno teaching the Gender Studies class; photo credit: Brianna Rodriguez

English teacher Mrs. Kathleen Dellanno teaches the new course. She outlined that the class will deal with the four waves of feminism: “From each wave we will be reading short stories, poetry, seeing films, looking at photography, fashion trends, and also looking into music and how the values of each wave of feminism are reflected into the different media.” 

One particular film the students watched was Mona Lisa Smile, a story set in the 1950s during a time when women had certain social norms to follow. One troubling norm in particular was that women, even of academic excellence, were expected to focus on becoming a full-time housewife. 

Throughout the course, students are encouraged to bring in current events that discuss gender issues in our society. “My students and I are realizing that gender issues are a huge topic in our society right now," says Dellanno. "This gives my students an opportunity to let the class go in the direction that they steer it based on their interests, their concerns, and what’s going on in the world right now."

According to Mrs. Dellanno, students are already showing incredible interest in the course. Carmen Alexia Petito '20 enjoys the individuality the class offers. "Everyone can voice their opinions openly and express their points of views on topics," she says.

Dellanno hopes that, by the end of the course, students will get a better understanding of feminism and gender studies in history, as well as understanding both points of view in an issue. Dellanno also noted that incorporating literature and the arts is an important way to emphasize the main points of historical gender issues being taught to the class.