Yale Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies
Volume 3, Issue 2
spring 2013
Editor, Geetanjali Singh Chanda
Managing Editors, Linda Hase & Craig Canfield
Layout Design, Nick Appleby

WGSS Graduate Qualification

by Jill Campbell

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“Interdisciplinarity” is a frequently-cited aim for innovative scholarship in our time; and yet, given the deeply-embedded methodological assumptions and demands of individual disciplines, it is an aim that remains elusive and difficult to achieve.  For a discussion that exemplifies true interdisciplinarity at its best, I urge you to attend one of the events that occur every other Monday evening in William Harkness Hall, Room 309, where the WGSS Graduate Colloquium and Working Group meetings take place from 5:30 to 7:00.  There, along with a hearty and delicious dinner, you will find scholars in the fields of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, History, English, History of Art, History of Science and Medicine, African American Studies, American Studies, Religious Studies, and more, presenting and discussing current work and boldly engaging with each others’ divergent disciplinary perspectives. 

In Graduate Colloquium meetings, two students present work in progress and then respond to questions, observations, and comments from the varied group in attendance.  Discussion is always lively; it often develops along the lines of unexpected connections between the two presentations, or across disciplines in the reactions of different participants.  The Graduate Working Group regularly hosts Yale faculty members in discussions of their recent work, providing a cross-disciplinary forum in which to probe the motivations, methods, and implications of that work.  Discussions at both the Colloquium and Working-Group events often press hard on the deeper premises and guiding questions within which a focused scholarly inquiry proceeds; they also are often free-wheeling and creative, bringing to light connections and potential applications that a scholar in one field might never anticipate; they always proceed in a spirit of positive, collaborative endeavor, as participants share in the broader project and long-term aims of the study of gender and sexuality.

These forums were founded about fifteen years ago by enterprising graduate students, who recognized that they shared intellectual interests in gender and sexuality with students working in doctoral programs throughout the Graduate School.  Building on this student-led initiative, faculty developed a more formal program to recognize graduate students’ concentrated work in the field of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, alongside the degrees they earn in their primary departments.  This program was formalized in 2004 as the Qualification in WGSS, and is similar to what some universities term a “Certificate” program.  Its requirements include coursework in theory and elective fields, presentation of work in the field at the Graduate Colloquium, and pedagogical experience through teaching in WGSS.  (See the Qualification webpage for more details.) Currently, thirty-one students are engaged in pursuing the Qualification, from a wide range of doctoral programs.  Recent Qualification students attest to the value of their participation in the interdisciplinary WGSS community, both in the development and publication of their scholarly writing and in finding academic jobs.

This semester’s Colloquium and Working-Group meetings were organized and led by graduate students Andrew Dowe (African American Studies) and Devin McGeehan Muchmore (American Studies). Please consider joining us on Monday evenings for events in next year’s series!
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