PHIL 406 A: Philosophical Topics in Feminism

Autumn 2023
TTh 10:30am - 12:20pm / SAV 130
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

How to Be a Feminist Philosopher

Instructor: Carina Fourie

Contact Details: Send me a message on Canvas Inbox

Class Times & Location:  Tue & Thu 10.30am-12.20pm, Savery Hall 130

Office Hours: Wed 2-3pm on Zoom (Meeting ID: 460 391 6611); Thu 3-4pm in SAV 389 


Painting called "The Beginning" by Sonia Gechtoff

Sonia Gechtoff "The Beginning"

Course Summary

We will analyze and assess how to do feminist philosophy and how to be a feminist philosopher. Analysis will center around two primary questions:

What theories, methods and practices should we use in order to do philosophy in a feminist way?

How can we live feminist lives?

We will identify and assess contemporary feminist thought and feminist critiques of philosophy to explore what kinds of philosophy, methods and practices are amenable to feminism or required by feminism. We will also approach the classic Socratic question of ethics – how should we live? – from a distinctly contemporary feminist perspective, considering how to be a feminist in practice. In exploring these two questions, we will also consider the role of metaphor, literature and film, transfeminist philosophy, ignorance, the experiences of Black and Asian-American women and men, being an ally and being a feminist killjoy, among other topics.

We will read texts by philosophers and critical theorists such as Sara Ahmed, Linda Martín Alcoff, Yoko Arisaka, Talia Mae Bettcher, Cora Diamond, Veronica Ivy, María Lugones, Serene Khader, and Jennifer Nash. 

Course Overview

Course Resources

Writing Resources

An Introduction to Feminisms through Metaphors & Film

Feminist Theorizing & Knowledge

"My Feminism Will Be Intersectional or It Will Be Bulls!%t"*

Living a Feminist Life (Part 1)

Problems with Philosophy

"My Feminism Will be Trans or It Will Be Bulls!%t"

Beyond Argument

Living a Feminist Life (Part 2)

Finals Week

Additional Readings - For Interest

All readings will be made available on Canvas under the relevant Module. Readings are preliminary; they may be added, removed, or replaced.

Learning Goals

The central goals for this seminar are that you should acquire the following:

  • Content knowledge of key concepts that have been central to the formation of and debate about feminisms and feminist methodologies. (Reinforced and assessed through reading responses and essays)
  • Skills of conceptual analysis relevant for disembedding and assessing assumptions that underpin popular and philosophical debate about oppression, sex and gender, girls, boys, women, men, and transgender children and adults. (Reinforced and assessed through reading responses, essays, and discussion)
  • Skills of oral communication relevant for expressing and assessing philosophical perspectives in impromptu and informal settings. (Reinforced through discussion)
  • Enhanced philosophical reading, analysis, argumentation and writing skills. (Reinforced and assessed through reading responses, essays, and discussion)

Course Materials

Materials for the course will be made available on Canvas (especially under “Modules”). Please ensure that you check Canvas regularly or set up notifications in such a way that you keep up-to-date with any announcements, readings, assignments, discussions, and so on.

Grading (Undergraduates)

The final grade you will receive depends on two aspects:

  1. The additive total: You will receive points that add up to 100.
  • Essays & Writing Portfolio: Maximum points available, 70
  • Annotations & Participation: Maximum points available, 28
  • Syllabus & Assignments Quiz: 2 points

Your final score will be converted to a grade on a 4.0 scale, as long as you also fulfill the writing credit requirements.

  1. The writing credit requirements: 

As successfully completing this course automatically leads to a writing credit, additional writing requirements need to be achieved in order to receive a passing grade and one that matches the additive total. For full information on these requirements and more generally on grading, please read the additional information in the document entitled “Assignments and Grading” in the “Course Resources” Module, as well as the details under the “Assignments” sections in Canvas (as these become available).


Your grade will be made up of several components, including annotations, however, the majority of the grade will be made up of the points earned for your term paper. Please contact Carina to discuss grading and assignments further. 

Community Norms

We will develop these collaboratively.

Course Participation

This course requires in-depth discussion and engagement with the readings and with other students' experiences and perspectives. For this reason, you are expected to attend and participate in all classes, (unless you have a pressing reason not to, such as that you are feeling ill). Missing the occasional class will not make any difference to your grade; however, missing a number of classes could make a difference. If you are unable to attend regularly, e.g. due to caregiving responsibilities, a mental health condition, or prolonged illness, I can make accommodations and provide you with alternatives - please contact me as soon as you can to make these arrangements. I am very happy to provide accommodations, however, it is up to you to contact me to discuss the alternatives, or to arrange for me to be contacted by someone else, such as Disability Resources for Students (DRS). If you do not do so, and do not do so in a timely manner, your points for participation could be affected. For information on disabilities' access and accommodations, please see below, under “Access and Accommodations”.  See also, the “Assignments and Grading” document for information on participation points and "annotations".

Access & Accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to me. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to me at your earliest convenience so you can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to: mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 (Voice & Relay) or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Undocumented students

Your instructors are committed to working with and for undocumented students. Resources and further information are available for you here. Please feel free to speak to Carina and/or your TA about any additional help you may need due to your undocumented status or its implications. 

Multilingual learners (MLL)

If you would like to improve your speaking, reading or writing in English, consult the English Department’s webpage for a list of resources. 

Health, wellbeing & COVID-19 protocols

For resources on health and well-being, including mental health and possibilities for counseling, please consult the UW’s website Husky Health and Wellbeing . For urgent support such as mental health crisis services, please consult the Urgent Help webpage. Call 911 in an emergency.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, follow this advice:

  • If you’re sick, or develop COVID-19 related symptoms, stay home and follow the UW COVID-19 public health flowchart.
  • Masks are strongly recommended for (at least) the first two weeks of each quarter. When you wear a mask, make sure it is a high-quality one.
  • We strongly encourage all members of the UW community to remain up to date on COVID-19 vaccination and get an annual flu shot each fall.
  • Take a coronavirus test if you have symptoms or have been exposed, before and after travel, and before attending large indoor gatherings.
  • Practice good hygiene, washing your hands often and avoiding touching your face.
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  • Let's work together to keep each other safe!

Use of plagiarism detection software notice

The University has a license agreement with SimCheck, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. I use this service by requiring that assignments are submitted electronically to be checked by SimCheck. The SimCheck Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced. 

Please consider submitting your essay well before the deadline so that, if needed, you are able to revise your essay taking account of the SimCheck report. I will not grade your paper until it is accompanied by a SimCheck report. 

Use of ChatGPT and other AI Tools

Your work in this course - homework, essays and any other written work - must be produced by you and you alone. You may not use ChatGPT or other AI Tools to generate written work for this course. Failure to comply may lead to grade penalization and disciplinary action. 



Academic misconduct, including plagiarism, is prohibited by the Student Conduct Code for the University of Washington and is taken very seriously by the UW. According to the student conduct code, academic misconduct includes:
1.    "Cheating" which includes, but is not limited to:
a.    The use of unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations, or completing assignments;
b.    The acquisition, use, or distribution of unpublished materials created by another student without the express permission of the original author(s);
c.    Using online sources, such as solution manuals, without the permission of the instructor to complete assignments, exams, tests, or quizzes; or
d.    Requesting, hiring, or otherwise encouraging someone to take a course, exam, test, or complete assignments for a student.
2.    "Falsification," which is the intentional use or submission of falsified data, records, or other information including, but not limited to, records of internship or practicum experiences or attendance at any required event(s), or scholarly research.
3.    "Plagiarism," which is the submission or presentation of someone else's words, composition, research, or expressed ideas, whether published or unpublished, without attribution. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:
a.    The use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment; or
b.    The unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or acquired from an entity engaging in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.
4.    Unauthorized collaboration.
5.    Engaging in behavior specifically prohibited by an instructor in the course of class instruction or in a course syllabus.
6.    Multiple submissions of the same work in separate courses without the express permission of the instructor(s).
7.    Taking deliberate action to destroy or damage another's academic work in order to gain an advantage for oneself or another.
8.    The recording of instructional content without the express permission of the instructor(s), unless approved as a disability accommodation, and/or the dissemination or use of such unauthorized records.
(Source: WAC 478-121 - Academic Misconduct)
Plagiarism may lead to disciplinary action by the University against the student who submitted the work. Any student who is uncertain whether his or her use of the work of others constitutes plagiarism should consult the course instructor for guidance before formally submitting the course work involved.


Incomplete grades may only be awarded if a student is doing satisfactory work up until the last two weeks of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. (Sources: Office of the Registrar – Incomplete Grades), UW General Catalog, Student Guide – Grading System) 


A student who believes that the instructor erred in the assignment of a grade, or who believes a grade recoding error or omission has occurred, shall first discuss the matter with the instructor before the end of the following academic quarter (not including Summer Quarter). If the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s explanation, the student, no later than ten days after their discussion with the instructor, may submit a written appeal to the chair of the Department of Philosophy with a copy of the appeal also sent to the instructor. The chair consults with the instructor to ensure that the evaluation of the student’s performance has not been arbitrary or capricious. Should the chair believe the instructor’s conduct to be arbitrary or capricious and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the chair, with the approval of the voting members of his or her faculty, shall appoint an appropriate member, or members, of the faculty of the Department of Philosophy to evaluate the performance of the student and assign a grade. The Dean and Provost should be informed of this action. Once a student submits a written appeal, this document and all subsequent actions on this appeal are recorded in written form for deposit in a School file. (Source: UW General Catalog, Student Guide – Grading System)


If you have any concerns about a philosophy course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the chair of the program offering the course (names available from the Department of Philosophy, 361 Savery Hall).

If you have any concerns about a teaching assistant, please see the teaching assistant about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the teaching assistant or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the instructor in charge of the course. If you are still not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the chair of the program offering the course (names available from the Department of Philosophy, 361 Savery Hall), or the Graduate School at G-1 Communications Building (543-5900).


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If you believe that you are being harassed, seek help—the earlier the better. You may speak with your instructor, your teaching assistant, the undergraduate advisor (363 Savery Hall), graduate program advisor (366 Savery Hall), or the chair of the philosophy department (364 Savery Hall). In addition, you should be aware that the University has designated special people to help you. For assistance you may contact: SafeCampus; Office of the Ombud (339 HUB, 206-543-6028); Title IX Investigation Office (for complaints that a University student has violated the sexual misconduct provisions of the Student Conduct Code); University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (for complaints concerning the behavior of University employees, including faculty, teaching assistants, and other student employees).


The Office of Research Misconduct Proceedings (ORMP) coordinates the University’s handling of allegations of research misconduct against members of the University community, in consultations and cooperation with the University’s schools, colleges, and campuses.

University rules define scientific and scholarly misconduct to include the following forms of inappropriate activity: intentional misrepresentation of credentials; falsification of data; plagiarism; abuse of confidentiality; deliberate violation of regulations applicable to research.

Students can report cases of scientific or scholarly misconduct either to the ORMP, to their faculty adviser, or the department chair. The student should report such problems to whomever he or she feels most comfortable. 
(Sources: Executive Order No. 61 – Research Misconduct Policy; Office of Research Misconduct Proceedings; minutes of Grad School Executive Staff and Division Heads meeting, 7/23/98.)


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If you're concerned, tell someone.
•    Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
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Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


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Catalog Description:
Detailed examination of questions raised by recent feminist scholarship in particular areas of philosophy, such as political theory, ethics, epistemology, or philosophy of science. Emphasis varies.
GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
April 13, 2024 - 11:10 am