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University of Tennessee Women's Studies program

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Women's Studies program

How to Arrange an Independent Study
Women's Study 493

To fulfill a major in Women’s Studies it is necessary to have one independent study WS 493. These are supervised by a faculty member and vary from project to project. Registration for this course is through the Chair of Women’s Studies. (Credit hours are variable.) Click the links below.


Students seek out a faculty member who works or teaches in the area of women, gender, or feminist studies to supervise the project. Typically, this will be someone with whom you already have had a course and whose interests are similar to your own.  In any case, it should be someone having a significant interest in women’s issues. The faculty member and the student then work together to identify and define a study. This may involve assisting the faculty member in an ongoing project or may involve the generation of an entirely new project. The student produces a paper or other appropriate product (e.g., a performance or installation).

Some possible faculty supervisors include [but certainly are not limited to]:


Topics are quite variable; some samples of possible topics are below. Often faculty sponsors have ongoing projects to which students may contribute.

  • Woman Suffrage: A Southern Perspective: The paper focused mainly toward the end of the suffrage movement and examined key elements that helped bring about the ratification of the 19th amendment. Supervisor Dr. Lorri Glover (History)
  • Birth Control & Women’s Roles: A paper documenting the rhetorical aspect of birth control and women's fight for it. Will also lead up to to new forms that are available today and the controversial issue of Roe v. Wade. Supervisor Professor Norma Cook (Special programs Communication).
  • Matriarchal Societies: To learn about the social organization within matriarchal societies.  The main focus will look specifically at the governing processes and assess their effectiveness and affects on the individual of that society. Supervisor Dr. Rebecca Klenk (Women’s Studies)
  • Women in the Labor Movement: A review of labor organizations, laws, and activism by women. Supervisor Dr. Donna Sherwood (Women’s Studies)
  • Health Care Disparities: A paper summarizing disparities and initiatives designed to mitigate them. 
  • Women’s Theater - Stop Kiss: Production of a play about two women, directed by a woman, starring women. The costume designer, lighting designer, set designer, and sound designer will all be women.


After you find a faculty sponsor, select a topic, and agree on tasks, products, and a timeline. Next, activate and complete the interactive pdf Application and submit it to the chair as an email attachment to The pdf form can be completed with a regular Adobe reader version 8. Be sure to save the form with a filename that includes your own name and the semester for which you wish to register. For example, save it with a filename such as "Your Name, WS493 2009 Fall." If you cannot manage  the interactive form, create a Word file with all the same information and send it as an attachment to the chair. The project must be approved by your faculty sponsor and by the chair; the chair of Women’s Studies will notify you when you have been officially added to the course.

Contact Information

Dr. Cheryl Travis, Chair
Women’s Studies
Jessie Harris Bldg. rm-310
1215 Cumberland Ave.
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee 37996-1930

Phone: (865) 974-2409
Fax:  (865) 974-3330