As a student in the course, you are required to write a series of Discussion Group posts on the course materials (readings).  This week, your post should focus on the theoretical ideas of DuBois, Simmel, or Gilman. Your initial post is due on Friday by 11:59pm.  You will then reply to at least two of your discussion group members’ posts in order to provide analytical feedback/comments.  The goal of the feedback is to help your peers think analytically and define, discuss, apply and compare/contrast social theory concepts.  You can also respond to any questions they pose.  Your peer feedback/comments are due by Sunday at 11:59pm. Details on the discussion posts follow.  Please be sure to meet the specified criteria, including deadlines, as they will be used to grade your posts/feedback.  Also, please read the grading rubric, which links the assignment criteria to the points you can earn for successfully meeting the criteria.  

Initial Post (due Friday at 11:59pm)

Your posts are NOT SUMMARIES OF THE READINGS. Instead, you should focus on one concept (or perhaps two interrelated concepts) or ideas expressed in the reading materials for this week (see this week’s module section “Important Concepts/Ideas” for some potential concepts/ideas, although you are not restricted to writing only about these concepts/ideas). Which concept/idea did you find most intriguing or powerful?  The gist of the assignment is for you to engage—in an analytically sound way—with the theories (the explanations) we cover in the course.  Your initial post should be 300-500 words.  Finally, be sure to cite properly (using ASA style) throughout, including providing a list of references (1 entry in your reference list is fine if you’re focusing on 1 theorist).  

Peer Feedback (due Sunday at 11:59pm)

You are required to provide feedback to at least two of your discussion group peers.  In your feedback, try to be analytically/theoretically helpful, pointing out strengths that exist in your peers’ posts.  Also provide feedback/comments that point your peers toward the readings this week (and cite properly in doing so) that help strengthen the analytical content of their posts.  The goal is to use online discussion to help enhance everyone’s sociological understanding of the specific theorists’ concepts/theories.  


Remember, this is a social theory course.  You should be engaging with the theories/concepts form a theorist, not their biography.  Although you may cite some information about their biography to the extent that their biography is relevant for their theories/concepts, you should not make the theorist’s biography the focus of your post.  To be sure, some of the people will read are heroic and impressive individuals, but you must engage with their ideas, not summarize their biographies.  

Also, you should be careful to cite properly all sources you use.  I’ve created a module to help you cite properly here . Also, you can find information on citing at the Purdue Owl’s website dedicated to ASA citation style (Links to an external site.) (this is required reading in the Harriet Martineau module); pay special attention to their information on “in-text citations” and “reference page” formatting.  You don’t have to have a separate reference page–simply put “References” at the bottom of your posts, and then list the materials that you’ve cited there.  Note that all of the readings in our Lemert text and all of the original theorist readings within the L&N text are formatted in accordance with the “Chapter in an Edited Volume” item on the Purdue Owl “reference-page formatting” page.  This means that you cite the author of the specific reading and NOT Lemert or L&N, who are the editors of the text.  Note, too, that you cite the year of publication for our course texts, not the original publication date by the original author.  Thus, an in-text citation for a Lemert reading is: (Authorlastname 2016) and (Authorname 1998) for an L&N reading.  And the format for a reference page entry for each of the texts are:

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman This Module’s Topic is: The sociological theories of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Introduction Welcome to the module on Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman offers us an array of important concepts that relate to her overarching theories of the world. Like many we’ve read, Gilman holds a view of people as fundamentally social creatures. This matters because she observes that the world, as it is ordered in her time, produces unnecessary human pain. This is due to the way that we organize labor. For her paid labor is a means to economic independence but also to expression of the self and thus the reaching of ones full human potential. The trouble is, the organization of paid labor in her day is fundamentally problematic. She argues that this is the case because our common conscience (our culture) is misguided; we “think wrongly” about the world, believing in an array of “false concepts.” Here, Gilman is providing a radical critique of our culture. If you read her work on the false concepts, you’ll see how she criticizes their premises, the individualistic, economistic assumptions that so many people still take as their starting point for understanding the world. By “thinking wrongly,” we produce unnecessary human pain. It might be fruitful to think about her concern with “thinking wrongly” and how it might relate to Marx’s concept of the “camera obscura.” Moreover, our wrong-headedness also yields a world that is organized in deeply gendered ways, what she refers to as the sexuo-economic relation. You should see the links between her treatment of the “sexuo-economic relation” and the materialist feminism we discussed when reading Marianne Weber’s work. Gilman’s argument is that we organize the world, including our thoughts about the world, in ways that produce “excessive sex distinction,” what we today might call gender. She basically thinks humans all have similar capacities and potentialities, but our common conscience produces deeply gendered understandings and thereby produces unnecessary human pain. This is not beneficial to men or women, but, she argues, that the world is organized around “androcentric culture.” Her concerns with androcentric culture make visible that she’s a proponent of a particular type of “cultural feminism,” the idea that women, due to their lives and experiences, produce a unique culture of their own, a culture that is generally ignored or even derided by dominant, androcentric institutions and discourses. Some cultural feminists base their sense of women’s uniqueness in women’s ability to give birth (Links to an external site.), a subset of these folks has developed maternal feminism (Links to an external site.). Other cultural feminists, like Gilman, don’t believe women and men are essentially different due to biology, but persistent differences emerge due to culture. View this short video clip with some additional introductory comments on Gilman: Gilman Clip-1.m4v Download Gilman Clip-1.m4vPlay media comment. As you work through this week’s materials, keep in mind the materials we covered in Week 1’s module, specifically how theorists’ social location shapes 1) their ideas/theories and 2) the reception of those ideas. Also, we’ll be reading different theorists all semester long. As you read those theorists, it’s important that you do so strategically. I recommend taking notes as you read and structuring those notes along the following points: 1. What aspects of the social world does the theorist address? What topics/issues are the focus of their work? This question helps you highlight the purview of the theorist and thereby understand the domains of the social world to which the theorists’ ideas apply. 2. What specific concepts does the theorist develop to help us understand the topics they focus on? Specifically, what is the definition of the concepts, as provided by the theorist? Always use the theorists’ own words to define concepts (avoid going online and using dictionaries, wikipedia, etc. for your definitions!). This question helps you develop your skills to coherently explain specific concepts and base those explanations within the theoretical writings themselves (rather than websites that summarize the work for you). 3. Given #’s 1 & 2, what is the contribution that the theorist makes to the topics/issues that is their focus? Put another way, what does the theorist help to explain (recall my discussion of the importance of explanations to social theory)? What does a given theorist help us to see or understand? And what role do the theorist’s concept(s) play in their explanation? This question gets at developing your ability to identify and explain the contributions of theorists to given topics/issues. 4. What is the contribution that the theorist makes to one or more of the three main theoretical paradigms in sociology? How do the specific concepts they use and explanations they provide relate to the major paradigms? This question helps you develop your skills in situating the theorists’ ideas in a “big picture” way, understanding where and how they fit in the terrain of social theory. 5. How do the concepts and explanations provided by the theorists relate to one contemporary example? Why is the example you select an example of the specific concept/explanation? It’s important to be very clear and specific when discussing examples. This question gets at developing your ability to apply concepts or explanations to the contemporary world. 6. How do the concepts and explanations relate to others we’ve read? How are they similar to another theorist we’ve read or which you’ve covered in another course? How are they different from another theorist we’ve read or which you’ve covered in another class. This question gets at developing your ability to compare/contrast theorists’ concepts/explanations. Important Concepts/Ideas As a student in the course, you should be able to define and explain the following concepts. You should also understand the relationship between the concepts, where relevant: • • • • • • The centrality of paid work to Gilman’s thinking Common conscience (culture) The sexuo-economic relation Excessive sex distinction Androcentric culture False concepts Learning Objectives Through completing this module, you will demonstrate your ability to: • • • • Identify the main concepts/ideas and explanations of the theorist and to which arenas of social life they apply; Situate and evaluate the theorists’ ideas relative to the the main paradigms in social theory; Apply theorists’ concept to contemporary examples; and Compare and contrast theorists’ concepts and explanations to other theorists’ ideas. Assignments Overview In order to complete this module, you will complete the following: Required Reading/Viewing • (L&N) “Chap 4: Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)—Gender and Social Structure” (105-148) • (Lemert) Charlotte Perkins Gilman—“The Yellow Wallpaper” (134-135) • View “The Yellow Wallpaper: Crash Course Literature #407” from Crash Course (captions in video). Note that this video is not really oriented to sociological question, yet it provides a nice summary for how to appreciate what’s being conveyed in the video. For our purposes, it is helpful to link the discussion of the video to our required readings from Gilman, noting the feminist themes running through her work. Graded Assignment(s) • After completing all required reading and viewing for this module as well as the required materials for the module on W.E.B. DuBois and Georg Simmel, • post an entry to the Graded Discussion 5 group discussion by Friday (by 11:59 pm). Return to Graded Discussion 5 and give thoughtful feedback (including supporting citations) to two peers by Sunday (by 11:59 pm). Supplementary Resources (not required) • I’ve created a Course Ungraded Discussion so that you can post comments and questions and respond to each other about these thinkers’ theories.

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