Spring 2019 - GSWS 318 D100

Special Topics in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies (4)

Fat Studies

Class Number: 3297

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 3 – Apr 8, 2019: Tue, 5:30–9:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Becky Yoshizawa
  • Prerequisites:

    30 units, including three units in GSWS.



A specific theme within the field of gender, sexuality, and women's studies, not otherwise covered in depth in regularly scheduled courses, will be dealt with as occasion and demand warrant.



As a locus of privilege, discrimination, subjectivity, and sociability, fat reveals intersections of gender, sex, sexuality, race, class, ability, place, and history. This course unpacks fatness, employing feminist and queer theories of embodiment, difference, subjectivity, and social justice. We critically examine valuations of fat, “adipose tissue” (the anatomical term for fat), and body weight, shape, size, and composition, all of which are heavily circumscribed by science, medicine, society, and culture. We explore fatphobia, fat acceptance, health at every size, “obesity,” BMI, media and popular representations, moral panics, dietary guidelines, “disorders”, and other phenomena of interest to students. Recognizing the topical and controversial nature of fatness as well as the role of GSWS in transforming students into critical advocates for social change, assignments encourage students to engage in public dialogues by considering feminist approaches to fat.


For more detailed information please see the GSWS website: http://www.sfu.ca/gsws/courses/Educational_Goals.html



1). 20% Participation and attendance
2). 20% First Person Piece OR Twitter Rant: Individual Write a 900-1200 word “First Person” piece based on guidelines from the Globe and Mail and using feminist perspectives learned in the course (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/first-person/submissions/) OR Write 10x ~280 character “tweets” about a course theme
3). 30% Reading Group Project (non-fiction) A project and presentation on your group’s book selection. The style, format, and purpose of the project/presentation is open, with guidance from the instructor.
4). 30% Reading Group Project (fiction) A project and presentation on your group’s book selection. The style, format, and purpose of the project/presentation is open, with guidance from the instructor.


Weekly Schedule  
Part I: Ground Work
Week 1 – January 9 – Introduction
Week 2 – January 16 – Fat Histories and Feminisms on Fat
Week 3 – January 23 – Science and Medicine of Fat & Formation of Groups and book selections
Week 4 – January 30 – Intersectionality of Fat and ? First Person Piece OR Twitter Rant due
Week 5 – February 6 – Fat Activism  

Part II: Fat in Fiction
Week 6 – February 13 – Reading Group Seminar
Week 7 – February 20 – Reading Week
Week 8 – February 27 – Reading Group Seminar
Week 9 – March 6 – Fiction Presentations  

Part III: Fat in Non-fiction
Week 10 – March 13 – Reading Group Seminar
Week 11 – March 20 – Reading Group Seminar
Week 12 – March 27 – Reading Group Seminar
Week 13 – April 3 – Non-Fiction Presentations



The required text is: ISBN: 978-1-910849-00-2 Fat Activism Cultural Theory, Social Movements. Author: Charlotte Cooper. Please purchase from the bookstore.  

You will also join groups and these groups will select one fiction book (children’s, YA, or adult fiction), and one non-fiction book (academic, popular, “self-help,” etc.) that deal with themes related to the course. Selections will be exclusive, so two groups cannot select the same book.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html