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Accordion List

The Program in Gender, Sexuality, & Women's Studies (GSWS) at Penn offers an undergraduate major, minor, and dual degree. It is an interdisciplinary program, offering many cross-listed courses. The graduate program offers a Graduate Certificate, which provides opportunities for graduate students to integrate their thinking about gender and sexuality using a variety of methodological approaches such as critical feminist, race, and legal theory; cultural studies; and French psychoanalytic theory, as well as traditional disciplinary methodologies. The affiliated faculty list includes members from over 20 departments in the humanities, social sciences, and professional schools. The program is inclusive, and its statement of purpose describes a program that is “committed to cultivating a learning environment that values and prioritizes inclusion, equity, and diversity through research, teaching, advocacy, activism, and community engagement.”

Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the size of the gender, sexuality, and women's studies collection is difficult to assess. Levels of collecting are incorporated within the policies of specific disciplines. Many Penn Libraries bibliographers participate in developing the collection in the course of their work.

The collection contains a wealth of relevant published material in the fields of anthropology, education, folklore, literature, political science, social work, and sociology, with a growing component in sexuality. The Libraries expects to make major purchases in sexuality in the coming years. Some of these will be the sort of titles libraries usually collect, such as lesbian fiction. But the Libraries also seeks out collections that fall outside the usual purview of libraries — in the realm of erotica, for example. Advances in online resources have made it possible to access a variety of sources in the field, such as the Digital Transgender Archive, GenderWatch, North American Women’s Letters and Diaries, and SexSmartFilms.com. Many community-based resources also are listed in the catalog.

Although the majority of the collection is in English, other languages are represented as well. Textbooks and dissertations are not collected unless specifically requested.

The fund for gender, sexuality, and women's studies covers the core materials for the field, roughly conforming to titles that are classified in Library of Congress (LC) class HQ. Obviously, material in other LC classes is relevant and the fund helps support these as well. It is also used to support expensive online collections.

1. Chronological 

Most materials deal with contemporary issues and social questions.

2. Formats 

Print, electronic, microform, video. Monographs are purchased in a combination of electronic and print formats depending on availability. Electronic periodicals are preferred. Videos are purchased as DVDs or video files with perpetual streaming rights when available and affordable. However, content will be purchased in any format as conditions require.

3. Geographical 

Most deal with the United States and to a lesser extent Western Europe. Area studies librarians cover materials in their respective areas of responsibility.

4. Language 

Predominantly English but other languages if relevant.

5. Publication dates 

Almost all purchases are made as publications appear.

6. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

DEI is part of the mission statement of the GSWS program at Penn and part of the goal of collection of the Penn Libraries on the subject.

7. Open Access

Since GSWS is committed to equity, open access is a priority in the discipline and also for the collection.

The approval plans provide substantial support, but many titles appear outside the mainstream publishing venues. It is important to check with specialized bookstores, and keep current with core journals such as Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society.

All subjects are included; as mentioned above, most of the gender and women's studies materials are collected by the appropriate subject bibliographers.

There are titles in all subjects related to women, gender, and sexuality. There would be no exclusions except insofar as other bibliographers might decide.