Robinson Professor’s Anthropology Course Goes Global

Posted: March 27, 2000 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Sabrina Tillman

The popular website for women,, now features an online version of Robinson Professor Mary Catherine Bateson’s anthropology course, Women’s Lives. The online version, which is accessible through ivillage’s “Working Diva” leadership school, begins on Monday, March 27, and runs through the week of April 17. The online synopses are written by one of Bateson’s former students based on lectures Bateson has given this semester. Credit cannot be earned through the website; however, there are online discussions where scholars can comment on the books and issues presented in the class.

Women’s Lives examines the histories of women in an attempt to exemplify life patterns within various cultural traditions. Several autobiographies, biographies, memoirs, and novels penned by or about women from various socioeconomic, political, historic, and geographic locations serve as the backbone of analysis and debate for the class. Bateson experiments with different authors and books whenever she teaches this course, and she chooses from a diverse mix of experiences affecting self actualization, including motherhood, death, rape, and homosexuality.

Bateson admits that most years, she only has two or three males enroll in her women’s studies courses. However, she points out that the issues she addresses are universal. In fact, according to Bateson, formulating a course based solely on the works of women is a relatively new concept.

“Most research has been on males,” Bateson says. “People aren’t used to reading about women, and they say that this doesn’t apply to me…but women have always had to do it [read about history in relation to men]. More than half of what students learn in my class applies to anyone. This information is worth knowing, especially because most men do have women in their lives.”

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