Core Books

The Women and Gender Studies Core Books project is maintained by the Women & Gender Studies section of the Association of College & Research Libraries. Book titles currently in print are selected by academic librarians who volunteer to maintain a subject area. The project assists librarians in building Women & Gender Studies collections and can also serve as a guide to instructional faculty in selecting available course readings. Core titles are generally considered to be books that a library supporting an undergraduate or master’s degree in Women’s Studies and/or Gender Studies should own. Each list maintainer also selects the titles that are considered “essential” in that subject area. Titles no longer in print are dropped for each subject and newly published titles are added. The Core Books database is updated throughout the year, with annual editorial oversight.

Browse the LibraryThing tags to select a subject area or perform a basic keyword search of the entire database. Searching also provides a way to retrieve a list of the most essential titles across all subjects and/or titles added in a particular year. You can also sort titles in a variety of ways and use other social features of LibraryThing to connect the WGSS Core Books titles with other LibraryThing members’ collections, reviews and comments. Please send comments or suggestions to the editor, Karla Strand.

Link to Women and Gender Studies Core Books Project in LibraryThing
(Click on Tags to see subject listing)

Scope Notes for Subject Areas:

African Women
This list includes works about African women (mostly Sub-Saharan Africa) from the fields of art, literary studies, history, political science, sociology, and anthropology. With the exception of a few key anthologies, literary works and narratives are excluded as are single person biographies and autobiographies. Titles about individual countries or focused time periods are included based on their importance to the larger field of African women’s studies.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Aging
This list is a compilation of English-language books focused on women and the aging process: physical, emotional, and psychological. It includes serious studies on women and aging, and some personal narratives.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Agriculture, International
This list is limited to in-print English-language titles on the subject of agriculture in any country except the United States or Canada. Please see the North American Agriculture list for titles about the United States or Canada.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Agriculture, U.S.
This list is limited to in-print English-language titles on the subject of agriculture in the United States or Canada. Please see the International Agriculture list for titles about other countries.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Anthropology and Archaeology
This list is limited to English-language titles related to anthropology/archaeology and women.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Antiquity
This list is limited to titles on women in antiquity, and primarily contains titles covering exclusively the period before the Middle Ages.
By: Connie Phelps, University of New Orleans

Dance
This list is limited to English-language books in print on women and gender, with a focus on international dance. Works included cover choreography, modern and classical dance on stage, and anthropological aspects of dance. Biographies and studies of specific dancers or other figures with no specific focus on gender are excluded.
By: Diana King, University of California at Los Angeles

Disabilities
These books are limited to English-language titles.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

East Asian Women
This list is limited to English-language titles on East Asian Women published in the United States. Emphasis is on nonfiction and literature anthologies. For titles about Asian-American women, please see the Women of Color core list.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Ecofeminism
This subject encompasses the global intersection of feminist economic, environmental, literary, philosophical, political, religious, and spiritual concerns, experiences, and theory. Please see the Religion and Spirituality lists for books covering women in established and nontraditional religious traditions.
By: Bekky Vrabel, University of Minnesota Duluth

Education
This list is limited to books about the experiences of women students and educators in the United States. Please also see the Feminist Pedagogy list.
By: Linda Dempf, The College of New Jersey

Family
This list is limited to titles about the social, cultural, political, psychological and economic aspects of families, wives and mothers. Most titles focus on the United States, although some cross-cultural studies have been included.
By: Vanette Schwartz, Illinois State University

Feminist Movements in the U.S.
This list is limited to titles on feminist movements in the United States. Included are titles covering feminism in the academy, the civil rights movement, the arts, health, suffrage, abolitionism and other arenas of protest and social change. Historical and contemporary movement perspectives are represented across differences of age, race, class and geography.
By: Susan Wood, Suffolk County Community College

Feminist Pedagogy
This list is limited to English-language titles about feminist pedagogy.
By: Bekky Vrabel, Winona State University

Feminist Theory
This list is limited to English-language titles about feminist theory. Titles are geared toward the general reader and those new to the field. Emphasis is on overview texts and useful anthologies. Recent editions include feminist theory texts with specialized focus, e.g., feminist theory on global issues, feminist approaches to international law, etc.
By: Bekky Vrabel, University of Minnesota Duluth

Film and Television Studies
This list is limited to English-language books focusing on feminist film and television criticism and feminist film and television theory.
By: Jennifer Gilley, Penn State New Kensington

Geography and Travel
This list is limited to English-language titles about women and geography. Emphasis is on non-fiction sources. Includes women’s travel anthologies and guides, as well as scholarly sources on feminist geography.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Girls and Girlhood
Books are limited to English-language, non-fiction titles representing the experiences of North American girls, both historically and in contemporary times. Also included are scholarly works on the sociology and psychology of girls and girl culture. First-person narratives from various ethnic groups, races, social classes, and events in American history are intentionally included, but popular titles about how to raise a girl are excluded. A few select titles with an international perspective are included.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Health
This list focuses on English-language nonfiction titles published in 2002 and beyond that examine the main issues and core debates related to the complex intersection of gender and health. It contains titles that offer a critical, gendered reading of health in its sociocultural, political, economic, and historical context. The list excludes self-help texts and highly advanced clinicians’ resources but does include selective consumer titles and professional texts comprehensible to an academic audience. The list excludes titles strictly about specific health problems/concerns (e.g., menopause, cervical or prostate cancer, contraception) but does include titles that address specific populations (e.g., incarcerated women, men who have sex with men, Latina women). See also HIV and AIDS and Mental Health and Psychology.
By: Daina Dickman, Providence St. Joseph

History, International
This list is limited to English-language materials relating to the history of women’s rights movements from an international perspective. See also the International Politics core list for titles concerning women’s rights in countries excluding the United States; for titles pertaining to the United States, see the U.S. History list.
By: Karla Strand, University of Wisconsin

History, U.S.
This list includes titles about women in United States history. For additional history-related titles, please see the International History list and the Feminist Movements in the U.S. list.
By: Karla Strand, University of Wisconsin

HIV and AIDS
The following list includes titles about women and HIV or AIDS, primarily in the United States. Please see the Health list also for additional relevant titles.
Currently not being maintained.

Language
This list focuses on English language books about women, gender and language, including rhetoric and communication styles.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Latin American Women
This list is limited to titles about women in Latin America. Works exclusively on Mexican-American or Chicana women can be found in the Women of Color core list. All titles were checked in Books in Print or in Libros en Venta for availability. Prices in non-U.S. currency were converted to U.S. dollars by XE.com, an online currency converter. Spanish-language Mexican titles for which availability or price could not be verified have been excluded.
By: Daina Dickman, Providence St. Joseph Health

Law
This list covers issues surrounding women and the area of law including constitutional rights, feminist legal theory and jurisprudence, women lawyers, and sex discrimination. This list is limited mainly to academic titles published in the last ten years with a focus on the United States, although a few titles of international interest have been included.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Lesbian Studies
This list is limited to English-language books in Lesbian Studies, primarily nonfiction. Highly selective, it emphasizes academic titles published in the last ten years across a broad range of topical areas but focusing on the United States. Given space limitations, coverage of related titles in queer/gay studies and biographical works is necessarily limited.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Literature, British
This list is limited to books written about women authors and representations of women from the Middle Ages to the present time. While critical editions of primary materials are included, contemporary works of fiction by British women writers are not. The works on this list were published after 2001.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Literature, U.S.
This list is limited to Literature of the United States. The emphasis is on anthologies and literary criticism of women authors collected specifically by reason of regional identity, ethnic American heritage, or some other connection related to American Literature by women. This list does not include books by or about individual American women authors.
By: Susan Raidy-Klein, University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth

Mental Health and Psychology
This list focuses on English-language nonfiction titles published in 2002 and beyond that provide gendered analyses of mental health/psychology, with many addressing women or men specifically. Titles examine the biological, sociocultural, and developmental factors creating differences between women’s and men’s mental health/psychology. Titles about men discuss masculinity in the course of addressing male psychology/mental health, not as a specific focus. The list excludes self-help texts and highly advanced clinicians’ resources but does include selective professional texts comprehensible to an academic audience, as well as selective consumer titles that offer a critical, gendered treatment of mental health/psychology. Emphasizing mental health over mental illness, the list excludes titles strictly about specific mental health problems or personality disorders (e.g., depression, eating disorders, sexual trauma recovery, stress, drug addiction) but includes titles about psychotherapy and counseling that broadly describe current theories, research, and issues relevant to the mental health and psychological well-being of women and/or men. See also core lists for Sexual Abuse, Aging, Disabilities, and Health.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Middle Eastern Women
This list is limited to non-fiction, English language books concentrating on feminism and the social condition of women mainly in Middle Eastern countries but also includes some North African countries. It deals with the history of women in this area only as background for more recent developments and does not include memoirs or biographies.
By: Colleen Seale, University of Florida

Military
This list is limited to English language works that address women in military service. It does not include biographies or autobiographies of individuals.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Music
This subject is limited to selected books about women in music (English language) of an academic nature. Excepting general works, bibliographies are mainly excluded.
By: Carrie Kruse, University of Wisconsin – Madison

Philosophy
This list includes feminist critiques of the philosophy canon–both the development of major branches of philosophy and major philosophers–as well as critiques of feminist philosophy from intersectional perspectives. Also included are major, single author works in feminist philosophy, overviews of feminist philosophy, and works on the history of women in philosophy and how philosophy has regarded women. Titles are in English.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Politics, International
This list is limited to non-fiction, academic titles in English. Coverage is of women and international politics outside the United States, with an emphasis on women’s rights, political action, and justice issues. It does not include biographies or autobiographies of individuals.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Politics, U.S.
This list is limited to English-language books that are concerned with women and politics in the United States. Generally, titles about individual women and collections of primary documents originating from individual women or organizations are not included.
By: Connie Phelps, University of New Orleans

Popular Culture
This list is limited to English-language books focusing on feminist popular culture criticism and theory, images of women in popular culture, and women’s relationship with popular culture. Due to the existence of another core list on this topic, this list excludes books that are solely about film.
By: Jennifer Gilley, Penn State New Kensington

Reference
This subject is limited to English-language reference books that are general or interdisciplinary in scope. Excepting a few general works, bibliographies are excluded. Recent titles published in the past three years are emphasized.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Religion
This list is limited to English-language titles covering women in relation to established or institutional religion from Ancient Greece and Rome to the present day. Please see the Spirituality list for books covering on the topics of feminist spirituality, goddess culture and worship, witchcraft, paganism, and women in new or alternative religions.
By: Jenifer Smith Holman, Hope College

Science
This list includes books providing feminist approaches to and interpretations of science. It also covers books about women scientists and the impact of gender on scientific careers. As there are separate lists for technology and ecofeminism, books that focus primarily on those areas are excluded.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Sexual Violence
This list is limited to titles about women in the United States.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Sociology
This list is limited to English-language books on sociology, with an emphasis on feminist perspectives. The majority of titles address how women’s experiences in society are affected by issues such as socialization, social inequality, policy, race and ethnicity, the criminal justice system, and social change. See core lists for Family, Girls and Girlhood, Labor, Law, Sexual Abuse, Women of Color, etc., for books that focus on those subjects.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

South and Southeast Asian Women
This list includes works about South and Southeast Asian women from the fields of anthropology, history, politics, religion, and sociology. Literary works (with the exception of anthologies), single person biographies, and autobiographies are excluded, as well as books on South and Southeast Asian American women.
By: Colleen Seale, University of Florida

Spirituality
This list includes titles on the topics of feminist spirituality, goddess culture and worship, witchcraft, paganism, and women in new or alternative religions. Please see the Religion list for books covering women in relation to established or institutional religions.
By: Jenifer Smith Holman, Hope College

Sports
This list is limited to titles about women and sports and, gender and sports. Single person biographies are excluded.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Technology
This list includes titles about women and/or feminist computer theory and pedagogy, computer use, and cyberspace/identity. The titles are representative of both the United States and international sources.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Theatre
This list is limited to English-language books in print on women and gender, with a focus on theatrical practice. This focus includes stage performance history, performance studies, the practice of playwriting, and directing. Titles may relate to both historical and contemporary performance, but books concerned with drama only as literary study, biographies, or studies of individual playwrights are excluded.
By: Diana King, University of California at Los Angeles

Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming
By: Linda Dempf, The College of New Jersey

Transnational Feminism
This list is limited to non-fiction English-language books focusing broadly on transnational feminism and emphasizing anthologies. It includes a few titles that overlap with core lists in Geography and Travel, Feminist Theory, and Women of Color, because they are key titles in transnational feminism.
By: Lalitha Nataraj, Mira Costa College Library

Visual Arts
The Visual Arts subject area is limited to titles about women in the visual arts (primarily painting, sculpture and photography) and concentrates on American and Western arts. Books chosen are either about women artists, or are feminist studies of art/art history. Monographs about individual artists are not included.
By: Lindsey Reno, University of New Orleans

Women of Color
This list is limited to titles on women of color in the United States. Emphasis is on overview texts and useful anthologies. For additional titles about women of color, please see the other core lists in this series, such as the ones for American Literature and U.S. History.
Currently not being maintained, please volunteer!

Work
This list includes books about women in the labor force, women in organized labor, the gendered division of labor at home, and women in management and leadership.
By: Jennifer Gilley, Penn State New Kensington