Kari A Lerum
Examines the ways that sexual beliefs, practices, identities, and behaviors are connected to various cultural, economic, political, and historical forces. Ideally builds on students' previous critical study of sex and sexuality, either at the UW or elsewhere. Specific focus and topic varies with instructor.
SPRING 2008 (Trans)Gendering Sexuality
The overall goal of this course is to facilitate your development of a trans-gendered perspective on sexuality. This is a “queer” vantage point that has nothing to do with your sexual preference. Rather, this perspective will offer you a broad theoretical toolkit to critically assess sexual-cultural trends, and to see general connections between sexuality, sex, gender, and power. The concepts and theories presented in class readings are varied and sometimes contradictory. Thus, rather than attempting to learn the ultimate truth about sexuality, the point here is to become conscious and conversant about an entire “family” of theoretical approaches to sexuality and to critically contrast these ideas with other ideas about sexuality that you may or may not consciously hold.
Using this collection of theories as our guide, this course will explore the ways that sexual beliefs, identities, and behaviors are connected to cultural, economic, political, and other structural forces (as opposed to universal, “natural” forces). We will focus primarily on the sexual trends and sexual politics of 20th century U.S. Among the topics to be covered include: homo/hetero/bisexuality, homophobia, heterosexism, heteronormativity, child & teen sexuality, sex education, sexual “dysfunctions”, rape & sexual violence, sexual health, sexual harassment, feminist heterosexuality, love, romance, and the institution of marriage, pornography, and transsexuality/transgender liberation.
Student learning goals
Explain the difference between essentialist and constructionist theories of sexuality, sex, and gender
Identify several institutions and cultural beliefs that serve to uphold heteronormativity in American culture, as well as identify several political, social, and personal effects of heternormativity
Use theoretical concepts discussed in the course to expalin a variety of specific examples or artifacts, including films
Define "sexual orientation" beyond the sex of one's desire (male or female)
Define "gender" beyond one's on sex (male or female)
General method of instruction
Class assignments and grading