Course Schedule 3: March

March 6: Constructions of  Masculinity

In this class, we look at the social construction of gender by investigating the social construction of masculinity. If Simone de Beauvoir argued that the notion of “man” as the universal human being creates “woman” as its inferior “other”, Richard Fung argues that race also creates a masculine other, and Michael Kimmel argues that a “guy” is the ultimate American male. Gloria Steinem takes on a basic biological function characteristic of “women” and asks how gender hierarchy would be different in everyday life if men did it too, and Harry Brod’s early survey of men’s studies shows how the study of men became an urgent feminist project.

  • Harry Brod, ” The New Men’s Studies: From Feminist Theory to Gender Scholarship,” Hypatia vol. 2 no. 1 (Winter 1987), 179-196.
  • Gloria Steinem, “If Men Could Menstruate,” (1986)
  • Richard Fung, “Looking For My Penis: the Eroticized Asian in Gay Video Porn,” How Do I Look? Queer Film and Video (Seattle: Bay Press, 1991), 145-168.
  • Kimmel, “Welcome to Guyland” and “Bros Before Hos: the Guy Code,”Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men (New York: Harper Perennial, 2009), 1-23; 44-69.

In class: Sanjay Newton, “Sexism, Strength and Dominance: Masculinity in Disney Films” (2009)

 Recommended Readings:

  • John Stoltenberg, “Refusing to be a Man: Essays on Sex and Injustice (1989)
  • Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson, Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys (2000)
  • Paul Monette, Becoming A Man (1978)

 March 13: Beyond “Men” and “Women”

  • Joan Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis” The American Historical Review, vol. 91 no. 5 (December 1986), 1053-1075.
  • PPT: Laura WexlerTender Violence
  • Don Kulik, ” Introduction” and “A Man in the House,” Travesti:  Sex, Gender and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1998), 1-18, 96-133.
  • Video: Murray Hill, “Tie Biz” 4:08

Recommended Readings: 

  • Esther Newton, Mother Camp: Female Impersonators in America (1979)
  • Serena Nanda, Neither Man Nor Woman: the Hijras of India (1998)
  • Video: “Conversations with History: Joan Wallach Scott,” Institute for International Studies, UC- Berkeley, 2009 (56:47)

March 20: Bonus video

Since we will not be in class today, I have provided a credit/fail exercise for you to do at home that follows up on last week’s conversation about gender theory. Below, I have posted a one-hour video in which Joan Scott explains the theories of gender that she wrote about in last week’s reading, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis” The American Historical Review, vol. 91 no. 5 (December 1986), 1053-1075. She also talks about her career as a feminist scholar, and how her theories of gender apply to an analysis of recent European laws that prohibit women from wearing the hijab.

After you watch the video, either post a reply to the blog, answering one or more of the questions I have posed there, or send me a reply by email if you feel you do not want your answer to be public.  Take no more than the regular class time to do this (you may complete the exercise earlier, but not later.) Bonus points for people who remain in conversation with others on the blog!

Paper #1 Due Friday, March 22. Respond to the following prompt:

 Simone de Beauvoir famously argued in the The Second Sex “one is not born a woman, but becomes a woman.” How did you become a “man” or a “woman”? If this act of becoming does not describe how you inhabit your gender, please choose an alternate theory from our readings. Your short autobiographical essay should be no longer than 750 words, and is due on March 19. The best essays will draw on questions raised by one or more critical essays we have read in class up to this point.



CR/F self-evaluation: due March 31.  Consider the following questions as you assess your progress in the course so far:

  • Please review the goals set for the course by the instructor: to what extent have you begun to meet these goals?
  • Please review your own goal: to what extent are you satisfied with your progress in meeting that goal?
  • Upon reflection, would you choose another goal at this point, and if so, what would it be? In answering these questions, please consider skills in which you have confidence and skills in which you do not have confidence.
  • Are there critical questions raised in the course that you do not yet understand?  If so, what are they?
  • Have you found class discussions useful — and when have you found them not useful?
  • Finally, what can the instructor do to help you meet your goals?

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