Course Schedule 4: April

April 3:  Sex, Gender and the Structures of Everyday Life

This week’s class looks at the ways in which personal identity is affected by structures and/or phenomena that go beyond the actions or intentions of any one individual or group of individuals. These articles are very influential, but were all written over thirty years ago, so bear in mind their uses as well as what you would criticize in hindsight. Adrienne Rich’s article was written in a time in which women were shaped by the expectations of heterosexuality. What has changed? What hasn’t changed? What are the alternatives to compulsory heterosexuality for women and men other than adopting a lesbian/gay identity? bell hooks addresses the ways in which racism complicate the feminist project, and the notion that “women” can and should overcome their differences to identify with each other. What solutions does she propose? Finally, John D’Emilio looks at the way capitalism — a phenomenon that is often seen as responsible for oppression — can act to free people and create new gender and sexual identities. Is there a contemporary phenomenon that acts in similar ways to create new sexual/gender identities? How so?

  • Adrienne Rich, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” (1980), republished in The Journal of Women’s History vol. 15 no. 3 (Autumn 2003), 11-48.
  • bell hooks (Gloria Watkins), “Racism and Feminism: the Issue of Accountability,” Ain’t I A Woman? Black Women and Feminism (Boston: South End Press, 1981), 119-158.
  • John D’Emilio, “Capitalism and Gay Identity,” Ann Snitow, Christine Stansell and Sharon Thompson, Powers of Desire (New York:  Monthly Review Press, 1983), 100-113.

Recommended Readings

    • Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884)
    • Gail Bederman, Manliness and Civilization: A Cultural History of Gender and Race in the United States, 1880-1917 (1996)
    • Gayle Rubin, “Thinking Sex,” (1984)

Oprah Winfrey at the Jaipur (India) Literary Festival, “Why I Never Got Married,” 2012:

Amber Hollibaugh, “How Far Has the LGBTQ Movement Come?” (2012)

April 10:  Sexing the Subject

Recommended Reading:

  • Evan Taylor, “Cisgender Privilege: On the Privileges of Performing Normative Gender,” Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman, eds., Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation (Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2010), 268-272.
  • Judith Halberstam, In A Queer Time and Place:  Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York:  New York University Press, 2005)
  • Denise Riley, “Does Sex Have a History?” Am I That Name?  Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ in History (Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 1988) 1-17.
  • Michael Schulman, “Generation LGBTQIA,” The New York Times January 9 2013.
  • Jennifer Finney Boylan, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders (2003)
  • Joanne Meyerowitz, When Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States (2004)

April 17: Gender and Violence 

These readings make different arguments about gender-based violence, its causes and its consequences. One addresses how the realm of culture affects behavior; the other situates gender violence within other forms of violence. What are the specific differences that you see? Similarities?

Anita Hill Testifies in the Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearings, with Thomas’s Rebuttal (October 1991):

Recommended Reading:

  • Kimberle Crenshaw, “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color,” Stanford Law Review, Vol. 43, No. 6, (Jul., 1991), pp. 1241-1299.
  • Wendy Brown, States of Injury (1995)
  • Peggy Sanday, Fraternity Gang Rape: Sex, Brotherhood and Privilege on Campus (1990)

April 24: War and International Law

 Recommended Reading:

  • Elaine Kim, Dangerous Women: Gender and Korean Nationalism (1997)
  • Joshua S. Goldstein, How Gender Shapes the War System and Vice Versa (2003)
  • Diana Taylor, Disappearing Acts Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s Dirty War (1997)

Paper #2 due April 28  Pick a politician, celebrity, artist, intellectual or other public figure who you think is interesting and whose work, performances or ideas raise questions that invite a gender analysis. Find a story about, or an interview of, that person (printed, video or audio) that allows you to articulate those questions. Using at least one of the articles we have read since spring break. Your essay should be no longer than 1000 words.


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