Course Materials

Syllabi:

Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies
Course Description: This course is designed to provide an introduction to many of the key topics, debates, methods, and theoretical paradigms in the field of women’s and gender studies. Throughout the course, we will be guided by a number of questions: What is and what should be included in the field of women’s and gender studies? What is gender and how can gender be used as a category to analyze institutions (such as the state and the family) and texts (such as novels and films)? What is the relationship between gender and other social categories such as race, class, and sexuality? What is power and how is power related to gender, race, class, and sexuality? It is my hope that you will use this course to discover what excites and interests you most within the field of women’s and gender studies.

Feminism, Sexuality, and Neuroethics
Description: Students in this class will learn the major topics and themes within the field of Neuroethics through critically examining historical and contemporary scientific research on sexuality and the brain. Each unit of the class focuses on a different area within the field of scientific research on sexuality and the brain. Students will read the significant scientific study or studies on the topic alongside reports about the study in mainstream news media outlets, and then follow this by reading critiques of the work from both inside and outside the scientific community.

Men, Sex, and Power (Masculinity Studies)
Description: This course offers an introduction to the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of Masculinity studies. We will explore the social, historical, and cultural construction of masculinity and male roles (e.g. as fathers, sexual and romantic partners, and workers) and how these constructions differ according to race, class, sexuality, etc. In addition, we will examine how norms about masculinity simultaneously empower men as a group and many individual men, while also disadvantaging many individual men and regulating the behavior of all men. We will explore possibilities for challenging hegemonic forms of masculinity and for creating new types of masculinity.

Gender, Sickness, and Health
Description: This course will examine the intersections of gender, medicine, health, and illness, with a focus on the U.S. context. We will cover topics such as reproduction, mental illness, breast cancer, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS. We will explore numerous questions like: How have women and men interacted differently with the field of medicine, as healers, patients, and participants in medical research? How do social and cultural norms about gender influence the definition of illness categories? What role does medicine play in enforcing gender norms? How does gender as a social role, in concert with other social categories such as race, sexuality, and class, affect health status and health outcomes?

Born This Way?: Science and the Politics of Sexuality
Course Description: Since at least the late 19th century, scientists have studied various aspects of sexuality, sometimes with the intent to eliminate sexual “deviancy” and sometimes with the goal of learning about sexual diversity in the natural world. At the same time, politicians, commentators, and activists (both conservative and progressive) have long used scientific research and claims about biology to support arguments either for sexual repression or for sexual tolerance. In this seminar, we will examine two case studies within the field of scientific research on sexuality: research on sex/gender differences in sexuality and research on sexual orientation. We will read about both the scientific research itself and about how this research has been used by politicians, commentators, and activities. Throughout, we will examine the assumptions being made by both scientists and activists, and how these assumptions are informing both the scientific research and efforts to transform societal attitudes and institutions related to sexuality.

Sexual Politics in the U.S.
This course explores the politics of sexuality in the United States. Drawing on feminist scholarship, queer theory, and lesbian, gay, and transgender studies, we will explore different historical and theoretical approaches to thinking about issues of power and sexuality. We will discuss sexual identities and cultures, state regulation of sexuality, sexual commerce, and cultural representations of sexuality, among other topics. Throughout we will examine how other social categories such as race, class, gender, and disability intersect with the politics of sexuality. The course is organized into four units: Theories, Histories, Identities/Bodies, and Regulation. The first unit explores different theoretical approaches to sexuality, with afocus on “social constructionist” perspectives and accounts of the ways in which sexuality is related to the distribution of power in our society. The second unit focuses on understanding how the politics of sexual identities, practices, and norms have changed over time in the United States. The third unit examines the politics of a variety of contemporary sexual identities, communities, and practices. The fourth unit focuses explicitly on the role of the state and other political institutions in producing and regulating sexuality, examining issues such as marriage, the regulation of pornography and sex work, sex education, and reproductive rights, among others. At the end of the course, we will discuss possibilities for transforming the ways in which sexuality is regulated in the United States.

Sample Assignments:

Health Promotion Campaign Group Project Assignment
I have used this assignment in my Gender, Sickness, and Health courses. The assignment asks students to analyze an existing health promotion campaign on a particular topic and to design their own health promotion campaign. The purpose of the assignment is to analyze some of the messages and values (especially about gender, sexuality, race, class, disability, etc.) that are conveyed through health promotion campaigns and to explore whether it is possible to create a campaign that does not reinforce gender, sexual, or other stereotypes.

Feminist Theme Floor Proposal Assignment
This assignment was designed for my Introduction to Women’s Studies course. This assignment gives students the opportunity to develop a proposal (including community rules, activities and a floor-plan) for a feminist-themed residence hall.

Feminism, Sexuality, and Neuroethics Midterm Assignment
Cyd Cipolla and I designed this assignment for our  Feminism, Sexuality, and Neuroethics course. This assignment asks students to “write up” the results of a scientific study on sexuality and present their findings to the rest of the class. In addition, the assignment asks students to write two popular press articles reporting on the presentations given by other students, one in the style of Cosmo and one in the style of NPR. The project allows students to consider issues such as: how do scientists make meaning out of scientific data? What ethical responsibilities do scientists have in communicating their results to the media? What constraints do members of the media face in communicating scientific findings to specific segements of the general public?