WGS 393 • Readings in Gender and Sexuality
12:00 PM-3:00 PM
This course is designed to provide a forum for discussion of recently published works in the sociology of gender and sexuality. In contrast to the scientific/medical model of sexuality, sociology begins with the premise that sexuality is socially constructed. The course begins with an overview of the major theoretical perspectives that have influenced thinking in this regard: psychoanalytic theory (Freud, Chodorow, Benjamin); symbolic interactionism (Simon & Gagnon, Plummer, Stein, Thorne & Zuria); feminist theory (MacKinnon, Rich, Collins); and queer theory (Epstein, Valocchi, Angelides). These approaches make different claims about the relationship between gender and sexuality, the meaning of sexual identity, and the origins of sexual desire.
After this theoretical overview, we turn to a focus on new research in the field. Readings are organized into three main topics, all of which attend to race, class, and gender differences in the experience of sexuality. First we will explore the historical and social construction of sexual identity. We will discuss how hegemonic definitions of "normal" sexuality have marginalized different groups, including lesbians (Stein), drag queens (Rupp and Taylor), and immigrants (Gonzalez-Lopez). This section also emphasizes how social movements organized around sexual identities have resisted hegemonic definitions of normal sex. Second, we will discuss stratified reproduction, a term that refers to how society encourages certain groups to have children, while preventing or discouraging others from doing so. We will examine how this process occurs in social movements (Nelson), schools (Luker), and medicine (Daniels). Third, we will explore the future of sexuality through an analysis of three controversial issues in society and scholarship: normalization of gay and lesbian identity (Seidman); gay marriage (Hull); and transgender rights (Rudacille).