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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Fall 2006

E 314J • Difficult Dialogues--Religion and Sexuality

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
34430 T
2:00 PM-5:00 PM
MAI 220

Course Description

Difficult Dialogues Forum Seminar. Not recommended for prospective English majors.

This seminar seeks to explore the tensions and conflicts between sexuality and religion in contemporary public life. How do these two dimensions of experience and identity, often cast as deeply personal matters of choice and/or belief, play themselves out in public? One goal of the course is for students to learn to discuss these issues with respect for differences in religious beliefs and sexual identities.

We will explore these general issues through attention to particular controversies and case studies. The course content will draw significantly from the input of a group of ten participating faculty from across the campus, who will develop topics and readings based on their areas of expertise. These might include: abortion and reproductive rights; homosexuality, gay marriage, and the church, including African American churches in the US and Orthodox Judaism; the controversy over the lesbian representations in the film Fire from Hindu nationalists in India; the Virgin of Guadalupe as national symbol and as reinterpreted by feminist visual artists and writers such as Sandra Cisneros, Gloria Anzaldua, Alma Lopez, Yolanda Lopez, and Ester Hernandez; the veil and women's sexuality in Muslim cultures; the use of performance and theater, such as the work of Anna Deavere Smith, to foster public debate and dialogue. Students will also learn tools for negotiating conflict through group dialogue and will have an opportunity to watch faculty demonstrate models for this work.

Grading Policy

Regular journals and weekly short paper assignments 50%
Final project, including group presentations 30%
Attendance and class participation 20%


Legal cases on academic freedom
Fire, dir Deepa Mehta, film
Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek
Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/ La Frontera
Trembling Before God, dir Sandy Dubowski, film
Shyam Selvadurai, Funny Boy
Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror
Ann Pellegrini and Janet Jakobsen, Love the Sin


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