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Martha G. Newman, Chair BUR 529, Mailcode A3700, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-232-7737

Fall 2007

R S 316K • Difficult Dialog: Relig/Sexlty

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
45545 T
2:00 PM-5:00 PM

Course Description

As one of four Difficult Dialogues Forum Seminars sponsored by UT's Connexus program and a grant from the Ford Foundation, 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 eight 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 womens sexuality in Muslim cultures; the use of performance and theater, such as the work of Anna Deavere Smith, to foster public debate and dialogue. A significant component of the course will be units on academic freedom designed by Professor David Rabban of the Law School. Student will also learn tools for negotiating conflict through group dialogue and will have an opportunity to watch faculty demonstrate models for this work. The class will be interdisciplinary in scope and will offer students of English literature an opportunity to explore a range of texts. We will focus on close readings of a variety of documents that give us access to the issues being explored: legal cases, films, theater, novels and short stories, personal testimonies, etc.

Grading Policy

Short writing assignments -- 35% (Short 1-page position papers, Blackboard posts, journals) Final Project -- 35% (Proposal, group presentation, 5-page paper) Attendance and Class Participation --30%


(This is only a preliminary list and will be expanded as we choose participating faculty and solicit their input.) Legal cases on academic freedom Fire, dir Deepa Mehta Sandra Cisneros, Woman Hollering Creek Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands/ La Frontera Anna Deavere Smith, Fires in the Mirror Ann Pellegrini and Janet Jakobsen, Love the Sin


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