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Politics of Sex (WGSS 1115)

Total Credits: 3
Lecture Credits: 3

Description: This course explores how debates over sexuality in the U.S. and globally reveal our cultural, political, and economic priorities. You will learn how sex norms emerge and shift over time and across space, often in accordance to changes in population, family and work structures, built environments, and medical discourse. You will examine how the regulation of sexuality in these contexts often targets women and gender/sex outsiders (LGBTQIA+) as problematic, at the same time you will account for how those very populations resist such framing.

Topical Outline:
1. The social and historical construction of sexuality, sex norms, and sexual identities across time and space
2. The emergence and development of sexuality as a public discourse and as a strategy of population management
3. The cultural and institutional dissemination of sex norms
4. The relationship between sexuality and the regulation of race, gender, nation, disability, and class
5. The emergence and development of queer and feminist sex cultures in the U.S. and globally

Learning Outcomes:
1. Explain and apply different theoretical approaches to the study of sexuality and identify key historical transformations in the social construction of sex norms in the U.S. and globally
2. Analyze the role of power in the social construction of sexuality and the role of the state, economy, and other institutions- including cultural, social, and religious entities- in regulating sexuality
3. Describe how concepts such as sex and gender as well as sexual norms change across languages, geographic regions, nations, and cultures and intersect with other markers of identity and experience, such as race, class, dis/ability, ethnicity, nationality, etc.
4. Demonstrate familiarity with a diverse set of contemporary and historical sexual practices, identities, and communities worldwide
5. Describe how the increased global flow of ideas, people, and commodities are linked to sexuality and intimate relations
6. Understand the importance of discussing sexuality in the context of pressing global political issues, such as sex work and sex trafficking, border-crossing and migration, reproductive health, development, etc.

Prerequisites:  Placement into READ 0200 or ESOL 0052 or completion of READ 0100 or ESOL 0042

  • Goal 5: History and the Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Goal 8: Global Perspectives