In The Second Sex (1949), the French feminist Simone de Beauvoir states: "One is not born, but rather becomes a woman." In this course, we will use this statement as a starting point to investigate some of the core questions of sexual differences: What does it mean to say that a person is born female or male? How does one become a woman or a man? What constitute sexual differences? What are sex/gender identities? How are they formed? What is the relationship between sex and gender? What is the relationship between sex and sexuality? How does people’s understanding of sexual difference inform their views on heterosexuality and homosexuality? This course is an introduction to these issues through an examination of a wide range of texts from sexology, psychoanalysis, sociology, gender studies, and cultural studies. The objective of this course is to engage students to critically analyze certain commonly held assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality as represented in different types of discourses and popular media. In this course you will have the opportunities to reflect on the cultural understandings of gender and sexuality with which you may be familiar, as well as those which may be unfamiliar. It will also introduce you to critical perspectives that may not be a part of the everyday understandings of ‘woman’, ‘man’, ‘homosexuality’, and ‘heterosexuality’
Course learning outcomes
1. Identify some of the key theoretical issues of sexual discourses.
2. Analyze the premises underlying the representations of sexual differences as articulated in different types of discourses and popular media.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the major social and cultural changes that shaped the evolution of sexual discourses.
4. Interrogate critically commonly held notions of nature, identity and differences. .