Course Catalog

01:988:290 Introduction to Critical Sexualities (note: also listed as 888:290)

This course introduces students to the study of sexuality from historical, cross-cultural, contemporary and global perspectives. We will look at the different meanings given to sexuality and the ways in which sexual practices are codified in diverse contexts so as to consider the roles of culture, economy, race and nation, social structure, policy, stigma etc. in shaping people=s understandings of their most intimate senses of themselves. We ask: what is defined as sex and what is prescribed and prohibited in diverse societies? What is considered normal and what perverse? How is sexuality related to gender, to homosexuality, to trans? What defines a sexual minority? We will look at questions of discrimination and activism, and at transnational flows and interactions between societies and peoples. We will also talk about issues in sexuality politics, such as questions of bias, media representations, sex work and trafficking, activism and HIV. Readings, films and guest lectures include historical, ethnographic, theoretical, sexological and creative approaches to both the U.S. and many other parts of the world, with some special emphasis on areas of the professor’s expertise such as: Asians, media and popular culture, race and minorities.

Course Objectives:

- to introduce students to sexuality studies across a variety of disciplines and to establish a baseline for future coursework in this area

- to give students an awareness of sexual cultures and diversity at US, international and global scales

- to understand and critique the formation of categories of sexuality and gender as they function in social, economic, cultural and/or political contexts and as they intersect with categories of difference such as race, class and ethnicity

- to recognize stereotypes and the naturalization of hierarchies of difference through analyzing power dynamics from the micro to the macro level

- to identify the politics of issue framing and knowledge production

- to encourage critical thinking on a range of dilemmas posed by the readings and films

- to develop students’ proficiency in speaking critically and clearly about sexuality issues

- to develop students’ ability to write cogently and to articulate arguments systematically

- to encourage students to integrate issues of sexuality into their thinking about their future lives and work, including considering many forms of action and intervention

Core Curriculum Goals

This course meets the Rutgers Core Learning Goal 21C: 21st Century Challenges. Students will be able to “Analyze the degree to which forms of human difference shape a person’s experiences of and perspectives on the world” and “Analyze a contemporary global Issue from a multidisciplinary perspective.”