PHIL-510 Gender & Philosophy
Fall for 2017-2018
Burstein, Matthew (bursteim)
In this course, we will analyze conceptions of gender, sex, and identity by focusing on the paradoxical efforts societies make in creating and enforcing conditions that are supposed by those societies to be “natural.” We will frame the issue by looking at Michel Foucault’s landmark Discipline and Punish, which highlights the extent to which we are the product of disciplinary institutions as well the way those institutions attempt to pass themselves off as natural and inevitable rather than as the historical accidents that they are. We will then make a first go of analyzing the gendering project by examining the ways in which both men and women are the product of robustly normative systems. Subsequently, we’ll examine the specific role that conceptions of sexuality play in the gendering process, highlighting the privilege that heterosexual identity brings with it. We will further consider how the lives of trans and intersex persons complicate theorizing about gender and sexuality.
In the penultimate section of the class, we will examine suggestions regarding what constitutes the proper moral and political responses to deeply ingrained practices based upon sexism and compulsory heterosexuality; we will first take up suggestions at countering these problems in general, and then we will develop strategies for addressing them in the profession (i.e., academic philosophy).
The final session of the course will address teaching issues of gender and sexuality at the undergraduate level; we will look at incorporating these issues/readings into non-specialized courses (e.g., intro to phil or intro to ethics), approaching these issues in specialized courses, and developing assignments relevant to these topics.
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