Fall for 2017-2018

Alisa Carse
F 10:45-1:15, NN 204

Course Description:

Many of us agree that few facts about us are as powerful and significant for questions of identity, self-understanding, and life prospects as our gender. Yet what sort of "fact" is the fact of one's gender? What differences mark women and men as female and male, and how fixed and universal are these differences? Are gender differences natural, social, or cultural in their origin? Are they all three? How does the significance of gender intersect with other facts about us, such as our sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious heritage, level of education, or socioeconomic status? On these questions, we find deep and significant disagreement and debate. In this course we will bring a philosophic lens to difficult questions about gender and its significance for social and political equality. We will examine a variety of (sometimes conflicting) interpretations and explanations of gender difference, as well as a range of theories analyzing gender subordination. Among the topics we will address are the following: images and norms of masculinity and femininity; conceptions of “equality,” “oppression,” “subordination,” and “privilege;” the problem of androcentrism; gender and the politics of appearance; gender and shame; gender and sexuality; sexuality and violence; conceptions of “liberation.” Close attention will be given to differences within “feminist” thought and other theoretical orientations as they bear on these and other issues.

Course Requirements:

7 page paper (mid-term)
12-15 page paper (end-term)
Two 2-page reflection papers
Discussion leadership (format to be discussed)
Active participation in class discussion

Instructor’s permission required for advanced undergraduates who want to take this seminar.

Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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