2014 - Spring: Issues and Ideas: Re-Visioning Sexual Politics

Course Number: JOUR-UA 505.001

Day & Time: Wed 12:00pm-2:30pm

Location: 20 Cooper Square, room 654

Instructor: Carol Sternhell

JOUR-UA 505 Issues & Ideas: Re-Visioning Sexual Politics

This course will explore current controversies in sexual politics from the arguments about “having it all” to pronouncements of “the end of men” to the tensions between older feminists and newer transgender activists over who gets to qualify as a “woman.”  This is primarily a seminar–meaning lots of reading and discussion–but students will also be expected to do their own writing and reporting on these issues in a variety of formats, including long-form journalism and personal essays.  These debates are both important and complicated:  the purpose of the class isn’t to decree one position wrong.  For instance, right this moment–as the course is being planned–a controversy has erupted online about rape on college campuses (not an argument between rape apologists and feminists–in that case, one side is wrong–but an argument among feminists).  If we warn college women about the association between rape and excessive drinking, suggesting that they drink less–as one writer does–is that an example of blaming the victim?  Is a title like Sisterhood, Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild–some of which we’ll read–a prudish misinterpretation of young women’s sexual freedom, a case of “slut-shaming,” or have young women given up their freedom to the beauty myth?  If a group of women create “woman-only” space, is a transwoman welcome?  Readings in this class will include journalism, scholarship, and polemic, both contemporary and historical, that explores or illuminates our current clashes of the personal and the political.