Hunt Syllabus 2012

Politics of Sexuality: Writing Intensive            Prof. Theresa Hunt

988:325:Q1                                                                                  Conklin 108

Spring 2012                                                                                 Office hrs: Th 4:30-5:30

Rutgers-Newark                                                                         Weds by appointment


Course Description & Learning Objectives

Politics of Sexuality (988:325) introduces students to critical studies of gender and sexuality and the ways in which these are represented and regulated in public policy. The course draws on biology, history, literature, political science and sociology to examine the following questions:

  • How are sexuality and gender constructed, communicated, and “performed” in various cultures?
  • How have ideas about sex, gender and sexuality evolved in US history?
  • What role has the scientific and medical community played in shaping sexuality and gender identity?
  • What role have states played in defining and regulating sex, reproduction, and sexuality?
  • How do race and class intersect, inform and problematize sexuality and gender-identity?
  • How have social movements emerged and evolved in response to US state policy on sexuality and gender?
  • What global and transnational movements have emerged around Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) issues?


To address these questions, our coursework will introduce key concepts of feminist and queer theory, including social constructionism, intersectionality, biopolitics, performance theory, and heteronormativity. These theories will also be used to analyze various cultural and state institutions, including religion, media, education, government, public health and social welfare systems.


Learning Outcomes throughout this course, students will


  • be introduced to the study of gender and sexuality as political systems and social institutions.


  • be introduced to LGBT studies and queer theory.


  • consider fundamental debates about social construction and the ways society shapes identities of gender, race, sexuality and class.


  • investigate questions about the historical, geopolitical and economic circumstances perpetuating ideas about gender and sexuality, both within the United States and globally.


  • be introduced to the tools and methods researchers use to investigate legal, political and social questions pertaining to sexuality and  gender.


  • sharpen their ability to engage in respectful dialogue about sensitive and controversial topics, in both online and face-to-face environments.


  • analyze media from blogs and social networking to photography and advertisements for gendered content and narratives.


  • gain insight into how both American and global social movements have framed LGBT rights, reproductive rights and women’s rights in various contexts.


Required Texts


Altman, Dennis (2002). Global Sex. Chicago UP.

ISBN 0226016056


D’Emillio, John & Freedman, Estelle (1997). Intimate Matters (2nd ed.).  Chicago UP.

ISBN 0-226-14264-7


Fausto-Sterling, Anne (2000). Sexing the Body. Basic Books/Perseus. Ehrenreich

ISBN 0-465-07714-5


Mucciaroni, Gary (2008). Same Sex, Different Politics: Success and Failure in the Struggle Over Gay Rights. Chicago UP

ISBN 0226544095


Other readings will be available via “Online Resources” or “Course Documents” option in BlackBoard.



Course Policies


  • Attendance is mandatory. No more than 2 absences will be allowed; any further will jeopardize your grade. Official excuses for excessive absences must be presented to the dean’s office, cleared, and then forwarded (with signatures) to me.
  • Chronic lateness will not be tolerated. If you must be late, enter as quietly as possible so the class and instructor are not interrupted or distracted.
  • TURN OF PHONES before each class begins.


Course Assignments & Classwork


  • All readings assigned are to be completed by the date designated on the course schedule. Writing, group discussion, and quizzes will be a part of many classes, so be sure to complete the day’s assignment.
  • Class participation is a significant part of your grade and is taken seriously. Students who do not participate in class discussion will not receive full credit for their participation grade.
  • Class discussion is to remain respectful. The goal of our discussions is to think not just about how we respond to class material or discussion, but to also consider others’ perspectives or points of view as well. It is not mandatory that we all agree, but it is necessary that we discuss ideas in a productive manner.
  • Presentations take place over course of the semester and are expected to be 8-10 minutes. Options for topics, format, and possible collaborative work regarding these presentations will be discussed further during the semester. All presentations will be accompanied by a 1-2 page explanation and summary of research and objectives.
  • Writing Assignments include 2 short (2-3 page) response papers, and one larger (8-10 page) research paper. Additionally, we will write in class in the form of quizzes or in-class writings. Revisions and expansions of these shorter assignments will be incorporated into coursework, allowing you an opportunity to work closely on the writing skills of revision and development.
  • Recitation sessions reflecting on course material and face-to-face discussion will be carried out online, using Blackboard’s Discussion Board feature.
  • Assignments must be submitted on time. Late papers will be accepted until one week past the due date. For each day the paper is late, the grade will drop one whole point (i.e. from an A to a B, a C to a D, etc.). Papers are expected to be free of grammatical errors and in MLA format if outside sources are cited.
  • Plagiarism, which means presenting someone else’s words, thoughts, or ideas (in whole or in part) as your own, is cheating and will not be tolerated. Rutgers enforces strict academic integrity policies, and any plagiarized material will result in a failing grade for this class, academic probation, and possible suspension or expulsion from the university.





Response Papers (2)                            20%

Recitation sessions (5)                        20%

Midterm                                              20%

Final Paper                                          20%

Participation                                        10%                                                                

Presentation                                        10%




Partial Course Schedule

Subject to change as needed


January 19: Introduction & defining central concepts: sex, gender, sexuality


  1. What does it mean to “politicize” something?
  2. How do different types of law (state, federal, international) define and “regulate” gender and sexuality?


Blum, “The Gender Blur”

Fausto-Sterling, “How Many Sexes Are There?”


January 26: Investigating Gender, Essentialism & and Social Constructionism


  1. What is gender? Why is “gender” a contentious term? What are “gender norms”?
  2. What is sex? How have medicine and science addressed “ambiguous” sex?



Fausto-Sterling, Chpts. 1-3

Lloyd, “Sexual Politics, Performativity, Parody: Judith Butler” (on Blackboard)


Documentary: Sex, Lies & Gender


February 2: Investigating Sexuality


  1. What is “sexology”?  How has the study of sex evolved in US history?
  2. How did issues in the colonial period of American history shape attitudes about sexuality?
  3. What are some of the important studies that shaped Western understandings of sexuality in the 19th and 20th centuries?



Mottier, “Sexuality and Sexology: Michel Foucault” (on Blackboard)

Fausto-Sterling, Chpt 6

D’Emilio & Freedman, Introduction (xi-xx) & CH 1-2


February 9: Gender, Sexuality & Race


  1. How have historical categories and understandings of “race” and social class contributed to understandings of sexuality and gender?  
  2. How have “minority” bodies been used, “policed” and represented by US institutions (medicine, government, etc.)?




Excerpts from Medical Apartheid (on Blackboard > Course Documents)

D’Emilio & Freedman, Chpt 5