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How do we come to experience ourselves as having a gender and a sexual orientation? How do social constructions of gender relate to understandings of sexuality? How have categories like masculinity and femininity; heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality transformed over time? This subject approaches gender and sexuality as historically and culturally contingent rather than as natural expressions of a private self. It provides the historical and theoretical frameworks for understanding the rise of specific genders and sexualities in relation to available medical, psychoanalytic, philosophical, political and popular discourses. Drawing from recent formations in both feminism and queer studies, this subject engages with a diverse range of cultural texts from the proceedings of court cases to personal advertisements, from celebrity gossip columns to popular film. On completion of this subject students should be able to explicate the complex imbrications of gender and sexuality and to analyse the representation of gendered and sexual identities and desires in selected cultural texts, which may include television, film, Internet and print media.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students should have:
- a well-developed ability to apply critical and analytical skills and methods to identifying the imbrications of gender and sexuality within the complex, changing contexts of contemporary cultural life, especially in the West but also to some extent in non-Western contexts;
- a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of how contemporary gendered and sexual identities developed in the West as an aspect of cultural modernity;
- Have developed a mastery of the central concepts and principles in key approaches to gender and sexuality in contemporary humanities scholarship (including post-structuralist feminism and queer theory), and contextualise this learning in relation to the discipline;
- demonstrated high level analysis, conceptual sophistication and critical thinking on gender and sexuality, including on how these relate to other facets of social identity such as race, generation and nationality;
- the ability to apply critical skills and methods to analyse the representation of gendered and sexual identities and desires in selected local and specific cultural texts across a range of forms and genres; and
- an appreciation of national and international debates on specific contemporary issues and complex problems connected with sexuality, with an awareness of the wider community.
At the completion of this subject, students should gain the following generic skills:
- social, ethical, and cultural understanding of self and others through detailed analysis of contemporary culture in its various local, national and transnational contexts;
- the reception of new ideas and the contextualization of judgments;
- the adaptation of knowledge to new situations;
- critical analysis and synthesis through the study of competing theories of contemporary culture and their application to diverse examples;
- the engagement with and processing of different critical perspectives across the interdisciplinary field of cultural studies;
- the development of independent thought and arguments;
- effective written and oral communication through tutorial discussions and debates;
- the preparation and execution of written assessment exercises;
- exposure to and emulation of competing genres and protocols of critical writing;
- information management and information literacy through the practice of library and archival research;
- engagement with electronic databases;
- teamwork, flexibility, and tolerance through group discussions in tutorials;
- reception of new ideas and opinions;
- engaging and cooperating with other people from diverse backgrounds; and
- time management and planning through managing and organizing workloads for recommended reading and assessment requirements.
Last updated: 1 March 2024