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Sexualities, Bodies and Power

4 credits
GEND 6104 (Diploma/MSc)
GEND 7103 (MPhil)
GEND 8103 (PhD)

This course addresses the important area of sexualities and bodies which is an important area in feminist scholarship and gender studies. It highlights the continuous tension between bodies as natural and biological but also as socially and culturally constructed. The complexities of gender identities and their relationship with fixed bodies are addressed as well as the debates and discourses around acceptable and transgressive sexualities. The policy implications attendant on these issues will also be addressed.


The course takes an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach to examining social, historical, economic, artistic and cultural processes through which ideas about bodies, sexualities and gender have been and continue to be constructed. Gender ideologies are lived through the body, thoughts, emotions, spiritual practices and other aspects of our cultural contexts. Culture, and the ways it is created, consumed and understood, shapes who women and men feel expected to become and how they manage these expectations. Rather than simply looking at women’s and men’s experiences of subordination however, the course seeks to more fundamentally examine the varied impacts of cultural ideas about women and men. Nonetheless, it also points to ways in which unequal power structures and stereotypical and oppressive role models can be revealed and challenged.

 

For this reason, the course examines theories of sex, sexuality, bodies and gender as they are debated, negotiated and lived around the world. In this way it encourages students to see how sources of knowledge emerge from western and non-western centres, and the extent to which Western theories of sexuality and gender are both useful and problematic in understanding Caribbean realities. The course introduces students to foundational writings in the study of sexualities while also introducing the growing queer studies and masculinities literatures, and asks students to consider future directions in the study of sexualities and bodies as scholarship on gendered power relations continues to grow.

Objectives:

  • Explain and exemplify ways that bodies are gendered, raced and classed;
  • List, define and summarise key conceptual and theoretical tools for the analysis of sexualities and related issues;
  • Compare, apply and critique feminist and other approaches to analysing the complexities of human sexualities;
  • Describe and explain the relationship between sexual pleasure and social power and exemplify their wider societal implications;
  • Recommend policy interventions in the related areas.