From the Stonewall Riots to SlutWalk, this course examines how and why sex and sexual imagery has come to occupy a central role in contemporary Western culture. It traces the development of discourses around sex, sexuality and feminism in order to establish a “sex critical” way of analysing cultural phenomena, especially complex issues of gender and identity. What are the effects of sexual imagery in mainstream culture? Is sex empowering or disempowering? What do feminist and queer writers think about the current condition? This course explores the “sexualisation” of contemporary life starting with the second wave feminist and gay liberation movements of the 1970s onwards. It considers the impact of these early movements on subsequent feminist and queer perspectives and follows their continuing legacies and debates. Some of the topics the course covers include post-feminism, the pornography debates, the rise of raunch culture, issues surrounding consent and sex work, the impact of HIV/AIDS, the emergence of queer and trans identity politics, and the multi-dimensional linkages between race, sex, gender, sexuality and pleasure.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:Upon successful completion of htis course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- describe, compare, and evaluate feminist and queer discourses that inform current representations of public sex and sexual practices;
- construct an interpretation using Gender Studies concepts, themes, and theoretical tools and apply these methods to specific case studies;
- comprehend, analyse, and synthesise ideas from a range of classical and contemporary feminist and queer readings related to discourses of sex and sexuality;
- develop critical skills of argumentation, exposition, and reflection through sustained written and oral practices.
Indicative AssessmentShort Response questions, 4 x 300 words (20%) [Learning Outcomes 1-4]
Essay 1, 1750 words (35%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 4]
Essay 2, 1750 words (35%) [Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 4]
Tutorial preparation and participation (10%) [Learning Outcomes 3, 4]
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130 hours of total student learning time made up from: a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials; and b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Preliminary ReadingAttwood, Feona, ed. Mainstreaming Sex: The Sexualisation of Western Culture. London: I.B. Tauris, 2009.
Levy, Ariel. Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture, Melbourne: Schwartz, 2005.
Siegel, Deborah. Sisterhood Interrupted: From Radical Women to Grrls Gone Wild, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
Sullivan, Nikki. A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory. New York: New York University Press, 2003.
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