Communication and Culture | Gender and Communication (Topic: Gender, Culture, and Narrative)
C450 | 27996 | Lepselter, S.


MW, 9:30 AM-10:45 AM, Location: TBA

Instructor: Susan Lepselter
E-Mail: lcsusan@sas.upenn.edu

How is gender created, contested, circulated, and made meaningful
through narrative? How do the stories we tell produce both
possibilities and limitations in the ways we imagine masculinity,
femininity and the transgression of boundaries?  Most broadly, this
class asks students to think rigorously and creatively about
gendered experience and its representation in narrative.  We will
study texts from multiple cultural and historical arenas, from both
far away and close to home. We will look at various performances of
gender and sexuality within a wide range of narrative genres (both
scholarly and popular), including ethnography, fiction, film,
memoir, the graphic novel, and the Internet. Through lecture,
students will be introduced to relevant concepts in narrative and
social theory.

Throughout the course, as we look from the familiar to the cross-
cultural, we will question what is meant by such seemingly obvious
oppositions as “male and female,”  “the body and the
imagination,” “heterosexuality and homosexuality,” and “the public
and the private.”  In stories that are sometimes explicitly and
sometimes implicitly about gender, we will think about how human
beings negotiate gender and sexuality from their positions in
familial, social, and global arenas.  We will explore ideas about
relationships, language and the self, from within the depiction of
such topics as: medicine, authority and the body; addiction and
anorexia; becoming an adult; sex-based practices of social
separation; work and home; fairy tales; and captivity, trauma and
memory. We will think about how gender is complicated by race and
class, and explore how subjectivity and intimacy are shaped by --
and escape -- forces of power.

In their papers, students will analyze the assigned texts, and/or
apply concepts from class to their own social observations or
experiences. For the longer paper, creative analytic work (in the
form of memoir or fiction) may be accepted, provided that students
discuss their ideas and obtain approval well before the assignment
is due.

Requirements:
1. One 1,000 word paper (15%)
2. One 2,000 word paper (20%)
3. Midterm Exam (based on the assigned readings and films: multiple
choice, short answer and essay -- 25%)
4. Final Exam (Similar to Midterm in Format -- 30%)
5. Class participation (includes any quizzes, required note-taking
and in-class assignments -- 10%)

Assigned books may include the following, in either selections from,
or the entirety of, the text:

Miller, Laura and Jan Bardsley: Bad Girls of Japan.
Fernea, Elizabeth Warnock. Guests of the Sheik: Ethnography of an
Iraqi Village
Jacobs, Harriet.  Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
Eugenides, Jeffrey.  Middlesex.
Bourgois, Phillippe.  In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El
Barrio.
Kesey, Ken One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Fausto-Sterling, Anne.  Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the
Construction of Sexuality.
Harris, Anita.  All About the Girl: Culture, Power and Identity
Finnegan, William.  Cold New World: Growing up in a Harder Country

Films May Include: Paris is Burning, The Hustler, Once Were
Warriors , Heavenly Creatures