Sociology | Constructing Sexuality
S422 | 10914 | Weinberg


The aim of the course is to provide an understanding of the social
constructionist perspective and its development in the area of human
sexuality. It will cover the sources of its evolution: symbolic
interactionism (and other interpretive approaches) in the United
States, what developed out of the U.S. perspective in England, the
influence of the French post-structuralists, the role played by
feminist scholars and queer theorists, and the contributions of
postmodernism and cultural studies.  Students will see how these
different origins have complemented each other in a contemporary
approach to the study of human sexuality.  In terms of substantive
content, the course will examine how the constructions (e.g.,
interpretations, meanings) of various forms and facets of sexuality
are related to the evaluator=s historical, cultural, and social
location.  We will look at the role of power, politics, and
discourse in shaping constructions of sexualities and the
misconceptions and socially-linked processes that underlie certain
traditional interpretations.  This analysis casts into relief the
role of macro-sociological factors as well as those on the
interpersonal level (such as the Aslight of hand@ used in
transforming notions about “statistical normality” into imputations
about “psychiatric abnormality”Ce.g., most people are heterosexual,
so bisexual and gay/lesbian people are psychologically abnormal). A
Asex radical pluralist@ model of interpretation (one that has been
delineated by social constructionists) is proposed as an alternative
to the conservative traditional one. The specific “sexualities” to
be discussed include nudism, forms of sex work, intergenerational
sex, homosexuality, bisexuality, sexual contact with animals,
transgender variations and sexuality, fetishism, sadomasochism,
fisting, urine play, and the playing with and eating of feces. The
course will be organized around lectures, guest speakers, audio-
visual materials (sexually explicit materials of many of the
behaviors listed above), and discussions.  If you will be offended
by these videos or by explicit sexual language, please do not take
this class.

BOOKS/READINGS (Available at TIS)

Xeroxed Reader: Martin Weinberg, Constructing Sexuality, 2008.
	
Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors:  The Perils of Protecting Children
From Sex, Minneapolis:  University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

Arlene Stein, Sex and Sensibility: Stories of a Lesbian Generation,
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.

GRADING:
Three in-class essay examinations, five one–two page take-home essay
assignments, optional preparation and participation grades.