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Thinking Sex:
Representing Desire and Difference
English 212
Anne Dalke
Fall 2003
Syllabus

"There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all."
Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure

"sex is good for thinking....Levi-Strauss argues that many people do not think in the manner of philosophers, by manipulating abstractions. Instead,they think w/. . . concrete things from everyday life . . . some things are especially good to think about. They can be arranged in patterns, which bring out unsuspected relationships and define unclear boundaries. Sex, I submit, is one of them. As carnal knowledge works its way into cultural patterns, it supplies endless material for thought, especially when it appears in narratives--dirty jokes, male braggadocio, female gossip, bawdy songs, and erotic novels. In all these forms, sex is not simply a subject but also a tool used to pry the top off things and explore their inner works. It does for ordinary people what logic does for philosophers; it helps make sense of things."
Robert Darnton, "Sex for Thought."Sexualities in History: A Reader


This is a Praxis I course which combines classroom-based thinking with practical applications. The students will be assigned to a variety of field sites where the language and education of sexuality is a matter of interest. They will interview their program directors about the parameters of the projects, review the current programs, observe and participate in current activities, and interact in a range of other ways with the clients served at the site. They will then devise a project that will meet the needs they have identified in that particular context, and submit copies at semester's end both to the site director and the course instructor.

Anne Dalke
English Department and Feminist and Gender Studies Program
adalke@brynmawr.edu
Ofc. 2nd floor, English House 205
Ofc. hours by appointment
ext. 5306

Nell Anderson
Praxis Field Placement Coordinator
nanderso@brynmawr.edu
Ofc. 2nd floor, Multicultural Center
Ofc Hrs. F 10-12 and by appointment
ext. 5031

Maxwell's Triangle:
An image for the conjunction of
SEX, LANGUAGE AND THINKING
which this course will explore....

Day 1, Tues, Sept. 2: Thinking Out Loud in the Classroom

Reading the images
Sharon Burgmayer, Paintings from Transformation
Paul Grobstein, Photographs of Vigeland Sculpture Garden
What feelings and thoughts do these images trigger in you?
Of what use might it be (or not) to try and represent these ideas in language?

Hannah Chang, "Thinking Aloud."
Overview of readings/writings/praxis work/course expectations and hopes

Day 2, Thurs, Sept. 4: "The time has come to think about sex"
Gayle Rubin, "Thinking Sex," 3-64.
Robert Darnton, "Sex for Thought," 203-221.

Day 3, Tues, Sept. 9: Sexual Experience In/Outside Language?
Is it possible to put sex into language?
Is it necessary? If so, why? What does it accomplish?

Diana Fuss, "Inside/Out," 233-240.
Samuel Delany, "Aversion/Perversion/Diversion," 119-143.
Completed Fieldsite Preference Forms due

Day 4, Thurs, Sept. 11: Orientation to Fieldwork
Nell Anderson, Praxis Coordinator
Ellie Esmond, Program Assistant, Community Service and Accessibility Services Office

Day 5, Tues, Sept. 16: A Range of Languages
What academic languages do we have for thinking/talking/teaching sex?
How effective is each, what does each tell us, invite us to feel/think/know/do?
Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, What Is Sex? 15-24, 45-47, 217-228.
Michelle Fine, "Sexuality Schooling and Adolescent Females," 31-60.
Dorothy Allison, "Femme,"151-158.

Day 6, Thurs, Sept. 18: The Language of Humor
Mikita Brottman, "The Scholar Who Found a Life's Work in Dirty Jokes," B14
Gershon Legman, No Laughing Matter, 9-23.
Leonore Tiefer, "The Capacity for Outrage: Feminism, Humor and Sex,"22-38.
FIND A SEXUAL JOKE; POST IT IN THE FORUM AREA AND BRING IT TO CLASS.

Day 7, Tues, Sept. 23: Finding Your Own Language
Choose a sexual sub-group with which you are familiar.
Write a 3 pp. paper about how this group uses language to talk about sex. Bring two copies to class for a thinking-and-writing workshop.

Completed Field Placement Agreement forms are also due today.
Field visits start this week.

Day 8, Thurs, Sept. 25: Sex Across the Life Span--in Childhood Play, Middle Schools and Nursing Homes
In-Class Panel with Jeannie Gustafson and Justin Lee, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Norristown

Sharon Lamb, The Secret Lives of Girls
Anne Jarrell, "The Face of Teenage Sex Grows Younger."
Laura Sessions Stepp. "Unsettling New Fad Alarms Parents: Middle School Oral Sex."
Marsha Low, "Casual Sex Becomes Subject for Middle Schoolers."
Linda Villarosa, "At Elders' Home, Each Day Is Valentine's Day."
Farrukh Hashmi, et. al. "Sexually Disinhibited Behavior in the Cognitively Impaired Elderly."

Day 9, Tues, Sept. 30: Finding Your Own Language (Part II)
What sort of sexual education is needed for the group you described in your first paper? (Stop! What kind of sexual education is already available? What are its strengths and limits?) What are the critical issues that need to be addressed? Do some web-based research (find 3 relevant sites) and some library research (3 additional sources, either scholarly journals or books) to answer these questions. Drawing on these materials, sketch out 3 pp. of the sort of sex-ed curriculum you might imagine constructing for your group. Pay particular attention to the kind of language and presentation that you would use in such a project.

Day 10, Thurs, Oct. 2: Sexual Language in the Classroom
Is it possible to put the language of sex into the classroom?
Is it necessary?
If so, why? What does it accomplish?
Madeline Grumet and Kate McCoy, "Feminism and Education"
James Turner. "Sex as Discipline: The Idea of Erotic Education." 13-27.
Amanda Chudnow and Julia Switzer, "Sexuality Education"
"Just Say NO?"C5
Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors, 178-198.
Eric Hoover," The New Sex Scribes," A33-A34.
Peggy Orenstein, "A Graphic Life," 26-29.

Day 11, Tues, Oct. 7: The Power of Language: Only Words?
Dorothy Allison, "Public Silence, Private Terror," 101-120.
Catherine MacKinnon, "Defamation and Discrimination," 1-42.
Gayle Rubin, "Misguided, Dangerous and Wrong," 18-40.

BRING AN EXAMPLE OF PORNOGRAPHY WITH YOU TO CLASS.

Day 12, Thurs, Oct. 9: Exploring Other Language(s)
Before starting this project, please consult the Code of Ethics of the American Anthropological Association. Write a 3-pp. paper introducing and describing your praxis field site. Do some research on the site: What can you find out about its history? By whom and when was it founded? Why? How is it funded? Who are the clients? What have you learned (and what more do you need to find out) about the culture of the site? What language(s) are used here to think and talk about sex? What needs can you begin to identify? In what ways do you think you might be able to help meet them? Reflect also on your role and relation to the work going on there.
In-Class Small Group Workshops to Discuss Your Findings

10/14-10/16: FALL BREAK

Day 13, Tues, Oct. 21: The Problem of Language/The Trouble with Normal
Michael Warner, " What's Wrong with Normal?" 41-80.
Mary Poovey, "S/ex in America," 366-392.

Day 14, Thurs, Oct. 23: Comparing Sex in the Languages of Law and Poetry
Mary Conway, "Oral Sex with a Capital 'O,' 1-21
Legal Age of Consent
Pennsylvania -- Age of Consent
Sexual Offender's Assessment Board
Article on Megan's Law
Post On-Line and Bring to Class your selection of Sexual Poetry

Days 15 & 16, Tues, Oct. 28 & Thurs, Oct. 30: The Language of Literature
Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

Day 17, Tues, Nov. 4: The Language of Social Science (or: Telling and Re-telling Stories)
Steven Feld, "'They Repeatedly Lick Their Own Things,'" 445-472.

Day 18, Thurs, Nov. 6: The Language of Science (or: Sex as a Mechanism for Creating Diversity)
Nicolas Wade. "Scent of a Man is Linked to a Woman's Selection."
Lee Alan Dugatin and Jean-Guy Godin. "How Females Choose Their Mates," 56-61.
Diana Fernandez, "Sexual Attraction Among Humans"
Jan Norman, "The Evolutionary Theory of Sexual Attraction."

Day 19, Tues, Nov. 11: Language from the Field
Gina Smith, Sexual Assault Unit, Philadelphia District Attorney's Office, and Lisa Citron, Planned Parenthood, visit the class

Day 20, Thurs, Nov. 13: Language from the Field, Part II
Prerna Srivastava (BMC '04) talks about her summer internship
with "Point of View" in Bombay, organizing for the rights of sex workers

In preparation, read her Watson Proposal,
"Whose Ideals? Whose Realities? Listening to the Voice of Women in Sex Work," and
pp. 1-64 of Global Sex Workers: Rights, Resistance, and Redefinition,
edited by Kamala Kempadoo and Jo Doezema (New York: Routledge, 1998)
[extra copies available for pick-up outside my office]

Fri, Nov. 14: Exploring Other Language(s), Part II
Compile an initial bibliography of the sources (@ least 10) you might draw on in designing a final project to meet the needs for sexual education at your field site. Write a 3-pp. introduction explaining the logic of the languages and the thinking you are drawing on for doing so.

Day 21, Tues, Nov. 18: Sex in the Language of Work
Ted Conover, "Trucking Through the AIDS Belt," 56-75.
Prostitution and Law
Working in Nevada by Laura Anderson
Live Nude Girls Unite! (Videorecording). Dir. Julia Query and Vicky Funari. First Run/Icarus Films, 2000 (70 min.)

Day 22: Thurs, Nov. 20: discussion of sex education, sexual abuse and sex work

Day 23, Tues, Nov. 25: what shall our last shared discussion be about??

Sex in the Language of Religion?

Marriage Law Project
Kama Sutra
"Sexuality and Prayer," 1-7
Scott Peck, "Sexuality and Spirituality," 219-231

Sex in the Language of Relationships?
Laura Kipnis, "Adultery," 289-327.
Candace Vogler, "Sex and Talk," 328-365.
Polyamory
Are You Open to an Alternative Lifestyle?
Models of Open Relationships
Unmasking the Green-Eyed Monster

THURS NOV. 27 THANKSGIVING VACATION

Day 25: Tues, Dec. 2 Presentations of final projects
Megan, Garron and Ingrid (from Planned Parenthood)

Day 26: Thurs, Dec. 4 Presentations
Heather and Tia (from Sisters' Program)
Catherine and Sarah (from Women's Center)

Day 27: Tues, Dec. 9 Presentations
Anjali and Jessie (from D.A.'s Office)
Ali and Laura (from Prevention Point)

Day 28: Thurs, Dec. 11 Presentations
Ro, Laurel, Grannis and Katie (from Women's Wisdom at Work)

Course Requirements
Praxis Work:

3 hours/week working @ your field site

Class Work:
1/2 Talking
Read the assigned texts.
Attend class regularly (I don't expect you to miss more than two sessions) and
Contribute to our class discussion (this doesn't mean dominating discussion w/ your thoroughly-thought-through ideas; it means facilitating the learning of us all by being willing to think out loud each week in this playground of ideas).
Post weekly in the on-line class forum: either your response to that week's query or another reflection related to our class discussion or reading.

1/2 Writing
I will expect @ least 25-pp. of formal written work (or equivalent) from you by the end of the semester; I need to see @ least 9 pp. of writing before you leave for fall break (this is non-negotiable!)
I expect you to make two appointments w/ me to discuss your written work. Our first meeting should take place by October 10 (before fall break), when we'll figure out together what sort of final project you'll be doing, and what preparatory work you will need to do it.
Our second meeting should occur @ whatever point in this process seems to you most fruitful for gathering feedback from me: in brainstorming your project, reviewing your proposal, guiding your research, responding to yourfirst draft, or after the work is submitted . . . .

Finale
By noon Saturday December 20th, collect and reflect on the work you have done throughout the semester, and present it in a portfolio. This collection should express your evolution, during the course of the semester, as a "thinker about sex." In order to demonstrate both what have you done, and what you have learned from doing it, the portfolio should include all the artifacts you've created, including web postings, all of your drafts and the finished versions of your formal written work, as well as your reflections on the process of creation. The required artifacts are listed below; they should be introduced by a focused, substantive reflection that includes a thoughtful, critical analysis of the significance of your work.

Introduction: This introductory entry should orient your reader to the scope, content and organization of your portfolio. It might reflect both on the process of composing the portfolio (is there, for example, an organizing theme or dominant question present throughout?). It might entail an account of your important moments of learning in the course, or what you think you came to understand overall. Where were the facets of meaning located for you this semester?

An account of your participation in our ongoing conversation: what was your role in our class discussion? in our class e-conversation? @ your praxis site? (Include all relevant e-records in this account.)

Your 25pp. (or equivalent) of written work.

Assessment of Portfolios

My evaluative criteria for the portfolio include

--the quality of your reflection and analysis:
To what extent does the portfolio as a whole demonstrate a thoughtful re-examination of the semester’s work, and capture your developing insights into the connections between feminist texts and praxis? How well does the introductory essay use evidence to support the claims made about the learning that has taken place here?

--your understanding and application of concepts taught in the course:
To what extent does the portfolio reflect your serious grappling with the central concepts in the course? How well does your portfolio make connections across texts, discussions and outside-of-classroom experiences?

--your range and variation:
Is your portfolio representative of a breadth of learning experiences? Does it draw on a span of texts, experiences and other relevant learning opportunities?




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