Gender and its Discontents

OOPS course


We start by acknowledging that sex- and gender-based social organization is pervasive and, further, that its prominence and persistence is reflected in sex- and gender-conscious research across the humanities, the arts, the social sciences, design, and studies dedicated to social policies and innovative strategies for social intervention. We expand on this starting point using two modalities: First, the course will survey the influential theoretical approaches to sex and gender such as Marxist feminism, theories of sexual difference, queer studies, post- and de-colonial feminism, and psychoanalytic feminism. Second, we will be attentive to the importance of contemporary work on gender and sexuality as follows. Throughout the semester, New School faculty and guests will be invited to copresent on their current research. These presentations will be public lectures. Topics to be explored include, but are not limited to: equality and rights, exploitation and division of labor, the construction of gender, performativity, gender images, narrative and identity.

This is the required core course for the university-wide graduate certificate in Gender and Sexuality Studies, and a capstone option for undergraduates minoring in Gender Studies. It is open to all students interested in the study of sexuality and gender.


Week 1: January 24: Introduction/overview

– Chanter, Tina. “Introduction” + “Formative Moments.” In Gender: Key Concepts in Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2007), Ch. 1, pp. 1-31 (those who do not have a background in gender theory are strongly encouraged to read the entire book)

Week 2: January 31: Feminism as Critique

– De Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex. New York: Vintage, 2011, pp. 3-48, 159-21

– Bottici, Chiara. “Bodies in plural: towards an anarchafeminist-manifesto,” in Thesis Eleven, Vol 142, 2017, pp. 99-111.

– Murphy, M. 2015, “Reproduction,” in Marxism and Feminism, edited by Mojab, S., Zed Books, 2015, pp. 287-305.

Week 3: February 7: Feminist Epistemologies

Guest Lecturer: Emmalon Davis, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, The New School.

Respondents: Chiara Bottici and Margot Bouman.

– Chanter, Tina. “Feminist Epistemology: Science, Knowledge, Gender, Objectivity” In Gender: Key Concepts in Philosophy (New York: Continuum, 2007), Ch. 4, pp. 69-90

–  Davis, E. “Typecasts, Tokens, and Spokespersons: A Case for Credibility Excess as Testimonial Injustice, Hypathia, Summer 2016

Week 4: February 14: Psychoanalytic feminism: within or beyond the binary?

– Freud, Sigmund. “Femininity.” In New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis. (New York: Norton and Company, 1965), pp. 139-168

– Irigaray, Luce. Speculum of the Other Woman. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1985), pp. 13-60.

– Fluegel, J.C. “The Great Masculine Renunciation” fromThe psychology of cloths (1930), reprinted in Purdy, ed.The rise of fashion. A reader, Minnesota UP, 2004, pp. 102-108

Videos (in-class): Antony and the Johnsons “Crazy in Love” vs Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love”/ Donna Summer’s “I feel love” vs Bronski Beat “I feel love” + Cliteracy Art Project

For those less familiar with psychoanalysis:

– Freud, Sigmund. Three Essays on The Theory of Sexuality (Basic Books, 2000) [from the perverse polymorphous to “normal” femininity])

Week 5: February 21: Gender, Sexuality and Theories of Representation

– Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,”Screen 16, no. 3 (1975), reprinted in Visual and Other Pleasures, 2nd edition (2009).

– Nochlin, Linda. “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?,” (1970), reprinted in Women, Art and Power(1988).

– Silverman, Kaja. “Fassbinder and Lacan: A Reconsideration of Gaze, Look, and Image,” in Male Subjectivity at the Margins (Psychology Press, 1992).

Additional Resources:

We will screen clips from Rear Window (Alfred Hitchcock, 1954) and Desperately Seeking Susan (Susan Seidelman, 1985). Before coming to class please also view Martha Rosler’s “Semiotics of the Kitchen,” (1975).

Week 6: February 28: Space, neoliberalism and performances of masculinity

–  Haenni, Sabine. “Geographies of Desire: Postsocial Urban Space and Historical Revision in the Films of Martin Scorsese,” Journal of Film and Video Vol. 62, No. 1-2 (Spring/Summer 2010)

– Crimp, Douglas. “Action Around the Edges” in Before Pictures . New York and Chicago: Dancing Fox Press and University of Chicago Press: 144-181.

–  Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory,” Theatre Journal Vol. 40 No. 4 (Dec. 1988)

Additional Resources:

Portions of Taxi Driver (Martin Scorsese, 1976); Images by Peter Hujar, Joan Jonas, Alvin Baltrop, Gordon Matta Clark.

Week 7: March 7: Gender and Race

Guest Lecturer: Maya Wiley, Senior Vice President for Social Justice and Henry Cohen Professor of Urban Policy and Management

Respondants: Chiara Bottici and Margot Bouman.

Suggested readings: Hill Collins, P. Black Feminist Thought. (New York: Routledge, 2000), pp. 1-43, 69-96.

Week 8: March 14: The Coloniality of Gender

– Lugones, M. The Coloniality of Gender.

– Oyewumi, O, 1997, The Invention of Women, University of Minnesota Press, Introduction+ chapt 1 (Visualizing the body: Western Theories and African Subjects)

– Preciado, Paul “Introduction,” “The pharmacopornographic era”, “Technogender”, In Testo junkie. (New York: Feminist Press, 2013), pp. 23-54, 99-129

Week 9: March 28: Gender & Sexuality in the Public Sphere: Revisiting Political Correctness &  Culture Wars

–  Bambara Cade, Toni. “On the Issue of Roles” in The Black Woman: An Anthology, edited by Toni Cade Bambara. New York: Mentor Books, 1970: pp. 101-110.

–  Hall, Stuart. “Some ‘Politically Incorrect’ Pathways Through PC” in S. Dunant (ed.) The War of the Words: The Political Correctness Debate . pp. 164–84.

– West, Lindy. “Blaming Political Correctness for Trump is Like Blaming the Civil Rights Movement for Jim Crow” in The Guardian November 13, 2016.

– Bernstein, Richard. “The Rising Hegemony of the Politically Correct” The New York Times, October 28, 1990.

Week 10: April 4: Canvas discussion on canonical texts on rape culture & pornography (class cancelled)

–  Brownmiller, Susan. Chapters 1, 2 from Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1975.

–  In Harm’s Way: The Pornography Civil Rights Hearings. Edited by Catharine A. MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. Harvard, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998

– Introductions: Catharine A. MacKinnon, “The Roar on the Other Side of Silence,” and Andrea Dworkin, “Suffering and Speech.”

–  Cornell Drucilla. “Pornography”. In The Imaginary Domain (New York: Routledge, 1995), pp. 95-163.

Background Reading:

– Thomas, Cal. “Clinton/Feminist Raping of America.” in The [Baton Rouge] Advocate. 1 March 1999, (p. B8).

–  The [Baton Rouge] Advocate.“Correction.” 27 March 1999 (p. B10).

Week 11: April 11: Gender and Pornography

Guest lecturers: Amy Herzog, Associate Professor of Media Studies at CUNY and Alison Gingeras, writer and curator

Respondants: Margot Bouman and Chiara Bottici

Background readings: TBD

Week 12: April 18: Genealogies of rape

Guest lecturer: María Pía Lara, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico City.

Respondants: Margot Bouman and Chiara Bottici

Background reading:

– Maria Pia Lara, Moral Textures: Feminist narratives in the public sphere, Cambridge: Polity Press (in particular Intro+ Chap 1)

Week 13: April 25: Transgender Psychoanalysis as a New Discipline

Guest Lecturer: Patricia Gherovici: Psychoanalyst, co-founder and director of the Philadelphia Lacan Group and Associate Faculty, Psychoanalytic Studies Minor, University of Pennsylvania.

– Background reading: Gherovici, Patricia. Transgender Psychoanalysis. New York: Routledge, 2017, Introd, Ch. 1, 2, 3, 6.

Week 14: May 2: Designing Against Infrastructures of Harm

Guest Lecturers: Shana Agid, Assistant Professor of Arts, Media, and Communication and Paula Austin, Assistant Professor of History, California State University, Sacramento.

Respondants: Margot Bouman and Chiara Bottici

Background Readings: TBD

Week 15: May 9: Wrap-up, final thoughts.


Student Pieces Published on Online Open Public Seminar (O.O.P.S)

Eva Perez de Vega, Spinoza and Feminism Question the Structures of Domination: Is the mind-body problem a gender problem?

Also for you:

Chiara Bottici

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