"I'm gay." "She's straight." "My roommate identifies as trans." Today it is common practice to think of our gender and sexual identities as an integral part of who we are. But only two hundred years ago this would have been unthinkable. So how have our sexual desires and practices become a defining feature of our identities? Most contemporary scholars agree that gender and sexuality are constituted through rhetorical acts, that is, through the coalescence of penal codes, psychiatric diagnoses, church dictums, media representations, activist slogans, and community-based naming practices that deem some gender expressions and sexual act(or)s normal and others deviant. Indeed, the eminent historian Michel Foucault argued that modern Western society is distinguished by its painstaking efforts to control human sexual desire by transforming it into words rather than deeds.

            In this course, we will explore the many oral, written, and visual genres of discourse that have contributed to our understanding of "acceptable" and "aberrant" genders and sexualities over the past three centuries. Students will maintain a course blog for reflecting upon readings and responding to each other's thoughts. They will write a short rhetorical analysis of the use and/or production of gender and/or sexuality through a specific law, advertisement, speech, television episode, etc. Then they will create an update version of the same law, ad, speech, etc. that produces gender and/or sexuality differently. Finally, students will work together throughout the semester to do participant-observation, create an interview guide, recruit participants, conduct interviews, and analyze responses for an ethnographic study of how Davidson students talk about gender and sexuality.

Satisfies Gender and Sexuality Studies major and minor requirement.
Satisfies Literary Studies, Creative Writing and Rhetoric distrobution requirement.
Satisfies Justice, Equality, and Community requirement.


Class Details
Course WRI 210
Section 0
CRN 20517
Time T R
Time 1135 - 1250pm
Building 1096 CHAM
Instructor Katie Horowitz
Max 16
Current 0
Remaining 16
Semester Spring 2022