Welcome to the Gender and Society Class Blog for fall 2012

This is a blog for students enrolled in GSWS 002-001 and GSWS 002-601 in fall 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania. This blog will complement and supplement the things we’ll be learning about and the ideas we’ll be grappling with throughout the semester. This blog gives each of us a larger audience than a traditional classroom alone can provide. More than augmenting our audience, the very “place” and “space” of this blog challenges us to think anew about the borders of the conventional classroom and the limitations such boundaries impose on the ideas and voices of students. In blogging for this course, we can begin to practice contributing to social media as public intellectuals.

For visitors to our site who are not enrolled in our class, here is some more information about our course:

Course Description for GSWS 002: Gender and Society

This course will introduce students to the ways in which sex, gender, and sexuality mark our bodies, influence our perceptions of self and others, organize families and work life, delimit opportunities for individuals and groups of people, as well as impact the terms of local and transnational economic exchange. We will explore the ways in which sex, gender, and sexuality work with other markers of difference and social status such as race, age, nationality, and ability to further demarcate possibilities, freedoms, choices, and opportunities available to people.

The course is divided into three units. The first unit explores the history of “gender” and its construction and examines the relationship between sex, sexuality, and gender. The second unit looks at how bodies and sexual desire are represented in various media forms and how we, as consumers, measure the in/accuracies of such representations. In this unit we will ask: What does it mean to represent the gendered and sexual self? To what extent can we alter the production or consumption of such representations of the gendered and/or sexually desirous body? The last unit turns to labor and health and here we will investigate how work, health, and healthcare are affected by, and in turn shape, our understandings of sex, gender, and sexuality. Two times during the semester you will respond in essay format to prompts that ask you to address these questions in terms of the readings for each unit.

There will be some “larger” concepts and questions that we will turn to in relation to our reading and we will use this class blog to host some of these discussions. The larger questions we will be concerned with throughout this course include (but are not limited to): What is inequity? What is justice? What is freedom? Is there such a thing as free choice? What is fairness? What is oppression? What is privilege? What is discrimination? For what are you responsible? For/To what will you or must you re/act?

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