Last Update 5/4/2012
M-W 4:30-5:55 pm
Prof. Daniel M.
Peer Teacher: Carissa McKee
This course will examine the range of anthropological views about male/female sexuality and gender roles from various cultural traditions. The focus of the course is on the link between biology (through hominid evolution) and culture in defining and gendering male and female. Among the issues to be discussed are the evolution of primate sexuality, hominid reproductive strategies, menstrual taboos, mate choice, circumcision, gender equality, gender diversity (homosexuality and transsexuality), prostitution and sex in the media and cyberspace. Comparison will be made to attitudes about gender and sexual behavior in contemporary American society. The course will be a mix of lecture, film, and class discussion. Given the sensitive nature of much of the material to be covered in this course, the professor requests that the discussions be conducted in an open-minded, mature and mutually responsible manner.
1/30 Introduction to course and class survey
2/1 How do We Study Our Sexual Selves?
READ: Middleton (2002:1-27)
Sexuality: How do we study our sexual selves?
SURF: Google Earth Human Body (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9o-AMwU9Fgw&feature=related); female anatomy ( http://www.innerbody.com/image/repfov.html), male anatomy (http://www.innerbody.com/image/repmov.html)
READ: Friedl (1994) “Sex the Invisible” (friedl94.pdf) on Blackboard
in Paradise: A History of Primate Sex
READ: “The First Primates” (http://anthro.palomar.edu/earlyprimates/early_2.htm) , “Apes” (http://anthro.palomar.edu/primate/prim_7.htm), de Waal (1995:82-88) “Bonobo Sex and Society” on Blackboard and de Waal (2007) “Bonobos Left and Right” (http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-08-08.html#feature)
2/13 Evolution of Human Sexuality
READ: Taylor, Introduction, pp. 1-18, ch.. 1, pp. 19-51.
2/15 Adapting to Orgasms
READ: Taylor, chs. 2-3, pp. 52-96
2/20 No School
our Earliest Ancestors #1
Film: “Quest for Fire” (1983) V-2085
READ: Review of film in American Anthropologist (quest.pdf on Blackboard)
CAE #1: IS THE FEMALE ORGASM ADAPTIVE?
our Earliest Ancestors #2
Film: “Quest for Fire” (1983) V-2085
2/29 Art and the Body Sexual
READ: Taylor, ch. 4, pp. 97-109, ch. 5, pp. 115-141, ch. 6, pp. 143-166
3/5 A Case Study from Vanatinai
READ: Lepowski, Preface (pp. vii-xviii, chaps. 1-2 (pp. 1-80)
3/7 Sexual Choice in Vanatinai
READ: Lepowski, chap. 3 (pp. 81-124)
3/12 Ancestors and Spirits
READ: Lepowski, chaps. 4-5 (pp. 125-205)
3/14 Gender Equality
READ: Lepowski, chap. 8 (pp. 281-306)
3/19 Midterm exam
PART 3. SEX PATTERNS
3/21 Regulating Sex
READ: Middleton (2002:67-77; 89-107)
3/26 Homosexuality in Anthropological Perspective: The Case of Melanesia
READ: Herdt 2003 (pp. 65-73. 84-102) and Elliston 1995 on Blackboard
CAE 2: WHAT DEFINES 'HOMOSEXUALITY' ACROSS CULTURES?
3/28 Transsexuality in Brazil: A Third Sex?
READ: Kulick 1997 on Blackboard
4/2 Sado-Masochism , Porn and Striptease
READ: Middleton (2002:116-119); "Internet Porn" (http://cyberanthropology.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/internet-porn/); Frank (2003) on Blackboard
4/4 No Class: Conversion Day
PART 4. STUDENT PROJECTS
4/9-4/11 Spring Vacation
4/16 Student Presentations
4/18 Student Presentations
4/23 Student Presentations
4/25 Modern Sex in a Modern City
READ: Kelly, Preface, pp. xiii-xxii, Introduction, pp. 31, ch. 1, 32-52.
4/30 Inside the Galactic Zone
READ: Kelly, ch. 3, pp. 76-101; ch. 5, pp. 121-150
5/2 Sellers and Buyers
READ: Kelly, ch. 6, pp. 151-182, ch. 7, pp. 183-186, 200-205, ch. 8, pp. 204-219, epilogue, pp. 214-219.
CAE #3: WHY WOULD A WOMAN CHOOSE PROSTITUTION
5/7 Naked World: The Nude Photography of Spencer Tunick
SURF: Spencer Tunick's Official Website (http://www.spencertunick.com/)
Film: Naked World (HBO, 2009)
READ: Middleton (2002:43-66)
5/9 The Future of Sex
READ: Middleton (2002:121-131) , "Sex Robots and the Future of F...ing" (http://thoughtcatalog.com/2011/sex-robots-and-the-future-of-fcking/)
5/14 Final Exam: in class 4-6 pm
The class website RAG (http://people.hofstra.edu/daniel_m_varisco/145rag1-12.html)
contains a guide to all of the assigned readings for this section. Each student
must take notes independently on these questions and hand in the RAG the day
of each exam (midterm and final) for credit. These notes will result in a study
guide for the exams. All of the short answers on the midterm and final will
come from questions in this study guide. Each RAG is worth 12 points, for a
total of 24 points.
The grading criteria for each RAG are as follows: 2 points (impressive) 1 point (adequate)
a. Comprehensive responses to most questions (more than phrase or simple gist)
b. Recognizes key issues involved
c. Raises specific questions about what is read
d. Provides personal views and opinions (you will not be graded on what you say, but you must make an effort to state how the course material affects your understanding of the material
e. Awareness of anthropological approaches and methods
f. Overall level of effort and engagement with material.
Each student is required to write 3 class assignment essays related to assigned
readings, film viewings, and discussions in class. The student must hand in
the assignment on the day due. These assignments must be typed and at least
3pages (750 words) in length. The idea of the assignment is to show how you
interact with the material you are reading or seeing. You must specifically
relate your ideas and opinions to the assigned reading or topic.
The grading for this journal is "outcome based," which means that a particular assignment can be revised or expanded as necessary to meet the established criteria for full credit of 6 points per assignment, assuming the first is handed in on time. Revisions must be made within two weeks of being handed back. This can be done by attaching the new information asked for on a separate sheet or by discussing the CAE with the professor in his office. The criteria for grading the CAE are:
a. Appropriate length and degree to which you interact with the material
b. Use of appropriate and relevant examples from the course material
c. Critical analysis of key concepts and perspectives
d. Shows awareness of anthropological approaches and methods
e. Coherent argument and clear presentation of points
f. Handed in on day due
•CAE 1 (DUE 2/22): IS FEMALE ORGASM ADAPTIVE? After reading the assigned chapters in Taylor (esp. ch. 2) and based on the class lecture, pick what you think is the most probable explanation for the evolutionary significance of human female orgasm and which proposed explanation you think is the least persuasive. Explain why you think the way you do. Be aware of the role of concealed ovulation, which distinguishes human females from other primates.
•CAE # 2: (due 3/26): WHAT DEFINES 'HOMOSEXUALITY' ACROSS CULTURES? Based on Herdt's description of the ritual insemination of Sambia youth and the critical assessment of this and other homoerotic practices in Melanesia, answer the following two questions. (1) Can one usefully compare the homoerotic practices of the Sambia, considering the youth are told they need this to be virile males and eventually get married and have children, to the exclusive "homosexual" lifestyle in the West? (2) Should there be a universal definition of "homosexuality" and if so, what should this be (or not be)?
•CAE 3 (due 4/30): WHY WOULD A WOMAN CHOOSE PROSTITUTION? Based on your reading of the ethnography by Kelly, give three different reasons (with examples) why the women in the study ended up in the Zona Galactica. How has your reading of this text influenced your own views about prostitution? Do you think that there is any social or cultural value in legalizing prostitution rather than simply leaving it to the streets?
6. STUDENT GROUP PROJECTS
Purpose: The aim of this project is to explore aspects of how American society is gendered and/or sexualized and elicit feedback from fellow students. Students will choose a topic and work together (not necessarily the whole group at one time) in a group of about four people. The point is to do ethnographic observations, conduct interviews, engage in a creative project, or reflect on your own experiences. Each group will present their findings to the class on one of the four days allotted for presentations with interaction from the rest of the class. This should be a creative effort, involving a short skit, video, use of images or internet. Time will be provided in class for short planning sessions. Each student must submit a 1-2 page summary of his or her specific contribution to the project. A separate handout will be provided with topic options and further information. Click here for the webpage about this project.
Grading: Presentation (total up to 8 points). Up to 4 points for entire group and up to 4 for each individual's report. Each of the following criteria are worth 1 point.
a. Clear application of anthropological method or theory in the analysis
b. relates comparatively to relevant examples from the course material
c. clarity and coherent explanation of points made
d. originality and creativity
Grading in this course is based on a 100 point scale (although the student has the opportunity to earn 104 points in the course). In general, the "A" range will extend from 90-100, the "B" range from 80-89, the "C" range from 70-79, the "D" range starting at 64. The point accumulation breaks down as follows:
ITEM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TOTAL POINTS
Exam #1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Exam #2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
RAG #1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
RAG #2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Class Assignment Essays (CAE) . . . . . . . . . . 18
Student Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
TOTAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104