The content of this course is organized into 12 modules. View or download the concept map below for an understanding of this course’s structure:

  1. Module 1, Introduction to Sexuality Studies, serves as an introduction to the field of sexuality studies. In this module, students will first explore philosophical questions about what sex and sexuality are, destabilizing assumptions that these are natural and self-evident categories. The module then focuses on feminist approaches to sexuality studies, including discussions of women as “the second sex,” the sexual objectification of women, and the distinction between sex negative and sex positive feminisms.
  2. Module 2, Eros, begins by taking us back in history to philosophical explorations of erotic love in Greek antiquity. In so doing, students will be exposed to a culture of sex, gender, and love that is in many ways utterly alien to our own. In the second part of the module, we will jump forward in history to consider 20th-century Black feminist reflections on the erotic. Although sex and love need not go together, they often do, and this module provides an opportunity to think about the experience and political potential of sexual love.
  3. Module 3, Gender and Sexual Reproduction, again starts by taking us back in time to ancient Greece, this time to consider early philosophical theories of gender and the roles of male and female in conception and reproduction. In the second part of the module we will look at 20th-century film and feminist theory to see how these ancient ideas about gender and sexual reproduction have lived on into the contemporary era. In particular, this module will show that for thousands of years in Western thought, ideas about gender have shaped how sexual reproduction is understood.
  4. Module 4, One Sex, Two Sexes, Five Sexes and More…, will introduce the argument that for much of Western history, the male and female bodies were understood as isomorphic, or fundamentally similar in form and function (“one body”), and that it was only in the context of modernity that the idea of male and female bodies as opposite (“two sexes”) emerged. From here, we will consider the argument of a 20th-century feminist biologist that there are in fact not two sexes but five, or even a spectrum of sexes with more than five possibilities on a continuum between male and female.
  5. Module 5, From Sex to Sexualities, shifts from historical and feminist discussions of sex to historical and queer explorations of sexualities. Focusing on the first sections of Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality, this module introduces students to Foucault’s concept of the repressive hypothesis and explores the ideas of discourse and power that are crucial notions for the sexuality studies.
  6. In Module 6, The Sciences of Sex, we will continue to consider Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality and his influential arguments that sexualities are a recent invention of the sexual sciences, or that sexualities are social constructs caught up in complex ways with the workings of power. In this module we also consider contemporary feminist approaches to the sciences of sex, and feminist approaches to and critiques of sexology in particular.
  7. Module 7, Regulating Sexuality and Race, explores how nineteenth-century scientific interrogations of the human body have shaped an understanding of how sexuality is connected to processes of racialization of bodies. In this module we will read work by contemporary queer and Black feminist theorists working at the intersections of sexuality and critical race studies.
  8. Module 8, Trans, serves as an introductory module for students to learn more about the categories of transgender and transsexual, the forms of discrimination and encounter violence faced by trans individuals, particularly when they are racialized, disabled, and/or poor, as well as critical trans theory responses to oppression.
  9. Module 9, The Sex Wars, Consent, and Ethical Sex, begins by providing an overview of 1960s feminist debates about sexual ethics and politics, particularly around the issues of the eroticization of gender roles, BDSM, sex work and pornography. The second part of the module introduces the concept of affirmative consent. Finally, the third part of the module looks at two cases of contemporary feminist and queer debate around ethical sex and the politics of consent: sex work and bestiality.
  10. Module 10, The Politics of Pleasure, focuses on two topics: first, on the clitoris as an organ of pleasure that has remained forgotten or omitted from conversations about sexual pleasure; and second; children’s sexualities and ideas about childhood as a period of sexual innocence that must be protected.
  11. Module 11, Reproductive Justice, begins by considering feminist philosophical approaches to childbirth and the panoply of political issues association with which it is associated, from eugenics and abortion to human overpopulation in a time of environmental crisis. The module then provides an overview of the current debates about pro-life vs. pro-choice and reproductive rights.
  12. Module 12, Indigenous Sexualities, destabilizes the settler colonial framework of sexuality that relies on the existence of dichotomous categories and introduces students to Indigenous approaches to sexuality such as Two-Spirit. The module also introduces students to the ideas of eco-eroticism, ecosexualities, and eco-genders.