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Theories of Sex/Gender

Theories of sex, gender and sexual difference constitutes the overall conceptual framework of Women's Studies. This course explores the most important strands of feminist theorizing, provides an overview of major issues at stake in Women's Studies, past as well as present, and additionally critically interrogates debates on some key-concepts in feminist thought. The course opens with a history of the ideas that helped to shape the project of Women's Studies as we know it today. The focus subsequently shifts to the different domains in which 'sex', 'gender' and 'sexual difference' obtain, and to the interrelations between gender and other categories of sociocultural differentiation, e.g., class, 'race', ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Additional topics to be explored include: the binary oppositions structuring (Western) thought; debates on essentialism vs. social constructionism, the role of the body in theorizing gender, and post humanist challenges to sex/gender. The reader will provide an overview of the most relevant theoretical literature in the field. The discussions will cross-refer to the participants' own research-projects.