Paper Prompts for Cluster One: Gender and Sexuality as Analytic Categories

Please respond to one of the following prompts. See the syllabus for length requirements and other details.

1. Discuss how our authors distinguish between “sex,” “gender,” and “sexuality.” You might choose to focus on one author, examining her definition of each term and assessing the relationship she posits between sex, gender, and sexuality. Or, you might consider two authors, in which case you should compare how the two works use and distinguish between these terms, and then analyze the theoretical significance of the differences you identify.

2. Feminist scholarship often emphasizes the political and analytic significance of individual experience and subjectivity. Can the personal and the particular be meaningfully translated into more universal claims about what it means to be a woman, man, human being, lesbian, feminist, etc.? Consider one of our authors and assess how she contends with the tension between the universal and the particular. For instance, you might discuss whether you think her work adequately addresses the problem of universality and what concepts she develops in order to do so. If not, do you think this fundamentally compromises her central claims or insights?

3. Several of our authors take binaries in which one term has often been treated as having chronological or causal priority over the other (for example, sex/gender, experience/meaning, hormones/environment, heterosexuality/homosexuality) and put that chronology or causality into question. Pick one such pair of terms and assess how your author’s destabilization of the relationship invites us to rethink the meaning of both terms.

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