Faculty of Arts


Current Debates in Gender and Sexuality

Please note: this is archived course information from 2020 for SOCIOL 735.


Traces contemporary sociological debates in the analysis of gender and sexuality. This includes reference to feminist concerns with identities, differences, bodies, power and agency. These issues are taken up and explored through an examination of practices enacted on/or through sexed bodies.

Extended course description

This course combines theoretical and empirical work on the contemporary sociology of gender and sexuality to think about the ever-changing understanding of the relationship between genders, the relationships between gender and sexuality, the most appropriate methods and theories to use in studying gender and sexuality and particular cultural practices that produce our knowledge about - and material experiences of - gender and sexuality in day-to-day life.

Gender and sexuality organise social life, institutional practices and individual relationships. They are premised upon and structured by relations of inequality and difference vis-à-vis class, race, nation, religion and other significant identity makers, embodiments and institutional positions. Our conversations will traverse these terrains of material life as we read contemporary social theorists and social researchers trying to grapple with the doing and renegotiating (the stability and instability) of gender and sexual categories and practices. 

We will begin by establishing some theoretical foundations; here we include a few readings that depart from the "current debates" focus of the course in an effort to provide a common frame of reference for our conversations and to set the stage for interrogating the rest of the readings. The emphasis in this section of the course is on feminist, queer, intersectional and postcolonial frameworks for thinking gender and sexuality.

From there, we will read "current" (from approximately the past decade) articles and books tracing the changing understandings and practices of normative and resistant gender and sexual identities, practices and institutions. The course also emphasises independent work by students on questions of gender and sexuality that interest them. These independent research projects form the basis of some class discussions. In the last third of the course, students will present their research projects in the model of a conference presentation before writing up the final research essay that will conclude the semester's work.

Student Learning Objectives

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Explain the key sociological literatures and debates surrounding the status of gender and sexuality, as well as the relationships between gender and sexuality, as both identities and practices
  • Analyse strengths and weaknesses in the main theories of gender and sexuality, singly and in relation to each other
  • Apply these theories in a specific area of sociological inquiry that they have chosen to research
  • Conduct postgraduate level, independent research on a topic of their own choosing
  • Present their research orally and in writing

Availability 2020

Semester 1


Lecturer(s) Dr Carisa Showden


SOCIOL 735: 30.0 points

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