AP/SOCI 4470.3.0 – Bodies, Genders and Sexualities

For a downloadable version, please click here [PDF document – BGS course outline 2012].

AP/SOCI 4470 3.0
York University
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Course Director: Sheila L. Cavanagh
Office Address: 206C Founders College
Office Hours: By Appointment

Lecture: Wednesday, 2:30-5:30.
Room: ACE 012

Course Description:
The relation between bodies, genders, and sexualities has only recently come to be regarded as a legitimate direction for theoretical analysis and empirical investigation. The development of this analytic terrain cannot be attributed to the work of scholars alone. It is also a product of political struggle. In this course, we begin by exploring the interconnection between bodies, genders and sexualities. We then explore the connection between theoretical investigation and political practice.

Administrative and Contact Information:
Please do not e-mail Dr. Cavanagh for interpretations of the course readings or lectures.  Dr. Cavanagh will be available to answer questions about course material during lecture and office hours.  If you e-mail me for a course administrative matter please put SOCI 3690 in the subject heading.  Ensure that your e-mail is no more than five lines long (to ensure that I have time to read all messages).  E-mailed assignments will not be accepted.

Assignment Notes:
*All essays are to be handed in to your Tutorial Leader during tutorial.
*All assignments must be double-spaced and typed, in 12 point Times Roman with 1” margins.
*Number and staple all pages (no paper-clips, binders, paper or plastic or folders).
*Include your name, student number, course number and tutorial leader on all assignments.
*Keep copies of your assignments.
*Plagiarism is a serious, punishable offence that can result in a departmental hearing, and in a failing grade.  Plagiarism includes using the work of others without proper citation.  This includes verbatim quotation from books, websites, friend and classmate assignments from previous courses, etc.  Always use quotation marks around words that are not your own and if you paraphrase the ideas of others you must attribute the idea to the appropriate author.  See the university website:
*Visit the writing centers on campus:
*The Online Resources of the York Arts Centre for Academic Writing provide valuable information about how to cite and reference scholarly work:

In Class Test: 15%
Essay: 30%
Attendance and Participation: 25%
Exam: 30%

Required Readings:
Sophocles, (1982) Oedipus the King, Penquin Classics: New York
Michel Foucault. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1. 
Mariam Fraser et al, (2005) The Body: A Reader, Routledge: New York.

Sigmund Freud, 7. On Sexuality, p. 221-343, and p. 371-392.
Susan Stryker, (2008) Transgender History, Chapter 1 & 2.
Judith Butler, “Melancholy Gender/Refused Identification” In The Psychic Life of Power.
Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” In The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader.

Course Schedule:


September 5
No readings assigned.

What is a Body?
September 12
Introduction, p. 1-42

Imagining Bodies:
September 19
Chapter 1, Grosz “Refiguring Bodies,” p. 47-51
Chapter 5, Butler “Bodies that Matter,” p. 62-65
Chapter 34, Gilroy, “Race Ends Here,” p. 251.

*Receive in-class test questions

Medico-biological Bodies:
September 26
Chapter 20, Laqueur, “Orgasm, Generation, and the Politics of Reproductive Biology,” p. 151
Chapter 21, Gould, “Measuring Heads,” p. 158
Chapter 22, Sekula, “The Body and the Archive,” p. 163.
Chapter 37, McClintock, “Soft-Soaping Empire: Commodity Racism and Imperial Advertising,” p. 271.

*In-Class Test (one hour in length)
*Essay Assignment Given Out in Class

Social Bodies:
October 3
Chapter 7, Douglas, “The Two Bodies,” p. 78
Chapter 8, Goffman, “Embodied Information in Face-to-Face Interaction,” p. 82
Chapter 12, Foucault, “The Political Investment of the Body,” p. 100
Chapter 27, Crimp, “Portraits of People with AIDS,” p. 204

DESIRING BODIES: The Legacy of Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud: On Sexuality: 
October 10
Sigmund Freud, On Sexuality, Vol. 7, p. 221-343, and p. 371-392.

The Oedipal Complex:
October 17
Sophocles, Oedipus the King (optional reading unless presenting)
Film: Oedipus the King (to watch in class).

Michel Foucault’s Critique of the Repressive Hypothesis:
October 24
Michel Foucault. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1.

*Essay Due in Class

Co-Curricular Week
No Classes from October 31 to November 4, 2012

Gender Performativity:
November 7
Judith Butler, “Melancholy Gender/Refused Identification” In The Psychic Life of Power.
Judith Butler, “Imitation and Gender Insubordination” In The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader.


Gendering Disability:
November 14
Chapter 10, Bakhtin, “The Grotesque Image of the Body and its Sources,” p. 92.
Chapter 23, Davis, “Visualizing the Disabled Body: The Classical Nude and the Fragmented Torso,” p. 167
Chapter 24, Freund, “Bodies, Disability and Spaces: The Social Model and Disabling Spatial Organizations, p. 182
Chapter 25, Canguilhem, “Monstrosity and the Monstrous,” p. 187

Trans Bodies:
November 21
Susan Stryker, Transgender History, Chapter 1 & 2.
The Queer Bathroom Monologues (film shown in class).

Final Exam (in Class)
November 28