Judith Holland Sarnecki
Office: Main Hall 411
Office hours: 4:00-5:00 MW, 1:30-2:30 T, or by appointment
Office: Briggs Hall 311
Office hours: 10:00-11:00 MTF, or by appointment
CLASS MEETING TIME: 11:10-12:20 MWF, Briggs Hall 225
As a category to organize our understanding of the world and the people in it, gender has a powerful influence on our thinking and our actions. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the study of gender from the intellectual perspectives of the natural and social sciences and the humanities and fine arts. To do this, we will be exploring gender as it is understood from each of these perspectives, by reading books and articles, viewing movies and videos, analyzing data we have collected, and creating and experiencing artistic expressions.
This course begins with a number of intriguing questions: What are the similarities and the differences between men and women? To what can these differences and similarities be attributed? To what extent is our sense of the difference between men and women, or the relationship between gender and sexuality, a product of our own experiences and backgrounds? How, in other words, might we gain some knowledge of gender outside of our own experiences?
Instead of supplying a single answer to such questions, this course will consider a variety of answers and approaches. As we go through the term, we will look at the work of biologists, novelists, historians, artists, anthropologists, and psychologists. Our aim will be to see what kinds of knowledge these people have produced, and to think about what their methods of gaining and disseminating knowledge might (and might not) be able to do for us. In addition to our original questions about gender, we will ask a number of other questions about knowledge and the pursuit of knowledge. How does a natural scientist's approach to the issue of gender differ from that of a social scientist? And how do both approaches differ from those of a literary critic or a cultural historian? What might be the strengths and weaknesses, the advantages and disadvantages, of the different approaches? And to what extent can the knowledge generated by each discipline be reconciled or synthesized?
To sharpen our sense of how disciplinary traditions might affect our knowledge of gender, we will try, through a series of “practica,” to gain some first-hand experience of those traditions. Experiential learning may tell us at least as much as reading and class discussion. After performing a scientific experiment or conducting an interview, we should be in a better position to understand what the powers and limits of different disciplines might be.