This course investigates the hyper-complex world, or tricky social ontology, of sexuation.
What is sexual difference? How is it, for instance, different from gender identity? Why is there such a thing as gender reassignment surgery? Where does, for example, a male-to-female transexual considering him/her-self as a female homosexual come from? Can we think of “difference” or “disorder” or “con-fusion” itself without resorting to the binary logic or condition of thinking that is persistently inscribed in and generative of the quotidian world of sexually-inflected recognitions and sexually-limited imaginations?
We will learn and glean critical insights from various philosophical theories, classical and contemporary, that reveal or exploit, consciously or unconsciously, the categories of sex, gender and sexuality. Some of the Eastern philosophical resources such as Daoist, Confucianist and Buddhist perspectives on the “engendered” world will also be incorporated into multi-dimensional analysis that this course demands and pursues, which is thematically organized into two parts. The first half, titled “Originary/Biology/Society/ Destiny/Teleology,” focuses on a series of theoretical questions arising from the “nature vs. nurture” debate; the second half, titled “Corporeal/Spectral/Spiritual/Mortal,” looks further and concretely into pressing issues around the “deployment (Foucault’s term)” of sexual and gendered categories in body politics that is, again, a global and transhistorical phenomena. While unraveling the knots of interactions among categories of sexuated recognition—biological, psycho-sexual, socio-cultural, theatrical, theological, politico-economical, to list a few—we will be able to see more lucidly, and appreciate more deeply, the operational terms and mysteries of sexuated thinking and being. By pushing the metaphysical envelope of thinking itself, we shall also seek to free feminist discourse from its discursive, political or essentialist localization. In what way can philosophy offer truly emancipatry alternatives to unjustly obscured notions of sex, gender and sexuality?
This course is designed for advanced philosophy students and gender studies majors. Thus the members of the class are expected to cultivate theoretical acuity and maturity, while studying and debating the issues closely and critically. Free, creative and informed reflection will be promoted; avoid episodic, impulsive and unstudied refraction. At the end of the course, each student will submit a research paper on a topic of his/her choice.
[DFP] Schott, Robin May, Discovering Feminist Philosophy: Knowledge Ethics Politics , Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2003
[FFR] Oliver, Kelly (ed). French Feminism Reader. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. 2000
[FP] Tuana, Nancy and Rosemarie Tong (eds). Feminism and Philosophy: Essential Readings in Theory, Reinterpretation, and Application. Boulder: Westview. 1995.
[HS] Foucault, Michel. History of Sexuality: An Introduction. NY: Vintage. 1990
[SB] Fausto-Sterling, Ann. Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. New York, NY: Basic Books. 2000
[Exc] Excerpts from the books noted as such: a set of copies on reserve in the library