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Precarious, Performative, Playful, Potential...Perspectives!

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Anne Dalke's picture


           Welcome to Precarious, Performative, Potential, Playful.... Perspectives,  the core course in Gender and Sexuality Studies, offered in Fall 2011 @ Bryn Mawr College. This is an interestingly different kind of place for writing, and may take some getting used to. The first thing to keep in mind is that it's not a site for "formal writing" or "finished thoughts." It's a place for thoughts-in-progress, for what you're thinking (whether you know it or not) on your way to what you think next. Imagine that you're just talking to some people you've met. This is a "conversation" place, a place to find out what you're thinking yourself, and what other people are thinking. The idea here is that your "thoughts in progress" can help others with their thinking, and theirs can help you with yours.

So who are you writing for? Primarily for yourself, and for others in our course. But also for the world. This is a "public" forum, so people anywhere on the web might look in. That's the second thing to keep in mind here. You're writing for yourself, for others in the class, AND for others you might or might not know. So, your thoughts in progress can contribute to the thoughts in progress of LOTS of people. The web is giving increasing reality to the idea that there can actually evolve a world community, and you're part of helping to bring that about.

We're glad to have you along, and hope you come to both enjoy and value our shared explorations.  Feel free to comment on any post below, or to POST YOUR THOUGHTS HERE.

Amophrast's picture

Mind your Ps and Qs

I'm an English major, gen/sex minor, and creative writing concentrator. Gen/sex and queer issues have always been of interest to me though I've never really figured out why. I was involved in my high school's Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) and I'm involved in the Rainbow Alliance here at BMC. This interest in queer issues more or less a first in my immediate family. When I applied to intern at several AIDS organizations in Philly, I can quote my parents saying: "What is your connection to the gays? Are you aware of their wild and crazy parades?" to which I replied, "Yes, and I have practically been in some of them."

charlie's picture


Hi. I am a sophomore at Haverford. I'm majoring in Art History and am pretty sure that I will be a Gender and Sexuality Studies concentrator. This is my first class that is officially focused on gender and sexuality although it has always been something that interests me. I am really excited about this class and the potential discussions we will have in the future. 

essietee's picture

"Queen of the Water, Queen of the Old Main Drag"

I’m Steph, a Senior English major concentrating in Creative Writing here at Bryn Mawr. While I’ve never taken a course exclusively on Gender and Sexuality, I’ve read a good deal of literature in this area and have incorporated it into my last three years of undergraduate study. I’m hoping to write my Senior Thesis on perceptions of mental illness in twentieth century women’s literature, and feel that this course will expand my previous knowledge and enrich my studies this semester. And if you’re wondering about my unusual username, it’s nothing more than the sound of my initials: SCT. I also like to use song lyrics in my statuses/post titles — this one is from The Decemberists' "Down By The Water."

rachelr's picture

Women's Rights in Traditional Cultures

In class we were discussing some global progress (or lack thereof) on not only women's rights but gender rights in general. When I was in high school we had a Maasai warrior who was a tribal leader visit. He brought his sword and demonstrated how he would hide in the bushes and jump out to kill the lions and how those hunts were a traditional right of passage for young boys becoming men. His reason for coming to the U.S. was to spread the word about female genital mutation. For young girls that is their right of passage before they get married. Often it is done in large groups and the blade are not cleaned in between, and nothing is sterilized. He spoke to us about the importance of cultural tradition to the Maasai but also his understanding of the health risks to female.

rachelr's picture

Its all about me

I am a biology major, NBS concentrator at BMC. I haven't taken any GenSex classes yet but one of my hopes at college is to be able to take as many different types of classes as I can and I love Anne's classes, so I decided to show up. Even though topics in GenSex are familiar to me from my family, friends, and school I can't really say I am very involved in or understand a lot about different sexual orientations (for example)  or other issues that we have/will be touching on. What I hope to gain from this class is a better understanding of how to comfortably discuss GenSex and learn about all the different ways that people can percieve their own and others' sexuality.

Kaye's picture

shelling the p's

Hi--this is Kaye Edwards, who along with my friend and colleague, Anne Dalke, will be the other co-teacher/learner for P5 this fall.  Anne and I began our brainstorming for this version of the class knowing that Judith Butler would be giving the Flexner Lectures at Bryn Mawr this semester and wanting to feature her work on precarity and performativity.  However, I felt constrained by those categories and wanted to expand our sights to include lighter/brighter dimensions that could focus our attention on new opportunities for social justice.  Loving alliteration, I suggested "play" (to which Anne immediately agreed) and "potential."  As a natural scientist (my academic training is in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology), I have long loved the concept of "po

Anne Dalke's picture

All those P's!

Hey--I'm Anne Dalke, one of the co-teachers here. I'm excited to be "reviving" and "revising" a version of the core course in Gender Studies that I first taught w/ Kaye Edwards in '97 and again in '98. It's been amazing for me to see, as we planned the course over the summer, how far each of us has traveled since that initial collaboration. I have to admit that I'm just a little bit worried about the overfullness of the syllabus--all those P's! Among them, "precarity" is strong to me now, because a good friend of mine, Paul Grobstein, died earlier this summer.