Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities

Remote Ready Biology Learning Activities has 50 remote-ready activities, which work for either your classroom or remote teaching.

General Studies 290
Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges
Fall 2005

Playing with Categories:
Re-doing the Politics of Sex and Gender

Images on this page taken, with permission, from a renga series called Second Session: Spring Scroll

A Junior Seminar in the Program in Gender and Sexuality

MW, 1-2:30, English House Lecture Hall, BMC

Anne Dalke (English House 205 Bryn Mawr,
Jennifer Patico(Roberts 202, Haverford,

This course has been co-designed by faculty members in anthropology and literary studies (in consultation with those in biology, education and philosophy) to explore, interrogate and re-define the variety of ways in which we "do" sex and gender. Our keynotes will be three:
  • the inevitability of our making of categories,
  • play as a way of unsettling them, and
  • politics as a way of making them useful,
    as we put them into action in re-making the world.

Course Requirements:
Weekly web postings by Sundays @ 5 p.m.
Two writing conferences with your writing instructor (who will be randomly assigned)
Three 5-pp. papers, all submitted in hard copy to your instructor AND posted on-line; the second will be discussed and the third presented to the class)
Introduction to a collection of essays, written jointly with a group of your classmates
10-pp. final project and presentation to the class
Final Portfolio

Week One: Thinking About Categories
M, 8/29
What categories do each of us occupy?
Is that occupation willing or unwilling? Natural or imposed? What do the categories "male" and "female," "man" and "woman," "gender and sexuality," "gay and straight," "bisexual and transgendered" signify to us? What does the category "student" look and sound like to each of us? What categories matter most to us, when we discuss our own identities and those of others?

W, 8/31 Why do we make categories?
George Lakoff and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books, 1999, 3-44.

Week Two: Playing with Categories
S, 9/4
By 5 p.m. post your first on-line observation: what strikes you in Thorne's analysis?
What questions do you have for her, or for us to discuss as a class?

M, 9/5 Playing with the categories "gender" and "student"
Barrie Thorne, Gender Play: Girls and Boys in School. New Brunswick, Rutgers University Press, 1994. 1-10, 29-47, 63-88, 157-173.

W, 9/7: Playing with the categories "work" and "play"
Serendip's Playground

Alice Lesnick. "On the Job: Performing Gender and Inequality at Work, Home, and School" Journal of Education and Work 18, 2 (June 2005): 187-200

F, 9/9
Write a 5-pp. essay comparing one of your own early memories and a recent experience of gender play (or work?). Write from the sort of perspective Thorne uses: as an ethnographer who assumes the role of participant-observer. Post the paper on-line AND submit a hard copy of the essay to your instructor's mailbox.

Within the next three weeks, schedule a conference with your writing instructor.

Week Three: Working and playing with the categories of "nature" and "culture"
M, 9/12 "The Paper Has Been Good To Think"
Sherry Ortner. "Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture?" 1974; rpt. Making Gender: The Politics and Erotics of Culture. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. 21-42.

Sherry Ortner. "So, Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture?" Making Gender. 173-180.

W, 9/14 The Uses and Abuses of Anthropology...and Continued Metaphorization
Michelle Rosaldo. "The Use and Abuse of Anthropology: Reflections of Feminism and Cross-cultural Understanding." Signs 5, 3 (Spring 1980): 389-417.

Ana Maria Alonso. "The Use and Abuse of Feminist Theory: Fear, Dust, and Commensality." Gender Matters: Rereading Michelle Z. Rosaldo. Ed. Alejandro Lugo and Bill Maurer. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2000. 221-231.

Week Four: Constructing categories, in general and in particular
M, 9/19 Playing with the category of "category-making"
Michel Foucault. Preface and Forward. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. 1966; rpt. and trans. New York: Vintage, 1973. ix-xxiv.

Diana Fuss. "Inside/Out." Critical Encounters: Reference and Responsibility in Deconstructive Writing. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995. 233-240.

W, 9/21 Constructing the Category "Sex"
Thomas Laqueur. "Of Language and the Flesh." Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1990. 3-24.

Michel Foucault. "We 'Other Victorians'" and "The Repressive Hypothesis."The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction.Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage, 1980. 3-13, 17-49.

4:30 p.m. Th, 9/22, a screening of The Edge of Each Other's Battles; The Vision of Audre Lorde, a film by Jennifer Abod.
An open discussion with the director will follow the screening in Sharpless Auditorium, INSC, HC;
a reception for all will follow the discussion, upstairs in Zubrow Lounge, INSC.

Week Five: Literary work and play
M, 9/26
Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

W, 9/28
More Middlesex

7:30 p.m. Th, 9/29, a reading by novelist Jane Alison ( The Love Artist, The Marriage of the Sea, Natives and Exotics) Ely Room, Wyndham Alumnae House, BMC.

Week Six
M, 10/3:
Working and playing with your papers

W, 10/5
Biological work and play
Paul Grobstein (BMC Biology Department and Director, Center for Science in Society)
Diversity and Deviance: A Biological Perspective. Bryn Mawr Alumnae Bulletin (Spring 1989).
Does Biology Have Anything to Contribute to Thinking About Sex and Gender?

7:30 p.m. Th, 10/6, a reading by novelist and essayist Ana Castillo (author of 17 books; an American Book Award recipient for her first novel, The Mixquiahuala Letters), Thomas Great Hall, BMC.

F, 10/7
What have you learned so far about the making and un-making of the categories of sex and gender? What are your questions? How can you begin finding answers to them?

By 5 p.m., write a 5-pp. paper addressing these queries, posted on-line AND submitted as hard copy, in a folder with your first paper, to your instructor's mailbox.

M-W 10/10-12 FALL BREAK

Week Seven: Putting literature and biology into play-and-work with one another
M, 10/17

More Middlesex

Intersex Society of North America. Hermaphrodites Speak! Videocassette. 1996? (34 minutes).

Jeffrey Eugenides and Bram van Moorhem. "The Novel as a Mental Picture of its Era." 3 A.M. Magazine. 2003.

Jeffrey Eugenides and Bill Buford. "Stuck in the Middle." The New Yorker Online Only. July 29, 2002.

Bethany Schneider's 9/02 Newsday review of Middlesex

A Dramaturgical Resource for I Am My Own Wife (prepared by Walter Bilderback for The Wilma Theater's production), including
A.H. Devor, How May Sexes? How Many Genders? When Two Are Not Enough

W, 10/19
Paul Grobstein, continued
Does Biology Have Anything to Contribute to Thinking About Sex and Gender?

2 p.m. SATURDAY MATINEE, 10/22: I Am My Own Wife, at the Wilma Theater, Center City Philadelphia
Meeting with the actors and dramaturge after the performance

Week Eight: Challenging the categories of "gender" and "sex"
M, 10/24

Joan Wallach Scott. "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis." Feminism and History. Ed. Joan Wallach Scott. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. 152-180.

Sherry Ortner. "The Problem of 'Women' as an Analytic Category." Making Gender, 116-138.

W, 10/26
Judith Butler. "Against Proper Objects" and (with Gail Rubin), "Sexual Traffic." More Gender Trouble: Feminism Meets Queer Theory. differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. 6, 2-3 (Summer-Fall 1994). 1-26, 62-99.

Wendy Chapkis. "The Meaning of Sex" and "Sexual Slavery." Live Sex Acts: Women Performing Erotic Labor. New York: Routledge, 1997. 11-66.

7:30, 10/26, Becky Thompson (Department of Sociology, Simmons College), "Naming the Pain, Feeding the Soul: A Multiracial View of Eating Problems."

Week Nine: Breaking down and re-Making: Class, Race...and Men?
M, 10/31

Paul Willis, Learning to Labor: How Working Class Kids Get Working Class Jobs.New York: Columbia University Press, 1977. ix-116.

W, 11/2
Michael Warner. "Tongues Untied: Memoirs of a Pentecostal Boyhood." The Material Queer : A LesBiGay Cultural Studies Reader. Ed. Donald Morton. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1996. 39-45.

Dorothy Allison. "Femme." Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature. Ithaca, New York: Firebrand Books, 1994. 151-158.

Cherrie Moraga. "The Breakdown of the Bicultural Mind." Names We Call Home: Autobiography on Racial Identity. Ed. Becky Thompson and Sangeeta Tyagi. New York: Routledge, 1996. 230-239.

F, 11/4
What aspect of the current politics of sex and gender most interests you? What is your understanding of its current state? How do you imagine an alternative to what now exists? What categories are salient for this issue? Which need re-thinking? What reading might be useful for you to do, in light of what you know, want to know and do? How might you act, or encourage others to act, to alter the current state of things?

By 5 p.m., post a 100-word prospectus for your paper on-line. Over the weekend, Anne and Jen will group the postings into "books"'; if you have a preference for a cluster, please let us know.
Week Ten: Playing with the making of a man
M, 11/7

Chris Ware. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth. New York: Pantheon, 2000.

W, 11/9
More Jimmy Corrigan

Sun, 11/13
By 5 p.m., write collaboratively with your group a 3-pp. introduction to your "book," and post it on-line. For ideas on how you might go about this, review

  • Table of Contents and Introduction. After Shock: September 11, 2001. Global Feminist Perspectives. Eds. Susan Hawthorne and Bronwyn Winter. Vancouver: Raincoast Books, 2003.

Your introductions will be the topic of our class discussion on Monday.

Week Eleven: Moving Forward and Moving Back Again
M, 11/14
Panel presentation and discussion of your proposed book projects

W, 11/16
Thinking Back Through our Mothers: Anne and Jen tell their origin stories

Playing Back Through our Mothers: Which Western Feminist Icon Are You?

Week Twelve
Sun, 11/20
By 5 p.m., post on the course forum a description of the "foremother" whose work you will be reading and sharing with the class during the week upcoming, and tell us why you are interested in her. Of what use might her history be to you, in your thinking about contemporary political action?

Possible selections include

M, 11/21
Small group discussions about the usefulness of origin stories in strategizing for the future

W, 11/23
No class

By 5 p.m. write your own 5-pp. paper; post it on-line AND submit it in hard copy to your instructor's mailbox (in a folder, with your earlier papers and introduction to this one). Be sure to "situate" the essay both within your "book" and within the "history" provided by your feminist foremother.


Week Thirteen
Before classes end, schedule a conference with your writing instructor.

M, 11/28
Virginia Woolf. Three Guineas. 1938; rpt. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1966.

W, 11/30
More Three Guineas

F, 12/2
By 5 p.m., post on-line the revised introduction to your book.

Week Fourteen: Putting categories into play: working on action
M, 12/5
Christine Walley, "Searching for 'Voices': Feminism, Anthropology, and the Global Debate over Female Genital Operations." Cultural Anthropology 12, 3 (August 1997): 405-438.

Pizza--and panels presenting your books to the class

F, 12/19
By 12:30 p.m., submit your final paper on-line AND as hard copy in a PORTFOLIO OF ALL WRITTEN WORK to your instructor's mailbox.

| Course Home Page | Course Forum | Program in Gender and Sexuality | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994- - Last Modified: Wednesday, 02-May-2018 11:57:07 CDT