4 Syllabus for English 212

Thinking Sex:

Representing Desire and Difference

English 207

Anne Dalke

Fall 2002


"There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks, and perceive differently than one sees, is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all."
Michel Foucault, The Use of Pleasure 

"sex is good for thinking....Levi-Strauss argues that many people do not think in the manner of philosophers, by manipulating abstractions. Instead, they think w/...concrete things from everyday life…some things are especially good to think about. They can be arranged in patterns, which bring out unsuspected relationships and define unclear boundaries. Sex, I submit, is one of them. As carnal knowledge works its way into cultural patterns, it supplies endless material for thought, especially when it appears in narratives--dirty jokes, male braggadocio, female gossip, bawdy songs, and erotic novels. In all these forms, sex is not simply a subject but also a tool used to pry the top off things and explore their inner works. It does for ordinary people what logic does for philosophers; it helps make sense of things."
Robert Darnton, "Sex for Thought." Sexualities in History: A Reader. 

This is a Praxis I course
which combines classroom-based thinking with practical applications.

Students will work 3 hours/week, for 6-10 weeks, at a variety of field sites where sex ed is offered (or might be): They will interview the program directors about the parameters, review the current curricula being used,
observe current classes, and interact in a range of other ways with the population
for whom they will be writing the curriculum. They will then design a curriculum (or a portion of one),
attending to the degree it will need to fit (but also expand) a very particular context--and submit it
to the director of the site (to do with what she will). The students will not actually teach
the curriculum on site, but will teach a module to our class.

Anne Dalke ext. 5306
Ofc. English House 205
Ofc. hours by app’t

Nell Anderson, Praxis Field
Placement Coordinator, ext. 5031
Ofc. Multicultural Center, 2nd floor
Ofc Hrs. F 10-12 and by appt.



Maxwell's Triangle:
An image for the conjunction of
which this course will explore....

Day 1, Tues, Sept. 3: "Thinking Out Loud in the Classroom"
reading the images
Sharon Burgmayer, "Intimacy," "Unraveling."
Paul Grobstein, Vigeland Sculpture Garden
What feelings and thoughts about sex and sexual attitudes do these images trigger in you?
Of what use might it be (or not) to try and represent these ideas in language?

Hannah Chang, "Thinking Aloud."
overview of readings/writings/praxis work/course expectations and hopes

Day 2, Thurs, Sept. 5: "The time has come to think about sex."
Gayle Rubin, "Thinking Sex," 3-64.
Robert Darnton, "Sex for Thought," 203-221.

Day 3, Tues, Sept. 10: Sexual Experience: In/Outside Language?
Is it possible to "put sex into" language?
Is it "necessary"? If so, why? What does it accomplish?

Diana Fuss, "Inside/Out," 233-240.
Samuel Delany, "Aversion/Perversion/Diversion," 119-143.
Completed Fieldsite Preference Forms due

Day 4, Thurs, Sept. 12:
Nell Anderson, Orientation to Fieldwork
Ellie Esmond, Program Assistant, Community Service and Accessibility Services Office
Wynn Bubnash, Praxis Student Representative

Day 5, Tues, Sept. 17: A Range of Languages
What languages do we have for thinking/talking/teaching sex?
How effective is each, what does each tell us, invite us to feel/think/know/do?
Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, What Is Sex? 15-24, 45-47, 217-228.
Michelle Fine, "Sexuality Schooling and Adolescent Females," 31-60.
Dorothy Allison, "Femme," 151-158.
Fieldsite Interviews will take place this week

Day 6, Thurs, Sept. 19: The Language of Humor
Mikita Brottman, "The Scholar Who Found a Life's Work in Dirty Jokes,"B14
Gershon Legman, No Laughing Matter, 9-23.
Leonore Tiefer, "The Capacity for Outrage: Feminism, Humor and Sex," 22-38.

Day 7, Tues, Sept. 24: Finding Your Own Language
Choose a sexual sub-group with which you are familiar.
Write a 3 pp-web paper about how this group uses language to talk about sex.

In-Class Small Group Workshops
Field visits will start this week

Day 8, Thurs, Sept. 26: Sexual Language in the Classroom
Is it possible to put the language of sex into the classroom?
Is it necessary?
If so, why? What does it accomplish?
Madeline Grumet and Kate McCoy,"Feminism and Education'
Amanda Chudnow and Julia Switzer, "Sexuality Education"
"Just Say NO?" C5
Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors, 178-198.
Eric Hoover, "The New Sex Scribes," A33-A34.
Peggy Orenstein, "A Graphic Life," 26-29.

Day 9, Tues, Oct. 1: Finding Your Own Language (Part II)
Do some web-based research (find 3 relevant sites) and some library research (3 additional sources, either scholarly journals or books). Drawing on these materials, sketch out 3 pp. of the sort of sex-ed curriculum you might imagine constructing--using what language(s)?--for your group.
Submit your Sex Ed curriculum papers here.
Glenda Gray, Mainline Momobile: Administering the HIV Risk Survey

Day 10, Thurs, Oct. 3: The Power of Language: "Only Words"?
Dorothy Allison, "Public Silence, Private Terror," 101-120.
Catherine MacKinnon, "Defamation and Discrimination," 1-42.
Gayle Rubin, "Misguided, Dangerous and Wrong," 18-40.


Day 11, Tues, Oct. 8: Planning the remainder of course
The rest of this is for us to decide together:
What aspects of the topic/versions of the topic/angles into the topic are of most interest to you individually?
What do we want to be reading/doing as a group?
How do we want to be reading/doing it?
What languages do we want to learn how to put into play in educational settings?
How will we go about "handling" them?
What are your responsibilities in this process?

Day 12: Thurs, Oct. 10: Exploring Other Language(s)
Write a 3-pp. paper introducing/describing your praxis field site.
What language(s) are used here to think and talk about sex?

In-Class Small Group Workshops
Completed Field Placement Agreement forms due

10/15-10/17: FALL BREAK

Days 13 & 14, Tues, Oct. 22 & Thurs, Oct. 24: The Language of Literature
Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body

Fri, Oct. 25: Exploring Other Language(s), Part II
Compile an initial bibliography of the sources (@ least 10) you might draw on for constructing a sex-ed curriculum for our site. Write a 3-pp. introduction explaining the logic of the languages and the thinking you are drawing on for doing so.

Day 15, Tues, Oct. 29: The Language of Social Science
Bob Washington
Ted Conover, "Trucking Through the AIDS belt: A Reporter at Large."
The New Yorker 69, 26 (August 16, 1993): 56-75.

Day 16: Thurs, Oct. 31: The Language of Science
Paul Grobstein, A Biologist’s View:
The Evolution of Sex as a Mechanism for Creating Diversity
Diana Fernandez, "Sexual Attraction Among Humans"
Jan Norman, "The Evolutionary Theory of Sexual Attraction"

Fri, Nov. 1 Submit Abstracts about your Praxis Experience here.

Day 17: Tues, Nov. 5
Mary Conway, "Oral Sex with a Capital 'O,' 1-21
poetry contributions from us all....?

Sheri: Kama Sutra
on Reserve:
Sarah H: "Sexuality and Prayer" (pp. 1-7)
Scott Peck, "Sexuality and Spirituality," Further Down the Road (pp. 219-231)
Lauren H: Engendering America (pp. 60-63, 111-112, 118-125, 214-219)
Maggie: Memoirs of a Geisha (pp. 164-167, 280-291)

Day 19: Tues, Nov. 12 MULTICULTURAL SEX-- Michele and...
Tamina: Language In India
Kathryn: Janice Boddy, "Womb as Oasis: The Symbolic Context of Pharaonic Circumcision in Rural Northern Sudan." American Ethnologist (1982): 682-698.
Lindsay H: Anne Fausto-Sterling, "Dueling Dualisms." Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality. 1-29.
Ngoc: Shadow Dancing
Legal Survey

Day 20: Thurs, Nov. 14 SEX IN ART--Deborah, Lauren F, Monica, Iris
Sex Costumes
Mix and Match Game
Toys in Babeland

Day 21: Tues, Nov. 19 SEX AND THE LAW
Jessica: Legal Age of Consent
Pennsylvania -- Age of Consent
Lindsay: Prostitution and Law
Working in Nevada by Laura Anderson
Elisa: Sexual Offender's Assessment Board
Article on Megan's Law
Fritz: Marriage Law Project

Day 22: Thurs, Nov. 21 SEX IN THE MEDIA--Sarah M, Emily, HY, Bea
Rejecting the Media's Gender Stories
Bring in at least 1-2 examples of sex in the "media"; make one of them visual.

Day 23: Tues, Nov. 26 SEX IN ART 2--Jill, Nancy, Jenny, Nia, Chelsea
No assignments, except to come to class in Pem West living room at 1:00 with an open mind.


Day 25: Tues, Dec. 3 Presentations of sex-ed modules: Sarah H, HY, Maggie, Fritz, Nia
Day 26: Thurs, Dec. 5 Presentations of sex-ed modules: Ngoc, Emily, Iris, Lindsay H, Jill, Lauren F
Day 27: Tues, Dec. 10 Presentations of sex-ed modules: Monica, Bea, Lindsay U, Nancy, Tamina, Sheri
Day 28: Thurs, Dec. 12 Presentations of sex-ed modules: Elisa, Jenny, Jess, Chelsea, Deborah
6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16: Final celebration and Presentations of sex-ed modules: Kathryn, Michelle, Sarah M, Lauren H, Masha

Course Requirements
1/2 Talking
Read the assigned texts,
Attend class regularly (I don’t expect you to miss more than two sessions) and
Contribute to our class discussion (this doesn’t mean dominating discussion w/ your thoroughly-thought-through ideas; it means facilitating the learning of us all by being willing to think out loud each week in this playground of ideas).
Post in the on-line class forum weekly either your response to that week’s query or another reflection related to our class discussion or reading..

1/2 Writing
I will expect @ least 25-pp. of formal written work (or equivalent) from you by the end of the semester; I need to see @ least 12 pp. of writing before you leave for fall break (this is non-negotiable!)
I expect you to make two appointments w/ me to discuss your written work. Our first meeting should take place by October 11 (before fall break) at which point we’ll figure out together what sorts of projects you’ll be doing, and what preparatory work you will need to do them.
Our second meeting should occur @ whatever point in this process seems to you most fruitful for gathering feedback from me: in brainstorming your projects, reviewing your proposals, guiding your research, responding to your first draft, or after the work is submitted . . . .
As the semester ends, we will celebrate w/ your final presentations of the curricula you have prepared.


By noon Saturday December 21st, collect and reflect on the work you have done throughout the semester, and present it in a portfolio. This collection should express your evolution, during the course of the semester, as a "thinker about sex." In order to demonstrate both what have you done, and what you have learned from doing it, the portfolio should include all the artifacts you’ve created, including web postings, all of your drafts and the finished versions of your formal written work, as well as your reflections on the process of creation. The required artifacts are listed below; they should be introduced by a focused, substantive reflection that includes a thoughtful, critical analysis of the significance of your work.

Introduction: This introductory entry should orient your reader to the scope, content and organization of your portfolio. It might reflect both on the process of composing the portfolio (is there, for example, an organizing theme or dominant question present throughout?). It might entail an account of your important moments of learning in the course, or what you think you came to understand overall. Where were the facets of meaning located for you this semester?

An account of your participation in our ongoing conversation: what was your role in our class discussion? in our class e-conversation? @ your praxis site? (Include all relevant e-records in this account.)

Your 25pp. (or equivalent) written project(s), including all drafts. What do you want to know? How can you go about answering the questions which the course has raised for you?

Assessment of Portfolios
My evaluative criteria for the portfolio include
--the quality of your reflection and analysis:

To what extent does the portfolio as a whole demonstrate a thoughtful re-examination of the semester’s work, and capture your developing insights into the connections between feminist texts and praxis? How well does the introductory essay use evidence to support the claims made about the learning that has taken place here?

--your understanding and application of concepts taught in the course:
To what extent does the portfolio reflect your serious grappling with the central concepts in the course? How well does your portfolio make connections across texts, discussions and outside-of-classroom experiences?
--your range and variation:
Is your portfolio representative of a breadth of learning experiences? Does it draw on a span of texts, experiences and other relevant learning opportunities?