PHIL 3218: Feminist Theory

Feminist theory is concerned with advocating feminist values and understanding the social implications of gender, as well as with critiquing the accuracy and usefulness of mainstream philosophy when issues like these are overlooked.  We’ll begin with a quick history of feminist theory, and how philosophy helped drive the progression of first, second, and third wave feminism.  From there we’ll discuss intersectionality and difference, feminist conceptions of oppression and oppressed identities, misogyny, and epistemic injustice.  The second half of the course will focus on victim agency, including the nature of victimhood, whether women contribute to their own oppression, complicity and the obligation to resist oppression, what it means to owe yourself resistance, marginalized identities and the struggle for acceptance, the ethics of identity passing, how demands for authenticity burden victims, and the morality of rage.

PHIL 3216: Environmental Ethics

It’s common for courses on environmental ethics to span a range of topics: from ecological perspectives, to the conservation vs. preservation debate, to animal rights and farming practices, to famine and population, and to the impact of technology on our natural world.  These are all worthwhile topics, and philosophy can help us think our way through them.  But I’d like to try something a little different: a sustained investigation of the ethical issues surrounding climate change, in this place and time.  That means we’ll be talking about climate change denialism and what it means to trust scientific experts, collective harm and whether individuals are responsible for taking action, what to do when people and nations shirk their obligations, how domination and bargaining disadvantages shape global climate agreements, what a fair distribution of emission rights would look like in the context of historical injustice, climate change as an intergenerational prisoner’s dilemma, whether geoengineering is a way out or just more of the same, whether economics and continuing prosperity are the paradigm for thinking about climate change, and the role and pitfalls of environmental activism.

PHIL 1107H: Philosophy and Gender

This is a course about identity.  We’ll begin with a discussion of gender construction, or the ways in which we manifest and police gender roles through our everyday behaviors.  Here we’ll investigate the interaction between masculinity and femininity, and how that interaction leads to phenomena like misogyny, creepers and ‘nice guys’, objectification, and sexual harassment.  From there we’ll expand our focus to other aspects of identity, how they shape and are shaped by gendered experience, and how they, too, are socially constructed.  These are aspects like race, class, sexuality, and disability.  Throughout this last unit, we’ll question the meaning of authenticity, how identities are claimed and contested, and what it means to ‘pass’ between identity categories.

WGSS 3270: Masculinities

This course is an exploration of various forms of masculinity – what creates them, what expectations they impose, what it means to perform them, and how they affect people across social positions.  We’ll begin with a quick introduction to gender construction under patriarchy, and the differences between hegemonic, subordinated, and marginalized masculinity.  Next, we’ll investigate how boys and adolescents are socialized into masculinity, including the tough guise, the guy code, and the use of slurs and shaming to police expected gender roles.  We’ll then trace this socialization to toxic masculinity, including sexual aggression, male entitlement, the Men’s Rights Movement, and aggrieved whiteness.  We’ll close out the first unit with a discussion of privilege, and why social identities are more complicated than a person’s gender.  From there, the second half of the course will consider masculinity through an intersectional lens, or the idea that differences in identity and personal circumstances lead to unique burdens and privileges.  Topics will include female masculinity; how racism and domination impact black masculinity; Latino masculinity and the ‘macho’ misconception; the marginalized masculinity of Asian men; how gay, bi, and heteroflexible men navigate masculinity; deviant bodies, including bear masculinity and the ‘softness’ of fat men; how masculinity impacts health outcomes, and the stigma of seeking help; and how disability complicates masculinity.  Throughout this semester, students will be challenged to consider what it means to be masculine, and what masculinity ought to be like.

WGSS 1105: Gender and Sexuality in Everyday Life

In this course we’ll explore how gender and sexuality shape our everyday experiences, and how our everyday experiences shape gender and sexuality in turn.  Topics will include feminism, the difference between sex and gender, the social construction of gender, the nature of privilege and inequality, how differences in identity and personal circumstances result in unique manifestations of oppression, the relationship between gender and popular culture, the social meaning of our anatomies, why we judge and feel alienated from our own bodies, the struggle against body image norms, how gender and sexuality norms affect athletics, how sex and power are entangled, what counts as sex and why, virginity, desire, so-called hook-up culture, and sexual coercion and assault.  Importantly, this course will be taught from an intersectional perspective, which means keeping in mind that racialized identity, sexual orientation, class, disability, language, and culture influence how gender and sexuality are experienced.


PHIL 5315: Self-regarding Ethics

PHIL 5314: Non-ideal Agency