ANTH 353

Course Overview

Drawing upon cross-cultural data and a variety of theoretical perspectives, we will explore the following sets of questions: Are there universal aspects and concepts of sex and gender? How do people classify themselves and each other on the basis of sex and gender? How do they maintain, reinforce, question, and change their constructions of sex and gender?

What determines ours and others' ideas about sex and gender? What role do biology, socialization, and social structure play in the construction of gender? What theories have been advanced to explain gender as an organizing principle for humans?

How are sex and gender constructed in interaction with racial, ethnic, age, and other categories? How do these affect people's interactions with one another? How do gender ideology and behavior manifest themselves in politics, religion, sexuality, and other spheres of life?

Learning Objectives

To explore a range of anthropological perspectives on major issues and theories about sex and gender
To increase understanding of interrelated oppressions associated with gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity, "race," abilities, and culture
To make connections between theory, information, and activism in regard to sex, gender, and sexuality
To create awareness of the significance of sex, gender, and sexuality in globalization processes
To consider course content in terms of one's personal life
To increase communication skills

Skills Acquisition

By taking this course you will be able to practice the following skills: critical reading skills, interpretation, and analysis of secondary sources of data, effective communication strategies in writing and reflexive thinking. Many of you will elect to pursue the two short papers option which will allow you to collect data firsthand through a variety of methodologies (such as interviews, observations, etc.), make interpretations and analyses of your data, and present your findings in written form. Some of you will elect to write a research paper based on original (in some cases) and secondary sources. You will be asked to critically evaluate and use your sources in developing a well-supported thesis. In addition to reading others' ideas on your topic of choice, you may pursue additional research methods (such as interviewing) as part of the project. Locating and citing appropriate bibliographic resources are also part of the research paper option. All of you will have a chance to practice oral communication skills in class and written communication skills in take-home components, quick-writes, and the extra credit online discussion groups.

Required Books

Required books are available at the Student Coop Bookstore. Some copies are available at The College Store in Sehome Village shopping area. Used copies may be available at Michael's Bookstore and Henderson's Bookstore in Bellingham.

Gender Diversity by S. Nanda
Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective, ed. by C.B. Brettell and C.F. Sargent, third edition
The Guru's Gift by C. Mahmood and S. Brady
Global Sex by Dennis Altman

The books are also on reserve at Wilson for a two-hour loan period.

Grades and Extra Credit


Grades will be assigned on the basis of an accumulation of points added at the end of the quarter. There will be 150 points possible for the course. Points are assigned to tests and assignments.

Course Components

Midterm Exam 50 pts
Final Exam 50 pts
3 Take-home Components on Reading Materials 15 pts
Action Participation and Paper 15 pts
Research Paper(s) 20 pts

Students have a choice of writing two short papers (5-6 pgs./10 pts each) on assigned topics OR writing a 10-12 page research paper (20 pts). A choice of the research paper will entail submitting a topic proposal and resource list approximately one month before the paper's due date.

The midterm and final will consist of 50 multiple-choice questions each. Each test covers one half of the course material. The final is not cumulative.

The three take-home components consist of short written answers to questions over assigned readings. Each take-home is worth a total of 5 points. All take-home assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day they are due.

The action participation paper is based on active student engagement in an event that centers on a gender/sex/sexuality issue. The paper is worth a total of 15 points and is due one week after completion of the action project.

See due dates for all assignments (except the action participation papers which are variable) on the course schedule (this includes the research paper topic approval and outline). All late written assignments will have 1 point subtracted per day (including due date).

Extra Credit

A total of 10 extra credit points may be accumulated by participating in a weekly online discussion group (see details under Assignments). Each session is worth 1 point. In some cases, extra credit can raise a student's grade to a higher level (for example, from a B+ to an A-). The online discussion group is NOT REQUIRED and extra credit points are added only after the final scores and grades are computed.