Sex – and the systems of knowledge that surround it, broadly known as sexuality–impacts our everyday lives. Yet, most people are unaware of the complex theoretical issues at play in the world around them. Moreover, individuals have different relationships to gender performance, sexual expression, relationships, violence, and identity, and are not necessarily aware of the struggles facing their friends, colleagues, family, and neighbors. Just as a male student might not know about the structural discrimination facing his female colleagues, a cis-gendered woman may not understand the motivation behind a person’s decision to transition from one sex to another. In a world characterized by norms, values, expectations, and laws that limit certain human actions while promoting others, understanding the issues at play are crucial to empathizing with the plight of our friends, family, and fellow citizens, making informed decisions about the fairness of various policies and practices, and designing a better world for oneself and others.

Thus, this course seeks to expose students to the main topics in the field of sexuality studies. By denaturalizing and interrogating everyday concepts such as femininity, homosexuality, pornography, and monogamy, the course will demonstrate that such concepts have histories that have real consequences in our lives. In essence, this course plays the same role in HASS that the Design Computation course plays in ASD. Not all architects use computational methods every day, but understanding parametric design provides both a lens on design challenges and a tool for solving them. Similarly, this course provides students with the theoretical resources to understand the importance of the bodies, desires, and relationships in complex cultural, political, and economic problems and the critical thinking skills to address those problems with sensitivity and objectivity.

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Tara M. Dankel