Course Detail
Course Components:
The past 10-15 years have witnessed profound changes in social scientist' conceptualizations of sexual orientation/identity and gender over the life course. This upper-division elective course in Gender Studies will provide a comprehensive overview of this topic from a primarily psychological perspective, emphasizing theoretical and empirical debates over such core issues as the following: the nature and origin of sexuality and sexual orientation; gender differences in same-sex sexuality; links between sexual orientation and gender-typicality in childhood and adulthood; the meaning and implications of sexual orientation at different stages of life (for example, adolescence, aging); same-sex sexual and romantic relationships; the impact of sexual orientation on family relationships (including families-of-origins as well as families formed by lesbian/gay/bisexual parents); sexual orientation and spirituality; sexual orientation and mental health. Throughout the course, a primary emphasis will be the multiple ways in which individuals' experiences of same-sex sexuality, and the impact of same-sex sexuality on social and psychological life, varies according to gender. Social scientific research suggests that female and male sexual orientation may not, in fact, be "two sides of the same coin," but may in fact develop and operate according to entirely different parameters-not only because of the vastly different social and cultural positions occupied by women and men, but potentially for biological reasons as well. This controversial possibility-and the evidence for and against it-will be a recurring topic of discussion and debate throughout the course. By the conclusion of the course, students will not only have gained a thorough familiarity with the most recent social scientific data on sexual orientation over the life course, but will have also developed the critical analytic tools necessary to analyze and interpret the validity, meaning, and implications of such data, particularly for broad conceptualizations of the links between gender and sexuality.