Weekly social media sharing: (10%) About every week (10 times total), students will use Facebook, Tumblr, or Twitter (selected the first day of class) to comment upon the reading and/or share online articles, images, and memes that relate to the topics we are discussing. This is separate from the class blog, though it may be linked to the class blog through an RSS feed (on the right-hand corner), so that you can glimpse the social media posts when you peruse our class site. Both students and I will read social media posts weekly, and students are also encouraged to bring them up during class time in terms of how they relate to our readings and discussions. Each post will include 2-3 sentences analyzing the media, connecting it to any reading we have done, and quoting specific sentences or phrases from that reading. Students should make at least 10 social media shares by the end of the semester.

*Contemporary media analysis: (15%) As indicated on the syllabus, students will complete a 3-5 page (double-spaced in Word, but single-spaced on the blog) essay analyzing a piece of contemporary media (such as a social media meme, print advertisement, or scene of a television program). The essay should evaluate the assumptions about gender, race, and sexuality that ground the source. Consult the rubric here before writing. Due 9/9 (draft) and 9/17 (final); see below for instructions and additional guidelines.

*Book review: (15%) Students will read and analyze a scholarly monograph on a topic of their choosing from the field of gender and sexuality studies. Papers should be 4-6 double-spaced pages in Word, but will be posted single-spaced on the course blog. Students may choose to review a book of which we have only read selections in class. Due 10/22 revised due date: 10/29. Students should familiarize themselves with general guidelines for writing book reviews , as well as the rubric I will use to grade it, and remember that the following are the most important elements of the book review, for which they will be assessed:

  1. A summary and an assessment of the author’s main arguments
  2. A summary and assessment of what methodology and evidence she uses to maker her claims
  3. A summary and assessment of how she situates herself in conversation with other authors and/or scholarly fields/disciplines
  4. How effectively the student’s writing at the sentence level and organization of the review communicate 1-3 above.

Literature Review: (25%) Building on the book review, students will complete a literature review of approximately 10 pages, and covering 5-7 monographs and/or 1-2 edited collections, that summarizes and assesses the scholarly debates and/or research about a specific topic within the field of gender and sexuality studies. Examples of topics include: the queer critique of marriage, feminist thought on BDSM, terms with a rich body of scholarly literature on them (such as heteronormativity, homonormativity, or homonationalism), or feminist debates on intervening in FGM practices. Students may choose to explore a new sub-field or topic, or stick with the sub-field or topic of the book they reviewed for the previous assignment. Students are required to meet with me to discuss their proposed topic and sources and also are encouraged to visit the Writing Center to discuss their drafts as well. Students sign up by 11/5 for a mandatory meeting in November to discuss their topic and sources with me–including bringing a first draft of one page and full bibliography of the literature review and discussing plans for the Theory to Praxis Reflection) and will select their own final due date 12/1-12/15.

*From Theory to Praxis Final Reflection: (15%) As a culmination of their research and theorizing for the course, students will compose a brief (1-2 pp. double spaced) reflection on what they have learned about gender and sexuality and elaborate a plan for connecting the knowledge they have gained from our readings and conversations to future research, activism, or employment. Examples include: a draft of a DRI, Dean Rusk, or other grant proposal for a summer service or research related to gender and sexuality studies (e.g. volunteering at a women’s shelter serving a largely undocumented immigrant population, conducting ethnographic fieldwork among Bolivian feminist activists; or creating an art project to inform our campus and local community about anti-trans* hate and violence); a report on a poster created for an on-campus event such as the Q&A Sex Positivity Fair or a plan to bring an LGBTQ and feminist event to campus; a reflection on how GSS knowledge will impact your approach to your new job or upcoming study abroad experience (especially apt for graduating seniors or those preparing to go abroad). E-mail me in advance of our November Lit Review/Reflection meeting if you want approval for a specific project.

Successful reflections will demonstrate command of key concepts studied in the course, such as heteronormativity, rape culture, cultural relativism, and/or social constructionism. Overlap between the reflection and the literature review or other assignments is desirable, as it will allow you to put into practice ideas you have examined in depth and/or build on research you have already conducted.  Students select their own due date to turn in the Reflection along with the Literature Review from 12/1-12/15.

Participation (including Events, Quizzes, and Argument Summaries): (20%) Because we learn from conversation with each other, attendance in class is mandatory– more than three absences will seriously impact a student’s final grade. Students should expect to participate actively in all class discussions and to come to class prepared with questions and comments on the week’s readings. Attending two GSS-related events (choosing from the various options to be announced via e-mail) factors in to your participation grade; at the end of the semester, students will indicate how many they attended, and failure to attend one or both will reduce the participation grade by 1/3 of a grade (e.g. from A- to B+ for only attending one event). I am happy to discuss during office hours strategies for increasing participation at any point in the course.


  • Students will take two brief (less than ten minute) and self-graded quizzes on the questions and terms highlighted in the KQ&T (Key Questions & Terms) section in the Reading Schedule. They will self report their grades on the final sign up form at the end of the semester.

Argument Summaries:

  • For every reading, you should jot down in your notes a summary of the main argument, alongside 1-3 key examples, 1 or more key concepts and definitions, and connections to ideas in other readings. Bringing this to class will help you participate in class discussion.
  • At least twice in the semester you will also type up the argument summary, print it, and bring it to class to turn in.

Extra Participation Posts:

  • Participation in social media sharing and in blog comments also counts toward participation.
  • Because this is a large class, students should aim to participate in general class discussion (not including small group activities) at least once per week; whenever you have a week in which you don’t participate in general discussion, you can keep up your participation grade by posting one of the following:
  • Make a substantive, 100-word minimum, comment on another student’s blog post (media analysis, extra participation, or book review) that engages with their ideas.
  • Make a blog entry, categorized as Extra Participation, on the course site on the topic of your choosing (following the social media sharing guidelines for making a connection to the readings).

*   Indicates that the writing assignment must be posted on our course site.

Citation style: Please use whichever style is most prevalent in your major or GSS track (APA, MLA, or Chicago).

Instructions & Guidelines for the 3-5 pp. Media Analysis

Depending on how much there is to unpack in your source, and how your analysis is structured, you may focus on a single scene from a television show, a single image/print ad, an entire episode of a show, two short tv ads, one short tv ad. The important thing is to thoroughly analyze whatever piece(s) of media you choose, in the space allotted (3-5pp double-spaced in Word, single-spaced and posted on the blog).

  • Your social media analysis will be 3-5pp in Word double-spaced, but please single space before posting it on the blog.
  • Each post must include the image or video you are analyzing.
  • It is perfectly acceptable to use an image/media from the FB group—one you’ve used or another person’s
  • The point of the weekly social media FB posts is to make connections to the readings and what you observe in the word (IRL and online). The point of the 3-5pp.  media analysis is to produce a deeper analysis of media after you have internalized the previous readings. You may refer to concepts like “intersectionality” or “the invention of heterosexuality” or the “social reproduction of norms” without citing the readings. Focus on analyzing how sex and gender are deployed in your source, and what assumptions it makes about sex, gender, sexuality, race, and/or class.

This website is a good source for media texts to analyze.
You will be evaluated on how well you describe and analyze the assumptions about gender, sexuality, race, and/or class that ground your source. Some questions to keep in mind (from Sociological Images), though not all may be applicable to your chosen source:
*Who created this text and why? Where can it be found?
*Who is the intended audience?
*What is the intended purpose (to educate, alienate, entertain, etc.)?
*What argument(s) does it make?
*What kinds of images are used and why?
*What kinds of text (written or spoken) is used and why?
* What norms of gender, race, and/or sexuality are represented and how? Are these norms simply represented and reinforced, or interrupted by the text?
*How does it use rhetorical appeals?
*How effective is this text in achieving its intended purpose, for its intended audience?
*How do you interpret this text as a reader? Does this match with its intended effect?
*How does the layout, mixture of multimodal elements, narrative, use of metaphor, or other stylistic effects work in the text?
*Does the argument of the text include any logical fallacies?
*Is the title important? Why?