Course Description

“Manhood is not bestowed at the outset; it must be constructed, or let us say ‘manufactured.’  A man is therefore a sort of artifact, and as such he always runs the risk of being found defective.”

-Elizabeth Badinter, XY: On Masculine Identity (1995)

Too often, discourses on gender and gender inequality focus almost exclusively on the lives of women.  Men remain invisible as the dominant and unmarked category, whose lives are only interrogated as they exist in comparison to women.  This course addresses that elision, providing not only a sociological analysis on the lives of men, but also of masculinities.  Exploring the construction and proliferation of masculinities throughout history, across the life span, and in various sociocultural, economic, and political contexts, this course investigates the mutually constitutive relationship between men, women, and masculinity.  We will pay particular attention to the ways masculinity operates as power, and how that power also operates in the creation of gendered selves.

This course satisfies the Experiencing Social Differences (ESD) Requirement for the College.  Cross-listed with Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies (GSWS), this course develops the skills for critically examining the social construction of masculinity and how masculinity constructs and reconfigures power and privilege within society. Theoretical and empirical readings on gender, sex, and sexuality will challenge the pervasive associations between gender and the study of women; it will also challenge dominant understandings of masculinity (i.e. racial, ethnic, gender- and class-based communities) as monolithic. Students will also explore masculinity as inextricably linked from other dimensions of social difference, including race, class, gender, ethnicity, physical ability, and generation.