Text Box: ANTH 242(1)/WS 242(1)
Dr. LeeRay M. Costa 


M/W 2:50-4:20                                                                                       Hollins University        
324 Pleasants Hall                                                                       Spring 2006
Office Hours:
T/Th 8:30-10:00& by appointment
Contact Info:  x6254, lcosta@hollins.edu


Course Description:

In this course students will be exposed to a variety of anthropological approaches towards gender and sexuality beginning with work in the1920s and extending into the contemporary period. However, our emphasis will be on feminist anthropology and its contributions.  We will examine the myriad ways that gender and sexuality have been constructed in specific cultural and historical contexts and how these categories have been analyzed by anthropologists.  Thus our readings and discussions will take us from Pacific island societies to Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.  The course will address key issues such as essentialism/constructivism, universalism, difference, identities, sexualities, gendered bodies, and the intersections between gender and colonialism, nationalism, race/ethnicity, class and global capitalism. Readings, assignments, videos, and group discussions will encourage critical analysis on the part of students, including a critical approach towards the sex/gender system in the United States.  

 NOTE: This course fulfills the Social and Cultural Diversities requirement under ESP.

 Course Objectives:

  1. To develop an understanding of the categories of sex, gender and sexuality as they are defined by communities in diverse cultural and historical contexts, and as they have been studied by anthropologists.
  2. To examine how categories of sex, gender and sexuality intersect with other categories of social and cultural diversity such as race, ethnicity, class, age, geographic location and educational level, and how such categories evolve over time with the impact of national and global processes (i.e. colonialism, nationalism, global capitalism).
  3. To explore how notions of gender and sexuality as well as other categories of difference influence personal and communal identities.
  4. To critically examine dominant forms of sex, gender and sexuality in the United States and how these categories may at times be oppressive to various groups, e.g. intersex, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities.

Required Texts:


Course Requirements

For this course to be successful and mutually beneficial to all, it requires the full participation of all members of the class.  It is essential that students come to class prepared, having completed ALL the required readings and any written assignments due.  Students should arrive ready to thoughtfully discuss, analyze and share their insights into/confusions about the material. If for any reason you believe you will be unable to fulfill these course requirements, see the professor immediately.

·         Attendance is required. Excessive absences will result in a grade reduction. Regular attendance and participation in course discussions are critical to your learning. On the first day of class we will collaboratively create an attendance policy that outlines grade reductions for number of absences.

·         Class participation is required and is part of your final grade. As part of the participation grade, students will be expected to summarize points from the readings in class, and to engage in discussion with classmates and the teacher.

·         Reading assignments are required.  Readings should be read BEFORE the class period in which they will be discussed.  Make sure to read the endnotes/footnotes as well.  Please come prepared with questions.

·         Assignments must be turned in on-time. No late assignments will be accepted.

Assignments & Grading:

1.       Paper on Genital Cutting                     20%

You will write a paper analyzing the videos and readings discussed in class on the topic of genital cutting. In the paper you should clearly articulate your own position on genital cutting, both in the US context and abroad.  Length: 3 pages.

2.       Midterm                                               20%

            In-class, short answer and essay.

3.       Observation Paper                               25%

The goal of this assignment is to observe gendered behavior in situ and write about it as an anthropologist would.   Further guidelines will be provided in class. Length: 3 pages.

4.       Final Exam                                          25%

           Independent exam schedule.  Short answer and essay.

5.       Participation & Attendance                 10%

This includes leading and participation in seminar discussions, and occasional summaries of readings. You may be asked to begin discussions of readings so you should always come prepared with notes.

Style Guide for Written Assignments

  1. All papers should be typed, using 12 pt font only (12 pt Times is the preferable font), double spaced, with one-inch (1”) margins on all sides.
  2. Please DO NOT USE COVER SHEETS. I consider this a waste of precious resources. Type your name, course number, paper title and any other identifying information at the top of the first page.
  3. Remember to always KEEP A COPY of your paper in case of an emergency!
  4. Please NUMBER ALL PAGES and using the footer, place your name at the bottom of each page.
  5. USE THE SPELL CHECKER ON YOUR COMPUTER.  Excessive and needless misspelling will result in a reduction of your paper grade.
  6. For citing material in your paper and in the references, please use the Turabian style, parenthetical or footnote. The guidelines for this style may be found at the Hollins Writing Center.

Policies & Expectations

By enrolling in this course, you agree to adhere to the following policies and expectations in addition to those cited above and those outlined in the Hollins Honor Code.

1.       You will participate in the course in a manner that is open, honest and respectful of other people’s opinions, ideas and beliefs.  This means allowing others the space to assert their views. Although you may not always agree, there is much to learn by listening to and considering viewpoints different from your own. 

2.       Issues and personal experiences discussed in the course may often be personal.  Therefore, we all agree to respect each other’s privacy and to keep discussions confidential.

3.       There is no such thing as a “stupid” or “silly” question.  All questions and ideas will be addressed thoughtfully and respectfully.

4.       The syllabus is subject to change.  Thus, if you choose to be absent from class it is your responsibility to find out if any changes have been made.

5.       Your suggestions and interests are valued.  Therefore, if you have any ideas for videos, readings or specific authors you would like to see included in the class, please discuss them with me during office hours and we will consider adding them to the course materials.

6.       Cheating and plagiarism--including the use of work submitted to another course at Hollins without the consent of both professors, the use of work by another person, or the use of someone else's words, ideas, or arrangement of ideas without giving proper reference to the author--is a severe violation of the Hollins Honor Code. This applies to all electronic sources found on the Internet (including term papers for purchase), to all on-line databases, and to all other published materials. Cheating or plagiarism will result in automatic failure of the course. Thus, please be very careful about your research and citation practices.  If you are ever in doubt, please ask!

7.       If you have any special learning needs, please notify the professor immediately. It is your responsibility to discuss special learning needs with the professor. Every attempt will be made to address your needs accordingly and all discussions will remain confidential.  You should discuss your needs with the professor no later than the second week of class.

8.       If you are having any problems in the course, please come and discuss them with the professor after class, during office hours or by making an appointment. Problems should be addressed right away, and not put off until after exams or until the end of the semester.

Cell Phones, Text Messaging, etc…

All cell phones should be turned off or on vibrate during class time.  I consider the use of cell phones

for any purpose during class time to be disrespectful and offensive. If I discover you using your cell phone during class time I will ask you to leave the class and it will be counted as an absence.  If you have some emergency situation for which you must have your cell phone on during class time, please come and discuss this with me before the class period.



Schedule of Classes, Topics and Readings:

Feb. 1              Introduction: overview; exercise: What do you know?

                                    Video clip: The Matrix

Feb. 6              Gender, Sex & Anthropology: a brief history

                                    Mead: p. v-xiv (suggested: 279-289, 310-322). Malinowski (CS); Evans-Pritchard (CS)

Ø       DUE: Student Objectives

Feb. 8              Researching Genders & Sexualities

                                    Harding (CS); Martin (CS)                   

Feb. 13             Researching Genders & Sexualities

Mohanty: p. 51-80

Feb. 15             Gender, Sex and Human Evolution

                                    De Waal (CS); Ehrenberg  p. 17-22                         

Feb. 20             What about Intersex?

                                    Fausto-Sterling: p. 244-248; Fausto-Sterling (CS)

                                    VIDEO: Medical Mysteries: Gender Unknown

Feb. 22             Intersex Voices

                                    Devore 79-81; Moreno: p. 137-139; Triea: p. 141-144

                              VIDEO: XX/XY                                     

Feb. 27             Intersex Political Activism & Other Possibilities

                                    Chase (CS); Edgerton: p. 1288-1299

Mar. 1              Rites of Passage

Herdt: (CS); View VIDEO for homework: Monday’s Girls (on reserve in the library)

VIDEO: Guardians of the Flutes

Mar. 6              Rites of Passage

Walley: p. 405-438.

Mar. 8              Rites of Passage

                                    DeMeo (CS); Abusharaf (CS)

                                    VIDEO: clips from Whose Body, Whose Rights?

Mar. 13             Rites of Passage

VIDEO: Rites    

Mar. 15             MIDTERM

Mar. 20 - 24      NO CLASS, spring break

Mar. 27             Masculinities & Femininities

                                            Gutmann: Ch. 1-3, p. 1-88


Mar. 29             Masculinity & Fatherhood

                                    Gutmann: Ch. 4-6, p. 89-172                  

Apr. 3               Gender, Race, Ethnicity & Nation

                                    Gutmann: Ch. 7-10, p. 173-263

Apr. 5              Globalization, Sexuality and Gender

                                    Mills p.301-334;  VIDEO: Behind the Smile         

Apr. 10             Globalization, Sexuality and Gender

                                    Pruitt & LaFont (CS), Doezema (CS)

Apr. 12             Discuss Observation Papers


Apr. 17             Diverse Genders & Sexualities

                                    Lang (CS), Kessler & McKenna (CS), Kulick (CS)

Apr. 19`            Diverse Genders & Sexualities

                                    Blackwood (CS); Murphy (CS)                               

Apr. 24             Toms & Dees

                                    Sinnott p.1-75

                                    VIDEO: Shinjuku Boys                              

Apr. 26             Toms & Dees

                                    Sinnott p. 76-131                                

May 1               Toms & Dees

                                    Sinnott p. 132-181

May 3               Toms & Dees

                                    Sinnott p. 204-211

May 8               Gender & Sexuality: reflections                               



The events listed below provide opportunities for you to earn extra credit points. Each extra credit assignment is worth 2 points to be added to your midterm grade. For each event attended, you should write a 1-2 page paper on your experience. The paper should address

a)       why the event is relevant to gender/sexuality,

b)       how the event has enriched your understanding of a particular issue raised either in the class readings, lectures, videos, or discussions, and

c)       your assessment of the event (i.e. your reaction with an explanation of WHY).


February 12: Ain’t I a Woman performance

March 10-11:  Women’s Leadership & Social Change Conference

DATE TBA:  Drag King Competition, Hollins 

DATE TBA: Film Series

Other events TBA



Bibliography of Additional Readings (on reserve at library):


Mead, Margaret.  1963[1935]. Sex & Temperament in Three Primitive Societies. New York: Morrow Quill Paperbacks. pp. v-xiv, 279-289, 310-322.

Mohanty, Chandra Talpade. 1991. Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourses. In Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Ann Russo and Lourdes Torres, eds. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.  pp. 51-80

Ehrenberg, Margaret. 2001. The Role of Women in Human Evolution. In Gender in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Caroline B. Brettell and Carolyn F. Sargent, eds. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. pp. 17-22.

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. 1997. How to Build a Man. In The Gender/Sexuality Reader. Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo, eds. New York: Routledge.  pp. 244-248.

Devore, Howard. 1999. Growing Up in the Surgical Maelstrom. In Intersex in the Age of Ethics, Alice Domurat Dreger, ed. Pp. 79-81.  Hagerstown, MD: University Publishing Group.

Moreno, Angela. 1999. In Amerika They Call Us Hermaphrodites. In Intersex in the Age of Ethics, Alice Domurat Dreger, ed. Pp.137-139.  Hagerstown, MD: University Publishing Group.

Triea, Kiira. 1999. Power, Orgasm and the Psychohormonal Research Unit. In Intersex in the Age of Ethics, Alice Domurat Dreger, ed. Pp.141-144.  Hagerstown, MD: University Publishing Group.

Edgerton, Robert B. 1964. Pokot Intersexuality: An East African Example of the Resolution of Sexual Incongruity.  American Anthropologist 66(6):1288-1299.

Walley, Christine J. 1997. Searching for “Voices”: Feminism, Anthropology, and the Global Debate over Female Genital Operations. Cultural Anthropology 12(3):405-438.

Mills, Mary Beth. 1998. Gendered Encounters with Modernity: Labor Migrants and Marriage Choices in Contemporary Thailand. Identities 5(3):301-334.



The Matrix (1999)

Medical Mysteries: Gender Unknown (1998) 60 mins.

XX/XY (  ) 12 mins.

Monday’s Girls (1993) 49 mins.

Guardians of the Flutes (1994) 49 mins.  

Whose Body, Whose Rights? (1995) 56 mins.     

Rites 52 mins

Behind the Smile (1993) 44 mins.

Shinjuku Boys (1996) 53 mins.