Science and Sexuality

Semester: 
Spring
Year: 
2016
Subject Name: 
Sexuality Wmn's & Gndr Studies
Course Number: 
328
Institution: 
Amherst College

This seminar explores the role of science in the understanding and making of human sexuality.  The notion of “sexuality”--its emergence and its recent history--has an intimate relation to biology, medicine and psychology.  In this course we explore the historical emergence of the scientific model of sexuality and the challenges to this model posed from other worldviews and social forces, mainly religion, social sciences, and political movements. We examine how sex has intersected with race and nationality in the medical model (for instance, in the notion of degeneration), and we look closely at the conceptualization of feminine and masculine sexual difference.  We briefly address studies of animal models for human sexuality, and we examine in more depth case histories of “perversion,” venereal disease, orgasm and sex hormones. We also compare contemporary biological explanations of sexuality with the nineteenth-century ones, for instance, the notion of the “gay gene” as compared to the hereditary model of “sexual inversion.” Course readings include historical and contemporary sexological and biological texts (Darwin, Freud, Kinsey, etc.), their critiques, and contemporary literature in science studies, including feminist and queer studies of science. This seminar requires active participation, reading an array of diverse and interdisciplinary texts and preparing research-based papers and presentations.


Limited to 15 students.  Spring semester.  Professor Sadjadi.

Instructor Permission: 
Permission is required for interchange registration during the add/drop period only.
Schedule #: 
SWAG-328-01-1516S

Course Sections

Science and Sexuality
Sect # Credits Instructor(s) Instructor Email Meeting Times Location
01 4.0 Sahar Sadjadi ssadjadi@amherst.edu T 02:30PM-05:00PM MERR 401