(A)sexualities in American Culture and Society: Redefining Sex, Sexuality, and Intimacy 4219-SH099
This courses uses asexuality as a lens through which concepts such as sexuality, sex, intimacy, and norm can be redefined. Asexuality as a sexual identity but also a theoretical concept appeared in the public eye in the early 21st century and mostly commonly refers to lack of sexual attraction. People who identify as asexual find their community mostly online, on Asexual Visibility and Education Network and social media channels. They use these forums to discuss issues related to constructing asexual identity, policing boundaries of the community, and navigating relationships and lives in the system of compulsory sexuality. The perspective of asexuality as a theoretical tool that allows for a critique of normative ideas about sexuality opens up new and exciting avenues of analysis in American culture and society. In this course we will discuss cultural representation of asexuality in its many forms, sociological, psychological, and medical research on asexuality, and most importantly texts on asexuality created by asexuals themselves. Students will have an opportunity to employ critical tools developed in the field of sexuality studies, gender studies, and queer studies to analyze various forms of asexuality, including asexuality as an essential sexual orientation, asexual community, political celibacy, religious celibacy, and the intersections of asexuality with disability. We will use these phenomena to pose broader questions about how norms of sexuality are constructed in American culture and society.
1. Asexuality: a new sexual orientation
2. Narratives about sexual identity: born this way or a matter of choice?
3. The asexual community
4. The asexual spectrum: demisexuality, grey asexuality, aromanticism and asexuality
5. Asexuality and disability
6. Asexual men: asocial asexual geniuses (Sherlock Holmes, Sheldon Cooper)
7. Asexual women: asexual yet romantic (Tash Hearts Tolstoy)
8. Political asexuality/celibacy
9. Religiously-motivated celibacy and asexuality
10. Asexuality and race
11. Compulsory sexuality and its critiques
Type of course
Upon completing this course a student:
a. has a knowledge of history of sexuality
b. understands the impact of gender, class, race, and sexual identity on sexual norms
c. has an advanced knowledge of various forms of asexualities and non-sexualities
Upon completing this course a student:
a. is able to critically analyze media representations (TV, film, literature)
b. is able to think critically about the mainstream discourses on sex, sexuality, and intimacy
a. can apply theories of gender and sexuality to analysis of social phenomena and texts of culture
Upon completing this course a student:
c. understands academic texts and is able to apply them to cultural and social analysis
b. can actively and respectfully participate in group discussions
c. is able to plan and undertake research steps in order to prepare a research paper on a topic related to the issues covered in the course
Special emphasis is placed on students' active participation, which means that students are expected to participate in the discussions and group work during the classes. Students should read the assigned texts and engage with other primary source materials.
Three reading responses: 30%
Final essay: 25%
Final test: 25%
Students need 60% to pass the course.
Selected primary texts (subject to change):
BoJack Horseman. Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg. 2014-present.
Densmore, Dana. 1971. “Independence from the Sexual Revolution.” No More Fun and Games. Reprinted in Radical Feminism, edited by Anne Koedt, Ellen Levine, Anita Rapone, Quadrangle, 1973, pp. 107-118.
---. 1968. “On Celibacy.” No More Fun and Games 1. Reprinted in Sex Roles and Female Oppression: A Collection of Articles. New England Free Press, 1969, pp. 18-21. ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00086879/00001/1j. Accessed 28 Sep. 2015.
Ormsbee, Kathryn. Tash Hearts Tolstoy. Simon and Schuster, 2017.
Sherlock. Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. BBC, 2010-present.
The Big Bang Theory. Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady. CBS, 2007-present.
Secondary texts (subject to change):
Bogaert, Anthony F. “Asexuality: Prevalence and Associated Factors in a National Probability Sample.” The Journal of Sex Research, vol. 41, no. 3, 2004, pp. 279–287.
Brotto, Lori A., Gail Knudson, Jess Inskip, Katherine Rhodes, and Yvonne Erskine. “Asexuality: A Mixed Methods Approach.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 39, no. 3, 2010, pp. 599–618.
Carrigan, Mark. “’How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?’ Asexual Agency and the Sexual Assumption.” Sexual Minority Research in the New Millennium, edited by Todd G. Morrison, Nova Science Publishers, 2012, pp. 3-20.
Carrigan, Mark. “There’s More to Life than Sex? Difference and Commonality within the Asexual Community.” Sexualities, vol. 14, no. 4, 2011, pp. 462-478.
Cerankowski, K.J., and Megan Milks. “New Orientations: Asexuality and its Implications for Theory and Practice.” Feminist Studies, vol. 36, 2010, pp. 650-664.
Chasin, CJ DeLuzio. “Theoretical Issues in the Study of Asexuality.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 39, 2011, pp. 713-723.
Dyer, Richard. White. Routledge, 1997.
Fahs, Breanne. “Radical Refusals: On the Anarchist Politics of Women Choosing Asexuality.” Sexualities, vol. 13, 2010, pp. 445-461.
Groner, Rachel. “Sex as ‘Spock:’ Autism, Asexuality, and Autobiographical Narrative.” Sex and Disability, edited by Robert McRuer and Anna Mollow, Duke University Press, 2012, pp. 263-281.
Gupta, Kristina. “Compulsory Sexuality: Evaluating an Emerging Concept.” Signs, vol. 41, no. 1, 2015, pp. 131-154.
Hinderliter, Andrew. “How is Asexuality Different from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder?” Psychology & Sexuality, vol. 4, no. 2, 2013, pp. 167-178.
Johnson, Myra T. “Asexual and Autoerotic Women: Two Invisible Groups.” The Sexually Oppressed, edited by Harvey L. Gochros and Jean S. Gochros, Associated Press, 1977, pp. 96-109.
Kahan, Benjamin. Celibacies: American Modernism & Sexual Life. Duke University Press, 2013.
Kim, Eunjung. “Asexualities and Disabilities in Constructing Sexual Normalcy.” Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives, edited by Karli June Cerankowski and Megan Milks, Routledge, 2014, pp. 249-282.
McInnis, Carla C., and Gordon Hodson. “Intergroup Bias Towards Group ‘X:’ Evidence of Prejudice, Dehumanization, Avoidance, and Discrimination Against Asexuals.” Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, vol. 16, no. 6, 2012, pp. 725-743.
Owen, Ianna Hawkins. “On the Racialization of Asexuality.” Asexualities: Feminist and Queer Perspectives, edited by Karli June Cerankowski and Megan Milks, Routledge, 2014, pp. 119-135.
Przybylo, Ela. “Crisis and Safety: the Asexual in Sexusociety.” Sexualities, vol. 14, 2011, pp. 444-461.
Przybylo, Ela. “Producing Facts: Empirical Asexuality and the Scientific Study of Sex.” Feminism & Psychology, vol. 23, no. 2, 2013, pp. 224-242.
Scherrer Kristin S. “Coming to an Asexual Identity: Negotiating Identity, Negotiating Desire.” Sexualities, vol. 11, no. 5, 2008, pp. 621–641.
Willey, Angela, Banu Subramaniam, Jennifer A. Hamilton, and Jane Couperus. “The Mating Life of Geeks: Love, Neuroscience, and the New Autistic Subject.” Signs, vol. 40, no. 2, 2015, pp. 369-391.
Willey, Angela and Banu Subramaniam. “Inside the Social World of Asocials: White Masculinity, Science, and the Politics of Reverent Disdain.” Feminist Studies, vol. 43, no. 1, 2017, pp. 13-41.
Yule, Morag A., Lori A. Brotto, and Boris B. Gorzalka. “Mental Health and Interpersonal Functioning in Self-Identified Asexual Men and Women.” Psychology & Sexuality, vol. 4, no. 2, 2013, pp. 136-151.
Yule, Morag A., Lori A. Brotto, and Boris B. Gorzalka. “A Validated Measure of No Sexual Attraction: The Asexuality Identification Scale.” Psychological Assessment, vol. 27, 2015, pp. 148-160.
Additional information (registration calendar, class conductors, localization and schedules of classes), might be available in the USOSweb system: