1 x 2-hour lecture weekly
1 x 1-hour tutorial weekly
Enrolment not permitted
1 of WMST2011, WMST7013, WMST7019, WMST9023 has been successfully completed
Assumed knowledge
As a third-level topic in the Women's Studies major sequence, this topic assumes a familiarity with the kind of knowledge, conceptual understanding and skills that would be acquired by the completion of at least 9 units of second-level topics from the Women's Studies major.
Course context
Associate major: Women's Studies
Topic description
This interdisciplinary topic investigates various ways in which ideas about, and practices of, sexuality shape our contemporary worlds. It introduces analyses developed over the last forty to fifty years by writers primarily influenced by the study of the history of sexuality, feminism, the gay and lesbian movements and more recently queer theory. It explores the idea that sexuality is a historically specific social and cultural construct, always in interaction with other forms of difference like gender, race, class, nation and age. The topic takes off from the influence of historian and philosopher Michel Foucault's book The History of Sexuality Vol. 1. The emphasis is on contemporary representations, politics and experiences of sexuality in Australia. The topic also introduces the ways in which sexuality plays on the global stage. It looks for inspiration from alternative representations of sexuality, in particular from independent Australian film.
Educational aims
The topic aims to offer students the opportunity to consider how ideas about, and practices of, sexuality shape their personal lives and the world around them. It aims to equip students with an ethical vocabulary that embodies respect for sexual diversity and sexual rights for understanding and communicating about sexuality issues. It fosters independent thinking about sexuality as well respectful collaborative endeavours to discuss problems and formulate solutions. It encourages students to think critically about the ways that ideas and practices of sexuality have created and ordered differences between people so as to privilege some and disadvantage others.
Expected learning outcomes
Upon successful completion of this topic, students should be able to:
  • identify a variety of social and cultural arenas where ideas about and practices of sexuality play a crucial role
  • discuss some current theories about sexuality
  • describe some current public debates about sexuality and analyse the various positions in these debates
  • identify some of the ways in which their own lives are shaped by ideas about sexuality
  • engage in respectful and ethical discussion about the politics of sexuality