NYU Draper Program in Humanities and Social Thought

NYU Draper Program in Humanities and Social Thought
Gender Politics 2
Course Topic: Reading the Modern Species: Invert, Woman
Meeting Time: Monday 620-820 //Location: Draper Conference Room
Professor Emma Heaney
Office Hours: M 2-4 & by appointment
Email: [email protected]
Office Location: Draper Building 106
Course Description:
This course will investigate the interaction between the social, medical and political
permutations of the category “woman” from the late 19th C to WWII and the emergence of “the
invert” and transsexual narratives in scientific and literary texts. We will read novels, poems,
newspaper cartoons, popular songs, and medical texts that present both the “New Woman” and
the new flexibility of the category “male” (a flexibility that has as its limit the “man with a
woman within”) as either threats to the natural order or as exciting markers of Modern social
evolution. How do the genealogy of these categories relate? Do they prop or produce each other
conceptually? How are these categories racialized or how does whiteness form them? How can
late 20th and 21st-century theories of sex, gender and sexuality be read in relation to this particular
period and these texts? How do we account (or fail to account) for this history in our theoretical
or political attitudes toward “the proper object of feminism?” How do evolutionary or
devolutionary theories of sex and gender (in relation to race, nation and class) emerge in literature
(both fictional and scientific) that claims to produce “the Modern?” How do “expert,” “popular,”
“vernacular” and “literary” representations relate or differ? How are “expert” accounts of
feminine, female, queer, and trans experience resisted or refashioned to work better for trans
people, women, and queers? What alliances and antagonisms (among women? between women
and queer people?) emerge from this Modern gender crucible and how does this alchemy align
the relation between gender, sex, and sexuality in the 20th and 21st century? These are some of our
questions for the semester.
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