Gender and Culture in American Society – University of Notre Dame Pre-College Programs

Gender and Culture in American Society

Academic Residential

University of Notre Dame Pre-College Programs

Date/Time: Jun 22, 2019 - Jul 6, 2019     9:00am - 9:00pm
Ages: 16-17
Cost: $3,500.00
Registration deadline: Feb 19, 2019

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Are you male or female? How do you know? When you were a baby, did your parents dress you in pink or blue? Who dressed you, fed you, changed your diapers—your mother or father? Who is/are the wage-earner(s) in your family? And do you live with your mother and father or is your family structured another way? Do you know how to behave in a typically masculine/feminine way? Why do we have stereotypes about girls who play football and guys who do gymnastics? Is Belle a bad role model? Is Anakin a good role model? What are the advantages to these gender roles? What are the disadvantages? Gender theorists point to the variations in gender roles observed among different cultures in arguing that gender—our masculinity or femininity—is a social construct rather than an innate biological characteristic. Because there is no universal “right” way to be a man or a woman, they argue that our ways of “doing gender” are shaped by social cues and influences. As we explore questions like the ones I posed above, questions of family structures, of social cues about what is masculine and what is feminine, of wages and leisure activities, we will analyze cultural norms that dictate appropriate behavior—in other words, we will do “gender studies.” Gender studies is an interdisciplinary academic field that explores questions like those above and many more! Drawing on scholarship from fields as diverse as literature and sociology, psychology and anthropology, theology and biology, history and political science, business/marketing and philosophy, among others, gender theorists explore the ways that we live as gendered, embodied people. Gendered research considers how we understand gender and how society enforces, supports, or impedes this understanding. In this seminar, we explore some contemporary gender issues. While our case studies primarily focus on American society, I follow students’ interests in exploring international issues as well, to the extent possible given the timeframe of the course. Topics discussed might include: the Disney Princess phenomenon, media activism like the #antifeminist or Bring Back Our Girls campaigns, cyber-bullying, treatment of female candidates in election seasons, the gendering of toys, domestic violence in dating relationships, body image expectations, gender nonconforming youth, and gendered roles within family structures.


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