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Nevertheless, She Persisted: Current Issues in Feminist Philosophy

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
June 22, 2020 - June 26, 20206/22 - 6/26M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenArianna Falbo
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Course Description

Feminism is one of the leading social justice movements of our day. This course uses the tools of analytic philosophy to investigate a diverse range of feminist issues. Topics include: the metaphysics of sex and gender, sexual orientation, and systems of social oppression such as sexism and misogyny, bodily autonomy, consent, reproductive rights, and the impact of social movements aimed at gender equality and justice.

Some questions to be discussed include the following: What is sex? What is gender? What is sexual orientation? What is sexism? What is misogyny? And how do sexism and misogyny operate in society? What is the best way to approach reproductive rights? Should abortion be legal? What is bodily autonomy? What is the relationship between bodily autonomy and consent? What is the role of solidarity and social movements in ameliorating gendered inequality? Do social movements like #MeToo and the Women’s March help to achieve gender justice? If so, how?

This is an introductory course that applies the tools and methods of analytic philosophy to feminist issues. The course readings will frequently offer conflicting proposals, so students will be expected to engage with heated debates on controversial issues. Throughout the course, students will cultivate the skills needed to understand positions on differing sides of controversial issues.

These topics of the course are unified by an overarching goal of understanding what the goal of gender equality is and how it operates in relation to various forms of individual and structural forms of oppression.
The course will also consider the role of recent social movements aimed at eradicating gendered inequality. Course readings, class discussions, and written assignments will focus broadly on the following topics.

The Metaphysics Sex and Gender:
What is Sex? What is Gender? What does it mean to be “woman”?

Sexual Orientation:
What is the best way to understand sexual orientation?

The Social World: Sexism and Misogyny:
What is sexism? What is Misogyny? And how do they operate in the social world?

Reproductive Rights and Bodily Autonomy:
What is the relationship between bodily autonomy and consent?
Should abortion be legal? (Case Study: Recent “Heartbeat” Bills)

Social Movements, Social Equality, and Solidarity:
What is the role of solidarity and social movements aimed at ameliorating gendered inequality?
Do social movements like #MeToo and the Women’s March help to achieve gender justice? If so, how?

Everyday students are required to read 1-2 articles or book chapters. In so doing, students will engage with core philosophical texts by authors such as: Audre Lorde, Charles Mills, Martha Nussbaum, Sally Haslanger, Catherine MacKinnon, Sara Ahmed, Cheshire Calhoun, Rachel McKinnon, Kristi Dotson, Kate Manne, Nancy Bauer, and Daniel Silvermint.

Students will develop essential analytic skills required to excel in various college-level courses, especially writing-intensive courses in the humanities and social sciences. Students will develop the capacity to construct and evaluate challenging arguments on a range of diverse topics, and will also develop the skills needed to be critically engaged, autonomous, and independent thinkers.

Upon completion of this course a student should be able to:

Clearly and confidently express philosophical ideas in both written and verbal forms;
Identify the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and pose potential objections and counterexamples to them;
Understand core concepts and issues on a diverse range of topics in feminist philosophy;
Have a keen awareness of respectful classroom etiquette and be able to carry out a collaborative and rigorous discussion on controversial topics;
Charitably interpret multiple sides of a controversial issue;
Write a succinct and clear paper on the basis of the class readings.

Prerequisites: This course is appropriate for any high school student. A background in philosophy is not necessary to succeed in this course. I only ask that students come to class ready to participate with an open mind and a respectful willingness to reflect upon challenging philosophical arguments and ideas!

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPL0947
  • Length: 1 week

Program Information

Summer@Brown

Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2020.

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