Program in the Study of Sexualities

Duke University

Program in the Study of Sexualities

An Undergraduate, Certificate Granting Program

Last update: 5 March 2001
All comments and additions are gratefully welcomed; email


Program in the Study of Sexualities

Professor John Younger, director
PO Box 90102
Duke University
Durham, NC 27708-0102
T: (919) 684-2082
F: (919) 681-4262

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Program Rationale

III. Program Description

IV. Bulletin Description of the Program

V. Permanently Approved Courses

VI. Approved Courses Semester by Semester

VII. Related Documents

VIII. Relevant Links

The Program in the Study of Sexualities

I. Introduction

The idea for this program began in the Fall of 1991 during the initial meetings of the newly formed University Task Force for LGB Matters. On 11 December, one of the meetings of the Board of Trustees focused on the Task Force and the campus environment for gay students; there John Younger read a statement that promised an interdisciplinary course in Gay Studies.

That spring semester 15 faculty members and graduate students planned the course, and received funding from Richard White, Dean of Trinity College. The course, IDC 115S/ENG 101S "Perspectives in GLB Studies", was sponsored by English and first taught in the Spring 1993 to an enrollment of 45; team-taught, it focused on the Sharon Bottoms case (lesbian mother loses custody of her son to her mother) and featured Charlotte Patterson, a psychologist who testified in the case, and the poet Minnie Bruce Pratt.

Since the course had found a constituency, Dean White encouraged the original committee to reconstitute itself as a LGB Studies Planning Committee, which submitted its proposal, "Rationale for a Program in the Study of Sexualities" to the Curriculum Commi ttee at the end of Spring term 1995. After fine tuning, the Arts and Sciences Faculty Council approved the program on 6 January 1996. The Program's first advisory board, however, was constituted late and met for the first time in the Fall 1997.

During the Program's first year of operation, it received the approval to offer a FOCUS Program, "Diversity and Identity", which began Fall 1998, and it hosted the first Lavender Graduation.

II. Program Rationale

In the last decade of the twentieth century, the study of gender and sexualities became a vital and active field of academic inquiry and scholarly research. Initially situated over a century ago in the disciplines of Psychology, Sexology, and Sociology, deliberate inquiry into the personal and cultural nature of sexuality has now become so thoroughly cross-disciplinary that issues of sexuality and gender are researched and debated in such diverse areas as Genetic Science, Cultural Anthropology, Psychology, History, Art, Classical Studies, Philosophy, Public Policy, Literature and Law. Because gender and sexualities are biologically as well as culturally construed, the effects of their determinations and expressions are felt in every aspect of personal and social life.

Briefly, the study concerns the ways our gender roles (the ways by which we express our biological sex -- male, female, hermaphroditic, transsexual -- in society) influence not just our personal but also our social, economic, and political lives. Because expressions of sexuality differ from culture to culture and from time to time, a close description and careful analysis of the character and effects of sexualities provide a major research instrument for charting and interpreting culture, history, literature, art, and the relations of power. While many of the most significant advances have come in legal studies, cultural studies, and literature, the impact of scholarship in gender and sexualities can be felt in almost every academic discipline in Western universities (see the related web site of gender & sexuality programs, courses, and centers in North American universities).

The Program in the Study of Sexualities focuses on the political, historical, cultural, and psychological contexts in which gender identities and sexualities have been and are currently being expressed. At the core of any study of sexualities is the social belief that heterosexuality and homosexuality are extremes of a single continuum, with bisexuality somewhere in the middle. Any thoughtful study of sexualities, however, complicates this view: at one level, the categories of "homosexual" and "heterosexual" are indeed co-determinate (i.e., the definition of the one determines the definition of the other), but both are also products of larger cultural forces, especially economic and political; bisexuality may not be some kind of merger of two categories, but rather non-categorical (as it were, avoiding categories of sexuality and gender). Gender itself is not necessarily polarized between femininity and masculinity, but may always be in flux, while transgendered people may be so depending as much on personal identity as on social situations and ethnic identities. The social and personal meanings of such terms as sexuality and gender, and sexual and gender preference, orientation, and choice, all need to be more richly understood, and the areas of their significance, exclusivity, interconnection, and dependency need to be explored.

The impact of research along the lines of gender and sexualities has charted new territories for investigation and has demanded new teaching in virtually every department and program at Duke. Courses in this subject already exist, housed in a variety of departments and programs, most notably Biological Anthropology and Anatomy, Cultural Anthropology, English, Film & Video, Literature, History, Political Science, Psychology, Religion, Sociology, and Women's Studies. Other departments offer, often on an irregular basis, similar courses: Classic al Studies, Romance Languages, Dance, and German. See the lists of permanently approved courses for the SXL Program), approved courses offered each semester, as well as courses offered by Women's Studies).

Since 1994 the SXL Program has offered its own undergraduate course, SXL 115S: Perspectives in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Studies, cross-listed in the English Department (ENG 101S). This course introduces the major areas of this discipline (see the most recent syllabus). Since 1999, SXL 120, a special topics course, serves the Focus program "Diversity & Identity". Student response to these courses has underscored the discipline's relevant place in the undergraduate curriculum and in student life. In fact, Duke University has a national reputation as an intellectual center for these studies.

As is clear from the list of departments and programs that offer courses in the study of gender and sexualities, this discipline is not site-specific or dependent on a unified faculty; in fact, this hybridized study resembles more the inter-disciplinary programs of Comparative Areas Studies, Women's Studies, and Afro-American Studies. Like them, the study of gender and sexualities is a phenomenon that few universities can afford to neglect.

Duke University's Perkins Library also actively acquires resources to support research in this area. Perkins Library has appointed Eric J. Smith as Gay and Lesbian Bibliographer to develop its holdings in gender and sexualities studies, and the Library employs several staff members who advise students on research strategies for both undergraduate and graduate projects. See the online list of core holdings.

To complement these academic offerings and holdings, Duke also fosters an atmosphere both increasingly open and tolerant to discussions about sexualities. We have many LGBT organizations and services; see Duke's Queer Info Server with links to:

the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Student Life Center
the University Task Force on LGBT Concerns
Gothic Queers, the Undergraduate group
OUTLAW for LGBT Law students
an active LGBT alumni/ae association (BiGALA-Duke),
and other queer student organizations, including QueerGrads, the Graduate and Professional Student LGBT Association, Queer Vision (film & video), Queer Buddhists.

Duke also hosts a local e-mail discussion group (DukeLGBT).

Duke's Equal Employment Policy includes "sexual orientation" in its non-discrimination statement, and offers same-sex spousal equivalency benefi ts (domestic partnerships) for the partners of lesbian and gay faculty, staff, and graduate students.

And Duke's President Nannerl Keohane and the Vice-President of Institutional Equity, Sally Dickson, have both reaffirmed that diversity is Duke's highest priority.

III. Program Description

Students planning to earn a certificate in the Study of Sexualities will take an introductory course and five additional courses selected from a list of appropriate courses offered at Duke (see immediately below for a list of permanently approved courses, and farther below for a current list of approved courses now being taught ). The last of these five courses may be an appropriate upper-level seminar designed primarily for participants in the program to explore special issues and topics. In courses offered and in courses cross-listed by the program, students will read and consider the large body of fine scholarship and theory produced in gender studies over the past century -- from Havelock Ellis to contemporary queer theorists, such as Jeffrey Weeks and Adrienne Rich, and historians, like Martin Duberman and John D'Emilio.

The Program in the Study of Sexualities is administered by an advisory committee appointed by the Dean of Trinity College and will consist of a Director, faculty and staff from appropriate departments, and student representatives. Members of the Committee will make policy and act as advisors to the students in the Program and will recommend the satisfaction of requirements based on the courses the students have taken.

The Program will encourage the offering of courses in gender and sexualities under its own sponsorship and under that of the Focus Program "Diversity & Identity", including both courses housed in regular academic units and house courses on special topics. The Program will also sponsor public lectures and other events in cooperation with other programs, including the Women's Center, Women's Studies, the Program in Literature, and the Institute of the Arts.

Costs of the Program are modest: supplement income for the director, an office, part-time staff assistance, and the usual office supplies (computer support, photocopying, stationery, telephone and postage privileges). There are funds for adjunct instructional development and for graduate instructors.

IV. Bulletin Description of the Program

Study of Sexualities (SXL)

Professor Younger, Director

A certificate, but not a major, is available in this program.

The Program in the Study of Sexualities offers an interdisciplinary course of study that introduces students to critical analyses of the various expressions of sexuality in societies around the world, both past and present. Such expressions encompass a wide range from heterosexuality to homosexuality, and include other erotic desires, sexual relationships, and gender roles. Critical analyses concern how sexuality is formed, defined, and regulated by biological and social forces.

Students must take as an introductory course Study of Sexualities 115S, Cultural Anthropology 103 or Sociology 149, and five additional courses, one of which may be a special seminar designed mainly for participants in the program. Of the total six courses, no more than three can originate in a single department, and four must be at or above the 100-level. Appropriate courses may come from the list given below or may include other courses (new courses, special topics courses, and independent study) as approved by the director. Regular courses are described under the listings of the various departments. Students may also wish to take advantage of house courses on topics in this area although house courses cannot satisfy the requirements of the program.

V. Permanently Approved Courses

SXL 115S. Perspectives in Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Studies. (CZ) Topics include homosexuality and history, religion, law, education, the arts and literature, the military, and the health sciences. C-L: English 101S. One course. Younger


African and African-American Studies
209S. Race, Class, and Gender in Modern British History. (Cross-listed.) Thorne
216S. Gender, Race, and Class. (Cross-listed.) Luttrell

Biological Anthropology and Anatomy
146. Sociobiology. Van Schaik

Cultural Anthropology
103. Sexuality and Culture in America. (Cross-listed.) Luttrell
113. Gender and Culture. (Cross-listed.) Allison, Luttrell, Quinn, or Silverblatt
142. Sexuality in a Global Perspective. (Cross-listed.) Luttrell
216S. Gender, Race, and Class. (Cross-listed.) Luttrell

101S. Perspectives in Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Studies. (Cross-listed.) Younger
184. Literature and Sexualities. Clum

169A. American Women, 1600-1877. (Cross-listed.) Staff
169B. American Women, 1877 to the Present. (Cross-listed.) Staff
209S. Race, Class, and Gender in Modern British History. (Cross-listed.) Thorne

159S. Topics in Sexuality and Gender Studies. (Cross-listed.) Finucci or staff

177S. Human Sexuality (B). Staff
264S. Gender, Hormones, and Health (P). Staff

Public Policy Studies
108 AIDS: Ethics, Policy, and Representation. (Cross-listed.) Rudy

125. Women and Sexuality in the Christian Tradition. Clark
138. Women and Religion in America. (Cross-listed.) Joyce
182. Medicine and Religion in American Society. Joyce
262. Special topics in Gender and Religion. (Cross-listed.) Joyce

103. Sexuality and Culture in America. (Cross-listed.) Luttrell
118. Sex, Gender, and Society. (Cross-listed.) Bach, Buchmann, or O'Rand
149. Sexuality and Society. (Cross-listed.) Bach or Tiryakian

Women's Studies
108 AIDS: Ethics, Policy, and Representation. (Cross-listed.) Rudy


Cultural Anthropology
112. Gender and Languages. Andrews
280S. Gender and Learning and Teaching. Luttrell

Classical Studies
195S. Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Greece. Younger
195S. Gender and Sexuality in Ancient Rome. Janan

288. Homosexuality-Masculinity in Drama. Clum

103 Cultural Perspectives of the Twentieth-Century, United States South. Staff

125. Special Topics in Gender and Sexuality. Staff
152. Love, Marriage, and Adultery in the Nineteenth Century. Moi
289. Sex and Gender. Moi

180S. Advanced Topics in the Psychology of Gender. Fischer, Hamilton, or Roth

166. Defining Deviance (FOCUS only). Joyce

VI. Approved Courses: 2000-2001

To register, consult the online ACES book, with course synopses.

Summer Term I, 2000

LIT 125: Libertines: Ancient to Moder; M-F 3:30-4:45; Gray 220; Meeker

Summer Term II, 2000

CULANTH 115S: Gender, Sexuality of the Middle East; MTTH 5:00-7:05; SocSci 219/ Staff
ENGLISH 169S: Womanhood: Black Feminists; MTTH6:00-8:05; Allen 306; Waligora

Fall, 2000
Approved Introductory Courses

SOC 149: Sexuality & Society: TTh 9:10-10:25; SocPsy 129; Bach

Permanently Approved Courses

AAAS 209S/HISTORY 209S: Race, Class, Gender in Britain; W 3:55-6:25; Carr 241; Thorne
BAA 146: Sociobiology; MWF 1:10-2:00: BioSci 130; VanSchaik
LIT 125: Sexual Identity & Community; TTh 12:4-1:55; Science 04; Viego
PYS 177S: Human Sexuality; T 7:00-9:30; SocPsy 319; Fail
PYS 264: Gender, Hormones, Health; T 3:50-6:20; LosPsy 319; Hamilton
REL 166 Focus Sem 04: Defining Deviance; TTh 9:10-10:25; Gray 319; Joyce
REL 182: Medicine & Religion in American Society; TTh 12:40-1:55; Gray 220; Joyce
SOC 118: Sex, Gender, & Society; TTh 2:15-3:30; SocPsy 129; Bach

Other Approved Courses

AAAS 105S (FOCUS) Sem 1/SXL 120S.01: Sexuality in Liberation Movements; MWF 11:50-12:40; OldChem 406; Younger
AAAS 199.10/CULANTH 180.10: Race, Gender & American Sports; TTh 3:50-5:05; Lang 320; Daniels
AAAS 188S.08/WOMENST 150S.08: Writing Race and Gender; Th 3:50-60:20; EDuke 204D; Giddings
AAAS 299S.02/CULANTH 280S.02: Gender & African Diaspora; W 3:55-6:25; SocSci 225; Daniels
BAA 180: Hormones in Sex & Aggression; TTh 3:50-5:05; BioSci 113; Drea
CULANTH 137: Gender Inequality; TTh 2:15-3:30; SocSci 111; Quinn
CULANTH 180.10/AAAS 199.10: Race, Gender & American Sports; TTh 3:50-5:05; Lang 320; Daniels
CULANTH 280S.02/AAAS 299S.02: Gender & African Diaspora; W 3:55-6:25; SocSci 225; Daniels
ENGLISH 124.01/LIT 115.01: Sexualities in Film & Video: TTh 12:40-3:30; Carr 106; Limbrick
ENGLISH 288.06: Renaissance Friendship; F 2:20-4:50; Allen 317; Shannon
HST 106S.02/WOMENST 150S.02: Gender, Sexuality, Oral History; M 7:00-9:30; Perkins 421; Lekus
HISTORY 209S/AAAS 209S: Race, Class, Gender in Britain; W 3:55-6:25; Carr 241; Thorne
LIT 115.01/ENG 124.01: Sexualities in Film & Video: TTh 12:40-3:30; Carr 106; Limbrick
REL 195S.01: Gender & Judaism; MW 3:55-5:10; Gray 319; Meyers
SXL 191: Independent Study (see Younger)
WOMENST 150: Genetic & Reproductive Ethics; TTh 12:40-1:55; EDuke 204D; Rudy
WOMENST 150S.02/HST 106S.02: Gender, Sexuality, Oral History; M 7:00-9:30; Perkins 421; Lekus
WOMENST 150S.08/AAAS 188S.08: Writing Race and Gender; Th 3:50-60:20; EDuke 204D; Giddings

Spring, 2000 -- to be announced mid Sept, 2000

VII. Related Documents

SXL 115S, "Perspectives in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Studies": Syllabus

The Duke University Task Force for Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Matters (

J.G. Younger, "Queer Theory, Queer Practice", The Duke Dialogue vol. 6.4, January 1995, pp. 5-6: a short history of queer activism and progress at Duke University.

VIII. Relevant Links

I. Introduction

II. Program Rationale

III. Program Description

IV. Bulletin Description of the Program

V. Permanently Approved Courses

VI. Approved Courses Semester by Semester

VII. Related Documents

VIII. Relevant Links

John G. Younger

Many thanks, too, to Jason Hall, Class of 1997, for his help in designing this web page!