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Master Class with Nancy Bauer: The Ontology of Gender

June 10 / 11 / 15 / 16, 2015

This master class is open to all!

For many years now—at least since the publication of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex in 1949—feminists have been thinking about what “being a woman” amounts to. Beauvoir in that watershed book proposed that being a woman is not just a matter of biology. As she famously put the point, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.”

Of course, Beauvoir did not imagine that someone born with chromosomes other than XX and lacking a female anatomy could be a woman. But nowadays, progressive people are wont to believe that:

  1. “Sex,” insofar as the term can be used to discuss people’s bodies, varies independently from gender.
  2. Gender is not at all a matter of biology but rather of (a) personal choice/expression or (b) “social construction”/politics or (c) a combination of both.

In this course, and in light of rapidly shifting understandings in the culture of the nature of gender, we will explore the question “What is gender?” We will ask whether biology determines natural kinds and, if so, whether there are ramifications for our understanding and interpretation of sex-related bodily difference. Other questions addressed will include:

Nancy Bauer
Nancy Bauer
  • Why should anyone care about the ontology of gender?
  • Is there a difference between sex and gender?
  • If so, what is the relationship, if any, between the two?
  • What role does politics play in the very notions of “sex” and “gender”?
  • Should we be aiming for a gender-free world?
  • Is self-expression necessarily gendered?

The course—which will comprise four sessions—will assume no prior experience with the philosophical literature on the ontology of gender. Ideally, participants will be able to read one philosophical paper for sessions two through four. The reading suggestions may fruitfully be read after the course as well.

All readings are available on my Google Drive via a link in this document (which also includes the Schedule of classes and Readings)

When & where?

10 June 15.15 - 16.45 Omega
11 June 10.00 - 11.30 Beta
15 June 15.15 - 16.45 Omega
16 June 10.00 - 11.30 Alfa

Names are rooms in Faculty of Philosophy

Last modified:02 June 2015 3.16 p.m.