Investigating Gender, Sexuality and Society



What does it mean to be a man? A woman? Genderqueer? How much control do we have over our gender and sexual identities and how much is controlled by biology, society or other factors?  This course will delve into questions of gender and sexual identity, studying cutting edge theories in concert with art, literature, religious texts and personal narratives in a safe, supportive and open environment.

Key Questions

· What is gender? How is it different from sex and sexual identity?

· What is at the core of our gender identity?

· What role does society play in our understanding of our gender and sexual identities?

· What role do factors like biology and personal choice play?

You Will

· Critically investigate movies, television, advertisements, and other forms of media that create cultural norms

· Explore Jewish texts (from the Torah to current day Jewish scholars) that look at Jewish views of gender roles and sexuality

· Visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and look at gender expression through centuries of art

· Explore our own identities through storytelling and dramatic improvisation

· Go into Boston and observe the role of gender identity in everyday life

· Meet with Idit Klein, Executive Director of Keshet, the national organization for GLBTQ inclusion in the Jewish world

· Examine laws in the Unites States and other countries related to the criminalization of homosexuality and LGBT rights

Meet the Instructor

Joy Ladin, Gottesman Professor of English at Yeshiva University, is the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. Her memoir of gender transition, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, was a finalist for a 2012 National Jewish Book Award, and winner of a Forward Fives award, and she was named to the 2012 Forward 50 list of influential or courageous American Jews. She is also the author of six books of poetry, including Psalms and Lambda Literary Award finalist Transmigration. Her seventh collection, Impersonation, is due out in 2015. Her work has been recognized with a Fulbright Scholarship and an American Council of Learned Societies research fellowship. She has spoken about gender identity issues around the country and was featured on NPR's “On Being” with Krista Tippett and other NPR programs. She serves on the Board of Keshet, a national organization devoted to full inclusion of LGTBQ Jews in the Jewish world.