sexual identity & society
We live at a time of cultural revolution in how we understand and experience sexuality, gender, and relationships. Sexual identity has become central to self-understanding and social categorization, and sexual diversity has increasingly become legitimized through legal and cultural recognition. At the same time, binary ways of thinking about sexuality and gender have been challenged by the emergence of new vocabularies and taxonomies beyond “male-female” and “gay-straight.” The purpose of this course is to provide a context to explore the contemporary revolution in sexuality and gender and to consider the implications of this revolution for social and psychological experience. We begin with a discussion of the language of sexual and gender diversity, as terms and labels are in constant states of emergence and change. We then consider cultural and political opposition to diversity in sexual and gender identity, briefly review the science of sexual orientation and gender identity, and discuss the role of ideologies and institutions in policing gender and sexuality. We examine the origins of binary thinking in sexuality and gender in the flawed science (including psychology) of the late 19th and 20th centuries and the way in which these binaries are being challenged today. We consider the contemporary experience of individuals who identify as monosexual (i.e., lesbian, gay, or straight) or plurisexual (i.e., bisexual, pansexual, fluid). We examine intersections of sexual identity and gender identity, with a focus on sexual identity among individuals who identify as transgender, gender non-binary, or gender non-conforming.
Shifts in cultural attitudes and social policies toward sex and sexual diversity have resulted in a flourishing of new forms of intimacy in the twenty-first century. This course examines the new science of relationship diversity through the lens of social psychology. We critically interrogate normative ideas about romance and sexual attraction, heterosexuality, monogamy, and the family. We review popular and psychological literature on same-sex relationships, polyamory and consensual non-monogamy, kink/fetish/BDSM relationships, chosen families and alternative kin structures, asexuality, and transgender intimacy. We conclude with a discussion of how the flourishing of queer intimacies has impacted heterosexuality.
qualitative inquiry in psychology
Once considered marginal or devalued, qualitative methods have become increasingly common in psychological research. This course offers a broad survey in approaches to qualitative research design, data collection, and data analysis. We begin with a discussion of the contemporary imperative for qualitative inquiry in psychology: Why has this methodological approach gained in legitimacy and prominence at this historical moment in the discipline? What value does qualitative inquiry bring to the types of questions contemporary psychological scientists ask? We then address issues of epistemology and philosophy of science in qualitative inquiry. The bulk of the course then reviews qualitative approaches to either data collection or data analysis that have become common in psychology: ethnography; interpretative-phenomenological analysis; grounded theory; interviewing and narrative analysis; discourse analysis; focus groups; and thematic analysis, content analysis, and intuitive inquiry. We conclude with a discussion of the future of qualitative inquiry and attempts to establish disciplinary guidelines for the reporting and reviewing of qualitative research.