PHIL 338: Philosophy, Race, and Gender

PHIL 338-002: Philosophy, Race, and Gender
(Spring 2022)

03:00 PM to 04:15 PM MW

Horizon Hall 4016

Section Information for Spring 2022

Our aim on this course is twofold: first, we will explore how questions about sex and gender were not simply ‘added in’ to philosophy by feminist thinkers in the 20th century: rather, western philosophy’s key concepts have both been structured by and helped to shape ideas about (what we moderns call) sex, gender and sexuality. Second, we will examine how ideas about sex and gender intersect with and are ‘over-coded’ by the emergence of the modern western concept of race, in what Maria Lugones calls the ‘modern colonial gender system’. We will explore how this system both shapes and is shaped by modern western thought, not only structuring key concepts in western political philosophy but playing a central role in concepts of knowledge, reality, and what it means to be human (that is, in epistemological, metaphysical, existential, and ontological questions).

Together we will read texts by some of the most influential thinkers in the modern western tradition alongside work by feminist thinkers and queer theorists; Black, decolonial and Latinx feminist thinkers; and philosophers of race. These thinkers will help us to interrogate modern western conceptions of selves and ‘Others’, sex and gender, minds and bodies, knowledge and objectivity, the public sphere and the body politic – and will provide us with resources for re-conceptualizing human beings and their relations to one another, that is, for thinking-being-knowing otherwise.

We will pay particular attention to the role of situatedness in generating knowledge, sustaining ignorance, and producing what is sometimes called epistemic injustice. The course will thus begin by examining our own situatedness as knowers, to help us see which concepts we tend to take for granted in our own understandings of the world and to open up a space for thinking together about how we might come to see and understand the world(s) we inhabit differently.



Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Examines how concepts of gender, sexual difference, and race structure key philosophical ideas and put such ideas into question. Analyzes the ways in which patriarchal, colonial and racialized structures intersect to produce concepts of the human, the subject, and the ‘Other’. Explores alternative approaches to subjectivity, sexuality, the body, and knowledge drawn from feminist philosophy, queer theory, and philosophies of race and decoloniality. Limited to three attempts.
Recommended Prerequisite: 3 hours of PHIL or Permission of Instructor.
Schedule Type: Lecture
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

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