Sexuality, culture and identity
What is human sexuality? How can we understand erotic desires? Why are some forms of sexualities being constructed as ‘normal’ while others are being considered as ‘deviant’? This course introduces students to how human sexuality is formed by social, economic, political, and cultural factors. Course materials will address different understandings of sexuality in various cultures with specific focus on Asian context. Classic theoretical texts on the sociology of sexuality will also be examined in this course. We will study closely how new forms of intimacy question our common ways of understanding romantic relationships and erotic desires. We will also examine the intersectionality of various factors including gender, class, race, ethnicity and health status that affect how we have come across with sexualities. Students will be introduced to readings that cover feminisms, gay and lesbian studies, queer theory, and contemporary sociological theories on gender and sexuality.
At the end of this course, students will come to understand how political their sexual life is, namely gender politics, sexual politics, body politics, and politics of intimacy. Key topics include feminisms and feminist movements, transgenderism and intersexuality, beauty myth, HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, bisexuality, polyamory, sexual morality and religion, sexual rights, LGBTIQ+ movements, disability and sexuality, sex work, pornography, BDSM, and chem fun (a.k.a. chemsex).
Course learning outcomes
By the end of this course, you will be able to:
- To gain a basic understanding of gender and human sexuality.
- To examine sexual identities and sexualities in different Asian cultures.
- To understand the intersectionality of social factors embedded in human sexuality.
- To develop critical thinking and apply theories on understanding sexuality.
- To apply presentation skills and to develop writing competence for group projects and essays.
|Reading-Based Tutorial Discussion||10%|
|Ten-Minute TED Talk X Sexuality||15%|
|Pink News Analysis||10%|
Bartky, S.L. 1999. “Foucault, Femininity, and the Modernization of Patriarchal Power”. Pp. 103-118 in Feminist Philosophies, edited by Janet A. Kourany, James P. Sterba and Rosemarie Tong. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Boyle, Karen. 2014. “Feminism and Pornography”. Pp. 215-231 in The SAGE Handbook of Feminist Theory, edited by Mary Evans, Clare Hemmings, Marsha Henry, Hazel Johnstone, Sumi Madhok, Ania Plomien and Sadie Wearing. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Butler, Judith. 1990. “Subject of Sex/Gender/Desire”. Pp. 3-44 in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. London: Routledge.
Ekins, Richard and King, Dave. 1999. “Towards a Sociology of Transgendered Bodies”. The Sociological Review 47(3): 580-602.
Jackson, Stevi and Sue Scott. 1996. “Sexual Skirmishes and Feminist
Factions: Twenty Five Years of Debate on Women and Sexuality.” Pp. 1-34 in Feminism and Sexuality: A Reader, edited by Stevi Jackson and Sue Scott. New York: Columbia University Press.
Jenness, Valerie. 1990. “From Sex as Sin to Sex as Work: COYOTE and the Reorganization of Prostitution as a Social Problem”. Social Problems 37(3): 403-420.
Klesse, C. 2005. “Bisexual women, non-monogamy and differentialist anti-promiscuity discourses”. Sexualities, 8(4), 445-464.
Kong, Travis S.K. 2010. “Outcast Bodies: Money, Sex and Desire of Money Boys in Mainland China”. Pp. 17-35 in As Normal as Possible: Negotiating Sexualities in Hong Kong and China, edited by Yau Ching. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Kong, Travis S.K. 2019. “Transnational Queer Sociological Analysis of Sexual Identity and Civic-political activism in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China”. The British Journal of Sociology 70(5): 1904-1925.
Plummer, Ken. 1995. “Intimate Citizenship: The Politics of Sexual Story Telling.” Pp. 144-166 in Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds. London: Routledge.
Race, Kane. 2017. “Click Here for HIV Status: Sorting for Sexual Partners” and “Making Up Barebackers” Pp. 46-68 and Pp. 69-88 in The Gay Science: Intimate Experiments with the Problem of HIV. Routledge.
Richardson, Diane. 2000. “Constructing Sexual Citizenship: Theorizing Sexual Rights”. Critical Social Policy 20(1): 105-135.
Rubin, Gayle. 2007. “Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of Sexuality”. Pp. 150-187 in Culture, Society and Sexuality: A Reader, edited by Richard Parker and Peter Aggleton. Abingdon: Routledge.
Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. “On Postmodern Uses of Sex.” Theory, Culture
& Society 15(3): 19-33.
Bell, David, and Jon Binnie. 2004. “Authenticating Queer Space:
Citizenship, Urbanism and Governance”. Urban Studies 41(9): 1807-
Foucault, Michel. 1980. “Part One: We Other Victorian”. Pp. 3-13 in The
History of Sexuality Volume One: An Introduction, translated by Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage.
Kong, Travis S.K., H. Kuan, Sky H.L. Lau and S. Friedman. 2021. “LGBT
Movements in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China”. In Oxford Encyclopedia of Politics. Oxford University Press.
Kong, Travis S.K., Sky H.L. Lau and Eva C.Y. Li. 2015. “The Fourth Wave?
A Critical Reflection on Tongzhi Movement in Hong Kong”. Pp. 188-201 in The Routledge Handbook of Sexuality Studies in East Asia, edited by Mark McLelland and Vera Mackie. London: Routledge.
Race, Kane. 2017. “Chemsex: A Case for Gay Analysis”. Pp. 128-150 in
The Gay Science: Intimate Experiments with the Problem of HIV. Routledge.
Rampton, Martha. 2015. Four Waves of Feminism, assessed at
Weeks, Jeffrey. 2017. “The Invention of Sexuality”. Pp. 18-68 in Sexuality. New York: Routledge.
Wong, Angela Wai-ching. 2013. “The Politics of Sexual Morality and Evangelical Activism in Hong Kong”. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 14(3): 340-360.
Yau, Carmen. 2019. “Sex and Stigma: The Impact of Structural Violence
on People with Disabilities in Taiwan”. China Journal of Social Work 12(2): 100-118.