Masculinity and Men's Studies Courses

Spring 2014

Sociology 285: That’s Not Natural: Masculinity, Nature and the Rural
Prof. Michael Lecker

Often societies use nature as a way to justify cultural beliefs and social hierarchies. What is not often considered is that a culture interprets and creates its own version of nature (including genetics, ecology, and evolution). To counter this, students will critically engage with U.S. masculinity and the constructions of nature and the rural (a civilized, yet natural space) that underpins it. Asking themselves repeatedly what assumptions they draw upon when they label phenomena natural and unnatural. Topics that will be explored include the intersection of gender and sexuality studies with popular culture and popular science discourse, the American Frontier, settler colonialism, and separatist movements. Texts that may be used include The Trouble with Nature, Deliverance, Wrong Turn 2, The Last American Man, Green Porno, March of the Penguins, and Ceremony.

Fall 2013

History 285: Historical Methods: Masculinity in Modern Germany
Prof. James Frusetta
This section of historical methods focuses on masculinity in modern Germany. How did German society “define” what it meant to be a proper (and improper) man? In the course, we will explore the ways in which masculinity was culturally specific to Germany, and how the idea of “manliness” changed under the pressures of modernization, war, democratization, inclusivity and Nazism. Texts include The Image of Man and German History in Modern Times, as well as articles by Bryan Ganaway, Marcus Funck, Jason Crouthamel, Christopher Dillon, and Tim Pursell.

History 499: Senior Colloquium: Pirates
Prof. Nicole Greenspan

Sociology 185: Men on the Hill: An Introduction to Ethnography
Prof. Michael Lecker
This course introduces students to various qualitative methods often used in the social sciences, including observation, oral history, participant observation, and interviewing. Students will learn these methods by applying them as they study groups on the Hampden-Sydney campus. They will interview men who currently live on campus and alumni who once did, examine different subcultures existing on campus, and study the construction and use of campus space in order to understand how time, place, context, and generation affect gender performance and one’s understanding of gender. Students will also consider how multiple masculinities surface when they attend a party, a family function, a class meeting, or a sporting event. Possible texts include Space, Place, and Gender; Inside Greek U; Dude, You’re A Fag; Ethnography: Step-by-Step; and Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences.

Sociology 285: Superheroes and Psychos: Masculinity in the Media
Prof. Michael Lecker
This course investigates masculinity as depicted in the masculine-oriented superhero and horror genres. By examining idealized (superhero) and repulsive (horror) depictions of men, students will gain an understanding of the complex and contradictory beliefs that exist about masculinity in the U.S. Related topics that will be considered include nationalism, power, violence, race, sexuality, and the urban/rural divide. Possible texts include Blade 3, X2, Comic Book Nation, Captain America: Man Out of Time; Men, Women, and Chainsaws; and The Dread of Difference, along with various other graphic novels, films (viewings outside class time), television shows, and theoretical gender and genre texts. Students will be assessed mainly through essays and classroom discussion.