Writing Assignments Summary

Students will be required to write 3 essays and give 1 presentation over the course of the semester.


Essay 1: Identities and Orientations

Mechanical Requirements:

  • Your essay must be at least 900 words.

  • Your essay must include direct reference (with citations) to at least 3 texts discussed in class (through session 11).

Substance Requirements:

In her chapter entitled, “What Is Sexual Orientation?” Robin Dembroff suggests that an ideal definition of sexual orientation would meet four criteria. Those criteria are that the definition world:

  1. Clarify the criteria for ascribing sexual orientation, as well as how these criteria translate into a taxonomic schema of sexual orientation.

  2. Be consistent with relevant social scientific research— in particular research concerning sex and gender

  3. Reduce or eliminate the presumption that cisheterosexuality is the normatively standard sexual orientation and all queer sexual orientations are normatively deviant

  4. Be conducive for establishing legal and social protections for persons who have queer sexual orientations.

(page 223-224 in our textbook)

In response to this, in this essay, you should:

  • analyze these four criteria to argue whether or not they are sufficient for an ideal definition of sexual orientation

  • craft a definition of sexual orientation that either meets those four criteria or whatever criteria you decide could sufficiently replace them

  • discuss the way that your definition would be deployed in at least two specific scenarios or case studies found in our text or discussed in class

Grading:

This essay is worth 200 points. It is due to the appropriate Canvas Dropbox by 11:59pm on the day of Session 12, and late submissions will not be accepted.


Essay 2: Relationships and Behaviors

Mechanical Requirements:

  • the essay must be 900+ words

  • Your essay must include direct reference (with citations) to at least 3 texts discussed in class (through session 18, not counting session 15).

Substance Requirements:

One major debate in the field of sexual ethics is about what criteria would be adequate for concluding that a particular sexual relationship or sexual behavior is ethical. We have encountered several attempts at defining this criteria, including assertions like:

  1. Any type of sexual relationship/behavior is morally permissible as long as no coercion or deception has occurred.

  2. Any type of sexual relationship/behavior is morally permissible as long as all parties involved consented to the action, even if it was unwanted.

  3. Any type of sexual relationship/behavior is morally permissible as long as all parties are treated as ends in themselves, not merely means.

  4. Any type of sexual relationship/behavior is morally permissible as long as the power dynamics or attitudes expressed there are compartmentalized to the sexual relationship itself and not applied to larger society, this could include racial sexual desires or BDSM.

  5. Any type of sexual relationship/behavior is morally permissible as long as it is occurs in a relationship where all parties have good intentions or is done out of (romantic) love.

Your job for this essay is to analyze three such assertions from our class readings/discussions. If you would like to use an assertion not listed here, please consult with the instructor. Your analysis of each assertion needs to include:

  • your evaluation of whether or not the assertion is sufficient for concluding that a particular sexual relationship or behavior is morally permissible

  • a direct connection to at least one of our class texts

In addition to this analysis, you need to give an explanation of your own moral reasoning regarding sexual relationships and behaviors. This may take the form of agreeing with one of the assertions from class, or it may take the form of constructing your own assertion.

This essay is worth 200 points, and it is due to the appropriate Canvas Dropbox by 11:59pm on the day of Session 19.


Essay 3: OITNB

Mechanical Requirements:

  • the essay must be 1500+ words

  • the essay must include reference to at least 3 written texts from class AND at least 2 outside sources (for a total of at least 5 citations)

Substance Requirements:

For this essay, you are asked to follow the narrative of one character from Season 1 of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black to analyze how at least 3 systems/structures impact that character’s sexual identity, orientation, behaviors, and relationships.

Systems/structures to consider might include: access (or lack thereof) to education, immigration/indentured servitude, trans-phobia, poverty, prison recidivism, sexism (including expectations about what women are/should be), racism in various forms, abuse of inmates by guards, drug use and trafficking, etc.

Your analysis should consider:

  • the presence and impact of systems/structures both inside and outside the prison system itself

  • the ways that this character was either empowered or disempowered by those systems/structures

  • the ways that the character was complicit in or worked to resist those systems/structures

Your essay should conclude with your perspective on how at least one of the systems/structures you discussed could evolve to nurture more healthy/ethical sexual identities, orientations, behaviors, or relationships.

This essay is worth 300 points, and it is due to the appropriate Canvas Dropbox by 11:59pm on the day of Session 26.


Presentation

As a way to review the ground we’ve covered and so that students may learn from each other’s ideas, at the end of the semester, each student will be required to give a class presentation.

Mechanical Requirements:

  • Students should plan to speak for approximately 5-6 minutes, and (due to time constraints) students will be stopped at 10 minutes.

  • Students should speak from prepared notes, and Power Point presentations are optional.

Substance Requirements:

For this presentation, students are asked to speak about the concept, debate, text, or idea from our class texts and discussion that most impacted them. The goal is to highlight some element of our class has made you see the world differently.

This presentation is worth 100 points, and it is due during our Final Exam meeting time.


Extra Credit Opportunities

Opportunity #1: By 11:59pm on the day of Session 1, you can post a video introducing yourself to your classmates in the "It's lovely to meet you..." discussion forum. This video is worth up to 10 bonus points.

Opportunity #2: You may attend a university sponsored academic event (or an appropriate off campus event with instructor's permission) and write a 300 word response to it. This response should include: 1) a very brief summary of the event, 2) a reflection on what you learned (bonus knowledge!), and 3) some thoughts on how the event connects to a reading or theme from our course. This essay should be submitted to the appropriate D2L Dropbox by the Friday before finals week, and it is worth up to 30 bonus points.

 

Updated 9/4/2018