ANTH 3310: Gender and Sex Roles: A Cross-Cultural Perspective


Course Description

This course provides a cross-cultural and historical comparison of women’s and men’s life experiences in the areas of family, marriage and kinship, economic and political participation, sexuality, reproduction, ritual, and religion. During the course, students will be expected to critically read and analyze information concerning the historical, cultural, social, or political influences on gender identity, practices, and norms. This class will debunk some of the mystery behind the differences between men and women by opening up research and discussion on some of the most basic gender roles across the globe. Students will learn to analyze and question their own perspectives through the examination of diverse cultures.

Instructor Biography

Laura Jarvis received her B.A. in Anthropology from Tulane University, and her M.A. in Anthropology from Southern Methodist University. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the anthropology department at Southern Methodist University. I have spent two summers in the field but have yet to finish my dissertation research. Carrying on Margaret Mead’s legacy of studying young people in the Pacific, my research examines how global forces such as education and visual media interact with local gender roles to examine how they impact individual youth identities. The teen years are the most influential in the development of gender norms and roles, and I study how the decisions they make at these younger ages help them develop and self-identify as individuals and as parts of larger groups.

Learning Outcomes and Benefits

Students taking this course will:

  • Develop a breadth of knowledge about the various ways in which gender and gendered practices manifest around the globe as related to: sexuality and identity; reproduction and child-rearing; family, marriage, and kinship; differences in hierarchy and power; household, economic, and state practices; religion; globalization; and health.
  • Critically examine one’s own conceptions of gender and sexuality in light of cross-cultural and historical data on the subject.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use interdisciplinary approaches for understanding complex issues.
  • Evaluate sources for the quality of information concerning social impacts on sex and gender roles.
  • With respect to issues related to gender, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the historical, cultural, social, and political conditions of identity formation and function in human society, including the ways in which these conditions influence individual or group status, treatment, or accomplishments.
  • Through the larger lens of gender, students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the material culture, underlying values, beliefs, or practices that are central to the cultures being studied.
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