WORKSHOP TWO 9/1/20: INTRODUCTIONS & INTERSECTIONS
For this workshop, you’ll be organized in a Zoom Breakout Room with a group of approximately four students. Select a person to be the timekeeper. This person should keep the group moving along according to the time allotments on the worksheet. This job is crucial, since without it, the group will not complete the experience which the worksheet is designed to bring about. Please select a volunteer reporter. Everyone should make notes of their own reflections. The reporter’s job is to record the group’s conclusions and report these out.
This workshop has four parts and is designed for 2 hours
and 15 minutes. There is a 10-minute break in the middle and a 15-minute moveable part scheduled in, which will allow time for the faculty to pop in for a chat. Please note the Start Time: _________ and End Time:__________ before beginning.
Although we must use the internet in order to meet, please refrain from using a search engine (e.g. Google) to look up answers to questions. If a question arises during discussion that you cannot answer without external research, please bring your question back to the seminar for discussion and/or use it as a writing prompt and do your research outside of class.
Part 0: Moveable Part (15 Minutes) Jody will pop in for a 15-minute visit.
Part I: Ortner (35 minutes)
- (15 minutes) Please work together with your group to define the following terms and to describe how they are used in the Ortner. Note if you struggle to understand any of these terms.
- (20 minutes) Work together with your group to answer the following questions about the Ortner essay. Please stay close to the text and refer to it often! Aim to reach consensus on a single answer to each question. Dissenting views, questions, and confusions will also be vital in our follow-up discussion, so – as the reporter — please note these as well.
- (a) Ortner argues that societies universally view women’s physiology as closer to nature than men’s for several reasons. Work together (1) to make a list of three of de Beauvoir’s notes about female physiology — as recapitulated by Ortner [1974, 74-75]) — and (2) to restate, in your own words, why woman is seen as closer to nature than man. Do you agree that women are seen as closer to nature than men in our society? Can you think of exceptions? Please note that Ortner is not arguing that female actually is to nature as male is to culture, but rather reporting her research that all societies hold this belief.
- (b) How, on the other hand, does Ortner explain the idea that men are viewed as closer to culture than women? Do agree that our society believes that men have a close connection to culture whereas women do not? Can you think of any exceptions?
- (c) Ortner argues that rituals provide evidence for the fact that society privileges (male-coded) culture over (female-coded) nature. Review her argument on pp. 72 – 73 and come up with an example of a ritual that works in the way Ortner describes. Think individually for a moment, and then discuss as a group.
- (d) Ortner recognizing only male and female, with no consideration of non-binary genders, a gender spectrum, or other complexity. Do you think this limits the validity of their work?
Be prepared to report your conclusions to (c.) and (d.) to the reconvened seminar.
Part II: Butler (30 minutes)
- (15 minutes) As above: Please work together with your group to define the following terms and to describe how they are used by Butler. Do you have any questions about how Butler defines and uses these terms?
- the body
2. (15 minutes) As above: Work together with your group to answer the following questions about the excerpt from Butler’s Gender Trouble. Please stay close to the text and refer to it often! Aim to reach consensus on a single answer to each question.
- (a) (5 minutes) Butler posits that the philosophical polarity between free will and determinism creates problems for how we understand the relationship between gender and “the body.” Review the paragraph on pp. 282 (which I marked in our Pressbook via hypothes.is) and those immediately following. How does Butler connect this polarity with the question of how gender/sex/identity/and the body inter-related? Do you agree or disagree that this seemingly esoteric, philosophical question is important to understanding the issue at hand?
- (b) (10 minutes) Return to the terms above. Take 5-minutes to work independently to construct a diagram that summarizes how, in Butler’s view, gender, sex, identity, and the body interrelate. Reconvene and show/discuss your diagrams. Select one, or develop a joint version, to show to the reconvened seminar.
Part III: Break (10 minutes)
Part IV: hooks (15 minutes)
Please work together as a group to use Judith Butler’s essay to analyze this excerpt from bell hooks’ influential collection of essays Ain’t I A Woman. First, discuss and define the meaning of the adjectives “Black” and “white,” and what these words mean, when referring to race. (Note: hooks doesn’t capitalize Black, but I do here, following current anti-racist practice.)
Second, adding in the concept of race into your (Butler’s) model, try to use your understanding of Butler’s conceptualization of identity, the body, gender, and to help you comprehend the significance of Sojourner Truth’s speech. Be prepared to report your conclusions to the reconvened seminar.
Part V: Lorde (20 minutes)
- (10 minutes) As above: Work together with your group to define the following terms and to describe how they are used by Lorde. Note if you struggle to understand any of these terms and be prepared to report your conclusions, including any questions, when we reconvene.
- (15 minutes) As above: Work together with your group to answer the following questions about the excerpt from Lorde’s short essay. Please stay close to the text and refer to it often! Aim to reach consensus on a single answer to each question.
- (a) (5 minutes) Lorde’s essay critiques a specific conference, but her concerns apply more widely. First, take a few minutes to articulate her position in your own words. Second, discuss why it is important for you – as college students – to reflect (critically) on the culture of the academy.
- (b) (5-10 minutes) Lorde makes a statement that is also a call to action:
Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears.
Take these final minutes of our workshop time today to contemplate what it would mean to take this charge seriously. Begin with a few moments of quiet, individual reflection. Track your thoughts and feelings in writing, if that helps you move into the deep place Lorde references. Discuss your experience with your group. You will not be asked to report out to the reconvened seminar on this question, but you are encouraged to take it up on your blog.