Spring 2017

Privacy and Gender

Listed in: Political Science, as POSC-261  |  Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, as SWAG-261


Jessica C. Lake (Section 01)


(Offered POSC 261 [SC] [IL] and SWAG 261.) The right to "privacy" is often invoked in media and political discourse; yet there has been little interrogation of its meaning, history and significance. This course delves into the nature and origins of this assumed right and explores the gendered nature and political dynamics of claims to privacy. Drawing upon a range of texts in feminist political philosophy, the history of women in the United States, court cases and film, this interdisciplinary subject will consider the ways in which our understandings and experiences of privacy (or people’s lack of it) have been embodied in sexualized, gendered and racialized forms. We will consider the contexts and circumstances in which ideas about privacy have been articulated and rights claimed and by whom. We will ask what kinds of privacy have been privileged politically and protected legally and why. We will question whether privacy is a useful or problematic platform for asserting women’s rights. This course will cover the emergence of privacy as a social, cultural and political issue in the nineteenth century and interrogate women’s leading role in the development of a legal right to privacy in the early twentieth century, the work of the private/public dichotomy in political and legal discourses, and current problems arising from the use of new media platforms in relation to the exploitation of people’s images online (as in nonconsensual pornography) and with regard to controversies around data protection.

Limited to 30 students. Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow Lake.

If Overenrolled: Preference given to Political Science majors, and then divided equally between sophmores and juniors.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Issues of Race, Attention to Writing


2019-20: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017