Sex Is Not a Natural Act: Social Science Explorations of Human Sexuality

Open, Lecture—Fall

When is sex NOT a natural act? Every time a human engages in sexual activity. In sex, what is done by whom, with whom, where, when, why, and with what can have relatively little to do with biology. In theory, human sexuality poses a significant challenge. The study of its disparate elements (biological, social, and individual/psychological) is inherently an interdisciplinary undertaking. Anthropologists to zoologists all add something to our understanding of sexual behaviors and meanings. In this class, we will study sexualities in social contexts across the lifespan, from infancy to old age. Within each period, we will examine biological, social, and psychological factors that inform the experience of sexuality and the construction of sexual identities for individuals. We will also examine broader aspects of sexuality, such as sexual health, and explore possible connections between race, ethnicity, and sexuality.