Course Syllabus

BCORE 115 E - Winter 2022:

The Functions of Sex: Race and Gender in America (I&S)

Instructor: Jason H. Morse, Ph.D.

Communication and Office Hours

Class Place and Time: We will meet weekly during our scheduled time of Wednesday 3:30-5:30PM on Zoom.

Registration Deadlines 2020-2021: Deadlines for adding, dropping, changing course status, etc. can be found on the Academic Calendar.

Note: The University of Washington-Bothell is an institution of continuous improvement. Student assignments are randomly reviewed after the course ends to assess alignment to one of its six institutional undergraduate learning goals. No student names or grades will be identified. If you decide to opt out, please email Dr. Jose A. Rodriguez, Assessment & Education Specialist, at

Student Support Services


Course Calendar

Course Materials 

Pathways Experience (events happening during Weeks 4 and 5)

Pathways Experience Webpage

Pathways Experience Video

Grade Scale (based on UWB Undergraduate Grading Scale)

Course Description

This class will think about the function of sex, primarily in the gendered production of race in America. Sex is had, used, and exchanged for many reasons – for reproduction, for pleasure, for building intimacy, and for securing financial and other forms of well-being. Sex is also used as a source of control and manipulation, of moralizing and shaming, and as a form of violence and a legitimization of other violences. Sex and sexuality have also come to mean many things as part of our socialization, as forms of identity, as ways of evaluating people, and as indicators of normativity and even rationality. Sex and sexuality are also the modalities through which race and gender are (re)produced and lived in America. We will inquire into the sexualization of race and the racialization of sex/uality and the various ways these are gendered. This course will undertake the cultural studies of sex through reading texts from multiple disciplines and genres.

For these reasons and more, sex has also been the subject, whether explicitly or implicitly, of many (if not most) literary narratives and cultural texts. This class will analyze the representations of sex in many American cultural forms – including fiction, drama, poetry, film, and the graphic novel – over a wide range of time – 1850s to the present. We will investigate what sex does in literature and how it is used, including the way it is deployed to theorize, challenge, and reinforce U.S. racial and gender formation at particular historical moments. We will question what sex does in and to the narratives we read and the ways different cultural forms represent and engage the subject of sex to make claims about the social world and to intervene in the hegemonic and stereotypical definitions that label people. We will sometimes analyze literary and cultural texts against the grain, looking for the ways that the repression of sex in some narratives results in ruptures and contortions of form and content as the unspoken makes itself known and for the assumptions texts make about the functions of sex in relation to the production of race and gender in America.

As with all DC courses, this one has two overlapping and interacting sets of goals. On the one hand, you will become familiar with some aspects of the cultural studies of sex/uality; on the other, we will engage the various pathways available through which you can achieve your goals at the UWB. Our engagement will primarily be achieved through the Pathways Experience events in Weeks 4 and 5. Our content readings will include critical essays and social theory on sex and sexuality and the way it intersects with other modalities of power, primarily race and gender, as well as cultural texts that represent sex and sexuality in some way to see how culture, literature, and art theorizes sexuality as a form of heteronormative, racial, and gendered power differently than interdisciplinary scholarship. If you are not comfortable with reading, thinking, or talking about sex, this is not the class for you. Readings are organized to discuss more theoretical essays in the beginning before starting to discuss the ways that sex polices and legitimizes physical and symbolic violence against particular social groups. We will continue to discuss critical essays intertextually and compare, combine, and set concepts against other concepts as we read through the quarter. 

Course Objectives

To achieve these goals, these are the particular objectives that you should, if not learn, certainly be able to discuss by the end of this class.


  • Apply the cultural studies of sex/uality to engage how sex functions on multiple registers, including primarily as a form of power that defines and marginalizes racial bodies through gender.
  • Understand culture as a site of the negotiation of difference and marginalization, including ways cultural texts reinforce, challenge, and question sexuality as a form of racial, gendered power.
  • Analyze how cultural forms make meaning and how different forms (fiction, poetry, drama, film, visual, web-based, etc.) make meaning and negotiate social categories in different ways
  • Close reading texts, including critical essays and cultural texts (literary, visual, and other forms) and the stakes associated with social, historical, and political contexts.

Critical Reading and Analytical Writing Skills

  • Apply interdisciplinary methods to social issues: Learners will read, analyze, and apply social science and cultural studies concepts to analyze culture and cultural texts as sites that reinforce, challenge, and question stereotypical representation.
  • Read analytically: Learners will 1) apply rhetorical reading practices to analyze the contexts and arguments of critical essays, 2) analyze concepts in writing by identifying concepts, explaining the ideas in their own words, discussing their (potential uses for thinking about a topic) and stakes(their importance to particular audiences), and 3) read intertextually to synthesize concepts in multiple ways to engage interdisciplinary thinking about social issues.
  • Write analytically: Learners will 1) synthesize concepts to build their own frameworks for thinking, 2) analyze cultural texts (such as literature, film, TV, advertising, visual art, etc.) closely and intertextually in writing to present their ideas about how language, form, image, etc. make meaning and 3) write their own critical questions and claims that apply course concepts to texts (and vice versa) to formulate and support their own interpretations of essays, texts, and social issues.
  • Engage in Critical Reflective Practices: Students will engage in reflective practices to develop their own thinking about course concepts and how to apply them, which will become part of a development of resiliency, intellectual confidence, self-efficacy, self-worth, persistence, and growth mindset.


Coursework and Assessment

You are expected to demonstrate the course objectives through weekly Analysis Quizzes, Presentations, Two Exams, Writing Assignments, and regular, engaged Contribution to Class Learning Community. Due to the scope of the readings we will discuss during our class time, you must come to class having not only done all the reading for the day but also prepared to discuss those readings. You are responsible for beginning a timely dialogue with me outside of class (in office hours or by appointment) about any difficulties you have with the course material or the course in general. I am committed to helping each student as long as you take personal responsibility in your own learning and approach me in a timely manner with issues. Your grade for this class is based entirely on:

  • Contribution to Online Learning Community: 40%
  • Mid-term exam: 15%
  • Final exam: 15%
  • Creative Project: 15%
  • Critical Reflection Journal: 15%


Contribution to our Online Learning Community (CC) (40%)

The Contribution to the Online Learning Community activities are meant to have you practice the skills necessary to learn and apply concepts to the analysis of the cultural texts we will read so that you can write the best possible answers in your posts and exams/papers.

Grading for Contribution to our Online Learning Community – Please Read Carefully!

To honor and accept all of the different ways to learn through contributing, the Contribution to our Online Learning Community portion of your grade will be based entirely on your labor in which you 1) satisfactorily complete 2) a particular amount of the CC posts, responses, and other assignments/activities. A little quote analysis to explain this grading rubric:

  1. By satisfactorily complete,” I mean doing what is asked in each prompt (but not necessarily well). Your work must engage the requirements described in the prompts for each assignment and at least try to do what is asked of you in the specific instructions, trusting that each online assignment is practice to prepare you for other work in the class and beyond. If you try to do the work in the spirit of the requirements and it doesn’t work out, that’s fine. However, doing only part of an assignment or including no concept or textual analysis or offering points so thin that don’t indicate much in-depth engagement will be considered unsatisfactory and won’t count toward the final grade tally. I will use the “Like” to indicate satisfaction and comment as needed to discuss what’s missing. I believe in revision because I want to honor the work you do and I don’t think it’s fair to just say “this is unsatisfactory so doesn’t count,” when a bit more work would make it much better. So, if I indicate that something is not satisfactory, you can revise it as indicated.
  2. By particular amount of the CC assignments/activities,” I mean the labor of doing a certain amount of work that corresponds to the grade you want. I don’t know how exactly many CC assignments/activities we’ll end up doing, but there will be at least one Analysis post per week and some weeks will have additional activities, so I’m guessing between 15-20 CC assignments over the quarter. For your CC grade:
    • To earn a 4.0, complete 90% of the assignments/activities (so, missing about 2).
    • To earn a 3.5, complete 85% of the assignments/activities (so, missing about 3).
    • To earn a 3.0, complete 80% of the assignments/activities (so missing about 4).
    • To earn a 2.5, complete 75% of the assignments/activities (so missing about 5).
    • To earn a 2.0, complete 70% of the assignments/activities (so missing about 6).
    • To earn a 1.5, complete 65% of the assignments/activities (so missing about 7).
    • To earn a 1.0, complete 60% of the assignments/activities (so missing about 8).
    • To earn the lowest grade before a zero (.7), complete 50% of the assignments/activities.

These are the grades available for this portion of the final grade. So, getting a 4.0 for this 30% of your final grade means doing most of the online work. I do reserve the right to give higher grades if someone consistently does a lot of in-depth work – for instance, if you do 85% of the work but you put a lot of thought and obvious effort into each post, etc., you could still get a 4.0. My promise to you is that if you satisfactorily complete the work, you will get at least the grade assigned to that amount of labor. As with everything this quarter, if things are close at the end, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and much leeway to get the highest grade possible based on your work.


Weekly Analysis Posts

Contribution to Online Learning Community will primarily be engaged on Discussion Boards through weekly Analysis Posts, though there will also be other activities. My thinking is that the conversations we have on Discussion Boards should proceed like class discussions, albeit asynchronous, somewhat stilted ones with long pauses between utterances. Each week’s Discussion Board and other activities will be listed in each week’s module page so be sure to submit the correct responses. I will facilitate at times, join the conversation, comment on good ideas, or coach toward deeper thinking but my inclination is to let you engage ideas with each other. You can, though, at any time ask me questions about your posts we can also talk about these in our weekly Zoom meetings or “office hours.” Each week you are responsible for satisfactorily completing:

Starting Week 2, each week by 11:59PM the night before class, you should post one original post that analyzes a quote from the essay or cultural text we are going to cover that week. If there are multiple texts, you can choose one to analyze or, better, apply one to the other. These posts are not reading responses, editorials, or opinion papers, but, rather, they should demonstrate your comprehension of a concept/text in a one-paragraph “paper” of careful concept analysis that explains the meaning and discusses its implications and/or careful textual analysis of cultural text’s formal elements/content that makes an interpretive point about the reading. All answers require the analysis of a quote from a reading about form or concepts and a cultural text or example but you may organize your post by either using your formal/concept/textual analysis to make your own claim/interpretation and then ask a critical question or using your concept or textual analysis to respond to one of the Critical Questions I’ll ask each week or one of the critical questions that you or other students have asked. See the Analysis Post prompt on Canvas for detailed instructions on how to do both.

Exams (30%)

There will be a Midterm Exam and a Final Exam, each worth 15% of your final grade. They are both take-home, open-book exams consisting of short answer questions that ask you to analyze and apply our course concepts and texts. You will be given each exam about a week before they are due. In fairness to those that work on it for the given allotment of time, you cannot get extensions on exams. You may, though, revise any question that you have answered (which means that you have written enough to be considered an answer to an actual question) for a higher grade if you are not satisfied with the grade you’ve earned on them. The work you do in the CC posts can be used as part of the exam answers but you must elaborate on those answers and focus them on the actual questions being asked. The point is to always be developing your thinking about our topics, concepts, and reading; cutting and pasting a post will rarely answer the specific questions I'm asking but your conceptual analysis can become the basis for your exam answers (if it works). 

Creative Project (15%)

For this project, you will create your own cultural text with a brief artist’s statement that engages stereotypes by choosing a form and writing a short fictional scene, a long poem or poetic series, a play/film scene, or some other form of visual (drawing, collage, painting), video (series of short videos, dance routine), or audio (podcast, song) artwork. I am very open to other forms not mentioned here so just talk with me about this if you have other ideas. See the prompt on Canvas for more information about the requirements.

Critical Reflection Journal (FYFQRJ)  (15%)

To demonstrate our Course Learning Goal/Objective of “Engaging in Reflective Practices,” you will be produce a Critical Reflection Journal. The CRJ will also be graded entirely on “satisfactorily completing” the specific sections/questions in each prompt. There will be a few due dates so that I can give you some comments on how you are proceeding. See the prompt on Canvas for more information about the requirements, but this journal will include an Introduction section about you, a Projection section about your goals, a few Campus Discovery sections about campus resources, and a final FYFQ reflection.

Grading: All 4 = 4.0; 3 = 2.5; 2 = 1.5; 1 = 0



University rules state that “an incomplete is given only when the student has been in attendance and has done satisfactory work until within two weeks at the end of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control.” Incompletes are granted at the instructor’s discretion.


Accommodations and Access

The policy/practice of the UW Disability Resources for Students is to create inclusive, accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. I am also fully committed to making the course useful for all. To begin the interactive process between you, me, and DRS, if you have established approved accommodations, please communicate them to me so we can discuss your needs. If you have not yet established DRS service but are experiencing barriers based on disability (including for mental health, attention, learning, vision, hearing, physical, or health impacts) and require resources and reasonable accommodations, you may also contact DRS at 425.352.5307, 425.352.5303 TDD, or


Reasonable Accommodation for Faith/Conscience

Washington state law requires that UW accommodate student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including the Religious Accommodations Request form, can be found at the Religious Accommodations Policy page. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request.


Title IX and Sexual Violence/Harassment

For Victim-Survivors of Sexual and Relationship Violence: We believe you. We support you. You are not alone. You deserve to be here. Title IX and other state and federal laws protects your rights as a student-survivor. If you need support, on- or off-campus, consider talking with our free, confidential specially-trained Victim Advocate or counselors in the Counseling Center. As your professor, I want to ensure my classroom supports you fully participating in your education. If you experience class-related challenges, please let me know to whatever degree you feel comfortable, and though I am not an expert, I will do my best to work with you. Additional resources are available on our class Canvas page and at Victim Advocacy Group, where there is free advocacy/support for students/employees affected by sexual assault, relationship/domestic violence, stalking/harassment, etc. You may also contact them at 425-352-3851 or

Coursework Flexibility

Scaffolding and Revision

  • Your work in this class can build on the work before it. As long as it is your own work, I encourage you to continue your analytical thinking about a particular concept/text/issue. The point will be to elaborate and extend your thinking about an idea as you use them in longer pieces of writing. For example, you may elaborate your Analysis Posts/Responses or even your Critical Reflection Journal as part of your Short Papers or Exams (such as for a personal example) in your exams, papers, and/or creative project.
  • You may revise anything based on my comments for a higher grade. This includes:
    • CC work that has earned an Incomplete or that you “revise into existence” late.
    • Midterm Exam questions that you have answered in full. (If you don’t submit the Midterm Exam by the due date (the only firm deadline) or if you don’t answer all the questions, it is not revisable. You have to at least try to answer all the questions to earn the option to revise.)
    • Final Exam questions if you submit it by the Final Exam Draft due date.
    • Creative Project (revised based on my comments or “revised into existence” at any time after the due date)
    • CRJ entries that have earned an Incomplete or that you “revise into existence” late.

Deadline Flexibility

Learning in any course is based on, in large part, the work you do. The Midterm and Final Exam due dates are firm but, while there is a final due date during finals week to complete all your CC work, 1 Creative Project, and a Critical Reflection Journal, the due dates on the calendar below are a guide to keep you on track and to allow enough time for me to comment on things so that you can revise them. However, the CC, Creative Project, and Critical Reflection Journal deadlines are somewhat flexible, though. I say somewhat because there is a Final Deadline during Finals Week (see the Course Calendar linked above) at which everything is due. I won’t, though, take any points off for lateness and you can and should ask for an extension on assignments if you need them for any reason. You don’t need to tell me why (it’s none of my business -  you owe me no explanation and you don’t have to perform your trauma for me, particularly during the intersection a national racial reckoning and a global pandemic) but just let me know when you need an extension and for how long in a Canvas message. If it’s 1-2 days, there is no need to email me. If it’s going to be 3 or more days, please include that in your subject line. Use this Extension Email Template:

Subject: Extension for W5CC - 3 days

Hi Dr. Morse,

I need more time to complete the analysis post for Week 5. I can turn it in by [fill in date].

Sincerely, Holly Husky

There are, however, some things to keep in mind with extensions:

  • While there is definitely a way to accomplish the work in this class at a different pace than the calendar (you can binge work every few weeks, for instance), it is incredibly easy to get overwhelmingly behind in this class (and most classes) so be aware of what you need to do and communicate with me about it.
  • With more time, comes more anxiety and stress-induced impulsions to take short cuts. I encourage you to think collaboratively with others, you need to answer Exam questions with your own points and/or write Short Papers using your own claims/evidence. If answers/papers are too similar, we will have a discussion and you will have to redo the work on your own or be downgraded. See the Academic Integrity section for more information on what plagiarism is and what UWB’s consequences are for doing.
  • All the assignments are connected and build on one another, which may make progress difficult.
  • I cannot promise feedback on extensions. I may or may not have time to comment on your work. If you want my feedback, either meet the deadlines or schedule a conference to discuss your work.
  • I’m open to discussing other ways to support you all, including altering, etc. assignments. I’ll check in mid-quarter to see how the workload is going.



UWB is committed to Diversity and Inclusion and these issues are incredibly important to me, as well. This class may encounter sensitive topics dealing with cultural, social, and political themes that are often difficult for people to discuss for many reasons (that you may not know about others). It is axiomatic in this course that we are all positioned in various ways in relation to the social structures and institutions that shape our lives, with some given privileges that others don’t have. We must acknowledge that racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms and intersections of oppression exist. Any critical examination of oppression requires us to recognize that we have been systemically taught misinformation (like stereotypes) about our own group as well as about members of other groups. It also means that if we are part of a dominant group (e.g. white, male, upper/middle class, able-bodied, and/or heterosexual), we have unearned privilege that carries into the class room and for which we are responsible. Privilege does not mean that your life isn’t difficult; it means that these forms of social power are not what is making it difficult. We cannot be blamed for the misinformation that we have learned and for taking unconscious advantage of our privilege, but we will be held responsible for repeating misinformation (other than while examining it) or engaging in oppressive words or behaviors once we have learned otherwise. Part of everyone’s responsibility is to treat others with respect. In this class, respect is not based on notions of tolerance, inclusion, unity, etc. because it doesn’t really matter who you want to include or exclude, you must respect everyone. There are three forms of respect expected of you in this class to make our discussions valuable for the largest amount of people in the room.

Respect each other. There are going to be differences in viewpoints, beliefs, and interpretations as we question texts and discuss issues. First and foremost, while you need not agree with what others say, you must disagree with respect. Respect for a diversity of ways of thinking is instrumental in the exchange of ideas. Real respect means not just distractedly listening while you formulate what you’re going to say but actively listening to others and contributing to discussion in ways that invite others to contribute their points of view. I will not tolerate any kind of aggression, attacks, epithets, grunts, sighs, or any other harmful/dismissive language based on race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, gender, nationality, sexuality, dis/ability, or political orientation. If this occurs, you will be asked to leave. Healthy debate is the keystone of academic inquiry and critical thinking; violence is not. If you are having these problems in the class, contact me immediately.

Respect the texts. This means understanding that most scholarly essays are written by experts in their fields and have been vetted by others that think about these issues for a living. You may “disagree” with them – in fact, it is important to think critically and question ideas – but that doesn’t mean they are “wrong.”  Because you don’t “agree,” are not familiar with, or find it difficult to understand its ideas or representations does not give you permission to ignore and/or not read a text. Things with which we are not familiar are always difficult at first; if we didn’t engage things that we didn’t already know, we’d never learn anything new. If it’s obvious you haven’t done the reading, your participation grade will suffer.

Respect academic freedom. Academic freedom is the principle that scholars have the right – without repression – to teach, conduct research, and/or disseminate ideas with the primary goal of truth-seeking, even when those ideas are not widely accepted or convenient. This is central to the mission, goals, and values of the academy and is a core principle of academia. Although some essays may not fit your worldview, they are grounded in rigorous research and informed scholarship within particular disciplines and established fields of study. To produce rigorous research, students must engage texts with respect of scholars’ freedom and must provide logical, rational, and evidence-based argumentation of their own points. To have your views treated as candidates for the truth for the common good, you must present your ideas with logical argumentation and analysis of your evidence. Arguments based on personal beliefs/passions, gut instincts, and/or unverified internet memes/sites are unsubstantiated, non-academic utterances.


Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

Plagiarism, or academic dishonesty, is presenting someone else’s writing or ideas as your own without citation. As you progress in your studies, you will be expected to show familiarity with the work in your field and to use concepts to further your own thinking. In this class, you are encouraged (in fact, required) to refer to other people’s writing and ideas. Academic Integrity is taken very seriously by UWB and me and plagiarism of any kind, though, will not be tolerated. The Student Conduct Code has a strict policy covering academic integrity and an overview of the student conduct hearing procedures. You are responsible for knowing what constitutes a violation and for any violations, intentional or not. The library also has an Academic Integrity and Plagiarism Prevention resource page with good definitions and strategies to avoid plagiarism. Any student found plagiarizing will at least have to rewrite the assignment and at worst be reported. The key to avoiding plagiarism is to show clearly where your own thinking ends and someone else’s begins. With today’s technology and my familiarity with your writing, it’s as easy to recognize plagiarism as it is to write it. There are many ways to plagiarize, including:

  1. Using another writer’s words without proper citation. If you use another writer’s words, you must place quotation marks around the quoted material and include a footnote or other indication of the source of the quotation.
  2. Using another writer’s ideas without proper citation. You are required to indicate which ideas and judgments are yours and which you arrived at by consulting other sources. Even if you arrived at the same judgment on your own, you need to acknowledge that the writer you consulted also came up with the idea and indicate this with citations.
  3. Citing your source but reproducing the exact words of a printed source without quotation marks. This makes it appear like a paraphrase rather than using an author’s exact words.
  4. Borrowing the structure of another author’s phrases or sentences without crediting the author. This usually occurs out of laziness; it is easier to replicate another’s style than to analyze in your own words. Example from A Writer’s Reference by Diana Hacker:
    • Original: “If the existence of a signing ape was unsettling for linguists, it was also startling news for animal behaviorists.”
    • Unacceptable borrowing of words: “An ape who knew sign language unsettled linguists and startled animal behaviorists.”
    • Unacceptable borrowing of sentence structure: “If the presence of a sign-language-using chimp was disturbing for scientists studying language, it was also surprising to scientists studying animal behavior.”
    • Acceptable paraphrase: “When they learned of an ape’s ability to use sign language, both linguists and animal behaviorists were taken by surprise.”
  5. Borrowing all or part of another’s paper or even using another’s outline to write your paper.
  6. Having a friend write the paper for you or using a paper writing “service.” Regardless of whether you pay a stranger or have a friend do it, it is a breach of academic honesty to hand in work that is not written on your own or to use parts of another student’s paper.



Course Summary:

Date Details Due