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Sex and the US Military: from Cold War to “War on Terror” (HI2C6-15)

Module Convenor: Professor Susan Carruthers

Lectures: Wednesday 12-1pm, Ramphal 3.41

Seminars: Friday 1-2pm and 2-3pm, Ramphal 0.03

Office hours: Thursday 12-1pm; Friday 12-1pm; at other times by appointment. (Meetings will be held in my office, H3.07)

Email policy: Please note that I do not respond to emails in the evening or at weekends. If you send your email to me during regular working hours (8am to 5pm), I will reply on the same day or at the start of the following business day.

Module overview

Since World War II, the military has loomed large in the United States: significant not only for its war-waging functions and budgetary claims but as a parallel welfare state. The site of intense political contestation, the US armed forces have also formed a battleground in battles over sex, sexual violence, and sexuality: the focus of this 15 CAT module. Organised into three parts, this 15 CATS second-year option module will explore different facets of sex - as a problem and resource - for the US military over the decades since World War II.

Students will first consider the ways in which (heterosexual) sex has been construed, implicitly or more explicitly, as a "reward" for men's military service, and the consequences of this sexual prerogative for militarized communities in the United States as well as overseas. The second section of the module assesses how women have been recruited into and deployed by the US military since 1945, examining debates over women's inclusion in combat roles and how gender has been "weaponized" in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The module concludes by analyzing questions of sexual violence, homosexuality and transsexuality in the military, allowing students to historicize present-day struggles over who is permitted to serve - in which capacities, and under what terms - in various branches of the US military.

For full details of each week's lectures and seminar content/preparation, click on the "Syllabus" link below.