An English course at the U.S. Naval Academy teaches officer candidates left-wing theories of gender and sexuality, along with elements of Critical Race Theory, according to syllabi obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The course description for HE 374, Topics In Gender & Sexuality in Literature, begins by tracing the history of gender and sexuality studies from its origin in the women’s studies discipline rooted in the Second Wave Feminism of the 1970’s and 1980’s, according to a syllabus the DCNF obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request. However, the English major course broadens to include studies for future U.S. Navy officers on LGBTQ studies, race, class and concepts informed by Critical Race Theory, which defines people groups in terms of oppressor and oppressed, the syllabus shows.

“Most of the faculty, students, and topics of study in early Women’s Studies programs were limited by being White, middleclass, women,” the female instructor, whose name is redacted but who appears to have served as Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences during that semester, wrote in the course description.

“In the 2000’s, some Women’s Studies Departments renamed themselves Gender and Sexuality Studies in order to better reflect Women’s Studies’ growing interest in exploring Queer Theory, Masculinity Studies, Intersectionality, race, and class. Women’s Studies Programs are feminist at their hearts; Gender and Sexuality Studies Programs are not, and in fact, might even reject feminism for its original focus on White middleclass women.”

Students begin the class by performing a land acknowledgement, the syllabus shows. Students also set the learning outcomes for the course.

What Does “Theories of Gender” Have to Do With Naval Warfare?

The second class period involve study of “theories of gender” and learning about the Genderbread person, a visual made to show a difference between “gender identity,” “gender expression,” “anatomical sex,” “gender” and “sexual orientation.” On the third class period, students create a diversity statement and learn gender and sexuality vocabulary.

Another in-class activity scheduled for week 3 is reading pan-African and socialist civil rights activist W.E.B. DeBois’ “Double Consciousness.”

The primary texts of the course were “The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender” by Nancy Chodorow and “Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory” by Toril Moi. Both books are critical of conservative ideas about sex and gender.

“Women’s mothering perpetuates itself through social-structurally induced psychological mechanisms. It is not an unmediated product of physiology. Women come to mother because they have been mothered by women,” Chodorow wrote, according to a summary.

Moi’s book imagines a world “beyond the opposition feminine/masculine, beyond homosexuality and heterosexuality,” a review shows.

“While you will be expected to understand both of these books and the theoretical positions they present, you are not expected to agree with them (although you might, and that’s okay too),” the instructor wrote in the syllabus.

Two papers due throughout the semester require students to apply concepts from the two books to other readings from the class. The final paper instructs students to describe their takeaways about gender and sexuality from the class.

DoD Loves DEI

Journal entries on the Tacit Racism reading are also required most Wednesdays, according to the syllabus.

Students are also required to respond to articles critiquing “The Passion” by Jeanette Winterson and “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” by Alison Bechdel. “Fun Home” is a memoir about a girl coming to terms with her own lesbian sexuality, according to a summary.

The syllabus is not dated. However, the dates on the syllabus correspond to a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule that fits the fall of 2021.

“The Naval Academy focuses on respect and inclusion of people of all backgrounds in order to develop well-rounded future leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps,” the academy said in a statement to the DCNF, adding that the course is optional.

“A vast array of intellectual ideas, approaches and theories are mentioned during classroom discussions. The Naval Academy educates midshipmen to be critical thinkers who can analyze issues from multiple perspectives and contexts; our focus is on how to think, not what to think,” the academy said.

The DCNF also obtained syllabi for the spring and fall semesters of 2023 as part of the FOIA request.

The Spring 2023 course was divided into three main sections, starting with “an exploration of the masculine/feminine binary,” then moving to “a historical and contemporary discussion of the rejection and empowerment of specific sexualities” and finally the “utilization of Gender and Sexuality to enforce or deconstruct the othering of nonwestern culture,” the syllabus showed.

“This course promises… [to] create a welcoming space for discussion and practice of vocabulary in relation to Gender and Sexuality,” the syllabus states.

Wanted: Professor in Gender and Sexuality Studies … to Teach Our Future Admirals

The Naval Academy sought a tenure-track assistant professor in Gender and Sexuality Studies to begin work in January 2024, the website shows.

“We welcome subspecialties in disability studies, film, and multiethnic or global Anglophone literature,” the job description stated.

A course description for the class available on the academy’s website advertises students will learn “advanced methods of analyzing literature and culture are taught through a set of focused readings of theories, histories, perspectives, and/or major figures in LGBTQ, women’s and/or gender studies,” including Audre Lorde, Sarah Ahmed, Gloria Anzaldua — who described herself as a “Chicana dyke-feminist” — and Kimberle Crenshaw, a Critical Race Theory scholar.

 

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