Sunday, 25 September 2011

2011/12 Academic Year: Welcome

This post is directly aimed at University of Sunderland Law and Sexuality students who are visiting this blog for the first time.  Workshops for the module kick off at 9am (sorry!) on Wednesday 5 October in RV309.  In the meantime, the following should give you a little bit more of an idea about the module.


As you will perhaps recall from the options fair, the module, like most modules at level 3 is taught over three hour workshops once a fortnight.  Following student feedback, I've introduced some questions to prepare before workshops this year.  However, these are very much a starting point to direct your research and improve discussions.  You need to be actively seeking out academics and non-academic sources to increase your knowledge - and this will mean looking beyond the traditional limits of Heinonline, Lexis and Westlaw.  Don't panic - I'll be providing lots of practical guidance in the first workshop and on an ongoing basis.   It’s hard work but will hopefully be fun and enlightening.


In workshops I’ll outline core material, but the emphasis will be on debate and discussion. Sometimes we’ll be doing group or interactive activities, and at other times we’ll be looking at video and other multimedia. Along with these ‘classroom’ based activities, we’ll be getting out into the ‘real world’ through a number of field trips that enable us to consider the literature you’ll be encountering in the places that they were produced. Within the first few weeks we’ll meet up in Newcastle and take a quick queer space walkabout. A few weeks later, there will be an opportunity to head over to Manchester for a similar, but extended field trip.  This year, the Manchester Trip will take place on 7/8 November (put the dates in your diary).  We'll pay for the coach down and you'll need to pay your hotel room.  I'll need to know who is coming in our first workshop on the 5th so I can book the coach! 

During the first day we have a walkabout through Canal Street and a further area, north of Piccadilly. We’ll also take a general walk through the city so pack comfortable shoes! In the evening, there will be an opportunity to socialise and reflect on the day. You can then do your own thing or I can take small groups for a look at Canal Street by night.  There will be other activities which I'll organise once I know numbers.  Last year we visited LGF for a briefing on their work and also visited the City Hall to hear about Manchester's historic and current policy approaches to LGBT issues.

In February next year (during/around reading week - w/c 20 Feb 2012), there will be a chance to head over to San Francisco for a life-changing visit. More details will be given in the first workshop including a price. We head over for about a week and take a look at variety of LGBTQ linked events and activities, as well as giving you an opportunity to explore this amazing city. I'll need to need numbers fairly soon (we typically need around 10 students for the trip to be viable) so if you need to talk to parents/family, start sounding them out now.


The assessment is two individual 2,500 word essays. One completed in each semester. The essays will seek to link multiple topics together and apply theory (feminism, queer, postmodernism) to a specific ‘issue’ so there is no ‘magic’ workshop to attend that will give you all the answers. It’s more a sort of jigsaw that emerges, so attendance at workshops and full participation will, as I’m sure you realise by now, enable you to achieve the results you want and deserve.


You’re reading the blog so you’re already well ahead. This blog will provide longer reflections on developments, pictures, video and additional support to the course. There are also extensive links to additional sources of information down the right hand side.  These are organised by broad subject area.  I've included NSFW (not safe for work) links this year which link to explicit/sometimes pornographic material.  You are not required in any way to access these links, but they do provide an additional dimension to your studies.  In order to comply with university IT regulations, you are asked to access these off-site.

The search bar on right enables you to search the blog archive for specific material – and the blog is now in its fourth year so there’s lots of info on here. The large Pink Sixty window at the top right updates automatically with 60 second daily LGBT news bulletins Mon-Fri and on Saturday a summary of the week is available.  There's also a facility below that to enter your email address and receive email alerts of new blog posts.  If you enter your email address you will receive a confirmation email  -you need to click the link in that email to confirm your subscription.  On SunSpace you’ll find all the PowerPoint Slides, interactive exercises and further info and videos. You’ll also see links to Twitter, Facebook, Audioboo and this blog. Twitter consists of links to interesting news stories, quick thoughts and so on. If you’re on Twitter, why not follow me? New blog posts will also be automatically fed to twitter.  It's not a strictly academic/professional account so you'll also get my random thoughts - it's not mandatory but it is another tool to access information and interact with me.

If you’d rather add me on Facebook, where blog posts will also be fed, feel free to add me, but there is a dedicated module page of Facebook.   Finally, Audioboo which are simply short audio posts will be used from time to time, usually embedded into the blog or linked via Twitter. Group assessment feedback will be provided by Audioboo along with other thoughts, and reflections. You can subscribe to my Audioboo in iTunes so they will automatically be downloaded to your ITunes account. Just click the audioboo link in Sunspace or above. This may seem like a bewildering array of different technologies and platforms – use whatever works best for you. 


If you’re one of the eager beavers, you can take a look at the course texts - detailed in the module guide on SunSpace and all available as e-books through the library. They will probably seem hard going the first time you take a look, but don’t worry, it will come together as the course progresses. You may also want to take a look at the work of Judith Butler, Eve Sedgwick and Michel Foucault. You may find introductory guides to these authors ideas useful and more accessible.

You’ll also see an earlier blog post gives some guidance on films and TV to take a look at. In addition, you can also spend some time searching through this blog. There’s lots of video and some documentaries available on here. There’s also lots of links to sites that will be useful for your study. Take some time to familiarise yourself with them and explore! You’ll also be using ATHENS databases you might not have used before. As well as LexisNexis and Westlaw, you’ll find databases such as Sage, Ebsco and Emerald of use as you progress through he module. Log into and have a play. Use the time now to explore – there’s probably a lot more literature available to you than you ever imagined. You’ll have less time to explore when the module is in full swing and assessment deadlines are on the horizon. Try and take some time to head over to the Murray Library at City Campus. There are useful journals and lots of sociology/sexuality/theory books on the top floor. Have a browse and if something looks/sounds interesting, take a closer look.

I’m really looking forward to exploring the subject of law and sexuality with you and I’ll see you all real soon. Chris

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