The U.S. Naval Academy’s English course, HE 374, “Topics in Gender & Sexuality in Literature,” has sparked controversy for allegedly incorporating left-leaning theories into its curriculum, including elements of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and expansive gender and sexuality studies. The syllabi obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation have stirred concerns about the course’s content, which purportedly delves into the history of gender studies and includes studies on LGBTQ topics, race, class, and concepts informed by Critical Race Theory.
The course description seems to underscore the evolution of gender and sexuality studies, from the origins rooted in women’s studies to a broader exploration of gender theories and societal constructs. It emphasizes Queer Theory, Masculinity Studies, Intersectionality, race, and class, distancing itself from the traditional feminist focus on White middle-class women. The inclusion of such themes has raised questions about the course’s academic focus and its alignment with military training.
One noticeable activity includes performing a land acknowledgment and setting the course’s learning outcomes, demonstrating an emphasis on social concepts beyond traditional literary analysis. The syllabus outlines in-class activities involving exploring gender theories, introducing the Genderbread person concept, and discussing gender and sexuality vocabulary. Notably, texts critical of conservative views on sex and gender, like Nancy Chodorow’s “The Reproduction of Mothering” and Toril Moi’s “Sexual/Textual Politics,” form the core readings for the course.
The course requirements, including journal entries on Tacit Racism, response papers critiquing literary works like “The Passion” and “Fun Home,” signal a strong emphasis on particular societal narratives and critical analysis through a specific ideological lens. The syllabus indicates a focus on a fall 2021 semester, although the curriculum aligns with recurring themes and academic approaches associated with contemporary gender studies.
The Naval Academy, acknowledging the course as optional, asserts its commitment to fostering critical thinking and diversity of thought among its students. However, concerns persist regarding the academic balance and ideological orientation within the curriculum, raising questions about the military institution’s alignment with political and social ideologies in educational practices.
Further syllabi obtained for Spring and Fall 2023 showcase a continued emphasis on exploring gender binaries, discussions around specific sexualities’ rejection and empowerment, and the utilization of gender and sexuality in cultural contexts. Additionally, the academy’s intent to recruit a tenure-track assistant professor in Gender and Sexuality Studies in 2024 adds fuel to the debate over the institution’s educational priorities and potential ideological leanings.
The advertised course description on the academy’s website reveals a planned focus on LGBTQ, women’s, and gender studies, listing key figures in these fields. This information underscores the academy’s intent to incorporate diverse perspectives, but it also raises concerns about the predominance of a specific ideological framework within the course offerings.