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New subject on offer in Bachelor of Arts degree


Zoe Satherley
5 June 2009
Southern Cross University's School of Arts and Social Sciences is offering an exciting new subject in the Bachelor of Arts degree for Semester 2, 2009.

Gender, Sexuality and Culture aims to provide students with an understanding of how gender and sexuality impact on the individual and society.

Students will examine contemporary debates and issues surrounding gender and sexuality through a focus on identity, socio-legal contexts, media, culture and power.

“Australian national treasure and political cartoonist Michael Leunig once remarked that ‘sexuality is where people are very human and vulnerable. This is precisely where truths emerge - and sensitivities and fears’,” said Dr Baden Offord, who will be teaching this subject.

“Thus, an important aspect of any liberal arts degree is understanding how gender and sexuality affect us and give meaning to our lives.”

Last year Dr Offord was a Visiting Fellow at the world famous Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction at Indiana University in the United States. His interdisciplinary cultural studies research is in the fields of sexuality, human rights, belonging and identity. Dr Offord’s nationally awarded book, Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia (2003), has been described by former Australian High Court judge, Justice Michael Kirby, as ‘pioneering’ in the spirit of Kinsey.

While at the Kinsey Institute, Dr Offord examined historical and recent responses to Alfred Kinsey’s work in preparation for this new subject Gender, Sexuality and Culture . He found Kinsey’s insights ‘remarkably astute and relevant to our understanding of what it means to be human. He was one of the most important researchers of the twentieth century’.

For example, Dr Offord cites a 1939 lecture where Kinsey stated: ‘variability is universal in the living world’, and that ‘failure to recognise this unlimited non-identity has vitiated much of our scientific work’.

Dr Offord’s research examines contemporary debates about the limits of identity politics as well as the fear and aversion to sexual diversity. Like Kinsey, Dr Offord argues, ‘variation and diversity are the basis for being human, and that sexuality is itself as varied as every human being’.

“I am looking forward to teaching this new subject. It tackles some very interesting and relevant topics such as sexuality and censorship, justice, exploitation and sport,” Dr Offord said.

“We will be looking at homophobia and surfing culture as well as gender and sexuality in film among other things. Films studied include Kinsey, Boys Don’t Cry and Brokeback Mountain.”

Dr Offord is a multi-award-winning teacher and researcher in the School of Arts and Social Sciences. In 2006 he was awarded a Carrick Australian Award for University Teaching, Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning, For pioneering cultural studies and cultural diversity programs in regional Australia; outstanding command of his field; and inspiring transformative student learning.

Applications remain open for the Semester 2 intake into the Bachelor of Arts. This subject is available on campus at Lismore as well as through distance education. To apply go to

Photo: Dr Baden Offord, Associate Professor in Cultural Studies, who is looking forward to teaching a new subject in the Bachelor of Arts degree.