Goffman’s classic exploring how certain characteristics can spoil someone’s identity in the face of others is a great addition to any course delving into the sticky issues of the self.
A smart and often funny look into the practices of sexual confession on television talk shows. A great companion to Foucault’s work on sexuality and discourse.
Renowned biologist Fausto-Sterling explains how human biology does not fit into two and only two sexes.
This award-winning article about David Reimann, whose sex reassignment as a young boy due to a botched circumcision later became a medical scandal, raises important issues about sexual identity and is cited by Butler in Undoing Gender as an example of how “intersex” is oversimplified as a medical problem.
A documentary that explores what happens when there is no longer a “backstage” for our identities. To learn more, click here.
Mead and Simmel argued that we could only develop a sense of self through the collective work of social interaction. This film about Genie, a girl who spent her first 13 years of life without social interaction with others, provides a fascinating, disturbing, and controversial look into the importance of the social for the development of the individual. You can find an overview of the program here and watch clips here.
A lively documentary detailing a drag queen subculture in 1980s New York. The performers’ bending and parodying of gender norms served as inspiration for Judith Butler’s theories of gender identity. For more on the film, go here.
George Herbert Mead was heavily influenced by pragmatism, a distinctly American brand of philosophy that emerged after the horrors of the Civil War. In this NPR segment, author Louis Menand discusses his book on the cultural and historical origins of pragmatist philosophy.
A four-part documentary on how the theories of the self developed by Sigmund Freud shaped how twentieth-century Western governments and corporations understood and attempted to control and influence people. Go here for more information from the BBC on the series and here for a full-length clip.
Check out this New Yorker article about online dating for a closer look at how we stylize our identities in the hopes of finding intimacy through the Internet. And, listen to NPR’s interview with Nick Paumgarten, author of the article.