WGSS 1105 Gender & Sexuality in Everyday Life, UConn, USA

Warscapes Corona Notebooks

Professor Sherry Zane taught a large lecture class this Spring 2020 called "WGSS 1105 Gender & Sexuality in Everyday Life." Given the extraordinary stress being experienced by students and faculty during the Covid-19 pandemic, she allowed students to submit TikTok videos based on what they learned during the semester. We picked a short selection of these critical, smart, creative and joyful videos for our Corona Notebooks series. 

"I teach a large lecture course called "Gender & Sexuality in Everyday Life" with 200 students or more each semester. This interdisciplinary course provides an introduction into the field of women's, gender and sexuality studies where students learn how sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism function to marginalize and oppress people through systems of privilege and inequality that structure institutions in our society. Prior to COVID-19, students met in small sections each week to discuss these often tenuous and difficult concepts, and where face-to-face instruction is crucial for deep interaction and student reflection. The pandemic forced all of us to think about student engagement in ways we had not considered before, and we knew that student motivation would spiral downward given the situation. Because I have so many students I had no idea what their living conditions might be so I tried to reach out to them as often as possible and give them something to laugh at. I made videos with my cats, sent them messages that included songs with hope-filled lyrics, offered support and encouragement by easing up on course requirements and yes, I used Tik Tok. I got the idea while I watched my own kids spending hours glued to the app during the first week of COVID-19 quarantine in the U.S. We goofed around by trying to learn the #BlindingLights challenge dance moves to the popular song written, produced and performed by Canadian singer, the Weeknd. Then, we decided to make ours different by wearing “feminist killjoy” t-shirts, Star Wars themed masks and hats, and boxing gloves so we could virtually punch the television screen during one of the presidential briefings.  At the time, it was just a way to deal with being bored in the house, to get creative, and spend some quality time together. I shared our Tik Tok with my students just to make them laugh but soon realized that I had an opportunity to use this popular app for educational purposes. I offered up an extra credit assignment where they could make their own, as long as the video was connected to the course material. " 

Sherry Zane is an Associate Professor in Residence and the Interim Director of the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at UConn’s Storrs campus.  She teaches intersectional courses that focus on how gender, race, sex, and sexuality are woven into systems of difference and stratification that shape our past and present. She is also working on a feminist pedagogical project to make classroom experiences more inclusive. Sherry’s main research interests include the history of gender, race, sexuality, and U.S. national security.  Her current book project for SUNY press is titled Surveilling Sex: Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Section A Crusades, and the Emergence of a National Security State, 1919-1923.