Lesson Plans

Just a month before the Supreme Court agreed to
hear a case challenging the sodomy laws of Texas,
legal scholars Nan Hunter (right) and Kendall Thomas (left) presented their approaches to teaching Bowers vs.
Hardwick for Lesson Plans, the Pedagogy Workshop hosted by CLAGS and NYU’s Center for the Study of Gender
and Sexuality before a large and knowledgeable audience that engaged in a lively discussion after the presentations.
Hunter described how she positions the case in terms of legal doctrine around privacy, historicizes it as a
high-water mark of the political attack on Roe vs. Wade, and challenges Justices White’s and Blackmun’s opinions
on sodomy and moral teaching. Thomas elaborated various approaches to teaching the case according to the
course in which he teaches it. In a Constitutional Law course, for instance, he emphasizes the theory of judicial
review and “implied fundamental rights” like privacy, noting its anomalousness in a line of contraception cases.
Urging close reading of opinions — including their very grammar — Thomas shows how easy it is to demonstrate
that Bowers vs. Hardwick “appears to be jurisprudentially incoherent” and tries to get students to consider the
relevance of social context. In a seminar setting, Thomas focuses even more on the rhetorical strategies of the
opinion, showing how it constructs heterosexuality.
In October, Lesson Plans presented Richard Halperin and John Guillory on teaching sexuality in
Shakespeare. Halperin argued that queer sexualities in Shakespeare are allowed and rendered relatively inconsequential
while Guillory discussed Shakespeare’s sexual reticence.