Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Study of Literary Theme: Pre-Modern Sexualities

ENGL 102.910
instructor(s):

We tend to think of religion and sexuality as incompatible categories: religion is allegedly the ideology that represses desire, punishes deviance, and organizes gender and sexuality into normative structures, most prominently celibacy and marriage. This course aims to trouble our modern assumptions about this opposition by reading medieval and Renaissance texts alongside modern ones – examples include the Anglo-Saxon ‘Dream of the Rood’ with H.D.’s Trilogy; John Milton’s Paradise Lost with the poems and illuminations of William Blake; Aemilia Lanyer with Emily Dickinson; John Donne with T. S. Eliot; Margery Kempe with Hélène Cixous and Luce Irigaray. Combining these primary readings with readings in modern feminist and queer theory, we’ll ask how literary texts use the languages of Christian devotion and of eroticism in combination with each other, and what kind(s) of poetics emerge from this convergence.  

This course fulfills English Major Sectors 2 (Difference and Diasporas) & 3 (Early Literatures to 1660).