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Early Modern Sexualities

ENGL 390.401
crosslisted as: GSWS 390
TR 1:30-3:00 pm
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major
Sector 2: Difference and Diaspora of the Standard Major
Sector 3: Early Literature to 1660 of the Standard Major

This seminar will read a range of early modern male and female poets in the context of feminist theory, queer theory, and the history of sexuality. Authors to be covered include William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, Mary Wroth, John Donne, Katherine Phillips, and Apha Behn, among others. Throughout the semester, we will consider the following questions about how past and present sexual norms and ideals have been constituted and challenged. What can a study of past representations of gender and sexuality teach us that a focus on contemporary structures and representations cannot? How can feminist and queer theory focused on contemporary debates and politics help us better to understand past experiences and ideologies of gender and sexuality? What do studies of literary or artistic representations of women, men, and erotic relations tell us about “sex”—as anatomical category, as gender ideals and norms, as physical intimacy, as desire and identification— that historical or sociological methods do not? All students will write a final 12+-page research paper, produced through a series of shorter assignments over the semester.