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. Primary authors to be covered include Francesco Petrarch, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Philip Sidney, Mary Wroth, John Donne, Katherine Phillips, Apha Behn, and the Earl of Rochester; we will also read a good deal of theory and criticism. 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?