Religion, Race and Sexuality in Early Modern Literature
This seminar will examine the mutual pressures and formations of religion, race, and sexuality in early modern poetry. How are spiritual and secular discourses of desire mutually constitutive? Is the experience of religious devotion, with its gender-fluid identifications and erotic raptures, ever anything but queer? To what extent does Christianity depend on, and even construct, racialized hierarchies? How does early modern theology disrupt the stable selfhood, self-satisfied morality, and monogamous attachment often assumed central to modern definitions of faith? Primary texts will include lyric poetry by Donne, Lock, Shakespeare, Lanyer, and Crashaw along with Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and Milton’s Paradise Lost. All students will lead one seminar discussion and write one conference-length paper (10-12 pages).