Gender Deviance and the American Experience
This class examines early American political thought through the representation of "deviant" sexualities in transatlantic literature. Authors and political figures from Captain John Smith to Harriet Jacobs considered their political ideas through the language of desire. Power and identity were forged through a discussion of sex, including sodomy, witchcraft, and sex work. We will consider early American literary and material culture for "deviance" and read the colonial project for what the authors' representation can tell us about gender, race, and social status in the early years of American society. Course requirements will include three short papers and a longer, critical or creative project that engages a significant theme from the class. We will use the unique resources of the Kislak Center, Penn's campus, and the city of Philadelphia to consider the writing and material culture of authors including Captain John Smith, Aphra Behn, William Penn, Thomas Jefferson, Harriet Jacobs, Phyllis Wheatley Peters, and more.