Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

MLA Proseminar: Queer Shakespeare

ENGL 538.640
also offered as: COML 558
Thursday 5:15-7:55pm

This seminar will explore the history of sexuality in the West with Shakespeare from a historical and transnational perspective. Our investigation of Shakespeare and sexuality will be guided by various contextual foci from the early modern period: revival of classical tropes, translations, global encounters, discoveries and colonial expansions, material history, religious conversions, cartographic knowledge, emergent nationalism, race, and empire. These contexts will not just provide a historical background but also highlight the constitutive interlink between representations of sexuality and socio-cultural dynamics. Within this historical context, weekly discussions will focus on such topics as sodomy, friendship, lesbianism, crossdressing, transgender, sexualization of the other, prostitution, masochism, bestiality, consent, and pornography. We will also survey queer methods and ways of analysis, as well as major critical debates in the field of early modern sexuality studies, and the current state of (and future directions in) the history of sexuality and queer studies in general. The study of the past adds significantly to our understandings of sexualities and sexual discourses in the present. The seminar will therefore pay attention to continuities, ruptures, dissonances, crossings, and interrelations between discourses and practices in the past and the present.

fulfills requirements