What is the relationship between sex and power in the US? How have
understandings of sexualidentity, sexual consent, and the politics of
reproduction changed over the past two centuries? Andwhat role has “sex”
played in the history of ideas about race, gender, class, disability, and
nationality?To answer these questions, this course will trace the
connections between key moments in UShistory in which “sex” and “power”
collided in formative ways: from the reproductive politics ofmid-nineteenth
century slavery, to the Stonewall uprising of 1969, to the contemporary
#metoomovement. We will explore these and other major nodes of the history
of sexuality by examiningtheir depiction in cultural objects, looking at
fiction and memoir from authors such as HarrietJacobs, Djuna Barnes, James
Baldwin, and Allison Bechdel, as well as in film and television such
asHBO’s The Sex Lives of College Girls. We will ask, what understandings of
the “power” of sex - as asite of liberation, oppression, or maybe even both
– are offered by these cultural objects? In additionto teaching students
the skills of literary and visual analysis, this course will offer an
introduction tokey theories and methods of sexuality studies. We will read
scholarship from the fields of queertheory, feminist theory, Black studies,
and the medical humanities, engaging with thinkers such asMichel Foucault,
Eve Sedgwick, Saidiya Hartman, Adrienne Rich, and José Esteban Muñoz.
Noprevious experience with sexuality studies or literary studies required!
Assignments will includeweekly reading responses and a short final paper.