Research in Gender and Sexuality

L752 — Spring 2018

Ballantine Hall 141
Days and Times
9:30-12:30 T
Course Description

Topic: Thinking Sex With Premodernity Authorization Required; Is sex good to think with? Early Modern scholar Valerie Traub asks in the introduction to her book, Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns. Much has changed in the study of sexuality generally since Gayle Rubin wrote the transformative essay that Traubs book revisits, Thinking Sex: Notes for a Radical Theory of the Politics of sexuality (1984). Over the past twenty years queer theory and studies in the history of sexuality have demonstrated that thinking sex in the past might pose additional challenges, such as the use of categories of heterosexuality and homosexuality to define medieval and early modern sexual norms; the presumption that we already know in advance what counts as sexual in literatures and cultures of the past; and finally, the opacities that sexuality in earlier cultures present to the modern scholar, providing both obstacles to our knowledge of earlier sexualities and opportunities for considering how past sexualities might inform contemporary understanding of sexuality and how different historiographies leverage those obstacles. We will acquaint ourselves with categories of new and intriguing sexual categories, such as heterosyncrasies, claustrophilia, and inanimophilia, exploring what they have to tell us about our own modern categoires. Primary readings for this course will be weighted toward the medieval period, but the course will include early modern texts as well. Among the primary material to be read in this course are; Alan of Lilles Plaint of Nature and selections from Ovid (in translation), selected Canterbury Tales, Chaucers Parliament of Fowles, selections from John Gowers Confessio Amantis (in Middle English) and the Romance of the Rose (in translation). Among the Early Modern texts we will read are Shakespeares sonnets, Midsummer Nights Dream, John Lylys Gallatea, and Marlowes Edward II. Secondary readings will include a broad reading of queer and gender theory, as well as the work of medieval and Renaissance scholars of sexuality and gender, including work by Carolyn Dinshaw, William Burgwinkle, Mario di Gangi, Valerie Traub, Madhavi Menon, and others. Non-English Department students please contact the instructor first. Instructor: Karma Lochrie

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