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Organization, Regulations, and Courses 2023-24

WGSS 66.20 Early Modern Literature and the History of Sexuality

Throughout the twentieth century and especially since the 1970s, the literature and drama of the English Renaissance has provided a crucial archive for scholars studying the historical formation of sexuality, sex practices, and gender in pre-modern society. Shakespeare's sonnets, for example, with their erotic address to both a "sweet boy" (or "master-mistress of my passion") and the so-called Dark Lady, remain a flashpoint. On the English stage, cross-gender identification and same-gender romance was a constant presence, while in the streets of London, "catamites," "tribades," or acts of "sodomy" were supposed to be completely absent—from the eyes of the law, at least. What can the poetry and plays of William Shakespeare, Amelia Lanyer, Christopher Marlowe, Margaret Cavendish, John Donne, or Katherine Phillips teach us, not only about the historically-distant practices of the past, but about our methods, theories, terms and changing paradigms for studying such topics today? What does it mean to read imaginative literature as an archive within an historically contingent body of knowledge? Students should prepare to engage with significant primary and secondary historical readings as well as the social theories of Michel Foucault, Eve Sedgwick, and others.

Cross Listed Courses

ENGL 61.03

Degree Requirement Attributes

Dist:LIT; WCult:W

The Timetable of Class Meetings contains the most up-to-date information about a course. It includes not only the meeting time and instructor, but also its official distributive and/or world culture designation. This information supersedes any information you may see elsewhere, to include what may appear in this ORC/Catalog or on a department/program website. Note that course attributes may change term to term therefore those in effect are those (only) during the term in which you enroll in the course.