History and Theory of Sexuality: Sex and Power in the US

History and Theory of Sexuality: Sex and Power in the US

Online
Subject Area
Course Number
ENGL 0050 910
Course Code
ENGL0050910
Course Key
81680
Day(s)
Monday
Wednesday
Time
5:15pm-7:45pm
5:15pm-7:45pm
Instructor
HEMMING, MATILDA KATE
Primary Program
Course Description
What is the relationship between sex and power in the US? How have understandings of sexual identity, sexual consent, and the politics of reproduction changed over the past two centuries? And what 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 US history in which "sex" and "power" collided in formative ways: from the reproductive politics of mid-nineteenth century slavery, to the Stonewall uprising of 1969, to the contemporary #metoo movement. We will explore these and other major nodes of the history of sexuality by examining their depiction in cultural objects, looking at fiction and memoir from authors such as Harriet Jacobs, Djuna Barnes, James Baldwin, and Allison Bechdel, as well as in film and television such as HBO’s The Sex Lives of College Girls. We will ask, what understandings of the "power" of sex -- as a site of liberation, oppression, or maybe even both -- are offered by these cultural objects? In addition to teaching students the skills of literary and visual analysis, this course will offer an introduction to key theories and methods of sexuality studies. We will read scholarship from the fields of queer theory, feminist theory, Black studies, and the medical humanities, engaging with thinkers such as Michel Foucault, Eve Sedgwick, Saidiya Hartman, Adrienne Rich, and José Esteban Muñoz. No previous experience with sexuality studies or literary studies required! Assignments will include weekly reading responses and a short final paper.
Subject Area Vocab