The History of Sexuality
(History 327 / Women’s Studies 327)

 

Does sex have a history? This course proposes to respond to this provocative question by demonstrating how modern notions of sexuality have emerged historically. In that sense, sex is not part of nature, it is part of culture, or rather cultures and their histories. We will cast our net widely, exploring histories and cultures whose sexual orders differ greatly from what we know in the modern West. But also within Western societies, we will discover a wealth of sexual notions and practices that will help us transform our understanding of modern societies.  Our approach will be both thematic and chronological. We will cover fields such as marriage, homosexuality, prostitution, pornography, and gender identity. Along the way, we will be taking note of the interaction of sexuality with race, class, and gender. Rather than following a strict chronology, we will run through the history of sexuality within thematic units, each driven by its own set of problems and each including a broad sweep of historical and global examples.