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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 166 (GH;US) (WMNST 166) History of Sexuality (3) Discusses the ideas, practices, and identities surrounding sexuality over several centuries in a variety of contexts, focusing primarily on the US.

HIST (WMNST) 166 History of Sexuality (3)

This is a 100-level course on the history of sexuality, spanning several centuries and a wide range of contexts. The study of sexuality offers a particularly good lens for developing students' analytical ability to think historically about something that is often considered both "natural" and exclusively "modern." Topics will include the role of religion, medicine, law, and politics in controlling and shaping sexuality; change and controversy over birth control, abortion, and gender roles; the connections between prescriptive literature and lived experience; the origins and meanings and racial violence in the context of ideas about sexuality; the role of marriage in defining sex, race, and respectability; and the experiences and conflicts that have shaped the emergence of modern lesbian and gay identities. By closely and critically examining one aspect of human thought and experience, the course will teach students to evaluate large questions about sources, methods, and analysis that historians face, including: How do we recover stories of "private life" from societies and eras different from our own? How does our own understanding of what sexuality complicate our historical exploration? What are the connections between gender identity and sexual practices? What can we learn about gender and sexuality, repression and resistance, deviance and acceptance, identity and community from studying the lesbian and gay past? How has racism been employed to justify particular reproductive and sexual practices, as well as to limit claims to sexual respectability? To what extent is the study of sexuality inherently a study of gender, sex roles, and feminism?

While focused primarily on the United States, the course will offer students opportunities to examine these questions in other contexts, including India, the Middle East, and Latin America. It will be especially attentive throughout to the varieties of sexual practices and identities across different races, classes, ethnicities, and religious groups.

General Education: GH
Diversity: US
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2012
Prerequisite: one introductory level course in History or Women's Studies

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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