WGSS 329
Premodern Sexualities Fall 2014
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed WGSS 329 / ENGL 329
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Is it possible that a European Middle Ages so beholden to the cultural authority of the Catholic Church could model forms of desire relevant to 21st-century discourse about sexual identity? In this course, we will think about what medieval texts can tell us about desire and how we might understand its modes within a wider perspective of a history of sexuality. In addition to investigating the theme of courtly love in medieval romance, we will explore troubadour poetry, saint’s lives, theological treatises, courtesy manuals, and mystical visions. We will frame our investigation around some of the most influential narratives regarding the evolution of sexuality, including those of Michel Foucault, David Halperin and Karma Lochrie, in order to analyze how medieval texts uphold and sometimes challenge received notions about how, when, and whether these categories emerged. In our investigation, we will cover the paradox of virginity, the rise of a knightly class as an experiment in the homosocial, the poetics of desire, the sexuality of grammar, and more. By investigating the varied modes of sexuality depicted in the narratives and practices of the European Middle Ages, Premodern Sexualities will challenge students to think critically about theorizations of gender/sexuality pre- and post-modern.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1966
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: participation in class discussion, two presentations, short position papers, one 5- to 8-page paper, one 8- to 10-page paper
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam
Enrollment Preferences: English majors
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGSS
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
WGSS 329 Division II ENGL 329 Division I
Attributes: ENGL Literary Histories A

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