This course explores the construction, articulation, and politics of queer sexual desire in Europe from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. By placing queer sexualities in their broader social and political context, the course examines the ways in which sexuality has become central to questions of identity, both personal and national, in modern European society. Topics include: ways of thinking about the queer past; women’s “friendships” in Victorian Britain; the role of the new science of sexology in specifying various “sexual perversions”; the rise of sexual undergrounds in the context of European urbanization; the birth of campaigns for “homosexual emancipation”; attempts to regulate and suppress “deviant” sexualities, especially under the fascist and Nazi regimes in the 1930s; the effects of the postwar consumer revolution on the practices of sexual selfhood; the postwar “sex change” debates; the politics of 1950s homophile organizing and the 1970s Gay Liberation Movement; and recent debates about migrant queer identities in an increasingly multicultural Europe. The course will focus primarily on experiences in Britain, France, and Germany, but with some detours to Italy and Russia. Readings will be drawn from sexological texts, political tracts, memoirs, and the writings of recent historians and theorists. Several films will be screened and will also be central to our discussions of the changing meanings of sexual selfhood in modern European societies.
Format: seminar; This will hopefully be a 'hybrid' class, taught in person on campus, primarily as a discussion course. After Thanksgiving, the final course readings will be discussed remotely via Zoom. Depending on the numbers, if both on-campus and off-campus students enroll in the course -- or if masks and in-class social distance interfere with fruitful discussions -- instruction may shift to an all-remote format.
Grading: no pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
None; open to all students.
Junior and Senior History majors, along with Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies majors, will be given enrollment preference if the class is over-enrolled. But other students are welcome if space is available.
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
"Queer Europe" is a DPE course insofar as it explores the mechanisms by which sexual difference has been constituted, contested, and experienced and addresses how what we assume to be the "sexual norm" has a profoundly political history. It focuses on the means by which norms are created and enforced through the operations of power and on how those norms have been challenged and resisted by individuals who have come to understand themselves outside the normative categories of sexual selfhood.
HIST Group C Electives - Europe and Russia