WGS 345 • AMER SEXUALITIES, 1600-PRESENT
The topic of sexualities in America is simultaneously one of the most intriguing and yet conflict-laden subjects we can discuss. It encompasses a variety of themesreligious views of reproduction and parenthood, the evolution of views of sexual orientations, the legal treatment of extra- or non-marital sex, the politics of interracial sex, stereotypes about prudes or sexual prowess, and the role of churches or states in mandating behaviorall of which combine to make for often difficult conversations.
This upper-division lecture class will offer ample opportunities for thoughtful discussion of these themes. It illustrates the extent to which these themes have recurred and evolved during four centuries of American history, and how the questions they raise have affected the course of Americans' lives and the shape of American culture. Examining the ways that sexuality has been regulated through various legal, social, and political meansand the way it has been represented by political leaders, church divines, or the modern-day mediawill help us better understand the nature of the present-day United States and its contradictory debates about sexuality. Such subjects will also help us ask why various ideas about sexual behavior developed alongside religious, political, and cultural belief systems, and will show how false is the notion that American history has moved from the repressive world of the Puritans to the more liberated, modern ideals of the twenty-first century. We will pay special attention to readings that draw connections between sexuality and race, class, and gender.