HIS 365G • 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 overturn 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.
Our class will combine lectures and class discussions, and will require students to complete weekly response papers, one essay-exam midterm and two separate drafts of a 6-page paper. Students who have taken Prof. Eastman's lower-division class, "U.S. Women, Gender, and Sexuality to 1865" are particularly urged to register for this class.
Readings will likely include: Beth Bailey, From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in the 20th Century William Wells Brown, Clotel: Or, the President's Daughter Nancy Cott, Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation Joshua Greenberg, Notorious in the Neighborhood: Sex and Families across the Color Line in Virginia, 1787-1861 Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Rereading Sex: Battles over Sexual Knowledge and Suppression in 19th-c. America Elizabeth Kennedy, Boots of Leather, Slippers of Gold: The History of a Lesbian Community Leslie Reagan, When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and the Law in the United States, 1867-1973 Elizabeth Reis, American Sexual Histories