The History of Sexuality in Modern Western Culture

History 4930I 6.0
Fall/Winter 2000-2001
Mondays 11:30-14:30
225 Bethune College

Course director: Sheila McManus
Office: Vari Hall 2132
Phone: 736-5123
Office hours: Monday 10:30 to 11:30 or by appointment

The history of sexuality is one of both oppression and agency, regulation and resistance. The purpose of this course is to enable you to develop a critical understanding of how definitions of human sexuality have developed in particular social and national contexts, how social concerns about sexuality have been played out in personal and political realms, and how a wide range of sexual identities have been constructed in different historical contexts. We will explore various issues in the history of sexuality covering a broad range of theoretical and thematic questions, and we will focus primarily on North America and western Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The course is organized in two sections. “Thinking and Writing about the History of Sexuality ” is a brief introduction to issues of categorization, key theoretical innovations, and “social constructionist” perspectives on sexuality. The rest of the course, “Sex and Sexuality in Society,” probes the connections between sexuality and other social structures like race, gender, class, violence, politics, colonialism and communities, and highlights the key paradigm shifts in the history of “modern” sexuality and sexual identities.

Required books:
All the readings are in the two reading kits (first term and second term) which are available in the bookstore (not at Beta).

How your grade will be broken down:
Article analysis 10% (5-6 pages)
Book review 15% (10-12 pages)
Seminar participation 30% (15% per term)
Research paper proposal 5% (2 pgs plus preliminary bibliography)
Primary research paper 40% (20-25 pages)

Article analysis (5-6 pages, due at the start of the relevant week)
This 5-6 page paper will be an analysis of one week’s readings. You must discuss their arguments, sources, conclusions, methodology, strengths and weaknesses, etc. You must sign up in class for the week you want to write about – the sheet will be passed around during the second week of class. I will assume that you will be prepared to comment briefly (5 minutes max) and informally on the readings at the start of class, but the grade will reflect the written work only.

Book review: 10-12 pages, due at the start of class December 4
This essay will be a detailed critical review of one monograph on the pre-20th century history of sexuality. A list of suggested works will be provided, but if you wish to analyze a book which is not on that list you must discuss it with me first. You will analyze the author’s argument, sources and methodology, as well as place the book within its relevant historiography.

Primary research paper proposal, due at the start of class February 19
This two-page proposal and preliminary bibliography will outline your topic, the relevant historiography, the primary source(s) you intend to use, your methodology, and your tentative argument. The bibliography does not have to be extensive, but it must include your primary source(s) and at least 5 articles or books.

Primary research paper: 20-25 pages, due at the start of class April 9
There are three kinds of essays you can choose to do for this assignment: a traditional primary research paper involving some original research; a historiographical paper on a particular theme in the history of sexuality; or a paper which looks at a contemporary issue and contextualizes it historically, which will be a combination of the first two. For example, if you are interested in the history of pornography, you could choose to write about one of the famous “obscenity” trials of the late-nineteenth or early-twentieth centuries; you could write about how historians have dealt with issues of pornography and obscenity; or you could look at some aspect of the recent debates over pornography and obscenity and place it within its historical context.

What you choose to write about is up to you, as long as you remember these three parameters: you must discuss the topic with me, you must use sexuality as your main analytical category (alone or in combination with race, class, gender, space, nation, etc.); and your essay must have a historical context. Contextualizing the history of recent debates over pornography is fine; simply writing about the recent debates with little or no historical analysis is not.

Attendance/late penalties
Because this course is a seminar attendance and meaningful participation are very important.
If you miss 5 or more seminars in one term you will automatically get 0% for that term’s participation grade. If you cannot make it to class you must let me know before the start of class so that your absence will not count against you.
Late essays will be penalized 2% a day (including weekends). If you know in advance that you cannot meet a deadline, you must talk to me about it at least one day before the essay is due to make alternate arrangements.

York University’s policy on academic dishonesty is attached to this syllabus.
I will assume that you have read and understood it, and are aware of its penalties. If you have any questions about the meaning of academic dishonesty, please raise them in class.

History 4930I – The History of Sexuality in Modern Western Culture

First term reading list (all readings in kit)

Part I Thinking and Writing about the History of Sexuality

September 11 Introduction to course

September 18 Historiographical trends

Nye, Robert A. “On Why History is so Important to an Understanding of Human Sexuality.”

Maynard, Steven. “In Search of ‘Sodom North’: The Writing of Lesbian and Gay History in English Canada, 1970-1990.”

Freedman, Estelle. “The History of the Family and the History of Sexuality.”

September 25 Theorizing the Social Construction of Sexuality and Gender

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume 1. Part 1 “We Other Victorians”

Vance, Carol. “Social Construction Theory: Problems in the History of Sexuality.”

October 2 Methodological problems: historicizing “lesbians” as a case study

Donoghue, Emma. “Introduction” to Passions Between Women

Jeffreys, Sheila. “Does it Matter if they did it?”

Rich, Adrienne. “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence”

October 9 – no class

Part II Sex and Sexuality in Society

October 16 Sex and sexuality in North American indigenous cultures

Allen, Paula Gunn. “Lesbians in American Indian Cultures”

Lang, Sabine. Men as Women, Women as Men: Changing Gender in Native American Cultures.

October 23 Paradigm shift: Making “Modern” Bodies
Perry, Ruth. “Colonizing the Breast: Sexuality and Maternity in Eighteenth-Century England.”

Fausto-Sterling, Ann. “Gender, Race and Nation: The Comparative Anatomy of ‘Hottentot’ Women in Europe, 1815-1817.”

Dreger, Alice. “Doubtful Sex: The Fate of the Hermaphrodite in Victorian Medicine.”

Somerville, Siobhan. “Scientific Racism and the Invention of the Homosexual Body.”

October 30 Sexuality and gender in North America’s colonial contexts

Anderson, Karen. Chain her by one Foot: The Subjugation of Native Women in 17th Century New France.

Castaneda, Antonia. “Sexual Violence in the Politics and Policies of Conquest: Amerindian Women and the Spanish Conquest of Alta California.”

Carter, Sarah. “Categories and Terrains of Exclusion: Constructing the ‘Indian Woman’ in the Early Settlement Era in Western Canada.”

November 6 Sexuality, Race and Racialization

Collins, Patricia Hill. Chapter 4 “Mammies, Matriarchs and Other Controlling Images.”

Hodes, Martha. “The Sexualization of Reconstruction Politics: White Women and Black Men in the South after the Civil War.”

Pon, Margaret. “Like a Chinese Puzzle: The Construction of Chinese Masculinity in ‘Jack Canuck’.”

November 13 The range of male same-sex relations

Gilbert, Arthur. “Buggery and the British Navy, 1700-1861.”

Rotundo, E. Anthony “Romantic Friendship: Male Intimacy and Middle-Class Youth in the Northern US 1800-1900”.

Hekma, Gert. “Same Sex Relations among Men in Europe, 1700-1990.” (only read to p. 91)

Excerpts from the Gay/Lesbian Almanac: the trials of Oscar Wilde.

November 20 The range of female same-sex relations

Castle, Terry. “The diaries of Anne Lister.”

Moore, Lisa. “’Something More Tender Still than Friendship’: Romantic Friendship in Early-Nineteenth-Century England.”

Hansen, Karen, “No Kisses is Like Youres: An Erotic friendship between two African-American women during the mid 19th century.”

Excerpts from the Gay/Lesbian Almanac: Angelina Weld Grimké

November 27 Sexuality and obscenity: historicizing pornography

Hunt, Lynn, “Obscenity and the Origins of Modernity, 1500-1800.”

Kraakman. Dorelies. “Pornography in Western European Culture.”

1873 Comstock Law (United States)

December 4 Sex/Work [Book review due]

Walkowitz, Judith. “Male Vice and Female Virtue: Feminism and the Politics of Prostitution in Nineteenth-Century Britain.”

Johnston, Susan. “Twice-Slain: Female Sex-Trade workers and suicide in British Columbia, 1870-1920.”

Rotenberg, Lori. “The Wayward Worker: Toronto’s Prostitute at the Turn of the Century.”

Second term reading list (all readings in kit)

January 8 Paradigm Shift: Enter the sexologists

McLaren, Angus. “’Perverts’: Mannish Women, Effeminate Men and the Sex Doctors” and “’Frigidity’: Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalysis and Gender.”

Hekma, Gert, “‘A Female Soul in a Male Body’: Sexual Inversion as Gender Inversion in Nineteenth-Century Sexology.”

Ellis, Havelock. (1908) excerpt from Studies in the Psychology of Sex.

January 15 Paradigm shift: The debut of “the heterosexual”

Katz, Jonathan Ned. “The Invention of Heterosexuality.”

Hall, Lesley. “Feminist Reconfigurations of Heterosexuality in the 1920s.”

Adams, Mary Louise. The Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of Heterosexuality.

January 22 Making Modern Marriages? Women, class, and heterosexuality

Bland, Lucy. “Marriage Laid Bare” Middle-Class Women and Marital Sex, 1880-1914.”

Peiss, “Charity Girls and City Pleasures: historical notes on working-class sexuality, 1880-1920”

Stopes, Marie. (1918) excerpt from Married Love.

January 29 Sexuality as Violence: Rape and Sexual Assault

Arnold, Marybeth H. “The Life of a Citizen in the Hands of a Woman: Sexual Assault in New York City, 1790-1820.”

Dubinsky, Karen. Improper Advances: Rape and Heterosexual Conflict in Ontario, 1880-1929.

February 5 Regulating Bodies: Masturbation, Birth Control and Abortion

Hall, Lesley. “Forbidden by God, Despised by Men: Masturbation, Medical Warnings, Moral Panic, and Manhood in Great Britain, 1850-1950.”

McLaren, Angus. “’Race Suicide’: Birth Control, Abortion and Family Stability.”

Sanger, Margaret. “My Fight for Birth Control.”

Rodrique, Jesse. “The Black Community and the Birth Control Movement.”

February 12 – reading break

February 19 Regulating the Health of Society by Regulating Sexuality [Proposal due]

Fee, Elizabeth. “Venereal Disease: The Wages of Sin?”

Excerpts from the Gay-Lesbian Almanac : the Chicago Vice Commission

Strange, Carolyn. “From Modern Babylon to a City Upon a Hill: the Toronto Social Survey Commission of 1915 and the Search for Sexual Order in the City.”

Roger Davidson. “The culture of compulsion: veneral disease, sexuality and the state in twentieth-century Scotland.”

February 26 Narratives of Sexual Danger

Freedman, Estelle. “Uncontrollable Desires: The Response to the Sexual Psychopath 1920-1960.”

Walkowitz, Judith. City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in late-Victorian London.

Dubinsky, Karen and Adam Givertz. “’It Was Only a Matter of Passion’: Masculinity and Sexual Danger”.

March 5 Sexuality and Space: urban environments

Boyd, Nan Alamilla. “’Homos Invade S. F.!’: San Francisco’s History as a Wide-Open Town.”

Myerowitz, Joanne. “Sexual geography and gender economy: the furnished-room districts of Chicago, 1890-1930”

Maxine Wolfe. “Invisible Women in Invisible Places: The Production of Social Space in Lesbian Bars.”

March 12 Gay men in the 20th century

Hekma, Gert. “Same Sex Relations among Men in Europe, 1700-1990.”
[See 1st term kit, pp. 91-end]

Allen Drexel. “Before Paris Burned: Race, Class, and Male Homosexuality on the Chicago South Side, 1935-1960.”

Robinson, Daniel and David Kimmel. “The Queer Career of Homosexual Security Vetting in Cold War Canada.”

March 19 Lesbians in the 20th century

Excerpts from the Gay/Lesbian Almanac : Ma Rainey’s “Prove it On Me Blues” and Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness

Freedman, Estelle. “The Prison Lesbian: Race, Class, and the Construction of the Aggressive Female Homosexual, 1915-1965.”

Chamberland, Line. “Remembering Lesbian bars: Montreal, 1955-1975”

Lenskyj, Helen. “The Sexuality Issue” Out of Bounds: Women, Sport and Sexuality, pp. 95-107

March 26 World War 2

Haeberle, Erwin. “Swastika, Pink Triangle, and Yellow Star: The Destruction of Sexology and the Persecution of Homosexuals in Nazi Germany.”

Berube, Allan. “Marching to a Different Drummer: Lesbian and Gay Gis in World War II.”

Meyer, Leisa. “Creating G.I. Jane: The Regulation of Sexuality and Sexual Behaviour in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II”

April 2 Paradigm shift: Stonewall and the birth of “gay liberation”

Duberman, Martin. Stonewall. Part Six “1969”

Stein, Marc. “’Birthplace of the Nation’: Imagining Gay and Lesbian Communities in Philadelphia, 1969-1970.”

Ross, Becki. “The House that Jill Built: Lesbian Feminist Organizing in Toronto, 1976-1980.”

April 9 Homos and Hollywood [Final essay due]

film: “The Celluloid Closet”

If you have appropriate syllabi, please contact CLGH chair Karen Krahulik at