English 150

Senior Seminar: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and Sexuality

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
3 Spring 2009 Beam, Dorri
Beam, Dorri
TTh 12:30-2 305 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Julia Ward Howe, The Hermaphrodite; George Lippard, The Quaker City; E.D.E.N. Southworth, The Hidden Hand; Herman Melville, Typee; poetry by Dickinson, Poe, and Whitman; short stories by Rose Terry Cooke, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Henry James, and Constance Fenimore Woolson.


This course studies the treatment of sexuality in imaginative literature of the mid-nineteenth-century, a period of particular flux when the institutionalization of a strict heterosexual/homosexual binary was not fully in place, when gender roles and conceptions of the body were undergoing rapid change, and when the structure of the family was subject to critique and revision from reformers. As we encounter in the reading autoeroticism, marriage, cross-dresssing, “romantic friendship”, hermaphroditism, utopian sexual experiments, and, sometimes, models of sex and gender that are quite different from our own, we will reflect on the historicity and construction of sexuality. We will situate the literature in relation to both historical context and current work in sex and gender studies.  Requirements include class presentations, class discussion, and a 20-page research paper.

The seminar requirement for the English major may be satisfied by any ONE of the following:  English 100, 150, 150AC, or H195A-B.

Enrollment is limited and a written application is due  BY 4:00 P.M., TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28; be sure to read the paragraph on page 2 of this Announcement of Classes regarding enrollment in English 150!

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