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How have sexual practices and identities evolved, been represented and expressed throughout history? Where do our modern ideas about sexual orientation, gender and morality come from? Is ‘sexuality’ strictly a modern concept or can it also be applied to past societies? In this subject we look at modern and pre-modern conceptions of sex and sexuality to show how our ideas about something as ubiquitous as sex are actually historically constructed. We examine the role of religion in forming ideas about sex, the relationship between sex and sin, and the evolution of these ideas over several centuries. We take categories such as homosexual, heterosexual, intersex and transgender and ask if and how these categories can apply to historical case studies. We look at how certain individuals were able to defy gender norms and the ways in which different societies enforced social and sexual control. On completion of the subject, students should understand the ways in which sex and sexualities have multiple histories and how they remain highly contested even today.
Intended learning outcomes
Students who have completed this subject should be able to:
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of the ways in which sexual practices and sexual identities are historically constructed
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of how scholars have theorised sexuality, in particular the intersections between sexuality, race, class and gender
- Use bibliographical and research skills to locate and gather primary and secondary sources
- Reflect critically on the ways in which meanings of sexualities are historically constructed.
Last updated: 1 March 2024