Shakespeare's Sex

LIT4616 Shakespeare's Sex
4 Advanced Liberal Arts Credits
Shakespeare's works have long held a privileged position in the histories of sex, gender, and eroticism. In this course, we will consider how Shakespeare helps us "think sex" in its various bodily, psychological, political, textual, and historical dimensions. What counts as "sex" in Shakespeare's world(s)? What desires, relations, and practices are rendered perceptible-and/or imaginable-through his poetry and plays? Which categories, identities, and emotions mattered when Shakespeare and his contemporaries imagined sex and its meanings, and how do these align with, and diverge from, those which inform our present lives and erotic relations? To explore these and related questions, we will read four major plays and two works of poetry: Romeo & Juliet, Othello, As You Like It, Cymbeline, The Rape of Lucrece, and selections from The Sonnets. Drawn from across the Shakespearean canon, such works will allow us to consider how differences of genre and literary form shape erotic possibilities, as well as how issues of race, gender, status, religion, reputation, and ethnicity intersect with sexual meanings, both in that era and our own. To enhance our appreciation of these works and their erotic possibilities, we will routinely consider modern, cinematic adaptions of the plays we read, as well as select screen biographies (Shakespeare in Love, All Is True). Finally, we will attend to the curious case of Shakespeare's sex: not only what we know-and don't know-about the playwright's (sexual) biography, but why his erotic relations continue to arouse interest and speculation, some four hundred years after his death.

Prerequisites: Any combination of 2 ILA (HSS, LTA, CSP, LVA, CVA)

  • Program: Undergraduate
  • Division: Arts and Humanities
  • Level: Advanced Liberal Arts 4600 Requirement (UGrad),Advanced Elective (UGrad),Advanced Liberal Arts (UGrad)
  • Course Number: LIT4616
  • Number of Credits: 4