Are the sexes two and distinct? What is it that defines masculinity and femininity? Is sexual identity determined by one’s sexed body? Can we think of gender and sexuality as stable and universal categories? Is biological sex a given? How distinct are the categories of anatomical sex, gender identity, and gender performance? Through a close reading of a variety of literary and cultural texts this course aims to address the questions above and examine gender, sex, and sexuality as fluid signifiers whose meaning changes across time, place and culture. We will explore how writers have represented gender from the Renaissance to the postmodernist era, how they have responded to the scientific, legal, and psychoanalytic definitions of sexuality formulated in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as the impact of feminism and queer theory upon the ways in which we think about gender, sexuality and writing. One of the course objectives is also to invite students to rethink contemporary manifestations of gender and sexuality as ambiguous and problematic categories, but also mutable and open to choice.
to expose students to a diverse range of literary and cultural texts that explore, reflect, or challenge dominant notions of gender and sexuality
to familiarize students with the constructedness of gender and sexuality, as well as their performative status, through some of the most principle theoretical discourses on gender and sexuality
to aid students to draw links between past & present sexuality and gender debates
to inspire students to evaluate their own cultural inscriptions as regards gender and sexuality