Graduate Course Description

350:605 - Sex, Autonomy, and Agency in 18th C Britain

Course No: 350:605
Index # 15000
Distribution Requirement: A3
Time: Wednesday - 12:10 p.m.
Location: MU 207

Gender, Sex, Self in 18C England

Abigail Zitin

This course explores the emergence of two linked phenomena: the development, in theory, of the liberal subject as a rational, self-governing individual and the literary negotiation of intimate violence in eighteenth-century Britain. How are ideas of bodily autonomy and sexual self-determination linked with the cultural understanding of gender identity and its expression in this period? Central to our investigation will be Samuel Richardson’s monumental novel Clarissa—yes, we will read all of it—which will lay the conceptual groundwork for our investigations. Some topics we will address might include representations of psychology and other “interior” states; consent in political and feminist theory; race, gender, and personhood in the context and aftermath of Atlantic-world slavery; reproductive choice and reproductive justice; sex work; and asexuality and other queer and utopian forms of resistance to a patriarchal sex/gender system. Readings will be drawn from works by the following authors and critics: Aphra Behn, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Richardson, Sarah Scott, Frances Burney, Susan Choi, Miriam Toews, Hortense Spillers, Andrea Dworkin, Catharine MacKinnon, Frances Ferguson, Wendy Brown, Saidiya Hartman, Charles W. Mills, Sandra Macpherson, Wendy Warren, Jennifer L. Morgan, Janet Halley, Amia Srinivasan, Wendy Lee, Lisabeth During, Nancy Yousef, and Greta LaFleur.