Gender and Sexuality in Literature

The Politics of Body, Dangerous Others, and Immodest Acts

In this course we will explore the development of notions of masculinity and femininity in literature from the Spanish American colonies to the mid-nineteenth century United States. We will focus on how gender and sexuality were used to construct individual, communal and racial identities and how definitions of transgressive behavior changed during periods of social unrest and cultural anxiety. In order to enrich our readings and discussions, religion, philosophy, art, history, music and material culture will enhance our understanding of cultural and literary shifts. Students will also look a issues in popular culture that reinforce or subvert traditional notions of gender and sexuality.


Attendance is mandatory. In English 382(W) while there may be a few lectures, students are expected to be prepared with reading group notes each class period and to actively contribute to class discussion. Students will work in reading/discussion groups of four to five and take turns leading the discussions in their group. Each student will lead the discussion four times during the semester. If you are absent, clearly you will be missed.

Because this class is designated writing intensive, students will write four—two page reader responses that make connections between the text, the criticism and self.  These will be posted on Laulima at least 24 hours before class.  All members of the class need to check Laulima or their email to read the discussion leaders responses before class.  We will discuss logistics on the first day of class.

In addition, students will write one short essay and one research paper.  For both of these essays drafts are expected as well as working in peer groups for feedback and with your professor in conferences. In addition, there will be informal writing assignments and in-class writing.

Students will give one short presentation that will enhance our reading and one longer presentation on the final project.


Late in the summer 2010, I will email registered students regarding the course anthology and reader. In addition, students will read:

  • THE COQUETTE by Hannah Foster
  • and MEMOIR OF A BASQUE LIEUTENANT NUN by Catalina de Erauso

All texts will be available at Revolution Books. I will also advise you of where to pick up the course reader.