The history of sexuality

Paper instructions

In the first weeks of this class, we have discussed the concept of the history of sexuality. Write a short critical response paper (500+ words) in which you explain the problems inherent in defining and identifying sexual identity (as it relates to the category “homosexual,”) OR sex/gender identity (“intersex”), particularly in light of the essentialism/social construction debate or, colloquially, nature vs. nurture.

Whose position do you find the most compelling, and what are the political implications of these theories? Do you prefer Foucault or Jagose?

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Your essay is an opportunity for you to reflect on one or more key concepts through a close critical reading of one text, or a comparison of two. You may wish to pursue a theoretical question in more detail in your critical response paper. Make sure you tell me which text you are choosing. You can pick any of the ones from the modules we’ve covered (including recommended texts). Again, you can choose one to pick apart. For instance, I can spend time describing an articles and compare them to one another, describing how similar or different they are in how they deal with their respective subjects.

Your essay should have a thesis and you should develop at least 3 main sub-points. In-text citations are necessary as well as a works cited listing the source you used. Any citation style is fine as long as it is consistent.

It is not necessary to comprehensively critique every perspective. If you absolutely have NO IDEA what to talk about, I have provided a list. you are, however, NOT BOUND BY THIS LIST! You do not have to pick one of these items, you are absolutely free to explore your own topic. You also do not have to cover everything on this list. These are just thesis suggestions.

Possible Questions/Topics to Address:

The “birth of the homosexual” – when? What defines a homosexual?
Medical discourse and the pathologization of non-heterosexual (queer) sexual practices/identities
Medical discourse and the pathologization of non-normatively sexed bodies
Distinction between sexual practice and sexual identity – the cultural construction & meaning of sexuality, from ancient Greece to the present day
Capitalism and its impact on sexuality
Sexuality and social construction – are “homosexuals” born or made?


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