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Sexualities, Power and Discourse (SO323-15)

Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics for this module; precise seminar content may change from year to year.

  • Victorian Sexualities
  • The Discursive Construction of Sexuality
  • Regulating Prostitution
  • The Dualistic Constructions of Sexuality
  • Sexual Revolution?
  • Heterosexualities
  • Alternative Identities and Lifestyles
  • Money, Sex and Power
  • Sex, Consent and Innocence
Timing and CATS

This module will run for the Autumn Term and is worth 15 CATS.

This module examines the role of social arrangements and discourses in the social construction of male and female sexualities in Britain. Medicine and law, for instance, have long been important in shaping sexualities, including the ways we understand sexual relationships and capacities for sexual pleasure. To these, new and contentious views about sexual identities and experiences have been contributed by the feminist, gay, lesbian and queer movements.

Programme content

Term 1 looks at various aspects of the regulation of sexuality in the Victorian era, and considers how far Victorian views continue to influence current attitudes. Topics include moral purity campaigns, the regulation of prostitution, the development of sexology, and the criminalisation of male homosexuality. We conclude the historical survey by considering the ‘sexual revolution’ of the 1960s.

The legacy of this history for current debates around sexual identity, sexual relationships, sexual violence and representations of sexuality is taken up in Term 2. The topics covered will include some of the following: the construction of gay, lesbian and heterosexual social identities, striptease, sex tourism, Internet sex, child sexual abuse, and rape. Students will be expected to show a knowledge of how particular topics link to the themes of the module as a whole.

Module Director:
Carol Wolkowitz

Sample reading list (PDF Document)