Sex and the City




SCHEDULE: Thursday, 2:00PM – 3:15PM (Online Live)

Course Description

This course surveys literature from fifteenth-century to present by considering the co-constitutive nature of two major issues: sexuality and urbanization. From poetry to pornography, periodicals to politics, we will encounter a spectrum of literary responses to the development of modern sexual and gender identities and norms, and to the growth of cities, their urban sprawl, slums, and filth generating public health crises, political upheaval, and criminality in ways never before witnessed, and that continue to impact our daily lives. In this course, we will examine the causes and consequences of modern cities in the 18th, 19th, and 20th century as they were shaped by industrialization, population pressure, and crime. We will discuss topics such as sewage and clean water infrastructure, London as the metropolitan center of a vast empire, ideas about crime and criminality, the politics of housing and mobility, the statistical measures of populations, and industrialization. From ecocriticism to queer theory, urban studies to material culture, we will pose questions about the city as erotic space, about separate spheres and same-sex desire, about romance and finance, and about the fears and pleasures that galvanized Western culture in modernity. At midterm, we will pivot in our investigation of the formal and thematic conventions associated with writing about the city and about sexuality to account for transitions into the twentieth century, the emergence of psychoanalytic theories of “sexual inversion” and “fetish” along with the development of globalization and cosmopolitanism.