En 110

Sinners, Saints, and Sexuality in Premodern Literature

9 units (3-0-6)  |  third term
What made the difference between saint and sinner in medieval and Renaissance literature? This class takes up this question by focusing on the unruly problems of embodiment. We will read across a wide range of literatures, including early medical texts, saints' lives, poetry and romance, as we examine how earlier periods understood gender and sexual difference. Questions we may consider include the following: how did writers construct the "naturalness" or "unnaturalness" of particular bodies and bodily acts? How did individuals assert control over their own bodies and those of others? In what ways did writing authorize, scrutinize, or police the boundaries of the licit and illicit? Finally, how have modern critics framed these questions? Possible readings include Aristotle, Freud, Chaucer, Margery Kempe, Christine de Pizan, Sidney, Shakespeare.
Instructor: Jahner

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