*Open to all majors WINTER 2014*
Sexual Revolutions of the Twentieth Century
Professor Glyn Salton-Cox
TR 930-1045, North Hall 1111
Prerequisites: Writing 2 or upper-division standing
In February 1969, the feminist thinker and activist Carol Hanisch gave a paper entitled, “The Personal Is Political”; four months later, the Stonewall Riots broke out in New York City. The “sexual revolution,” as it has come to be known, is conventionally located in this historical moment and national context, typified by the movements of Women’s and Gay Liberation. While the inspirational character and historical importance of these movements is undeniable, their prominence in accounts of sexual transformation has often obscured the importance of other historical moments and geographical sites. Moving both backwards and forwards in time, and across different national and international spaces, this class will explore what sexual revolution might mean in a broader global context. We will begin with the period between the two World Wars, examining important movements of sexual revolution in Soviet Russia and in Weimar Germany, before moving on to the classic sites of the Anglo-American sexual liberation in the 1960s and 70s. In the final unit of the course, we will then examine challenges to the Anglo-American model of sexual liberation which come from both within the perspective of Western sexual radicalism, and from positions which reject such a model as complicit with the structures of colonialism.
Engaging with a wide variety of different genres and media, including novels, memoirs, manifestos, essays, and films, we will examine a number of fundamental questions about the relationship between sexuality and revolution. Is liberation the best rubric for thinking sexual revolution, or does it limit its possibilities? By sexual revolution, do we mean a revolution in sexual desire, or the branch of revolution that deals with sexuality? Is there a model of sexual revolution that sees permutations in different times or spaces; or is each revolution distinct, acquiring revolutionary content from its opposition to a specific structure of oppression or normalization? What is the relationship between sexual revolution and Marxism, and how does this relationship get played out during the Cold War? How does globalization transform our conception of sexual revolution?