History of Sexuality in Modern U.S.
with Elizabeth Alice Clement
As a devoted and award-winning teacher (seriously, check out her CV), Elizabeth Alice Clement, associate professor of history, created the History of Sexuality in Modern U.S. (HIS 4630/6910 and Gender Studies 4630) to explore how sexuality interacts with other categories of power and oppression like race, class and gender. Below, Professor Clement answers questions about the course, its background and what students will learn by enrolling.
This course an upper division “lecture” but it doesn’t have any prerequisites. Students can take it without any background in history or gender studies and I do welcome first years and sophomores who have an interest in the topic.
When I first started teaching, history of sexuality was a tiny spin-off of women’s and gender history. Now I can’t keep up. I’m most interested in how people think about sexuality, how it interacts with other categories of power and oppression like race, class and gender. Since many people believe that sexuality is fixed, it’s also really interesting to think about how ideas about sexuality and sexual identities have changed over time.
I hope students will learn to think critically about sexuality, what it means, and, at times, how it is being used. The most interesting questions of the course revolve around when sexuality itself really is the issue, versus when (as in say lynching) it’s being used to support other categories of power and oppression. In lynching, white people used ideas about sexuality to further white supremacy. So there, sexuality is being “deployed” in the service of racism. But sometimes, as in gay liberation, sexuality is the issue.