History of Sexuality

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
HIST 1160
History of Sexuality
Humanities & Social Sciences
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 Weeks
Max Class Size
Contact Hours

Weekly Distribution:

  • Lecture: 2 hours per week/semester
  • Seminar: 2 hours per week/semester
Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities

Classroom instruction will include both lectures and seminar discussions. Lectures will provide instruction on weekly topics with opportunities for student inquiry and discussion. Seminars will encourage active class participation in the analysis of assigned primary and secondary readings. Classroom instruction may also include student presentations on specific readings and/or topics, and other types of student-led activities. Classroom instruction may also include tutorials and workshops on transferrable skills, including research methods, academic citation practice, and presentation skills.

Course Description
HIST 1160, History of Sexuality, explores sex and sexuality chronologically and thematically from the early modern period to the present day. Students will be introduced to sexuality as a topic of historical study and gain an understanding of how historical evidence challenges the idea that sexuality is driven by biology, fixed in nature, and unchanging. Students will explore how debates about sexuality are embedded in ideas about gender, class and race, and located within broader socio-political, religious, economic, medical, and cultural frameworks. Major themes include: sexuality, science, and the state; reproduction and contraception; heteronormativity, marriage, and the family; sexual violence and slavery; Indigenous sexualities and Indigenous-settler relations; the medicalization of sexuality; moral panics and the politics of protest; censorship, surveillance, and the criminalization of sexuality; capitalism and the commodification of sexuality; popular culture and desiring bodies; intersectionality and gay/lesbian/queer/trans identities; sexuality and transnational histories.
Course Content

A sample course outline may include the following topics.

Note: Content may vary according to the instructor’s selection of topics.

  1. Introduction: Historicizing Sexuality
  2. A Distorted Mirror of History: Patriarchy and Sexuality in the Premodern World
  3. Early Modern Bodies: Courtship, Marriage, and Passionate Friendships
  4. Colonial Desires: The Economics of Class, Race, and Sexuality
  5. Borderlands: Indigenous Sexualities, Settler Colonialism, and Homosocial Spaces
  6. Reforming the City: Sexual Danger, Obscenity, and Censorship
  7. Sexual Anxieties: Eugenics and Reproduction
  8. Medicalization, Heteronormativity and the Rise of Sexologists
  9. Forgotten Histories: Liberation Movements and State-Sponsored Violence
  10. Cold War Desires: Sexuality, Nationalism, and the State
  11. Rights Revolutions, the AIDS Crisis, and Moral Panics
  12. Global Protests, Sexuality/Commodification, and Sexual Violence
  13. Intersectional Identities, Bodily Boundaries, and Trans Interventions
  14. Looking Forward, Looking Back: Transnational Identities, Postcolonial Sexualities, and Queer Kinships
Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the course, successful students will be able to demonstrate historical thinking skills, research skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills appropriate to the level of the course by:

 1. Locating, examining, assessing, and evaluating a range of primary sources and secondary scholarly literature critically and analytically (reading history).

2. Constructing historical arguments, taking historical perspectives, and interpreting historical problems through different types of writing assignments of varying lengths (writing history).

3. Participating in active and informed historical debate independently and cooperatively through classroom discussion and presentation (discussing history).

4. Independently and cooperatively investigating the ways that history is created, preserved and disseminated through public memory and commemoration, oral history, community engagement, and other forms of popular visual and written expressions about the past (applying history).

Means of Assessment

Assessment will be in accordance with the Douglas College Evaluation Policy. Students may conduct research with human participants as part of their coursework in this class. Instructors for the course are responsible for ensuring that student research projects comply with College policies on ethical conduct for research involving humans.

Students will have opportunities to build and refine their research capacity and historical thinking skills through assessments appropriate to the level of the course. There will be at least three separate assessments, which may include a combination of midterm and final exams; research essays; primary document analysis assignments and essays; quizzes; map tests; in-class and online written assignments; seminar presentations; student assignment portfolios; group projects; creative projects; class participation.

The value of each assessment and evaluation, expressed as a percentage of the final grade, will be listed in the course outline distributed to students at the beginning of the term. Specific evaluation criteria will vary according to the instructor’s assessment of appropriate evaluation methods.

An example of one evaluation scheme:

Participation 15%

Seminar Presentation 15%

Primary source analyses 20%

Reading Responses 15%

Short essay assignment 15%

Final Exam 20%

Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Course Readers may be chosen from the following list, to be updated periodically. An instructor’s custom Course Reader may be required. Additional online resources may also be assigned. Additional reading lists and links to specific resources also may be provided online or in the instructor’s course outline.


Clark, Anna. Desire: A History of European Sexuality. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2019.

Clark, Anna, ed. The History of Sexuality in Europe: A Sourcebook and Reader. New York: Routledge, 2011.

D’Emilio John, and Estelle Freedman. Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Fitzgerald, Maureen, and Scott Rayter. Queerly Canadian: An Introductory Reader in Sexuality Studies. Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, 2012.

Foster, Thomas A., ed. Documenting Intimate Matters: Primary Sources for a History of Sexuality in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012.

Kuefler, Mathew, ed. The History of Sexuality Sourcebook. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007.

Mottier, Véronique. Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Naugler, Diane, ed. Canadian Perspectives in Sexuality Studies: Identities, Experiences, and the Context of Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

Parkinson, R.B. A Little Gay History: Desire and Diversity Across the World. London: British Museum Press, 2013.

Phillips, Kim M., and Barry Reay. Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011.

Romesburg, Don, ed. The Routledge History of Queer America. New York: Routledge, 2018.

Stearns, Peter N. Sexuality in World History. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2017.