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Sub-group A:
Libertinism – The Politics of Sexuality in English Literature (Dr Brandon Chua)

(Wednesday, 16:30 - 18:20 )

This senior colloquium will investigate the complex relationship between sexuality and society, and the ways in which understandings of sexual desire are intertwined with political ideals of freedom, equality, and solidarity. This subject will focus the theme of sexual freedom around the literary formation of Libertinism, which was a major vehicle of cultural expression from about 1660-1748. We will look in detail at a major literary figure, the Earl of Rochester, who was an influential courtier and nobleman, as well as a witty and obscene poet. Libertinism, and its interest in non-normative forms of sexuality, provided Rochester and others influenced by him with a broad-ranging rhetorical vehicle to offer radial new views on ethical and political structures in an age of revolutionary change. Through a study of a range of libertine writing ranging from the obscene lyric; harem fiction; sex comedy; and philosophy, we will look at how sexual identities are configured in relation to changing political, historical, and material conditions. We will cover the philosophical pretexts of libertinism in the work of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, as well as look at some of the principal historical moments where libertinism takes on a specific political force (the Restoration of Charles II in 1660 and the events of the Popish plot and Exclusion crisis from 1679-81) where libertinism takes on a specific political force. While this course will focus on the work of John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester, other authors covered might include John Milton; Aphra Behn; William Wycherley; George Etheredge; John Cleland; and Lord Byron. It is important to note that some of these texts deal in very explicit and potentially confronting terms with sexual pleasure, sexual violence, and misogyny. Some of the texts and themes of this course may possibly be triggering to some.

 

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Last updated: 13 July 2018