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HIS2322 : Diversities of Sexuality and Gender in History

  • Offered for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Willow Berridge
  • Lecturer: Dr Lutz Sauerteig, Professor Tim Kirk, Dr Laura Tisdall, Dr Vicky Long, Dr Sally Waite, Dr Sophie Moore
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 0.0


This module aims to survey diversities of sexuality and gender expression throughout history, as well as the manifold discourses and regulatory systems that have sought to restrain this diversity. In particular, it challenges students to explore the multiple experiences and contexts that have shaped the emergence of both modern and pre-modern identity labels. Did the gender binary as we understand it exist in the Byzantium of late antiquity, or pre-colonial Igboland? Is our understanding of what it means to be ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’ specific to the era of Western modernity? Was Kabaka Mwanga of Buganda, denounced as a ‘sodomite’ by Christian missionaries, ‘homosexual’ in the same way as Alan Turing? And why have modern governments, religious movements and police systems found sexual otherness so threatening?

-       To familiarise students with the range of different expressions of non-normative gender and sexuality across the Ancient, Medieval, and Modern eras.
-       To identify the various means through which hegemonic cultures have sought to marginalize, repress and erase forms of sexual otherness they deem threatening.
-       To provide an awareness of complex debates concerning identity labels

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics may include:

Sexuality in Classical Athens
Intersexuality in Classical and Hellenistic Greece
Transvestism in Classical Athens
The one sex/two sex model in Antiquity
Non-binary divinity in the Ancient Near East
Transgender saints and court eunuchs in Byzantium
Liwat, Khanatha and Sihaq from Classical Islam to the Gunpowder Empires
‘Female husbands’ and diverse sexuality in pre-colonial Africa

The emergence of modern sexology from Havelock Ellis to Alfred Kinsey
Hermaphroditism in nineteenth century medical discourse
Sexuality in late imperial Austria and Germany

Persecution of sexual minorities in Nazi Germany
European colonialism: between sexual repression and sexual exploitation
Psychiatry discourse and aversion therapy

Homosexual identities in twentieth century Britain
Lesbian interactions with feminism in 20th century Britain
Transgender history in 20th century Britain
Bisexuality in twentieth century Britain
Modern Muslim experiences of diversity in sexuality and gender identity
The backlash: Homophobic and transphobic rhetoric from Janice Raymond to Robert Mugabe
The struggle for LGBTQ+ rights from Stonewall to Kampala

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:001 Lecture p/w
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials111:0011:00Part of student contact hours
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion621:0062:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:001 seminar p/w
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities222:0044:002 hours preparation and reading for each discussion board and seminar
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion111:0011:00Discussion board (will contribute towards portfolio submission)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study501:0050:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures and non-synchronous lecture materials will introduce topics and provide expert orientation and exposition on a broad range of themes and issues concerning historical diversities of gender and sexuality as well as the discourses about them, to be supplemented by the module reading list. Lecture materials can be reviewed at any time across the week and revisited numerous times afterwards. In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to present recorded materials asynchronously and retain timetabled slots for live discussion of these materials.

Seminars will also consolidate the learning progress from lectures, lecture materials, and weekly readings by enabling students to focus on connected issues and material in greater depth. Seminars will hinge upon debate regarding questions and materials circulated in advance, including primary sources, developing both students' interpersonal and group skills as well as their ability to develop appropriate methodologies for engaging with primary sources. They will also enhance students' capacity to engage with secondary sources critically. In the event that on-campus sessions need to be reduced, there is the capacity to hold live seminar discussions online and retain timetabled slots.

Discussion boards will develop further discussions originating from the lecture and seminar content, and will offer the opportunity for in depth feedback from lecturers as well as feeding into the formative and summative portfolio assessments.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A802,500 word essay
Portfolio2M203 separate 250 word submissions making 750 words in total.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Portfolio2MFormative portfolio submission of 250 words.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The Portfolio exercise will test the students’ familiarity with a broad range of the themes and knowledge areas covered on this covered. It will also test their ability to reflect on the methodological challenges posed by various types of primary source relevant to this subject area. It will be preceded by a formative portfolio submission that tests the ability of the students to engage with these core themes and provides the opportunity for early feedback.

The essay examines students’ ability to engage critically with historiographical and terminological debates, as well as to write and research independently.

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining student progress. Submitted work tests knowledge outcomes and develops skills in research, reading and writing'.

Reading Lists