HIST 422 Special Topics in History: Science and Sexuality

This reading-intensive seminar explores the historical relationship between science and sexuality.  We will scrutinize the ways in which scientists and doctors have sought to conceptualize sex, gender, and sexuality since the enlightenment, with a particular focus on the twentieth century.  Drawing on feminist and queer critiques, we will unpack the patriarchal and heteronormative biases informing scientific investigations about the human body and mind.  The course delves into a number of topics in detail, including the history of homosexuality, intersexuality, and transsexuality, and trains students to discern a variety of disciplinary approaches to the scientific understanding of sex and sexuality, including botany, anatomy, evolutionary biology, genetics, endocrinology, anthropology, sociology, psychiatry, among others.  Our investigation will focus on the connection between the development of scientific ideas and its shifting social, cultural, and political contexts.  We will also consider in depth different genres of scholarly writing about the history of sexual science, including biography and bioethics.


Taught by Howard Chiang