Sex in America

[Quick take: I’m asking for reading suggestions for my course on 20th century U.S. sex and sexuality.]811069

In spring 2014 I will again teach “Sex in America.” I have taught this course a few times in the past, with varying levels of success. My principle assessments for the course have varied, and have included short research papers, encyclopedia articles written by students, and biographical. As in the past, discussion of the readings, in class, will be the largest single part of the student grade. I use a discussion rubric, and keep track of who participates and whose participation deals with issues drawn from the reading. Enforced discussion—sounds crude. In fact, it is crude. It is effective.

This term, I will make a few changes. The course will have no formal text. Instead, each week we will use readings drawn from primary and secondary sources, with preference for material readily available on the Internet. And that brings me to the entire reason for this post—I am asking for help. I want to see what resources a crowdsourced reading list will produce. I give my criteria below, and ask that you make suggestions in the comments.

The course covers sex and sexuality in the U.S. from the late 19th century through the present. I will begin with a discussion of the 19th century obsession with the medical problems related to masturbation as a means of giving students an entrée into late 19th century thinking and also beginning the work of expanding their notion of sexuality. From there, I want to use topics and chronology interchangeably. Coverage for the sake of coverage is not desirable. Far better that students pursue a topic that they find interesting, and that gives them useable, transferable insights, than that they find out about some issue that I think is important but that leaves them cold.

I would like suggestions for short works, both primary material and also discussions of sexuality drawn from history and other disciplines. Theory is fine, but please recall what I said above about student interest. As noted, I would prefer material readily available, for free, on the WWW.

Okay, let’s see how this works.