Have a Question? Contact the Humanities Office or an Academic Unit


Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 2

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Pamela Swett

Email: swettp@mcmaster.ca

Office: Chester New Hall 624

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 24142


Office Hours: Mondays 2:30-4 or by appointment

Course Objectives:

This seminar will explore one of the most fundamental aspects of human history – sexuality. We will look at the topic in broad terms from Europe’s medieval period through the 20th century. Some topics for discussion will be sex and religion, sexual identities, commerce and sex, discourses around sexual practices including homosexuality, the science of sex, and more. Course assignments emphasize the development of critical reading and writing skills.

Given this is a seminar discussing the assigned texts in class is also an essential component of the course. If this is not something you are prepared to do, it would be best to find a different course. Attending and not speaking is not fair to those who participate fully. This is a collaborative effort, and all participants must do their parts to see the course is a success.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Texts for Purchase:

Anna Clark, Desire: A History of European Sexuality

Anna Clark, ed. The History of Sexuality Sourcebook

Method of Assessment:

Participation:                                 35%

Document Summary:                      5% (Jan 19)

Article Review:                              15% (Feb 2)

Review of two texts:                       20% (Feb 23)

Final Paper:                                   25% (Mar 9 sources due; Mar 23 rough draft of essay; Apr 6 final copy/presentation day)


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at www.mcmaster.ca/academicintegrity

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at mcmaster.ca/msaf/. If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail sas@mcmaster.ca. For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Jan 5      Introduction

Jan 12    Monotheism and divine desire: Clark Desire, chapters 1 and 3

Jan 19    Medieval Fantasies: Clark Desire, chapter 4 (One page assignment due)

Jan 26    Regulating Sex, 13-16th centuries: Clark Desire, chapter 5; Clark Sourcebook Part III

Feb 2     Age of Exploration: Clark Desire, chapter 6; Clark Sourcebook Part IV (Two page assignment due)

Feb 9     Sexuality and the Enlightenment: Clark Desire, chapter 7; Clark Sourcebook Part V

Feb 16   No class for reading week

Feb 23   Sexual Identities in the long 19th century: Clark Desire, chapter 8; Clark Sourcebook Part VI (Four page assignment due)

Mar 2    Self and Nation: Clark Desire, chapter 9; Clark Sourcebook Part VII

Mar 09  Desire and Consumption in the Interwar period: Clark Desire, chapter 10; Clark Sourcebook Part VIII (Sources due)

Mar 16 Sex and the State in the 20th century: Clark Desire, chapter 11; Clark Sourcebook Part XI

Mar 23  Reconstruction of desire in the postwar era: Clark Desire, chapter 12; Clark Sourcebook Part XII (Rough draft due)

Mar 30  Presentations

Apr 06   Presentations (Final version of all essays due in class)

Other Course Information:

See the full outline on Avenue to Learn for details about individual assignments.