Queering the Renaissance
Since the nineteenth century, the Italian Renaissance is believed to be the birthplace of the modern 'individual.' Decades ago, feminist and social historians have pointed to the gendered nature of such individualism, and to family and kinship bonds within which the male self was allowed to thrive. More recent historical scholarship has added to this critique, showing the ubiquity of same-sex eroticism for men and the near total invisibility of lesbian desire. While the male dominated public and private spheres created homo-social environments within which 'sodomy' flourished, relationships between women were relegated to convents. Preventive clitoridectomy was recommended for all women after the clitoris was 'discovered' by travelers to Africa. Cross-dressing was a frequent occurrence, and traces of trans-gendering can be found in early modern Spain. This course will explore issues of self-identity in a period that, to contemporary observers, can seem hauntingly familiar and irrevocably foreign at the same time.