Summer 2015 - HIST 454 E100

The History of Sexuality (4)

Class Number: 3580

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 11 – Aug 10, 2015: Thu, 5:30–9:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Aug 13, 2015
    Thu, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Vlad Vintila
  • Prerequisites:

    45 lower-division units, including 9 units of HIST or GSWS.



Explores how ideas, practices and identities have changed over time in response to social, political and economic pressures. Emphasis on postmodern approaches to understanding sexuality, and the international historical scholarship it has generated. Chronological and geographical focus of this course may vary.


History of Sexuality: Religion, Society, and Sexuality in Early-Modern Italy

Are nude Franciscan monks flagellating themselves in the streets of Venice pious or perverse? Should the Florentines make a bonfire of the vanities, as moral reformer Savonarola enjoined them to, or burn the good friar himself at the stake? These are some of the quandaries facing early-modern Italian societies, quandaries that expose the tension between piety and hedonism. With increased prosperity from the late Middle Ages to the High Renaissance, new wealth and new openness were woven into the social fabric of Italian city-states. How did the new money and opportunities of this consumerist turn, as well as the increased interactions with the wider world, impact the putatively orthodox Catholic societies of Florence and Venice? This semester we will approach this question from a variety of historiographical angles, such as global, family, and micro-history, that in turn depend on a variety of sources—archival, statistical, literary, visual. To gain a broader perspective we, like the Renaissance Italians themselves, will make forays into the wider early-modern world, and into the Italian peninsula’s own medieval and ancient pasts.

Course Requirements:
• Attendance and participation
• Timely completion of all assignments
• Writing of 2 essays, totaling 14 pages
• Use of course discussion boards (Canvas)
• Midterm and Final exams


This HIST 454 is designed to assist students acquire three learning outcomes: 

  1. to identify and describe the ways in which conceptual and empirical sexualities vary in different historical contexts
  2. to explain, using the lens of sexuality and gender, the effective continuity and ostensible breaks between Renaissance Italy and its medieval and ancient past
  3. to identify the variety of available primary sources and methodological approaches to them, and to recognize the limitations of each


  • Essay 1 20%
  • Midterm 25%
  • Essay 2 35%
  • Attendance & Participation 20%



Stanley Chojnacki, Women and Men in Renaissance Venice: Twelve Essays on Patrician Society (Johns Hopkins U Press 2000)
Michael Rocke, Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence (Oxford U Press, 1998)
Guido Ruggiero, Machiavelli in Love: Sex, Self, and Society in the Italian Renaissance, (Hopkins Fulfillment Service, 2006)
Margaret F. Rosenthal, Honest Courtesan: Veronica Franco, Citizen and Writer in Sixteenth-Century Venice (University of Chicago Press, 1993)

Registrar Notes:

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