Summer 2018 - HIST 454 D100

Problems in the History of Sexuality (4)

Queering Marriage

Class Number: 5954

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 7 – Aug 3, 2018: Thu, 1:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Elise Chenier
    1 778 782-8573
    Office: AQ # 6222
  • Prerequisites:

    45 units, including 9 units of lower-division HIST or 9 units of GSWS. Recommended: HIST 115.



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. Content may vary from offering to offering; see course outline for further information. HIST 454 may be repeated for credit only when a different topic is taught.


PROBLEMS IN THE HISTORY OF SEXUALITY: I do, I don’t: Queering Marriage in 20th Century America

This year HIST 454 builds on Professor Elise Chenier’s current research project –- same-sex weddings in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s –- to explore marriage’s diverse meanings. We’ll examine the most recent research on the subject, and participate in historical analysis labs where we work first-hand with primary sources and develop research questions. Although some might consider marriage an old-fashioned, perhaps even outdated, institution, we have some fresh questions to ask of it, and through them, we’ll look for answers to very contemporary issues.

This seminar is open to students who have a strong background in GSWS, but do not have the necessary history prerequisites. Please contact the instructor.

Through work undertaken in this seminar, students build on and further develop their: critical reading skills, understanding of feminist and other theories, knowledge of diverse methodologies, and advanced research and writing skills. They will also gain experience planning and working collaboratively on a presentation.


  • Assignments: Value of each assignment to be determined in first class
  • Weekly Reading Questions
  • Seminar Co-Facilitation
  • Essay (16-18 double-spaced pages plus bibliography)
  • Seminar Participation



Required books (available for purchase in the bookstore and on 3-day reserve).

Rachel Cleves, Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America (Oxford UP, 2016)

Nancy Cott, Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation (Harvard UP, 2002)

Tera Hunter, Bound in Wedlock: Slave and Free Black Marriage in the 19th Century (Harvard UP, 2017)

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.