• The aim of this course is to explore the cultural constructions of gender and sexuality in the literature of Medieval and Renaissance Southern Europe. We will approach questions such as the status of women and the context of misogyny, the societal role of same-sex relations, the presentation and visualization of sexuality, desire and the body. We will observe the period through the lens of 5 overarching themes that recur at different moments and in different texts throughout the course: “Sex, beauty and artistic creation,” “Sex, marriage and family,” “Sex and religion”, “Sex and science,” “Sex, deviancy and crime.” Using such themes as the framework for our interpretations we will read, analyze, and discuss in loose chronological order an array of literary works mostly of the Iberian and Italian tradition, from which we will tease out a interdisciplinary understanding of the cultural and aesthetic forces that shaped the representation of sex and sexual love before the advent of the scientific theories that in turn define modern gender and sexuality for us today. This historical approach will offer insights into the shaping of our own cultural and personal attitudes. By focusing our attention on the challenged and changing meanings of sexuality, this course aims to strengthen your skills of critical analysis.