HY4B5      Half Unit
Queer Early Modernities

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Nailya Shamgunova SAR M.13


This course is available on the MA in Modern History, MSc in Empires, Colonialism and Globalisation, MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia) and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This paper introduces Masters students to the meanings of queerness in the early modern period. They will meet lesbian nuns, gender nonconforming soldiers, samurai besotted with their male beloveds, powerful eunuchs, and famous castrati. They will learn how different cultures understood gender and sexuality, and what happened when those cultures encountered each other. The course engages with a wide range of textual and visual sources, including autobiographies, illustrated satirical pamphlets, sermons, conduct books, legal and medical texts, illustrated poetry volumes and objects relevant to gender and sexuality. The course will prepare students to navigate the theoretical frameworks of queer history and understand empirical knowledge of specific cultures and the development of research and source interpretation skills in this exciting and innovative field of historical research. All sources will be available in English translation.


20 hours of seminars in the LT.

There will be a reading week in week 6 of the Lent Term.

Formative coursework

One essay (2500 words) in the Lent Term.

Indicative reading

  • Jonathan Goldberg, Queering the Renaissance, 1994
  • Valerie Traub, The Renaissance of Lesbianism in Early Modern England, 2002.
  • Winfried Schleiner, ‘“That Matter Which Ought Not To Be Heard Of”: Homophobic Slurs in Renaissance Cultural Politics’, Journal of Homosexuality, 26 (1994): 41–75.
  • G.Ferguson, Same-Sex Marriage in Renaissance Rome: Sexuality, Identity, and Community in Early Modern Europe (2016).
  • Pete Sigal, “The Cuiloni, the Patlache, and the Abominable Sin: Homosexualities in Early Colonial Nahua Society”,Hispanic American Historical Review 1 November 2005;85 (4): 555–593.
  • Walter G.Andrews and Mehmet Kalpakli The Age of Beloveds Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society, 2005.
  • Afsaneh Najmabadi, Women with mustaches and men without beards gender and sexual anxieties of Iranian modernity (2010)
  • Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England with a new afterword and updated bibliography by the author, 1995.
  • Heather Martel, “Colonial Allure: Normal Homoeroticism and Sodomy in French and Timucuan Encounters in Sixteenth-Century Florida”, Journal of the History of Sexuality, vol. 22, no. 1, 2013, pp. 34–64.
  • Michael Peletz, “Transgenderism and Gender Pluralism in Southeast Asia since Early Modern Times”, Current Anthropology 47 (2006)
  • Charlotte Furth, “Androgynous Males and Deficient Females: Biology and Gender Boundaries in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century China”, Late Imperial China 9, no. 2 (1988): 13.
  • Gary Leupp, Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan (1997).
  • Sherry Velasco, The Lieutenant Nun: Transgenderism, Lesbian Desire, and Catalina De Erauso (2001).


Essay (50%, 5000 words) in the ST.
Class participation (15%) and video (35%) in the LT.

Further details:

A museum trail video project - in groups, the students will be asked to create their own museum queer trails based on a London museum collection, consisting of 5 objects - a 10 minute film/online presentation for assessment, to be submitted by week 11. 35%

A summative essay, 5000 words. The students will be expected to engage with primary sources. 50%

Class participation grade. 15%

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2021/22: Unavailable

Average class size 2021/22: Unavailable

Controlled access 2021/22: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication