Spring 2022

Sex, Gender, and the Body in South Asian History

Listed in: Asian Languages and Civilizations, as ASLC-376  |  History, as HIST-376  |  Sexuality, Women's and Gender Studies, as SWAG-377


Mekhola S. Gomes (Section 01)


(Offered as HIST 376 [AS/TC/TE/TR/TS], ASLC 376 [SA] and SWAG 377) This course explores how categories of sex, gender, and the body have been configured in South Asian history. We will draw upon primary sources including texts, images, films, and documentaries. We will also read scholarly literature that explores South Asian history through the analytics of sex, gender, and body. We will begin by exploring gender in early South Asian history through poetry in translation as well as selections from epic texts, including sections of the Kāmasūtra that may be widely known but are rarely analyzed within their original historical and courtly contexts in South Asia. Through these poetic and literary texts, we will explore notions of pleasure, love, and intimacy, analyze the intersections between imperialism, sexuality, gendered bodies and colonial rule, and critically examine colonial debates and legal regimes around “widow burning” or sati in colonial South Asia. Finally, we will examine connections between masculinity and the operation of exclusionary nationalisms through the policing of bodies, agency, and love in contemporary South Asia. Throughout, we will pay attention to how social, political, and ethical formations have interacted with gendered bodies and selves in South Asian history.

Two meetings per week.

Spring semester. Professor Gomes.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Close analysis of historical evidence, which include written documents, images, music, films, and literature from the historical period under study. Exploration of the categories of sex, gender, and the body across South Asian history. Engagement with the intertwining of gender, social formations, and ethical configurations in South Asian history. Extensive reading, varying forms of written work, and intensive in-class discussions. Students with documented disabilities who will require accommodations in this course should be in consultation with Accessibility Services and reach out to the faculty member as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations can be made in a timely manner.


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022