Queer Enlightenments: Eighteenth-Century Narratives of Sex and Gender - ENGL8680

Looking for a different module?

Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


This module explores the emergence of 'sexual normalcy' in the literature of the Enlightenment period in Britain by focusing on the phobic constitution of the sodomite in literary and legal texts. Beginning with accounts of late seventeenth-century sodomy trials and moving on to Edmund Burke’s impassioned speech to the House of Commons (12th April 1780) on the fatal pillorying of two sodomites, this module critiques the ways in which authors and political commentators deployed the sodomite – both male and female – as a condensed symbol for a number of cultural and political transgressions. Participants will examine how anxieties about the sodomite informed the construction of heteronormativity in this period, while also considering the implications that this has for sexual and gender identities today.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Major Written Assignment (4,000 words) – 90%
Position Paper (1,000) – 10%

Reassessment methods:

Indicative reading

Indicative reading list:

Brown, John. (1757). An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of The Times. Dublin: G. Faulkner, J. Hoey, and J. Exshaw Booksellers
Burke, Edmund. (1757). Extracts from A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful
Cleland, John. (1749). Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure
Smollett, Tobias. (1748). Roderick Random
Wollstonecraft, Mary. (1792). A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of current problems and/or new insights, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of their academic discipline, field of study, or area of professional practice;
2 Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of techniques applicable to their own research or advanced scholarship;
3 Demonstrate originality in the application of knowledge, together with a practical understanding of how established techniques of research and enquiry are used to create and interpret knowledge in the discipline;
4 Demonstrate a conceptual understanding that enables them to evaluate critically current research and advanced scholarship in the discipline;
5 Demonstrate a conceptual understanding that enables them to evaluate methodologies and develop critiques of them and, where appropriate, to propose new hypotheses.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate the capacity to deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgments in the absence of complete data, and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences;
2 Demonstrate the ability to self-direct and to be original in tackling and solving problems, and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level;
3 Demonstrate an ambition to continue to advance their knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level;
4 Demonstrate the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment including the exercising of initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable situations; and the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
Back to top

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.