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Religion and Sexuality - Lecture 3

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Religion & Culture
Brent Hagerman

 Recap o platonic dualism - body and spirit are separate o virginity is sacred, is pure o before protestant  heterosexual married couple is good sex  only for procreation o protestant  marriage is an okay response  married heterosexual sex is okay even for pleasure o McLennan  came to understand the history of religions  evolution o primitive and civilized  civilized is white Christian men  primitive sacralises sexuality, civilized society only approved of certain kinds of sex o Eliade  looks at non-western society, sacralisation of sexuality is a good thing  positive look on sex  Michel Foucault o most cited author in the humanities o philosopher, author  books are histories of knowledge, ideas, discourses o academic study of sexuality prior to Foucault was Freud (psychoanalysis)  pioneer in the study of sexuality  Freud places it down to the core of our motivation  diagnosed mental problems according to repressed sexual feelings  spawns queer theory, sexuality studies  re-conception of power changed perspectives o This book looked like at how sexuality can control people, knowledge, pleasure > power o analyzed sex in the 17th century o How has sexuality become a privileged site for people?  as this wasn't always so  What does Foucault say about attitudes towards sex and sexuality before the 17th century? o no rules o not a taboo o talked about openly o Elizabethan England  Shakespeare is crude/ full of sexual puns  sexuality was very open/public  What does Foucault say about attitudes toward sex and sexuality among Victorians in the 19th century? In short, what is his "repressive hypothesis"? o way to control/dictate things in sex o public image / private life o censorship, repressed, hidden o repression of sexuality o views sex as negative, except for the closed sphere of monogamous marriage o repressive hypothesis  keep sex behind closed doors  how academics have characterized this period  Does he deny the fact of repression? o does not deny it, but counters that it made it less repressed o changed the outlets  How does Foucault problematize this view? o should not assume that repression mechanisms were actually working  there was just an attempt o proliferation of discourse , people talking about sex  What is Foucault saying about the invention of sexuality? o both sexuality and homosexuality are invented in the 19th century (1870) o concern with regularity of the flesh / demand of sex  develops into concern with sexuality  defining self based on sexual preference, comes to define a person o confession causes people to self examine themselves, and fit themselves into categories o intersex/hermaphrodites causing problems  unable to fit a normal category of "male" or "female"  not one type of person, large array of people  caused the creation of the norms for what is male and what is female o Foucault says that these are not static but fluid, and during this period, they seeked to create static norms  stamp out and control deviance  What is discourse? o discussion, talking, open forum o way of knowing, learning, teaching o perspective, way of studying o roots of discussion from different perspectives  religious, academic, medical, personal...etc o body of statements organized in a meaning full way o particular way of talking that reflects a particular way of thinking o way of understanding the world and concepts o focusing on discourse of sexuality, not the repression of it  the way people talk/examine sex  all the talks/discussion about sex that's been brought up  incitement to discourse about sex  What is its role in the invention of sexuality?  What is the genealogical method? o history of discourse, the present o analyzing discourses, understanding the origins  How did the catholic practice of confession lead to greater interest in / discourse on sexuality? o gave people a place to talk about it o turning it from just an act of sex to the talk of sex o gave people the need to talk about sex o humanized the Catholic Church o leads to moral self examination  reveals sinner's inner nature  started within the Catholic Church, then becomes secular, and expands into the public sphere o
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