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HI6161: Sex, Family and Gender in Eighteenth Century Ireland and Britain

The module introduces students to attitudes and ideas surrounding sexuality, love, courtship, marriage and the family, and examines the lived experiences of men and women across the social classes. The Enlightenment shifted notions about behaviour, transforming what had been most private into something that was disseminated and discussed far more openly than before. The module identifies the factors that helped transform views of sex and sexuality including religion, economy, urbanisation and a growing literate society. The module will examine a number of key themes: (a) the attitudes of clerics, the state, moralists, parents and the individual; (b) the arranged marriage, the companionate marriage, seduction, abduction, romance, love, repression and celibacy; (c) the means through which deviants, including adulterers, polygamists, homosexuals, prostitutes and others, were punished or reprimanded; and (d) the expanding literary world of pornography, sensuality, sexuality celebrity and exploitation. The module provides the basis for an examination of both secondary and primary sources, allowing students to test current interpretations by reference to original material.