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Catholicism in the Making and Unmaking of Modern Sexuality

In its distinctive role as the alien and necessary excess of modernity, Roman Catholicism occupies an important but largely hidden place in the history of modern sexualities. Catholic doctrine, aesthetics, ritual, ethics, imagery, and penitential disciplines were constitutive both of the limits of modern sexual desires and identities and of their transgression, of asceticism and perversion. this course offers an examination of Catholicism’s queering of modern sexuality. Beginning with a study of the sexual revolution of early Christianity, it examines a number of topics, among them shame and pleasure in the 18th century writings of Saint Alphonse Ligouri; catholicism and homosexuality; the pornography of anti-catholicism; Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater and Catholic Decadence; contraception and anti-abortion activism as modern political discourses; the catholicism of the late 20th century subversive art of Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres Serrano, Bob Flanagan, Andy Warhol and R, Crumb; the altar boy as sexual object; and the Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.