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Sexuality and American Religion

This course examines sexuality and religion in colonial America and the United States. We trace the history of this intersection while also paying attention to theoretical tools scholars have used to think about religious and sexual desire, identity, bodies, ritual, and regulation. We consider how religion and sexuality have changed over time, how they have mutually constituted one another, and how they continue to shape cultural and political debate in American society. Our course will survey a range of cases, with particular attention to Protestant and Catholic history, Mormonism, and Judaism, as well as to the history of same-sex and opposite-sex encounters, the history of sex and gender, queer history and politics, and the history of colonialism and race. Given the nature of this course, some of the materials we cover include graphic depictions of sex, including sexual violence. Students should be prepared to engage with these matierals critically and thoughtfully.


This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.

Anthony Petro

Boston University

Private College or University
Institution Type

Resource Type

Undergraduate Course, Graduate Course
Class Type

Date Published

Religious Studies, History, Women's Studies, Other

Catholic, General Comparative Traditions, Indigenous, Judaism, New Religious Movements, Protestant
Religous Tradition

Gender/Women/ Sexuality, Politics/Law/Government, Pluralism/Secularism/Culture Wars, Race/Ethnicity

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