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Penn Summer Session I and our 11-Week Summer Session courses will be offered remotely. Currently, Summer Session II is scheduled to run on campus, as planned. The situation with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is fluid and being monitored closely. Please check back periodically for updates. Should there be any changes to the policy that impacts our decision to hold courses this summer, we are committed to providing timely updates to enrolled students via email. Should any of these programs be cancelled, students will receive a full refund of program fees at that time.

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Freaks, Creeps and Cheats

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Course Number: 
COML 127 920


Course Description: 

In this course we will analyze representations of erotic transgression—including adulterous, violent, and "perverted" or non-normative sex and sexualities—in literature, film, literary theory, and on occasion music and the plastic arts. We will study how sex and sexual desire is represented, and think critically about the narrative conventions used for describing taboo desires, behaviors, and identities as well as the social values that inform them. The themes of desire, transgression, suspicion, and discovery lie at the heart of many classic narratives in drama, literature, and film, from antiquity to the present. Is there anything special, we will ask, about representing sex, especially "wrong" kinds of sex? What might these narratives and formal structures teach us about the way we read, think, and act in general? By supplementing classic literary accounts by authors such as Shakespeare, Tolstoy, von Sacher-Masoch (of “masochism” fame), and de Sade (of “sadism” fame), with films by such figures as Peter Greenaway and Pier Paolo Pasolini, we will analyze the possibilities and limitations of the different genres and forms under discussion. What can these forms show us (or not show us) about desire, gender, family, and social obligation? We will apply a range of critical approaches to address such crucial questions as well as to place narratives of "bad," "kinky," or "sinful" sexuality in their social and literary context.

Programs for every

type of student


Study online,

all summer long


Summer is the best season

to be a Penn student


Penn Summer

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326

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