Gender & Sexuality Studies

Although gender and sexuality studies emerged only recently as fields of academic inquiry, their prehistory cannot possibly be written without close attention to the German tradition. German feminists of the Wilhelmine period were among the most active of their time, while German writers in the decades around 1900–the founder of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, the forensic sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, and the homosexual rights advocate Magnus Hirschfeld, to name only a few of the best-known figures–laid the foundation for all subsequent study of sexuality.

While we seek in this department to highlight the importance of a German tradition in political advocacy, medicine, literature and psychoanalysis, we do so in the context of the contemporary North American debate. For it is in this context that the paradigm-shifting questions asked by feminist scholars about how cultures create roles and representations that subordinate women gave birth to the more general study of gender and in which feminist, lesbian, and gay inquiries into the politics of women’s and minority sexualities enabled the more general study of sexuality. Because of its broadly interdisciplinary nature and the importance of the questions it asks, the study of gender and sexuality has developed into a field that is producing some of the most exciting work in literary and cultural studies today.

Professor Schultz, whose work focuses on medieval sexuality, particularly courtly love, was the founding director of UCLA’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program.  Professor Zubiaurre is one of the leading comparativist scholars of sexuality and visual culture in early 20th century Europe and has just published a book called Cultures of the Erotic in Spain, 1898-1939.  Professor Presner wrote a discursive cultural history of “muscle Jews” that grapples with Zionist notions of sexuality and gender. Sue-Ellen Case, Professor of Theater, and Kathy Komar, Professor of Comparative Literature, are also affiliated faculty of the Department of Germanic Languages. Professor Case has published widely in feminist theory, authoring a number of touchstone essays in lesbian studies. Professor Komar has published extensively on post-1945 German women authors and offers classes on feminist theory, modernism, and contemporary women’s literature. Click here to learn more about Gender Studies at UCLA.