The Novel of Sexual Ideas


12pm - 2pm


D. Wright

Course Description

In this seminar, we’ll map out a provisional novelistic subgenre: the novel of sexual ideas, in which plots of sexuality develop through or alongside philosophical speculation and argument about ethics, identity, pleasure, the will, the body and its sensations, instinct and impulse, subjects and objects. Combining the abstraction of the novel of ideas with the immediacy of the novel of sex, the novel of sexual ideas represents but also formalizes and philosophizes erotic life. The tradition of the novel of sexual ideas overlaps but is not identical with such traditions as the critique of the marriage plot, the novel of adultery, sex comedy, and the queer and trans novel. Unlike the novel of ideas, which often breaks away from narration into extended passages of philosophical argument, the novel of sexual ideas is more concrete in its philosophizing; it thinks through and with the particularities of bodies and intimacies. Unlike the pornographic novel, the novel of sexual ideas turns sex into a theoretical object, an ethical and political problem, an occasion for thought. The paradoxes that come from merging these two seemingly opposed genres will fuel our discussion.

Course Reading List

Novels TBD but may include: Thomas Hardy, Jude the Obscure; D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover; Virginia Woolf, Orlando; James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room; Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty; Dionne Brand, Theory; Jordy Rosenberg, Confessions of the Fox; Garth Greenwell, Cleanness; Brandon Taylor, Real Life; Torrey Peters, Detransition, Baby.

Course Method of Evaluation and Course Requirements

  • Presentation and/or seminar facilitation, 30%
  • Seminar paper 15-20pp, 50%
  • Participation, 20%

Term: S-TERM (January 2023 to April 2023)
Date/Time: Thursday / 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Location: Room JHB 718 (Jackman Humanities Building, 170 St. George Street)
Delivery: In-Person