English Lit second years are being taught the ‘Art of Masturbation’

The final week of the module is called ‘pleasure, self scrutiny and auto-eroticism’

A compulsory second year English Lit module is offering a lecture called “The Art of Masturbation”.

This semester, the Sheffield “Criticism and Literary Theory” module aims to “introduce writers, concepts and approaches fundamental to contemporary literary theory”.

And more than 200 students can learn about the apparent “Art of Masturbation” too.

The raunchy lecture is the second part in the “Pleasure, Self Scrutiny and Auto-Eroticism” section of the course.

But students are obviously also encouraged to undertake independent research.

On the essential reading list for the lecture is EK Sedgwick’s “Jane Austen and The Masturbating Girl”, which as well as investigating mastubatory identity, argues that Sense and Sensibility is actually an extended lesbian hymn.

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Who knew masturbation could be art?

Other recommended texts are “Hardcore: Power, Pleasure and the Frenzy of the visible”, “Solitary Sex: A Cultural History of Masturbation” and “Walt Whitman: The Spermatic Imagination.”.

One of the tutors behind the lecture Dr Fabienne Collignon told The Tab: “The art of masturbation will take place on the last week of a level two module on critical theory.

“The last week is called pleasure, self-scrutiny and auto-eroticism.

“I ended up calling it that because there’s an affinity between literary pleasure, critical self-scrutunity and auto-eroticism.

“The lecture will be on Walt Whitman, Rob Halpern and the deconstruction of masterbation.

“It will argue how the writing of lyric poetry and masterbation always imagines an absent other, so that’s the basis.

“There’s also a utopian imagination at work during masterbation because you imagine different modes of productivity that could come into being.”


Dr Fabienne Collignon, one of the tutors behind the art of masterbation lecture

Laura Bell, an English Lit second year, is apprehensive about the lecture: “The lecture was compulsory, but even if it hadn’t have been I probably would have chosen it.”

“It was one of my optional modules in first year, and I loved it.

“It’s basically about the philosophy of literature and makes you question your entire existence. It’s a ridiculous module really but it is so much fun.

“They showed us a video of naked men wrestling during one lecture in first year about masculinity. I dread to think how graphic the lecture is going to be when the title alone is already banging on about wanking.”

“Lets hope there’s no practical work involved.”

Jake Rainbow, also in the same class, is slightly more positive about the topic: “Literary theory can be frustratingly ambiguous and confusing to read.

“It’s pretty nice to finish such a hard module with something I can firmly grasp.”

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