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Spring 2016 Undergraduate English Courses: Theories and Methods

359:320 Queer Theories and Histories

01  MW5   CAC  17380   KURNICK  SC-206

This course is an introduction to the study of sexuality, with a specific emphasis on the politics of representation and narration.  We’ll be paying close attention to the kinds of stories that get told about sexuality and the ways these narratives frame past and present understanding of sexuality.  The course materials come from a wide array of disciplines and areas of cultural production, and accordingly we’ll be asking how different genres (such as the novel, psychoanalytic study, ethnography, “theory,” journalism, history, and documentary film) help frame sexuality in everyday, academic and activist contexts.  Topics include: the challenges of thinking about sexualities of the past; the importance of concepts like “the closet” and “romantic friendship” in creating the self-understanding of queer people in the past and present; generational change and cross-generational communication in queer communities; and the fate of public sex cultures, on-line and off-; the impact of race and nation on sexuality (and vice versa); AIDS activism and gender identity in a rapidly shifting pharmaceutical context; the intersections and tensions between queer and gender studies in the age of the so-called transgender “tipping point”; queer intimacies in the age of gay marriage.   

In addition to various journalistic and legal texts and a film or two, possible authors to be covered include (but are not limited to) Lauren Berlant, James Baldwin, Samuel Delany, Leslie Feinberg, Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, George Chauncey, Patricia Highsmith, Herman Melville, Cherríe Moraga, Joseph Massad, Maggie Nelson, Beatriz Preciado, Adrienne Rich, Gayle Rubin, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Susan Stryker, and Michael Warner.