Spring 2022 Undergraduate English Courses

359:331 Queer Literature Before Stonewall

01  TTH5  3:50-5:10 PM  CAC   08292   GROGAN  SC-221

Queer Literature Before Stonewall

In this course we will read queer literature written before Stonewall—that is, before the event typically celebrated as the birth of the gay liberation movement. How were sexuality and gender delineated in law, medicine, psychology, and literature? Was queerness understood to mean an identity, a set of desires, an action, a perversion? What kind of liberationist movements existed, and what role did art and literature play in these? What is ‘queer’ about literary history and literary form? And how do we, as readers and writers, study the queer past? We will read and watch texts by, among others, Walt Whitman, Patricia Highsmith, Richard Bruce Nugent, Jennie June, Samuel Delany, Cheryl Dunye, Gladys Bentley, Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, Claude McKay, Oscar Wilde, James Baldwin, and Leslie Feinberg. We’ll sample some sexological and psychoanalytic texts; tour through the androgynous performances of Harlem Renaissance nightlife; dabble in gay and lesbian pulp; and enrich our readings with some recent queer theory. Students should expect to read widely and adventurously. Assessment will be based on participation (including informal writing), a short paper, and a major research project.