Summer 2021 Undergraduate English Courses

358:363 Twentieth Century Literature and Culture: Zines and Scenes: Queer Genres of Community

E1  6/28-8/6   BY ARRANGEMENT  11942   ROBERTS, K.

E1-  Zines and Scenes: Queer Genres of Community

In Sarah Schulman’s Girls, Visions and Everything, narrator Lila Futuransky plans to write literature that will bring lesbians to her East Village neighborhood in droves. But first she needs to ask gay poet Allen Ginsberg “how he did it.” As the scene between the fictional Lila Futuransky and the real-world poet Allen Ginsberg suggests, queer writers were productively blurring the lines between the real world and the world of literature to produce social and literary lineages and communities.

For this class, we will take seriously these humorous attempts, as we consider the ways that queer writers worked to simultaneously build a queer literary canon and a queer social scene. We’ll read works from a range of genres and media that queer writers re-invented for the purposes of building social collectives and asserting community belonging: interviews and bios, zines and magazines, fliers and pamphlets, comix, anthologies, films, and critical theory. The readings will start in the 1980s and early 1990s, a period Robert McRuer has termed the “queer renaissance,” and we’ll be paying close attention to how the political pressures and social shifts of the 1980s shaped queer literature and theory. Rather than looking at one genre—such as “the novel” or “queer theory”—we will instead be immersing ourselves in the textual ecology in which queer writers were working and collaborating. This strategy will allow us to explore how queer writings of the period built dynamic new forms that responded less to accepted literary categories than to one another. We will engage with the work of queer cultural producers and theorists such as: Gloria Anzaldúa, Alison Bechdel, Cathy Cohen, Dennis Cooper, Vaginal Davis, Samuel Delany, Cheryl Dunye, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, Eileen Myles, Joan Nestle, Sarah Schulman, Tommy Pico, and many anonymous and “minor” figures.