ENGL 341
American Genders, American Sexualites Fall 2009
Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed ENGL 341 / WGST 341
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course investigates how sexual identities, desires, and acts are represented and reproduced in American literary and popular culture. Focusing on two culturally rich periods–roughly 1880-1940 (when the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” came to connote discrete sexual identities), and on the last twenty years–we will explore what it means to read and theorize “queerly.” Among the questions we will ask: What counts as “sex” or “sexual identity” in a text? Are there definably lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer writing styles or cultural practices? What does sexuality have to do with gender? How are sexual subjectivities intertwined with race, ethnicity, class, and other identities and identifications? And why has “queerness” proven to be such a powerful and sometimes powerfully contested concept? We will also explore what impact particular historical events, such as the rise of sexology, the Harlem Renaissance, and the emergence of a transgender movement have had on queer cultural production. Readings may include works by the following theorists–Almaguer, Butler, Sedgwick, Foucault, Freud, Hammond–as well as James’s “The Beast in the Jungle,” Stein’s QED, Cather’s “Paul’s Case,” Larsen’s Passing, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Diaz’s “Drown,” Feinberg’s Stone Bitch Blues, and poetry by Lorde, Hughes, Pratt, and Rich, as well as screenings of contemporary videos and films such as Looking for Langston and The Wedding Banquet. This course meets the requirements of the Exploring Diversity Initiative in that it focuses on empathetic understanding, power and privilege, and critical theorization, especially in relation to class, gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity within a U.S. context.
The Class: Format: discussion/seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1690
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, several short writing assignments, two 5-page papers, and one 8- to 10-page paper
Prerequisites: a 100-level English course
Enrollment Preferences: English majors and/or students interested in Gender/Queer Studies
Unit Notes: meets post-1900 and Criticism requirements in English major only if registration is under ENGL
Distributions: Division I Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGST
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 341 Division I WGST 341 Division II
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
ENGL Criticism Courses
WGST Racial, Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses
WGST Feminist Theory Courses

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