WGSS 342
Sexuality in US Modernisms Fall 2022
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed ENGL 341 / WGSS 342

Class Details

This course investigates how sexual identities, desires, and acts are represented and reproduced in U.S. literary and popular culture. Focusing on 1880-1940 (when, in the U.S. the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” came to connote discrete sexual identities), we will explore what it means to read and theorize “queerly.” Among the questions we will ask are: What counts as “sex” or “sexual identity” in a text? Are there definably queer and/or transgender 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? Why has “queerness” proven to be such a powerful and sometimes powerfully contested concept? We will also explore what impact particular literary developments–the move from realism to modernism– and historical events such as the rise of sexology, first-wave feminism and the Harlem Renaissance–have had on queer cultural production. The class will also introduce students to some of the most influential examples of queer literary and cultural theory. Readings may include works by authors such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry James, Willa Cather, Sui Sin Far, Langston Hughes, Richard Bruce Nugent, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Nella Larsen, as well as queer literary theory and critique by scholars such as Butler, Coviello, Ferguson, Foucault, Freeman, Freud, Lorde, Love, Muñoz, Rich, Rodriguez, Ross, and Sedgwick.
The Class: Format: seminar; discussion/seminar
Limit: 25
Expected: 25
Class#: 1862
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, several short writing assignments, two 5-page papers, and one 7-9 -page paper
Prerequisites: a 100-level ENGL course, or a score of 5 on the AP English Literature exam, or a score of 6 or 7 on the Higher Level IB English exam, or permission of the instructor
Enrollment Preferences: English majors and/or students interested in WGSS
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 341 Division I WGSS 342 Division II
DPE Notes: This course considers the history and literature of sexuality in the US alongside questions of race, gender, class, region and more. It examines how literary form theorizes sexuality, and how sexuality affects literary form, in ways that consider (in)equity and power in a variety of contexts.
Attributes: ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL Literary Histories C
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses

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