WGSS 342
American Genders, American Sexualites Spring 2017
Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Cross-listed AMST 341 / WGSS 342 / ENGL 341
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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 the contemporary context of the “postmodern” 21-century–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, queer 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 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 authors: Butler, Cather, Diaz, Ferguson, Fitzgerald, Foucault, Freud, Hammonds, Hughes, James, Larsen, Lorde, Muñoz, Rich, Rodriguez, Sedgwick, and Stein, and as well as screenings of contemporary videos and films. 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#: 4005
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 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
Enrollment Preferences: English majors and/or students interested in WGSS
Distributions: Division II Exploring Diversity Initiative
Notes: meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ENGL; meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under WGSS or AMST
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 341 Division II WGSS 342 Division II ENGL 341 Division I
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
ENGL post-1900 Courses
ENGL Criticism Courses
ENGL Literary Histories C
WGSS Racial Sexual + Cultural Diversity Courses
WGSS Theory Courses

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