Course Description

In & Out, Either/Or, and Everything In Between

Dickinson College

Kate Bornstein writes: “I know I’m not a man…and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not a woman either. The trouble is, we’re living in a world that insists we be one or the other.”In this reading and writing intensive course, students will investigate how we approach the space outside of “one or the other” through literature, film, and narrative more generally.

Throughout the semester we will explore and engage critically with established and emerging arguments in queer theory, as well as read and watch texts dealing with issues of identity and identification.   Although “queer” is a contested term, it describes—at least potentially—sexualities and genders that fall outside of normative constellations.  Students will learn how to summarize and engage with arguments, and to craft and insert their own voice into the ongoing debates about the efficacy of queer theory and queer studies. Moreover, we’ll take on questions that relate “word” to “world” in order to ask: How might our theory productively intervene in LGBTQ civil rights discourse outside our classroom? How do we define queer and is it necessarily attached to sexual orientation? How do our own histories and narratives intersect with the works we analyze?
Our course texts will pull from a range of genres including graphic novels, film, poetry, memoir, and fiction.