Course Description

Cross-listed with WGSS 301-01. This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) literature and culture in the United States. The course moves among literary, historical, and theoretical texts to address questions of sex, gender, and sexuality as they shape queer American identities, communities, and cultures. Drawing from queer theory, feminist and queer historicism, and feminist and queer literary analysis, students will consider the impact of sexuality and gender on literature and culture. We will pay particular attention to how sex and gender intersect with other forms of difference, including race, class, geography, and nationality. Primary readings will be drawn from a range of literary genres and archival sources.

 *Content Note:  This course includes discussion of explicit materials, including but not limited to: sexual acts of all kinds, sexual and physical violence, rape, sexual fetishes, pornography, and other graphic, emotional, and controversial materials.  If you cannot participate in a sensitive and mature manner, you should reconsider taking this course.  If you are concerned about engaging with a particular topic you should consult with us in advance. 

Course Objectives: 

  • Trace the social construction of sex, gender, and sexuality, and ongoing transhistorical changes in these categories
  • Deepen students’ methods and models of reading using texts by and about LGBTQ2 people
  • Differentiate between sexual acts and identities as we trace the rise of contemporary concepts of “gay,” “lesbian,” and “transgender,” and the problems applying these to pre-modern lives
  • Mark the effects of race, class, geography, and colonialism on the evolution and construction of LGBTQ2 identities and communities
  • Identify conflict between and within the broader LGBTQ2 continuum, specifically around forces of assimilation, race, and class
  • Consider the shifting focus of LGBTQ2 activism in historical and contemporary politics
  • Make a cogent and controvertible argument that relies on evidence and demonstrates familiarity with the relationships between primary and secondary sources

Course Materials

The following texts are required for the course and are available at the college bookstore. In addition, you will need to be able to access various other texts on our class website:

      1. Susan Stryker, Transgender History, 2nd edition (Hachette, 2018); 978-1-5800-5689-2
      2. Tony Kushner, Angels in America (Ingram Publishing Services, 2013); 978-1-5593-6384-6
      3. Samuel Delany, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (Ingram Publishing, 1999); 978-0-8147-1920-6
      4. Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain (Scribner, 2005); 978-0-7432-7132-5
      5. Audre Lorde, Zami: A New Spelling of my Name (Penguin, 1982); 978-0-8959-4122-0
      6. Eli Clare, Exile and Pride (Duke UP, 2015); 978-0-8223-6031-5
      7. Walt Whitman, Song of Myself (Dover, 2001); 978-0-4864-1410-2
      8. Recommended: Writing Analytically, 8th ed. by David Rosenwasser and Jill Stephen