ENGL465 - Theories of Sexuality and Literature
There are many ways to frame a study of theories of sexuality and literature. For the purposes of this course, we will draw primarily upon feminist and queer approaches to the question of how sexuality, sexual difference, and gender create or confound the conditions of meaning in the production of literary and cultural texts. We’ll look, too, at questions of history, reception, and interpretation. We’ll also consider how race and other dimensions of difference intersect with sexuality in social/cultural fields. We’ll explore the operations of and resistances to “heteronormativity” (“the institutions, structures of understanding, and practical orientations that make heterosexuality seem not only coherent – that is, organized as a sexuality – but also privileged,” as Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner have put it). Our readings will often be dense and abstract, but our goals will be pragmatic. We will use theory as a tool to help get at the problems posed by texts, to help figure out the kind of work they are doing. The aim is to become better readers, to grow more adept at grappling with sexual/textual complexity and writing about it in a clear, persuasive way. To that end, we’ll read literary texts (including films) as well as theoretical ones and look at an important body of queer art that could also be described as queer theory. Writing assignments will be a mix of formal and informal, short and long(ish), analytical and interpretive. You’ll keep a theory workbook in which you respond to readings briefly but regularly. Final projects will give you a chance to use the tools of sex/gender/queer theory to develop an analysis of a text you choose, in consultation with me.Also offered as: LGBT465. Credit only granted for: ENGL465 or LGBT465.
Two English courses in literature; or permission of ARHU-English department.