ENGL265 - Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Literature

Starting with one of the earliest existing written texts--Gilgamesh--this course studies the pervasiveness of homoeroticism in literature. We'll move from the ancient world to the European Renaissance, through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and end with contemporary texts, including television and film. Examples of texts and authors we'll cover include a Christopher Marlowe play; poems by Walt Whitman; short stories by Willa Cather and Radclyffe Hall; episodes of Rick and Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in the World; lesbian pulp fiction from the 1950s; short stories and poems by Audre Lorde and James Baldwin; and a satirical novel from the late 1990s. We'll also look briefly at a range of critics and theorists who discuss sexuality and sexual identity. Our focus will be the changes not only in attitudes toward LGBT people and same-sex eroticism but also how concepts of identity have changed over time. We'll also be following some of the surprising similarities that can be found across time and geographical distance. The bulk of the class will consist of discussion with occasional supplementary short lectures; students will help to generate and guide conversations, so reading and preparation are critical. Major assignments include short papers, regular homework, independent and group research projects, and two exams.