ENGL359E - Queer Poetics, Autobiographics in the Age of Facebook (or Gay is Very American)

An intensive study of literature, poetry, and public expression in a variety of media and across a couple of centuries, this course will examine the queerness of nineteenth-century poets Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and will then turn to the poetic productions and cultural reproductions of modern and contemporary poets such as Elizabeth Bishop, H.D., Gertrude Stein, Judy Grahn, Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and Minnie Bruce Pratt, as well as Hart Crane, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Frank O‘Hara, Essex Hemphill, and current poet laureate Kay Ryan. While we will probe ways in which lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer expressions are inflected by issues of race, gender, class, and high/low culture, we will especially scrutinize ways in which the performances and receptions of writers identified (by themselves or others) as LGBT or queer may perpetuate, challenge, and modify cultural mythologies about sexualities, queernesses, and modes of writing in the Facebook age. Another central inquiry in our course of study, then, will be to investigate various implications of the fact that in the early 21st century, _25 Random Things About Me_ and other online writing performed by individuals in group settings queer notions about social networking and autobiographical expression. Written assignments will be a short paper and a longer, more ambitious essay (10-15 pp.) or online writing (critical blog or other web presentation) exploring in depth some aspect raised by our course of study, as well as a reading journal (maintaining this journal will count as one of your exams). Collaborative writing endeavors are welcomed. Our meetings will often depend upon group work for leading discussions in the individual sessions, and each class member will participate in a project presentation, which may well be a group presentation.


Two lower-level English courses, at least one in literature; or permission of department.