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Queer Theory and Early Modern Studies

ENGL 538.401
crosslisted as: GSWS 538, COML 558
instructor(s):
T 12-3:00

In this seminar we will examine the history, key terms and concepts, and current debates of the intersecting fields of queer theory and early modern studies. We will also consider possible future directions for queer early modern scholarship through readings of selected poems, plays, film, and new media (primary texts include work by Ovid, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Donne, and Lanyer). Guiding questions will include: How are we to understand the relationship between embodiment, race, gender, desire, and sexual fantasy and practice in literary representation? What methods of reading and research best allow us to approach texts written before “sex” and “sexuality” had acquired the modern meanings we now take for granted? How does attentiveness to the queer or normative potential of interpretive methods that would seem unrelated to eroticism help us to approach a better understanding of early modern culture? For instance, how do assumptions about normative scripts for maturity, anxieties about accuracy and anachronism, or the simple exclusion of race, gender, and sexuality as categories of analysis shape close reading, historical contextualization, or archival research? What modern reinterpretations of early modern literature and culture (e.g. performance, film, video games, the NY Shakespeare Exchange Sonnet Project) reveal about changes in modern norms and ideals?