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Theories of Gender and Sexuality

ENGL 096.401
instructor(s):
MW 2-3:30

What is sexuality? Does it exist in the body or in the mind? Is it a collection of actions, desires, and fantasies, or is it rather a disposition, a way of seeing oneself, an identity? Does what we want depend on who we are? Does what we do define who we are? This course will address such questions by introducing students to several classic texts in the history and theory of sexuality. We will consider the politics and meaning of non-normative sexualities across time and in different cultural locations. After working through several key texts in the field, we will turn to contemporary debates about the limits of transgender identity, gay pride and gay shame, the commodification of identity, the meaning of “queer,” and responses to HIV/AIDS.  Readings by Freud, Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, Adrienne Rich, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Gayle Rubin, Michael Warner, Cherríe Moraga, Leo Bersani, and others; we will also look at some contemporary queer cultural production (music, film, zines). Requirements: two short papers; one longer paper; a final exam.