Theories of Gender and Sexuality: a Survey
Do literary and visual representations of gender and sexuality effect how we experience our own genders and sexualities? What can literature teach us about identity? Does the literary canon privilege masculine aesthetics? Is there a female canon? A gay canon? This course is designed to introduce students to literary theories of gender and sexuality, as well as to critical frameworks for talking about representations of gender and sexuality in nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and contemporary media. We will begin with the present, looking at questions of identity and representation in contemporary media (TV, movies, magazines, advertisements). We will then consider theoretical questions of gender and sexuality posed within the literary canon and outside of it. Course readings may include work by theorists such as Eve Sedgwick, Nancy Armstrong, Rita Felski, Peggy Kamuf, and Barbara Johnson, as well as novels by Gustave Flaubert, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Nella Larsen, and Hilary Mantel.