Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Gender and Sexuality: Queer Politics, Queer Communities

ENGL 105.401
crosslisted as: COML 106
instructor(s):
TR 12-1:30
fulfills requirements:
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major

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 and by looking at key moments in the struggle for sexual and gender freedom. The history we trace will focus on the effects of the “invention of homosexuality” in the late-nineteenth century; the history of butch/femme community; the cultural moment of Stonewall and gay liberation; the “Sex Wars” of the 1980s; women of color and queer of color critiques; responses to HIV/AIDS; and the emergence of the transgender rights movement. The course will end with a turn to contemporary debates about the meaning of “queer,” same-sex marriage, the politics of emotion, commodification, and gay normalization.