What’s queer about the city? What’s urban about queer life? What do queer literary and critical representations of urban systems reveal about American cities and their legacies of unequal access to housing, education, and nonviolent, ordinary lives? This course focuses on the entanglement of queer studies with the development, disinvestment and gentrification of American cities from the 1950s to the present. We will concentrate on the work of four important queer authors: Audre Lorde, James Baldwin, Samuel Delany, and Eileen Myles, as they lived in, wrote about, and advocated for their cities. Course texts will include Lorde's Zami (1982), Baldwin's Another Country (1954), Delany's Times Square Red / Times Square Blue (1999), and Eileen Myles's Chelsea Girls (1994). We will read our authors as critics, as literary artists, and as activists in dialogue with movements for queer rights, disability access and racial justice.
This course will also set the work of these authors into dialogue with other texts in urban studies and queer theory. As a Junior Research Seminar, this course will create opportunities to learn and practice research strategies integral to writing about literature and culture. Assignments will include constructing an annotated bibliography, tracing the history of words important to queer urban life, generating independent and collaborative close readings, and conducting research in the library archives and the public sphere. We will build from the methods of our authors, as we use creative writing experiments to inform our academic writing. We will also use academic form to write across genres about the social, aesthetic and political relationships between queer communities and the cities where they live.
Major requirements: Fulfills Sector 2, Sector 6, and JRS; Gen Ed: fulfills Cultural Diversity in the U.S.