In this course, we will survey queer and transgender history from the end of the nineteenth century to the present through in-depth readings of novels. Along the way, we will mark several historical landmarks, including the so-called “invention” of homosexuality, gay liberation, and the legalization of same-sex marriage. Our readings will focus on how desire, identity, and power register at the level of narrative form (though close attention to point of view, characterization, temporal sequence, and other formal features).
Topics to include: the closet; homosexual panic; racial and sexual passing; sexual science and psychoanalysis; homosociality; migration; censorship; sexual violence and histories of slavery; linguistic, national, racial, and sexual difference; the city as a sexual space; intersections and tensions between queer, feminist, and transgender politics.
Readings to include: Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray;
Henry James, The Turn of the Screw;
Willa Cather, The Professor’s House;
James Weldon Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man;
Nella Larsen, Passing;
Radclyffe Hall, The Well of Loneliness;
James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room;
Gayl Jones, Corregidora;
Jackie Kay, Trumpet;
Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night;
Justin Torres, We the Animals;
Jacqueline Woodson, Another Brooklyn.