English 171

Literature and Sexual Identity: Gender, Sexuality, and Modernism

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
1 Spring 2014 Abel, Elizabeth
MW 4-5:30 101 Wheeler

Book List

Barnes, Djuna: Nightwood; Bechdel, Alison: Fun Home; Cunningham, Michael: The Hours; Ford, Ford Madox: The Good Soldier; Foucault, Michel: The History of Sexuality, Vol 1; James, Henry: The Turn of the Screw and Other Short Fiction; Joyce, James: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; Larsen, Nella: Quicksand and Passing; Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray and Other Writings; Winterson, Jeanette: Written on the Body; Woolf, Virginia: Mrs. Dalloway; Woolf, Virginia: Orlando

Other Readings and Media

A course reader will contain poetry, critical essays, and photography; in addition, we will screen several films.


Gender norms and literary forms both exploded at the turn of the twentieth century. These paired crises in social and literary narratives were perceived on the one hand as the stuttering end of western culture's story, the drying up of libidinal fuel: and on the other as the freeing of desire from the burden of reproduction, and of language from the burden of reference. Sexual and literary experimentation went hand in hand, but their intersections varied considerably. At the end of the twentieth century, a different phase of the sexual revolution produced a set of intensive theoretical debates about the construction of gender and sexuality. In this course, we will read back and forth across the century to stage a series of encounters between the cultural practices of modernism and contemporary feminist and queer theory.

This class is cross-listed with L.G.B.T. 100 section 1.

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