English R1B

Reading and Composition: Queer in Nature

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
7 Spring 2016 Diaz, Rosalind
MWF 1-2 225 Wheeler

Book List

Butler, Octavia: Fledgling; Griffith, Nicola: Ammonite

Other Readings and Media

2012 (film); a course reader with selections from Alison Kafer, Ladelle McWhorter, Donna Haraway, Nancy C. Unger, J. Jack Halberstam, and others. 


In this course, we will consider how we think about and how others have thought about the relationship between humans and nature, focusing in particular on ideas about human sexuality. We will read two novels which ask us to question our understanding of what is "human" and what is "natural" through the lens of speculative fiction, and we will watch a recent film that also uses elements of speculative fiction. To help us dig deeper into this complex, open-ended topic, we will seek out and read materials from a range of disciplines, including ecofeminism, queer theory, history of science, disability studies, indigenous studies, and critical race studies.

Our inquiry will lead us to encounter questions like: what does it mean to be queer, to think queerly, or to queer something? How have certain sexual practices and identities been stigmatized as “unnatural” or “against nature”? What assumptions about the natural world do we make when we label something “unnatural”—or, for that matter, when we imply that certain races or cultures have a special understanding of nature? What might we gain from reconsidering the various assumptions that shore up our “common knowledge” about animals, humans, and nature? How does speculative fiction offer ways of imagining different ways of relating to nature? And what other sources might we turn to as we strive to open up and clarify our ideas on these topics?

Together we will tackle the project and the process of writing a research paper. We will break down this larger project into a series of steps designed to help you build on and expand your existing skills. Topic proposals, drafting, revision, and peer feedback will all be integral to this process. We will focus on developing research skills and on incorporating these source materials into our essays. 

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