English 165

Special Topics: Queer Lifestyles in Literature and Theory

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Spring 2016 Weiner, Joshua J
TTh 3:30-5 101 Wheeler

Book List

Cleland, John: Fanny Hill; Delany, Samuel: Dhalgren; Lawrence, D. H. : Sons and Lovers; Pater, Walter: Marius the Epicurean; Rochester: Poems; Wittig, Monique: Les Guérillères


Before the twentieth century, "queer" usually just meant strange or peculiar; it suggested an unusual way of living or being. The word gradually became a slur to describe someone sexually different, and we have now rehabilitated it as the polite way to designate a broad but fractious coalition of identities. Queer theory today is exploring the limits of this guiding concept, debating whether and how queerness must entail resistance to socio-political norms and if so, whether it must still entail same-sex desire at all. This course will study queerness both in theory and in literary texts, focusing on works that represent the search for an alternative, different, and aesthetically charged “queer lifestyle.” We will consider literature from the libertine culture of the seventeenth century to the radical separatist fantasies of the late twentieth century. The theoretical portion of the course will cover classics of queer theory (Foucault, Sedgwick, Butler) as well as current hot topics (homonormativity, pornography and sex work, trans and queer of color critique, queer affect theory, and polyamory/compersion). 


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