English R1B

Reading and Composition: Queer/of Color Cultural Productions

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
13 Fall 2016 Valella, Daniel
TTh 5-6:30 PM. 263 Dwinelle

Book List

Anzaldúa, Gloria: Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza; Baldwin, James: Giovanni's Room; Hagedorn, Jessica: Dogeaters; Hwang, David Henry: M. Butterfly; Womack, Craig S.: Drowning in Fire

Other Readings and Media

Required Films (both available in Moffitt Library and on Netflix, Amazon, and Google Play): Paris Is Burning and Boys Don’t Cry

Other Required Texts (all available on bCourses): Short pieces by Chrystos, the Combahee River Collective, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Junot Díaz, David L. Eng, Audre Lorde, Cherríe Moraga, Achy Obejas, and Andrea Smith; episodes of the TV shows Orange Is the New Black and How to Get Away with Murder


What meanings do the terms “queer” and “of color” carry? How do different literary and artistic genres represent the experiences of (racial, sexual, gender, or other social) minorities? What relationships can we trace between textual legibility (how a work of art can, or asks to, be interpreted) and cultural legibility (how an individual or community can, or asks to, be identified)? In this course, we will explore these questions as we read, watch, and evaluate artistic works that transport us across the globe—from Parisian bars to the Rio Grande Valley to Philippine jungles to Oklahoman Indian settlements.

In our travels across space, time, and genre, we will consider the benefits—as well as the limitations—of understanding the term “queer” not simply as a reference to LGBT identities but, more expansively, as a signifier of deviation from any number of sociopolitical norms. Similarly, we will contemplate what can be gained (or lost) by taking comparative and intersectional approaches to the study of race, gender, sexuality, class, and nation. How useful is it, for instance, to understand subjects as “of color” rather than “black” or “Asian”? What do we learn when we shift our focus from, say, “Latinos” or “the poor” to “working-class U.S. Latina lesbians”?

As we analyze the various methods of research and exposition that our authors employ to convey social and literary meaning, we will work on developing our own methods of research and analysis for effective critical writing. To this end, we will focus throughout the semester on asking precise and significant questions, on identifying useful print and online sources to help us refine and answer these questions, and on translating our research findings into strong scholarly arguments. Early in the term, we will visit our campus’s Bancroft Library to learn how to work with archival materials. Later, we will meet with a librarian in Doe to learn how to navigate the wide array of library resources available to us as UC Berkeley students. Finally, we will work together to outline, draft, and revise our own research papers (one 6- to 8-page essay and one 10- to 12-page essay) on topics related to the major themes of our course.

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