queer theory // spring 2013

Picture: Butt Magazine

Queer Theory
BA Seminar
Spring 2013
Dr. Diane Picitto, Dr. Alexander Markin
Tue 12:15–13:45

Queer Theory is a theory of otherness, the Other, and alternative ways of being and acting in the world. Although it can speak to marginal identities and experiences as well as homosexuality, its scope is far broader and wide reaching. Indeed, it is a rich theory that continues to develop and be reshaped with contemporary investments, particularly in the context of sexuality, gender, transgender, cross-dressing, and various constellations of identity, action, and desire. Throughout the course, we will conduct intensive examinations of fundamental critical texts, such as those by Sigmund Freud, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler, to help us explore the nature of Queer Theory. The sessions, divided into thematically based units, will be devoted to putting theory into practice. Specifically, we will approach works, ranging from the Early Modern Period to the Nineteenth Century to Postmodernism and from poetry to prose to film, with the interpretive strategies of Queer Theory. We will consider the way this theory can be employed to elucidate texts that explicitly position queerness as well as the way it can be used to disrupt traditional interpretations of heteronormative texts.

Reading and Discussion Schedule (subject to alterations with advance notice):

Feb 19: Introduction: What is Queer Theory?
Lady Gaga: “Born This Way”
— Judith Butler: “Critically Queer” (Ch. 2, The Routledge Queer Studies Reader [RQSR])
— Michel Foucault: “Sex, Power, and the Politics of Identity” (from Ethics, Subjectivity and
— Eve K. Sedgwick: “Axiomatic” (Ch. 8, Morland and Willox: Queer Theory)

Feb 26: Performativity
Vincent Minnelli (dir.): Tea and Sympathy
— Judith Butler: Introduction to Bodies that Matter
— Judith Butler: “Subjects of Sex/Gender/Desire” (Ch. 1, Gender Trouble)
— Richard Dyer: “Heterosexuality” (Ch. 18, Medhurst and Munt: Lesbian and Gay Studies)
— Ian Wellard: “Bodies and Masculinities” (Ch. 3, Sport, Masculinities and the Body)

Mar 5: Male Friendship
Christopher Marlowe: Edward II
Derek Jarman (dir.): Edward II
– Alan Bray: The Friend (pp. 187-93)
– David M. Halperin: “Heroes and their Pals” (Ch. 4, One Hundred Years of Homosexuality)
– Alan Bray: “Homosexuality and the Signs of Male Friendship in Elizabethan England”

Mar 12: Guest Speaker: Penny Paparunas: “Crossdressing, Precariousness, Transgression”
Mary Robinson: Walsingham (Vol. 1, Ch. 18, and Vol. 4, Ch. 98)
Christoph Martin Wieland: «Novelle ohne Titel»

Mar 19: Female Friendship
Christina Rossetti: Goblin Market
William Shakespeare: As You Like It
– Sigmund Freud: “Female Sexuality” (from The Complete Works)
– Sigmund Freud: “Fetishism” (from The Complete Works)

Mar 26: (Gay and) Lesbian: Love, Narcissism, and Inversion
Elizabeth Bishop: “Insomnia”
Michael Field: “A Girl”
John Milton: Eve’s Nativity, 4.440-504 (Paradise Lost)
Adrienne Rich: “Poem XX” (from Twenty-One Love Poems)
Sappho: “Fragment 31”
– Richard R. Bozorth: “Naming the Unnameable: Lesbian and Gay Love Poetry” (in Hugh:
The Cambridge Companion to Gay and Lesbian Writing)

Apr 9: Gay (and Lesbian): From the Underground to Pop Icons
– Alexander Doty and Ben Gove: “Queer Representation in the Mass Media” (Ch. 6
excerpts, Medhurst and Munt: Lesbian and Gay Studies)
– Peter Horne and Reina Lewis: “Visual Culture” (Ch. 7 excerpts, Medhurst and Munt:
Lesbian and Gay Studies)
– Rosemary Hennessy: “Queer Visibility in Commodity Culture”
– John Marshall: “Pansies, Perverts, and Macho Men: Changing Concepts of Male
Homosexuality” (in Plummer: The Making of the Modern Homosexual)

Apr 16: Bisexuality
Anthony Minghella (dir.): The Talented Mr. Ripley
John Schlesinger (dir.): Sunday Bloody Sunday
– Steven Angelides: “The Queer Intervention” (Ch. 4, RQSR)
– Jonathan Dollimore: “Bisexuality” (Ch. 17, Medhurst and Munt: Lesbian and Gay Studies)

Apr 23: Cross-Dressing: Perversity, the Other, and Gay Drag

Lord Byron: Don Juan, Cantos 5 and 6 (selections)
Edmund Backhouse: “Peking Interlude or Cassia Flower” (Ch. 1, Décadence Mandchoue)
– Marjorie Garber: “Introduction: Clothes Make the Man” (from Vested Interests)
– Edward Said: Orientalism (excerpts)

Apr 30: Cross-Dressing: Criminality and Perversity
Tod Browning (dir.): The Devil Doll

May 7: Sadomasochism (SM) and Monstrous Bodies
Marcus Nispel: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Oscar Wilde: Salome

May 14: “Hermaphroditism”: Intersexed and Transgendered Discourses
Herculine Barbin: Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite (excerpts)
Ovid: “Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” (from Metamorphoses)
– Michel Foucault: Introduction to Herculine Barbin’s Memoirs

May 21: Transgender, Transsexuality, and Performativity
Antony and the Johnsons: “For Today I am a Boy,” “My Lady Story,” and “Frankenstein”
Jennie Livingston (dir.): Paris Is Burning
– Judith Butler: “Bodily Inscriptions, Performative Subversions” (from Ch. 3, Gender Trouble)
– Jay Prosser: “Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of
Sex” (Ch. 3, RQSR)
– Iain Morland: “What Can Queer Theory Do for Intersex?” (Ch. 26, RQSR)

May 28: Final Discussion
– Judith Halberstam: The Queer Art of Failure (excerpts)
– William B. Turner: “Introduction: The Proliferation of Queers” (from A Genealogy of Queer Theory)

This post is tagged

Leave a Reply