Queer Theories

Tu 2:30PM - 5:00PM / 402E Cathedral of Learning / CRN 29606

Work in queer studies is without a doubt as vibrant as ever. Queer theory has had a major influence on the academy and continues to be integrated and transformed in today’s academic culture. We will focus on very recent work in queer studies (much of it published after 2000) and, as a group of scholar-teachers, think through what have emerged as some of the key issues, questions, and debates in this wing of gender studies. As this course is not a survey of the full trajectory of queer theory, we will not read the “classics” of queer theory (e.g. Butler, Foucault) per se, but much of the recent critical work that we will take employs these thinkers as jumping-off points. Consequently, we will necessarily (re)consider those classics and think about how they have recently been reworked and reread by later thinkers. For instance, we will ask: How has Michel Foucault’s hyper-canonical notion that “sodomy” becomes “homosexuality” in the late nineteenth century been rethought by theoretically-informed historians? How have Butler’s ideas on performativity been challenged by transgender theorists and critical race scholars? Students will thus complete the course with a solid understanding of where queer studies has been and where it is today. The course is meant to open up avenues of inquiry in gender studies and provide a base for future work in related areas. The course will be run as an interdisciplinary seminar, and we will profit from the various backgrounds in the classroom to learn more about fields outside our own “home.” While the course is open to any graduate student, students without a background in feminist or gender theory are advised, before the course starts, to procure and read: Annamarie Jagose, Queer Theory: An Introduction, as well as Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality (volume I) and Judith Butler, Gender Trouble.

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Todd Reeser

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Category D: Designated Courses

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