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Martin Kevorkian, Chair CAL 226, Mailcode B5000, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4991

Spring 2009

E 314V • Gay and Lesbian Literature and Culture

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33630 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM

Course Description

Computer assisted instruction.

Implicit in the title of this course, Gay and Lesbian Literature and Culture, are a pair of assumptions. First, it assumes that there are forms of literature and culture that are uniquely "gay and lesbian" and that these forms can be isolated from other, presumably non-gay/non-lesbian, forms of literature and culture. In a word, it makes an assumption about DIFFERENCE. Secondly, it assumes that there is a connection between "literature" and "culture," whatever those terms are taken to mean. In another word, then, the course title makes an assumption about SAMENESS. This class will scrutinize these assumptions. The problems of sameness and difference are epitomized, for example, in current arguments about gay marriage. Gays and lesbians who argue in favor of the right to marry will claim that they are entitled to it because they are "just like everyone else (i.e. heterosexuals)," while queer critics of the marriage fight will disown it precisely because marriage will make queers "just like everyone else (i.e. heterosexuals)," and they see nothing desirable in that. These conflicting positions have a long history in the thinking of gays/lesbians/queers, and this class will consider how selected American and British authors have approached this difficult conflict. In many ways, this class assumes that the struggle between a desire to be seen as the same and a desire to embrace one's difference is something like the basis of gay/lesbian/queer identity in the present day.

As an introduction to the English major, this class will introduce students to the methods and resources available to students in literary studies. Writing assignments will require students to practice the skills of close-reading and critical thinking on selected literary texts from the syllabus. A course reader comprised of critical writing will introduce a variety of analytical approaches, including queer theory, gender theory, and historical inquiry. These skills will be taught and demonstrated in class discussions and in sample papers. Furthermore, class readings will proceed by discussion: students are expected to complete all readings and attend all classes, and those who don't will not succeed in this course. There will be weekly reading quizzes and reading response blog entries. Any student who has more than four unexcused absences will see their final average dropped by one letter grade.

Grading Policy

3 short papers (3-4 pages each), with peer review and optional revisions (20% each)
Final project, with research component (20%)


E.M. Forster, Maurice; James Baldwin, Giovanni's Room; Tony Kushner, Angels in America, Part I: Millennium Approaches; Sarah Waters, Tipping the Velvet; Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the Only Fruit; Sharon Bridgforth, love conjure/blues; Plus a course reader comprised of selected critical writings on sexuality studies, queer theory, gender, etc.


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