Studies: Lit & Sexlty & Gender

ENG482: Studies in Literature, Sexuality, and Gender

Queer Pasts, Queer Presents


Instructor:       Dr. Derrick Higginbotham

Time:               11.30 – 12.20am, Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays

Location:         210 KUY


Office Hours:  TBA

Location:         617 KUY


In this course, students will scrutinize the ways that medieval and early modern texts operate as representational resources for contemporary writers, especially queer writers. Why, for instance, does Robert Glück in his novel Margery Kempe intertwine a retelling of Margery’s mystical vision with his account of an erotic affair with a younger man during the AIDS epidemic? How does the British director Derek Jarman adapt Christopher Marlowe’s early modern history play Edward II in the early 1990s, so that it speaks to the politics of homophobia during the Thatcher era? We will study novels, poetry, film, as well as some visual art from various countries, specifically Britain, Australia, and the US. Queerness in this course will be theorized in different ways: at times, it will evoke the cultures of sexual and gender minorities; at other moments, it will capture those who are betwixt and between other identity categories, whether defined by race, class, or gender. Throughout, we also will consider a key strand of queer theory, including essays by Lee Edelman, Jack Halberstam, Carolyn Dinshaw, Elizabeth Freeman, and Heather Love, which focuses on queer temporalities, the ways that certain kind of narratives and experiences pulverize our sense of linear time with the aim that students can think about the queerness that inheres in mining the premodern past in the present to frame a cultural politics of the future.


Book List:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. James Winny, editor and translator. Broadview Press, 1995.

Staley, Lynn, ed. The Book of Margery Kempe. W. W. Norton & Company, 2000.

Marlowe, Christopher. Edward II. Stephen Guy-Bray, ed. Bloomsbury Metheun Drama, 2014.

Shakespeare, William. As You Like It. Folger Shakespeare Edition. Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Cavendish, Margaret. The Blazing World and Other Writings. Kate Lilley, ed. Penguin Classics, 1994.

Stow, Randolph. The Girl Green As Elderflower. Text Publishing Company, 1980.

Glück, Robert. Margery Kempe. High Risk Books, 1994.

Dutton, Danielle. Margaret the First. Catapult Books, 2016.


Jarman, Derek (dir.) Edward II, 1994.

Cotter, Marika Sonja (dir.), LOVE: As You Like It, 2013.


Student Learning Outcomes:

In this course, students will:

  • Practice reading texts, films, and visual art critically and appreciate how genre shapes content
  • Acquire an understanding of the history of sexuality and queer theory, with a special focus on notion of queer temporality
  • Strengthen their knowledge of the Middle Ages and the Early Modern era as distinctive literary and historical periods
  • Gain an understanding of literature’s potential and limits as a source for cultural history
  • Improve their skills in incorporating and documenting secondary scholarship when crafting an argumentative essay



Response Paper 1 (650 words)                                                              15%

Response Paper 2 (650 words)                                                              15%

Blog Responses (50 words minimum x 5)                                           10%

Research Essay (2000 words)                                                                30%

Final Exam (1000 words)                                                                      20%

Participation and Attendance                                                                10%