Sem Cul St: Transnational Queer Poetics (CSAP/LSE)

Critics such as David Eng have
recently suggested that we might resist the liberalization and neoliberalization
of queer politics with a turn to “queer diaspora,” a term that hinges on a
poststructuralist revisioning of cultural understandings of the family and the

This call for a reconsideration
of queer kinship formations and political prerogatives through attention to the
realities of transnationalism and migration is one that has reverberated
through recent scholarly work within queer theory and contemporary sexuality
studies. This course focuses on this recent trend in queer studies, offering
students a semester-long, in-depth engagement with this body of queer theory
and sexuality studies fundamentally informed by their commitments to theorizing
queerness in transnational and intersectional terms.

course takes as a point of departure the vexed status of “queer,” a term that
pretends to the status of both universal and unifier, but one that, for many
political movements organized by “sexual minorities,” is often more synonymous
with north American cultural and economic imperialism than with any sort of
liberatory agenda. The introduction to the course will familiarize students
with the critique of queer liberalism, neoliberalism, and homonationalism, and
proceed from that point to consider a wide range of political perspectives
pertaining to the relationship between sexuality and queerness to state

course will be organized into eight units (2 weeks apiece), each of which will
have a general topic. Topics may include themes such as homonationalisms; queer
politics and the neoliberal state; globalization and the AIDS epidemic; queer
diaspora; the politics of visibility; borders and migration; etc. Each week, a
set of readings on a “case study” will be paired with the readings pertaining
to the topic of the unit. These case studies will examine specific activism and
theory that emerges from particularized national, cultural, or diasporic
contexts; examples include Palestinian anti-pinkwashing campaigns, or the
politics of American protective asylum laws for queer immigrants. These case
studies are not intended to reify national borders as ideological boundaries,
but rather to engage with a diversity of queer political activisms and
theoretical models, in response to the degree to which the focus of queer
theory in the United States has persistently been white, American men.
Importantly, in this course we will not be reading among and between these
models of queer political engagement for similarity, consensus or cohesion; instead,
we will approach these culturally and politically variegated engagements with a
view to understanding the different relationships that each group understands
sexuality to bear to the political.

Assignments include one
in-class presentation (25%); one 10-page annotated bibliography (25%); and a
final seminar paper of 20-25 pages (50%).

Authors that we will read
include Siobhan Somerville, Urvashi Vaid, Lisa Duggan, David Eng, Juana
Rodriguez, Gayatri Gopinath, Jasbir Puar, Douglas Crimp, Jose Munoz, Martin
Manalansan, Inderpal Grewal, Caren Kaplan, Cindy Patton and Eng-Beng Lim.

We will be reading texts
drawn from a wide array of sources; due to the extremely contemporary nature of
this course, many of our readings will come from journals, anthologies, blogs,
and electronic resources. Critical/theoretical texts may include Gayatri
Gopinath’s Impossible Desires: Queer
Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures
; Manalansan and Cruz-Malave’s Queer Globalizations: Citizenship and the
Afterlife of Colonialism
; David Eng’s The
Feeling of Kinship: Queer Liberalism and the Racialization of Intimacy
Eng’s and Hom’s Q&A: Queer and Asian
; Jasbir Puar’s Terrorist
; Patton and Sanchez-Eppler’s Queer Diasporas; and Cindy Patton’s Globalizing AIDS.

Writing, films, and other
artistic media may include Arenas’ Before
Night Falls
; Deepa Mehta’s Fire;
Sembene Ousmane’s Moolade; R. Zamora
Linmark’s Rolling the R’s; Monique
Truong’s The Book of Salt; and James
Thomas Stevens’ (dis)Orient.