Seminar in Cultural Studies (LSE/CSAP)


In this course we
will investigate queer theory and its intersections with studies of class,
race, nation and genre.  Our basic
premise for the course is that human sexuality and gender are socially
constructed and regulated.  Our primary
concern will be to understand the multiplicity of ways in which families,
communities, and nations institutionalize heterosexuality and gender roles, and
the ways in which individuals and groups can and do resist these roles.  We will undergo this exploration by reading
works of theory that have been foundational to the field (for example, those by
Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, and Eve Sedgwick) as well as studies that are
at the forefront of the field today and that investigate its intersections with
ethnic studies, settler colonial studies, transnationalism, and diaspora
studies (for example, works by Roderick Ferguson, Gayatri Gopinath,
Scott Lauria
, and Jasbir Puar). 


We will analyze
these theoretical texts in relation to other contemporary cultural texts—novels
(Rolling the Rs, Bastard Out of Carolina),
life writing or mixed-genre works  (Loving in the War Years, The Book of Matt),
plays (The Laramie Project), feature
films (Fire, Boys Don’t Cry) and documentaries (The Brandon Teena Story), poetry (This Connection of Everyone With Lungs). Most of our texts come
from authors and filmmakers with diverse cultural perspectives who are situated
in Hawai’i, the continental U.S., and Canada, and who identify as and/or
explore being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.  In combination with the theory we will read,
these texts provide insight into how conformity to sexual and gender roles
gains people acceptance by one’s family, community, and nation. They establish,
in other words, the connections between sexual and gender identity and various
forms of citizenship and communal and familial belonging. These texts also
establish ways that sexual and gender roles have unacknowledged race and class
biases, and how deviating from or challenging these roles often results in
alienation, exclusion, violence, and premature death.  Many of the texts trace as well how people
challenge the sexual and gender roles assigned to them and, in the process of
doing so, forge alternative families or communities, and/or begin to imagine
new formulations of belonging. As we read or view “imaginative”
cultural texts alongside more purely “theoretical” ones, we will
consider if—and if so, how and why—different genres enable different kinds of
mappings or imaginings of non-heteronormative identities, communities, and



REQUIREMENTS:  The course will be run as a
seminar. Regular attendance is mandatory. Weekly required letters to the class
on the readings will help determine the shape of class discussion and will
comprise 15% of the final grade.  Once
during the semester, students will give a presentation that relates to the
reading for that week (worth 10%). Two times, students will also attend and
write a short response to a UH or community event that relates to the course
themes (~10%), turn in a proposal and an annotated bibliography for their
seminar paper (worth ~10%), and a seminar paper (approximately 20 pages, worth
~60%). Everyone will give brief presentations of their final papers at the end
of the semester.


PRIMAY TEXTS (*tentative; might instead read

Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina

*Judith Butler,
Undoing Gender

Cherrie Moraga, Loving
in the War Years

Moises Kaufman and
the Tectonic Theater Project, The Laramie Project

Stephen Jimenez, The
Book of Matt

R. Zamora Linmark,
Rolling the Rs

*Scott Lauria Morgensen, Spaces
between Us: Queer Settler Colonialism and Indigenous Decolonization

Juliana Spahr, This
Connection of Everyone with Lungs



Aknieszka Holland
(director), A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story

Deepa Mehta
(director), Fire

Susan Muska and Gréta Olafsdóttir (directors), The Brandon Teena

Peirce (director), Boys Don’t Cry

Music videos by
Michael Jackson, Grace Jones, Macklemore, Angel Haze, Ozomatli


IN ADDITION, work by the following authors will be
available as PDFs, or assembled in a COURSE READER (tentative listing):

Judith Butler,
Michel Foucault, Guy Hocquenghem, Jonathan Katz, Cherrie Moraga and Gloria
Anzaldúa, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Ann Cvetkovich, Adrienne Rich, Judith
Halberstam, Douglas Crimp, Samuel Delany,
Roderick A. Ferguson, Martin Manalansan, Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner,
Scott Lauria Morgensen, Mark Rivkin, Gayatri Gopinath,
Audre Lorde, Jasbir Puar, David Eng, Gary Fisher,
Jose Esteban Muñoz