Studies in Literature and Sexuality and Gender: Colonial Love, Decolonial Love

Modality: in-person

Pathways: Cultural and Literary Geographies; Literary Histories and Genres

Focus Requirement: Fulfills the “WI”

Course Description: In this course we will explore the relationship between love and colonialism, and between Indigeneity and decolonial love. We will consider ways love–familial, romantic, patriotic–serves to perpetuate colonial structures. As well, we will consider how these same forms of love can serve, in anti-colonial struggles, to resist and/or replicate colonialism, or forms of oppression that are not necessarily tied to colonialism.  We’ll also grapple with what the term “decolonial love” means, looking to different formulations of it that range from Junot Díaz’s often-quoted formulation that popularized the term and that works within heterosexual romantic relationships, to Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s revision of his formulation, which queers it, and expands it to include land and the more-than-human.

To anchor our investigations, we will consider contemporary texts (popular music, novels, short stories, essays, interviews, memoir, poetry, films, videos), that centrally engage the topics of love and colonialism from different sites and positionalities (Kanaka Maoli, Palestinian, American Indian, Filipinx, Latinx, queer, white settler, etc.). Questions we will take up include the following: How do various kinds of love structure or sustain colonialism?  How and under what conditions can love serve to defy, exceed, or provide alternatives to colonial structures and institutions? What are the interrelations between queer and decolonial love? between Indigeneity and decolonial love? What problems and possibilities come with using “decolonial” and “Indigenous” interchangeably and as a future horizon to strive for? Does exploring decolonial love and its possibilities require rethinking valorizations of monogamous heterosexual relationships? Are phrases such as “be mine” part of a colonial logic? Does decolonial love necessitate challenging understandings of human-non-human relationships and how and why might doing so matter to creating decolonial futures? Are some genres and forms better suited to colonial and/or decolonial love than others, and why?

Content warning: Please know that fulfilling the assignments for this course will involve reading and discussing texts that include scenes of sexual or domestic violence.

Class requirements and procedures: A 5-6 page love letter (100 points); a 10-12 page research essay (or, upon approval, creative project) + proposal (200 points); in-class activities, short assignments (50 points); a group presentation + annotated bibliography + discussion questions (50 points); group journal entries (100 points).                                                                            

Assigned texts: Lucha Corpi, Black Widow’s Wardrobe; Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her; Laurel Flores Fantauzzo, My Heart Underwater; Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Islands of Decolonial Love; Haunani-Kay Trask, Light in the Crevice Never Seen

Films: Hany Abu-Assad, dir., Omar; Christopher Kahunahana, dir., Waikīkī ; Eran Riklis, dir., Lemon Tree; Elias Suleiman, dir., Divine Intervention; Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, dir., The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open; Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, dir., Bihttos

Short videos by Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Ciara Lacy, No’u Revilla, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

Essays, interviews and and poems will be posted to Laulima or you will receive links for them on the syllabus, by writers including Lia Maria Barcinas and Aiko Yamashiro, Mahmoud Darwish, Aya Deleon, Junot Díaz, Noe Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua, Ricardo Frasso Jaramillo, J. Kēhaulani Kauanui, Paula Moya, Jamaica Osorio, No‘u Revilla, Shreerekha, Aiko Yamashiro