ENGL 466 A: Gay And Lesbian Studies

Meeting Time: 
TTh 11:30am - 1:20pm
SMI 407
Gillian Harkins
Gillian Harkins

Syllabus Description:

English 466A (Gay and Lesbian Studies)

T/Th 11:30-1:20 pm

Classroom: SMI 407

Professor Gillian Harkins                                                                        Office Hours: Tuesdays 1:30-3:30

Email: gharkins@u.washington.edu                                                                             A-306 Padelford Hall


                                               Queer Archives


But what we call literature is after the fact, and it's difficult to say what a writer, a witness, should do. All I know now is what I'm trying to be a witness to, and at this moment, in the life of a living man, it is not literature but a question of trying to translate what you see. Trying to move it from one place to another. Afterward, it may be literature. While you're living, dealing with other human beings, people whom you love, all you can do is have passion.  The bottom line is this: You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can't, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even but a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.


 -- James Baldwin quoted in John Romano, “James Baldwin Writing and Talking,” New York Times (September 23, 1979)


This course offers a deliberately uneven introduction to queer theory and lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) studies.  Such deliberation in the face of unevenness reflects one of the central premises of the course: that studying sexual cultures is neither an easy nor a straightforward task. The construction of sexuality across different historical periods, geopolitical spaces, and cultural practices varies tremendously.  Studying such a complex field requires students to grapple with difficult concepts and to develop and practice new critical skills.  The course is therefore designed to be challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding.  Our critical readings will center intersectional approaches to sexuality, race, gender, nation, class, ability, ethnicity and religion, while our literary readings will include novels, poetry and performance primarily produced in the United States over the past twenty years.  While the course will focus on U.S. materials, it will situate them as much as possible in a transnational framework.

 Required Texts:

 Rabih Alameddine, Koolaids: The Art of War

Lawrence Chua, Gold by the Inch

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

Other Course Readings:  Available on the Canvass Website.

 Course Objectives:

  • To question the names and places associated with sexuality
  • To explore key frameworks in LGBTQIA/Queer Studies
  • To practice critical skills needed to read LGBTQIA/Queer texts
  • To create queer archives for the past, present and future

Course Requirements:

Participation:  Your ability to fully grasp the concepts in this course depends upon your active participation in class.  We agreed on that participation credit would be based on the following activities: being present in class, talking as well as listening, asking questions, picking out passages, responding to what someone else says, small group work, freewriting, office hour conversations, extra credit options.  We agreed everyone would try to balance speaking up and sharing their own ideas with listening closely and leaving room for the ideas of others.

             Participation: 25%

Projects: You will produce three projects for this course. The first is a 4-6 page exploration of a key concept from our names, places, and frameworks section of the class.  The second is a 4-6 page literary critical essay on one of the short stories or novels in the course.  The third is a creative project on an archive (open format, could be a short paper, a media project, a performance, etc.).

            Names/Framework Essay: 25%

            Literary Critical Essay: 25%

            Archive Project: 25%

Course Policies

Academic Honesty:  Please review the University of Washington website http://depts.washington.edu/grading/issue1/honesty.htm for a definition and explanation of plagiarism and academic misconduct.  I will immediately report any suspected instance of academic misconduct to the University.  If you are confused or have any questions about a specific instance, please feel free to see me in advance of the due date.

Academic Accommodations:  To request academic accommodations due to disability, please contact Disabled Student Services, 448 Schmitz, (206) 543-8924 (V/TTY).  If you have a letter from Disabled Student Services indicating that you have a disability that requires academic accommodations, please present the letter to me so we can discuss the accommodations you might need in this class.

Academic Conduct: This is a classroom where we will take risks and try to learn from each other.  For this to work, we must create a climate of mutual respect and curiosity.  We created these guidelines together to make sure our class discussions make this the best experience possible: active listening while others share their ideas; willingness to ask follow up questions rather than make assumptions; awareness of speaking for oneself and not on behalf of a group; effort to leave biases and "devil's advocate" questions at the door and engage in open discussion of ideas; focus on arguments rather than people or perceptions; be considerate about language and tone and how it impacts others in the room; respect other people's positions when engaging in debate; use smart phones sparingly for class-related searches and use laptop computers only in the back of the room.


Course Schedule:  ** SUBJECT TO CHANGE **

Week 1:  Introduction

T 3/28                        Names and Places

Th 3/30         

Jacob Tobia, “LGBTQIA: A Beginner’s Guide to the Great Alphabet Soup of Queer Identity,” Policy.mic (March 2, 2013): https://mic.com/articles/28093/lgbtqia-a-beginner-s-guide-to-the-great-alphabet-soup-of-queer-identity#.GSlTTAvUj

Michael Shuman, “Generation LGBTQIA,” New York Times (January 9, 2013): http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/fashion/generation-lgbtqia.html.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual Resource Center, “LGBTQIA Resource Center Glossary,” UCDavis.edu: http://lgbtqia.ucdavis.edu/educated/glossary.html

 “Homosexuality,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (August 5, 2002, revised July 15, 2015): http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/homosexuality/


Week 2         

T 4/4             

Cathy Cohen, “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” (1-29) from GLQ

Jin Haritaworn, “Hateful Travels: Queering Ethnic Studies in a Context of Criminalization, Pathologization, and Globalization”(106-131) from Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader

Th 4/6           

Qwo-Li Driskill, Chris Finley, Brian Joseph Gilley, and Scott Lauria Morgensen, “Introduction” (1-25) from Queer Indigenous Studies

Lindsey Schneider, “(Re)producing the Nation: Treaty Rights, Gay Marriage, and the Settler State” (92-104) from Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader


Week 3          Queer Frameworks

T 4/11           

Foucault, “Part Two: The Repressive Hypothesis” (17-49) and “Domain” (103-115) from History of Sexuality, Vol I

T 4/13           

Foucault, “Part Five: Right of Death and Power over Life” (135-159) from History of Sexuality, Vol I


Week 4                                                                                                                           

T 4/18                       

Lauren Berlant and Michael Warner, “Sex in Public” from Critical Inquiry

Th 4/20          GUEST TEACHER

Jasbir Puar, “Introduction: Homonationalism and Biopolitics” (1-37) from Terrorist Assemblages


Week 5          Creating Archives

T 4/25           

Matt Richardson, “Introduction: Listening to the Archives”(1-20) from The Queer Limit of Black Memory (2013)

Jose Munoz, “Introduction: Feeling Utopia” (1-18) from Cruising Utopia

ASSIGNMENT: Framework Essay Due

Th 4/27         

Renee Gladman, “No Through Street” from Juice

Samuel Delaney, “Aye, and Gomorrah” from Aye, and Gomorrah and Other Stories


Week 6         

T 5/2             

Rabih Alameddine, Koolaids: The Art of War [Read First Third]

 Th 5/4                       

Rabih Alameddine, Koolaids: The Art of War [Read Second Third]

* NOT REQUIRED: Joseph Massad, “Re-Orienting Desire”






Week 7                                                                                                               

T 5/9             

Rabih Alameddine, Koolaids: The Art of War [Read Third Third]

Th 5/11         

Lawrence Chua, Gold by the Inch [Read First Third]

* NOT REQUIRED: Nguyen Tan Hoang, “Introduction” (1-28) from A View From the Bottom


Week 8

 T 5/16                       

Lawrence Chua, Gold by the Inch [Read Second Third]

Th 5/18

Lawrence Chua, Gold by the Inch [Read Third Third]          

Week 9          Gatherings and Reflections (subject to change)

T 5/23           

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts [Read First Third]

Th 5/25       

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts [Read Second Third]

* NOT REQUIRED: Judith Butler “Imitation and Gender Insubordination”

Week 10      

T 5/30            

Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts [Read Third Third]           


Th 6/1                       

Talking Amongst Ourselves

ASSIGNMENT: Literary Criticism Essay Due

W 6/7            ASSIGNMENT: Archive Project Due


Additional Readings:

These readings removed from the end of our course will be optional for those who wish to continue reading about Queer Arcvhives.  We will schedule an in-person discussion session and I have created an on-line discussion group on this website also.

Samuel Delaney, from Times Square Red, Times Square Blue

Karen Tongson, “Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries” (1-27) from Relocations

Karen Tongson, “Coda: Love among the Ruins” (203-213) from Relocations

Excerpts from Butchlalis de Panochtitlan, The Barber of East L.A.

Jose Munoz, “Conclusion: Take Ecstasy with Me”(185-189)

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art”

Magnetic Fields, “Papa Was a Rodeo,” “Busby Berkeley Dreams,” “Underwear” from 69 Love Songs


Catalog Description: 
Examination of ways gays and lesbians are represented in literature, film, performance, and popular culture and how these representations are interpreted in mainstream, gay/lesbian, and academic writing.
GE Requirements: 
Diversity (DIV)
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 10:01pm