ENGL 256 A: Introduction to Queer Cultural Studies

Autumn 2020
MW 4:30pm - 6:20pm / * *
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):


Welcome to queer cultural studies! This course is designed for students interested in queer and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*) culture who have little background in its academic study. Alongside theoretical, political, and academic texts, we watch movies, analyze poetry and novels, consider television, music videos, and blogs. 

The course introduces students to the analysis of culture, and American queer culture in particular, from a queer perspective. Towards that end, we consider the emergence of the concept of “queer” and examine critiques of this concept from various positionalities. We then turn to the analysis of multiple cultural objects. Here, we attend to how queer cultural production navigates and responds to heteronormativity, cisnormativity, and homonormativity (and we learn what these terms mean!). We trace relations between sexual politics, capitalism, racism, settler colonialism, and neoliberalism, and we analyze how normativity both produces and limits freedom, pleasure, and selfhood. Our conclusion considers queer and trans* futures. 


FULL and complete syllabus and course calendar is under "Files":

On day 1 of Fall 2020, we will do class polls on frequency of synchronous Zoom meetings, as well as the preferred modes (video, text, audio) for assignments. A full syllabus, course calendar, all assignments prompts, and readings will then be uploaded based on these responses by the second day of class for Fall 2020 Quarter.


If you need a version without graphics and minimal, high contrast color, here is a version that still has the links and checklists intact (it also under "FILES") on Canvas.


If you need a Word Document version for further access, including low graphics and minimal, high contrast color, that version is here (also under "FILES") on Canvas. 


Day 1 Overview and Homework:

We polled the class on the format during this online learning environment. Then, we went over the "bones" of the syllabus. Finally, we had a chance to begin the homework due Monday next week. That homework is:

1. Create a playlist (any length) that also functions as your "autobiography." Spotify if possible, please. Link to this at the end of your Glossary Reflection (see next two assignments).

2. Write a 2 page double spaced or shorter reflection on at least one term from the LGBTQIA+ Glossary and its relationship to how you. Then, write out which terms still confuse you (and, what you think they mean and where you are uncertain what they mean).

***Reminder: paste a URL to your playlist, preferably Spotify, at the end of your reflection.

Day 1 Homework DUE: Sunday, October 4, 2020, midnight.

Assessment: Complete/Incomplete.


Course Goals: 

  1. Students are able to contextualize and analyze the materials or topics covered, historically, politically, culturally. (Analytical; Writing; Disciplinary)
  2. Students can appreciate the value and challenge of difference and disagreement. (Analytical)
  3. Students are acquainted with a range of texts useful to understanding the course topic and to doing future work in this area. (Disciplinary)
  4. Students develop flexible and creative strategies for doing reflective analytical composition.


Required Texts and Materials:

- Access to internet min. 4 hours per week. (some assigned texts will be streamable films)

- All essay readings will be uploaded to Canvas or available to through the UW library for free.


Assignments and Grading:

30% Discussion Boards

30% Book Club Responses

20% "Final" Paper or Project

20% Reflection Pieces (weekly to bi-weekly; genres will span making playlists, to creating visual art, to classic text reflection)


*When you work in groups, you will be given individual, separate grades.

Catalog Description:
Examines the cultural practices in literature, film, and art that articulate and give meaning to bodies, sexualities, and desires. Teaches critical thinking about identity, power, inequalities, and marginality. Offered: jointly with GWSS 264.
GE Requirements Met:
Diversity (DIV)
Social Sciences (SSc)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
June 19, 2024 - 6:25 am