Recently in Class News Category


As I mentioned in class yesterday, we will not be reading the Butler excerpt from Frames of war for tomorrow's class. Instead, we will be reading the Puar/Rai essay, "Monster, Terrorist, Fag." If you were not in class, you can find the essay on WebCT.

See you tomorrow!

Final Blog Assignment

Here is the final blog wrap-up assignment that I discussed in class yesterday.

Here is what I wrote in the original syllabus:

You are required to submit a final wrap-up on your experiences tracking your chosen topic and on helping to develop and participate in the blog. This wrap-up can come in the form of a lengthy blog entry (or series of entries) or a separate (more formal) reflective essay. Please see me if you have other thoughts on how to organize/develop/articulate your reflective thoughts on your topic and your experience with the blog.


1. A (roughly) 250-300 word description/discussion of your chosen term. In this discussion, you should provide your own understanding of the term and why it is important for queering theory. This part of your reflection essay/entry should draw upon at least 3 sources (from our readings/your first presentation/annotated bibliographies). I would encourage you to draw upon your own previous entries and link to them.

2. A (roughly) 250-300 word reflection on the question: What is queering? In answering this question you are not required to provide THE definition of queering (which is not possible), but to reflect on what you think queering is. You should draw upon the readings, our discussions, our blog, outside sources, and your own ideas. I would especially encourage you to reference other students' posts (by discussing and linking to them).

3. A (roughly) 350-400 word reflection on the process of tracking your term. This reflection should occur in two ways: 1. A reflection on the process of tracking your term and 2. A reflection on the process of using/participating in the blog. In composing your response, answer the following questions:

• What did you learn about queering theory and your term through this process?
• How was the process of writing on the blog helpful (or not helpful)?
• What would you like to tell future students about the blog experience (advice, etc)?
• What connections can you draw between queering theory and blogging? How did (or didn't) our blog allow for a queer space or enable us to engage in practices of queering?

This essay is due the last day of class on December 15.

For class tomorrow (11.19)

Remember that your blog folders are due tomorrow. Please include all entries and comments that you want graded. Only printed out items included in the folder will be awarded points.

Tomorrow we are discussing Mattilda's Nobody Passes. You are only required to read the introduction. Pick out a few essays from the book that you find especially compelling and read them closely. Come up with some passages from those essays that you want to discuss and bring some questions to ask the rest of the class.

Good luck finishing up your blog entries!

For Tomorrow's Reading on Prosser (11.12)

Tomorrow we will begin discussing the Jay Prosser article (we will also discuss it next Tuesday). In our discussion, we will focus on the following pages (page numbers refer to the actual Prosser text, not the course packet): 257-265 and 272-280. So, you can skip the section on melancholy (265-272).

As you are reading it, think about this question:
How does Prosser define "queer", "queer theory," "queering"?

Also, think about what terms or concepts don't make sense to you. Make a list and bring them to class.

Blog Meetings


As I mentioned in class yesterday, I would like to meet with each of you individually to discuss your blog assignments and how you think the class is going. Here are some times. Please post a comment to this entry with your chosen time. All meetings will take place this upcoming Tuesday before and after class.

TUESDAY, 11.10
12:00 12:10 12:20 12:30 12:40 12:50 1:00 1:10 1:20 1:30 1:40 1:50
3:30 3:40 3:50 4:00 4:10 4:20 4:30

Class canceled for today (11.3)

Due to illness, I am canceling class for today. We will push everything
back (including presentations) one day. So, we will be reading Foucault and
Butler for this Thursday.

Some thoughts on your first blog assignments...

I am still in the process of grading your blog assignments. For the most part, I have really enjoyed reading what you have to say. Here are some of my thoughts so far...

Remember to demonstrate a serious engagement with your chosen reading/s.
Here is what I wrote in the blog assignment: Your entry can be as long (within reason) or as short as you think necessary in order to demonstrate a critical engagement with your chosen reading/readings. By critical engagement I mean that your entry clearly demonstrates: a. that you have closely read (that means for than once) the reading and b. that you have thought through it in terms of appreciation, critique and construction.

I want to add to this statement: For me, a serious engagement means that you really engage with the reading. You read it many times and you really think about what the author is trying to argue and how that argument does/doesn't make sense to you. Here are some questions to consider as you work on your direct engagements:

a. What is your reaction to the argument? Do you like it? If so, why? If not, what is it about the argument that bothers you? It may be that you are turned off (or on?) by the argument, but you can't quite figure out why. Make that part of your blog entry. I have found in my own writing on my trouble blog, that the process of typing up my ideas can help me to clarify what I am really feeling about a reading. Or, it can at least help me to articulate why I am bothered/unsettled/moved by that reading. Check out this example from my blog.

b. Are there any particular passages that just don't make sense--either because of the author's language or because of the claims they are trying to make? For me, one great thing about the blog is that can be a space where you work through ideas. It is not necessarily (or even usually) a place where you write about ideas/arguments that you have completely figured out. One good starting point for a direct engagement entry could be a passage/idea from that reading that you just don't get. Start writing about why you don't get it and then how you think it might fit with the larger argument. Check out this example from by blog.

c. Is there an idea from the reading that really makes you mad or that moves you? Did you have an a-ha moment when you were reading the article? Write about this experience and why/how it happened.

d. Did you talk about this reading with one of your friends or a family member? What was that experience like? When you read certain essays do you find yourself wanting to tell your roommate about them? Write about that experience. How do you explain the reading? What do you tell them?

e. Do you ever find yourself reading an article and wanting to ask the author about what they wrote? You could construct your entry as a conversation between you and the author. Ask your questions and then imagine how they might reply. Or, you could construct your entry as a letter/email to that author (as in: Dear Judy, I was just reading your essay in Undoing Gender about the value of grief. What happened to the sense of humor that you had in Gender Trouble? Why does laughter not seem to be important to you anymore?...).

f. Explain the title. Frequently you can get to the key argument that an author is trying to make by explaining the title. Make your own explanation of the author's title a central part of your entry--but not the only part. See this example from my blog.

Be creative in your engagement with the reading. Don't worry about making these entries overly formal. Find a way to infuse your own personality into your entries. Show us your quirky sense of humor or "how your brain works". See this example from my blog.

Three important things to remember:

1. Serious engagement takes time. Serious engagement means that you spend a serious amount of time on your entries. Read the articles again...and again...and again. Do not wait until the last minute to write and post these.

2. Serious engagement does not mean that you have to take yourself (or the readings) too seriously. Have fun with these entries. This is your chance to play with these ideas and to experiment with many different ways in which to engage with the material and the topics of the class. Your experiments can fail, but that's okay. Plenty of mine have. See this example. But, as Butler reminds us, failure can be productive. If you experiment with your blog entry and it fails, write about the failure--why you think you failed and what important questions your failure produced.

3. The more I think about this assignment (and the more you all do it for the class), the more I come to understand its primary purpose. While I do hope that these entries enable us to build community outside of the classroom, that is not my primary purpose. For me, the primary purpose of your various blog assignments is to give you a different sort of space in which to work through the ideas of the class and to demonstrate that working through (to me, to yourself, to other class members). These blog entries are meant to encourage (maybe even to push) you to really engage with some central ideas of queering theory. Keep this mind as you are working on the entries.

Another revised schedule

I passed out another revised schedule (as of 10.22) in class yesterday. I will also make a link for it, under the Handouts section.

Remember: We are discussing Butler's chapter, "Beside Oneself" from Undoing Gender on Tuesday. Then on Thursday, we will watch and discuss "Halloween." I was thinking that we could begin class with a discussion of the Carol Clover reading (found on WebCT in the folder for 10.29) and then start watching the film around 3:15. The movie is about 90 minutes long. You are not required to stay, but I will screen the entire movie (ending around 4:45 or so). I will bring some snacks (feel free to bring some too).

News/Announcements from class on 10.20

First, here is the reading assignment for tomorrow:
a. Chambers
b. Sedgwick excerpt on Divinity. If you weren't in class on Tuesday, you will find the article on our WebCT site, under the folder for 10.22.

Note: You do not have to read the Butler excerpt from Gender Trouble for tomorrow. We will be discussing it next Tuesday.

Second, here is what I said about your presentations:
In addition to offering a brief summary of the additional reading and a question, you should talk a little (and you can do this informally) about why you chose the topic that you did and how your "tracking" of it is going.

Note: Remember that your direct engagement with your additional reading is due the day after you give your presentation. This deadline is listed in the blog worksheet that I distributed last week.

Handout #2 and some clarifications...

Here is Handout #2 from class yesterday.

Here are some corrections:
a. Your first set of blog entries are due October 22 and not October 24.
b. Class next week is on October 20 and 22 not October 24.

One more thing: If you want, you may use your Paris is Burning blog entry as one of your queries.

Blog Worksheet

I just put together a blog worksheet which includes a few more details about blog grading and upcoming deadlines. Check it out here. You can also find it in the Handout links. Please read the worksheet and post any questions about it as comments on this entry. We can also talk about it next week.

Course Packet Available!

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The course packet is finally available at Paradigm Printing in Stadium Village!

The new address is:

720 Washington Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414 Map
(Between Erberts & Gerberts and Dairy Queen across from McNamara Alumni Center; there's a sign out front)

Phone: 612.379.4590

Hours for Fall 2009 Semester:
Mon - Thu -> 8:00 - 7:00
Fri -> 8:00 - 5:00
Sat & Sun -> 12:00 - 4:00

Categories? What Categories?

Do you find yourself having difficulty figuring out what the different categories for this blog are for? Are you uncertain about which category you should file your entries under? Does my repeated mention of "Queries" or "Queer This!" leave you wondering just what I am talking about? Worry no longer! I have just added an explanation of categories--called "About the Categories"--for this blog. It is located on the right hand side at the top of the blog (under PAGES), so check it out. You can also check it out here. Hopefully this explanation will help you to make sense of the categories.

Still not making sense? Post a comment to this entry with your questions and I will offer even more explanation.

Reading for 9.29

Here are a couple notes about the readings for next Thursday.

a. Judith. "A Bad Writer Writes Back" (online)
The link in our syllabus to this reading is wrong. I have posted the correct link under the reading section on this blog. You can also click here to get it.

b. Butler, Judith. Excerpt from "Value of Difficulty" (WebCT)
You should read the entire essay. You can find it on our WebCT site.

c. Salih, Sara. "Judith Butler and the Ethics of Difficulty" in The Critical Quarterly.
(2003), 45: 3 (WebCT)
Again, read the whole essay. You can find it on our WebCT site.

d. Interview with Judith Butler. "Changing the Subject" in jac (WebCT)
Read the following pages from this interview: 727-top 729, 731-top 736. You can find the entire interview on our WebCT site.

Blog Assignment for 9/24 on the Butler film

On Thursday (9.24) you will be watching the Judith Butler documentary, "Judith Butler: Philosophical Encounters of a Third Kind" in the Rachel Raimist Feminist Media Center. As part of your participation grade, you are required to post your reactions to the film. Here's what I want you to do.

First, watch the movie. As you are watching it, jot down some of your reactions to the film and the idea of Judith Butler (as a person, scholar, queer theorist). Make note of particular clips from the film that you like/don't like, etc.

Second, read the Feminist Review's brief review of the film. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Third, read the The Chronicle for Higher Education interview with Judith Butler as a troublemaker posted on our WebCT site.

Finally, read my analysis of Butler as a disciplinary problem here.

Now, in your post, offer your own reflections on the film and the representation of Judith Butler "as a person." Also, think about it in relation to the readings. Why is it important to know who she is as a person? What are the limits of our knowing? Does it make her theories more authentic when we know who she is? (Why) is it important to know that she was a troublemaker as a child? You are not required to answer all of these questions. Just use them as a guide for your entry, which should be about 200-300 words long.

The Blog Assignment: The Details

I have worked out more of the details for the blog assignment (which you can download here).

30% or 300 points (15 total @ 20 points each)

7      Direct engagements with the readings
3      Annotated bibliographies
5      "Queer This!" posts

10% or 100 points (10 total @ 10 points each)

3       Comments posted in response to the query in "Class Summaries and Queries"
4       Comments posted on direct engagement OR annotated bibliography entries.
3       Comments posted on any blog entries

Readings for 9.17 are on WebCT

I have posted our readings for 9.17 (Cohen and Johnson) on our WebCT site. Please read all of both articles.

Note: We will not be reading the Moraga article for this Thursday.

See you tomorrow!

Classroom Location

We will be staying in Ford 400 for our class. Occasionally we will meet in the FMC, but our regular meetings will remain in FORD 400. Sorry about all of the confusion.

Course Books

The following books are required for our course this semester. They are available at the U of M Bookstore in Coffman. In addition to these books, course readings will be available through our WebCT site. Occasionally, readings will be available on this blog (scroll down and look under "readings" on the right hand side).

9780415389556.jpgJudith Butler's Gender Trouble. While we won't be reading all of this book, it will serve as a key starting point for many of our conversations about queering theory, Butler and important queering terms. Originally written in 1990, this book is considered by many to be a "founding" text for queer studies. Her notion of gender as performance, her reflection on drag as a practice of parody, and her critical engagement with feminism/feminist theory of the 1990s are all dealt with in this groundbreaking work.

butler.jpgJudith Butler's Undoing Gender. Written in 2004, this collection of essays serves as a continuation of some of the key issues concerning gender and sexuality that Butler first raised in Gender Trouble. Here is her description: "The essays included here represent some of my most recent work on gender and sexuality focusing on the question of what it might mean to undo restrictively normative conceptions of sexual and gendered life" (1). In these essays, Butler links her work with "new gender politics," which she describes as: "a combination of movements concerned with transgender, transsexuality, intersex, and their complex relations to feminist and queer theory" (4). 


9781580051842.jpgNobody Passes. The subtitle of this book is "Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity." It is an edited collection that brings together a wide range of authors who all reflect, in very different ways, on their experiences of assimilation and not passing. In their introduction, Mattilda discusses the experience of creating such an anthology and the resistance they received from their editors because they refused to focus their book exclusively on gender and sexuality.

Note:The U just upgraded the blog system (to Movable Type 4) this summer and I am still becoming familiar with its new features. This has been my first attempt at uploading images.