September 2, 2009


Welcome to the blog for GWSS 4403/GLBT 4403. Here is the syllabus for class. And here is a brief description of the course:

In this upper level seminar we will use the work of Judith Butler as our focal point for tracing multiple practices of queering theory and mapping the shifting terrain of the term "queer" and its role within critical sexuality studies. After beginning with the investigation of some preliminary questions--What is queering theory? and Who is Judith Butler?--we will spend the rest of the course engaging in practices of queering through, beside and against Butler. Drawing upon readings by Butler and putting them into conversation with a wide range of important queer thinkers (Foucault, Halberstam, Sedgwick, Moraga, Edelman, Gopinath, Munoz, Anzaldua and more), we will explore some terms/concepts that are central to understanding and engaging in queering theory: 1. Gender, 2. Performativity, 3. the Abject, 4. Resistance, 5. Trouble (being in it, making it and staying in it), 6. Norms and 7. Queer Time.

Some questions that will come up this semester include:

  1. Is queer theory a matter of doing or being? Can it be both?
  2. How does Butler engage in queering theory?
  3. Is Butler a "bad writer" or a difficult writer?
  4. What (if anything) is important about distinguishing between bad and difficult writing?
  5. How has Butler's understanding and promotion of queer(ing) theory changed since the writing of Gender Trouble in 1990?
  6. What does it mean to trouble gender? Who can trouble gender? When is troubling gender subverting dominant norms and when is it merely reinforcing those norms?
  7. What are the political and ethical possibilities of queering theory?
  8. What can queer theory do with norms (besides rejecting them)?
  9. Does queering theory have a future? If so, what kind?