Course Syllabus

GWSS 4790/GLBT 3610       Fall 2010       Tues/Thurs: 11:15-12:30       LIND 340

Blog Address:
Twitter: @qued2010

Instructor: Dr. Sara L. Puotinen
Office Hours: TUES 12:45-2:00, WED 3:00-4:00 and by appointment
Office Location: FORD 444


Queer scholarship engages ideas and practices that destabilize and trouble that which is commonly thought to be stable and self-evident. In this class we will explore what it may mean to queer desire in a range of contexts that are mainly - but not only - related to expressions of sexual desire. Through close readings and discussions of texts online and offline, we will seek to recognize and contemplate the instabilities, incongruences, and incompatibilities through which livable lives are made and unmade. We will explore how queer scholarship has not only tried to challenge the prejudices and inequalities of existing forms of knowledge and cultural practices, but has also tried to produce new forms of knowledge and engage in new forms of cultural praxis. 

Social media will be a central part of this course. We will devote several weeks to reading and discussing theoretical/practical texts on queering social media. And we will spend a lot of time critically, creatively and collectively engaging on our course blog and (to a lesser extent) our twitter feed. 

In addition to queering social media, we will engage with the following topics: 

  • Queer Intersections and Assemblages 
  • Queering the non/human
  • Queer pedagogy 
  • Queer/ing children
  • Queer futures and utopias
  • Queering feelings and feeling queerly 
And we will some of the following questions: 

  • How do we queer? How are we queer?
  • Is queer a noun, verb or adjective? 
  • What is the radical potential of queer politics? 
  • How can we (and should we) queer happiness? 
  • How can we queer the academy? 
  • What does a queer future look like? 
  • Is queer optimism possible? 
  • What's so queer about children? 
  • Can blogs and twitter be Q/queer spaces that promote Q/queer practices? 

  • to examine how sexuality forms and affects a diverse range of experiences 
  • to understand how queer theory has interrogated these experiences and processes
  • to interrogate normative ways of knowing and think through alternative possibilities 
  • to develop skills for experimenting with social media, such as blogs and twitter, and using
    those media for developing connections and engaging in queer/ing practices 

You are allowed to have two unexcused absences during this semester. You are responsible for contacting other students to get any notes, handouts or information on assignments that you might have missed. You should also read our course blog and twitter feed on a regular basis to check for missing notes, announcements and assignments. 

Let me know if you have any problems. If at any point throughout the semester you have questions or concerns about this course, please know that you are more than welcome to make an appointment to meet with me. I also encourage you to post questions and/or feedback on our blog or as tweets @qued2010

Note: If you have any questions or concerns related to using online technologies in the class, please speak with me as early in the semester as possible. 

Be an active participant in the class. Your participation does make a difference. To that end, you are responsible for coming to class fully prepared, actively and respectfully contributing to discussions, asking questions when you don't understand the material and giving feedback to me on what is working and not working in the class. You are also
responsible for reading and posting (entries and comments) on our blog and for contributing to our twitter feed. Always remember that our class is only as productive (and exciting, inspiring, and fun) as we all make it. 

Check our blog at least every other day and post entries/comments to it on a regular basis. This class requires that you spend considerable time on our course blog and following our twitter feed each week. This time is not intended to be merely in addition to other readings/assignments, but a central part of our critical exploration of queer and queering desire. Class assignments and blog/twitter feed are designed to get you in the habit of regularly reading, thinking, reflecting/processing, and engaging with each other and the course. They are not designed to be done at the last minute (like the night before they are due). To get the most out of our social media experiment, you should budget some time (daily or every other day) to engaging with the blog. 

Post your assignments on time. This is especially crucial in our class; other students are relying on your entries and comments in order to post their own responses. When you don't do your posts on time, they don't have as much time to reflect and respond to your ideas. Not only can this cause a lot of stress for those students, but it inhibits our ability to create connections and collaborate with each other. 


Academic Dishonesty
This includes cheating on assignments, plagiarizing (misrepresenting as your own work any work that has been written by another author), and submitting the same paper or substantially similar paper to meet the requirements of more than one course without the approval of all the instructors concerned. I will report such dishonesty. It is grounds for failure in the course. 

Disability Services
Students with disabilities who require accommodations in meeting course requirements should meet with me as early as possible in the term. Class materials, including this syllabus, can be made available in alternative formats upon request. In order to receive accommodations, you must register with disability services first.

Non-native English Speakers and Writers
If you need some extra assistance with the reading and writing assignments, please contact me early in the term. 

U of M Harassment Policy
The University of Minnesota is committed to the policy that all persons shall have equal access to its programs, facilities, and employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, disability, public assistance status, veteran status, or sexual orientation. Click here for more resources.



Class Participation: 150 points

Queer This!: 90 points

Tracking Topics: 120 points

Reading Engagements: 120 points

Queries: 40 points

Your Choice Blog/Tweet: 50 points

Diablog Assignment: 230 points

Wrap-up: 200 points

Assignment Description
The bulk of your assignments this semester (blog entries, blog participation, twitter tweets, diablog presentation and your final wrap-up) will be organized around the development of and participation in our class blog ( and class twitter feed (follow @qued2010). Once we have worked out the details together in the first and second weeks of class, I will post a more detailed handout on our blog.

By the third week of the course you will be required to pick one of the suggested topics (terms, organizations/communities, or individual activist-theorists) related to queer and queering theory. These topics are listed at the end of this description. You will be responsible for tracking your topic throughout the semester. By tracking I mean that you will be required to pay particular attention to your topic as you are reading, discussing and thinking about queering desire. You will be expected to post three annotated bibliography entries in which you critically reflect on your topic and report on your research. You are encouraged to be creative in your tracking of the term. You can draw on a wide range of sources and post your blog entries in many different forms.


Terms: temporality
queer space
neoliberalism/queer liberalism
bodies and material experiences
radical sex practices
Theorists: Judith Butler
Jasbir Puar
Judith Halberstam
Jose Esteban Munoz
Gloria Anzaldua
Cherríe Moraga
Audre Lorde
Michael Warner
Susan Stryker
Eve Sedgwick
Sarah Ahmed
Dean Spade
Organizations: Sylvia Rivera Project
Queers 4 Economic Justice

In addition to posting your own entries, you are expected to actively read other blogs and other students' entries. Your active engagement will come in the form of commenting on other blogs, creating links within your own entries, and incorporating comments from other entries/blogs into your offline and online participation.

You are also expected to participate on our twitter feed. Throughout the semester, you will tweet: questions to/about the class; "queer this" examples; links to your tracking research, and thoughts/reflections/ideas related to queering desire and our class.

To foster connections between our online and offline engagements, to help us to cultivate our class community, and to give you even more opportunity to shape the class, you and 1-2 classmates will lead us in a mini diablog about the readings. More details about this assignment will be available in the second week of class, along with a sign-up sheet. Diablogs will begin the week of October  5/7.

Note: Dialogue + blog = diablog (noun) A collaboration involving two (or more) people who exchange ideas with others via posts and comments on their shared blog. A diablog requires a explicit commitment to engaging with blog-writing partners through reading and commenting on their posts and referring to/incorporating ideas into your posts.

Finally, 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 and on following our twitter feed. 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.

Note: Once I post the details for each assignment on our blog, I will make the title of each assignment (e.g.: Blog) a link to those details. 


A achievement outstanding relative to the level necessary to meet course requirements
B achievement significantly above that level necessary to meet course requirements
C achievement meeting the basic course requirements in every respect
D achievement worthy of credit even though it does not meet the basic requirements
F performance failing to meet the basic course requirements
S equivalent to a grade of C or better



This book will be available from the U of M Bookstore in a few weeks. We aren't reading it until the 11/23. 

2. Essays/Articles/Book Chapters on WebVista
These readings are available to download on our WebVista site.  
*Access WebVista through MyU. Click on MyCourses and then GWSS 4790 or GLBT 3610. Log in and then click on our class again. The readings will be organized under the week we  will be reading and discussing them. 

3. Essays/Articles/Book Chapters/Blogs on our course blog
These readings will be posted on our blog.


As part our social media experiment this semester and in our attempts at engaging in some queering practices of our own, I would like to make our class as paperless as possible. Therefore, instead of distributing lots of handouts in class (which I used to do), I will post all important information on our course blog. Most of the time I will post the information in a page or entry and make the pdf a downloadable link (paper copies are available on request). In that same spirit, I have only ordered one book for the class. All other readings will be available on WebVista or our blog. You can download and print the readings, if necessary. Finally, all assignments will be posted online. And there will be no papers to write (just comments and blog entries). 

You can download this syllabus as a pdf here. 


If you have any questions about the syllabus, you can post them as comments here.

I'm having trouble finding the "Mash-Up" directions. Are they on our website somewhere?

Here it is: Mash-up Assignment.


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