Instructor: Ash | TR 2:00 PM – 3:20 PM

In this course, we make a distinction between sex and gender. That is, following established perspectives of feminist and queer theory, we view sex –for example, the terms femalemale and/or intersex–as based on biology and anatomy whereas gender—for example, the terms femininemasculine, and nonbinary—as constructed products of culture (rather than as natural, inevitable biological or anatomical attributes). Further, we both explore and contest gender as a singular identity category: we’ll deploy the term “intersectionality” to avoid overlooking the distinctive positions of those who are discriminated against not just because of their gender, but also due to their multiple, less powerful identities—for example, race, sexual orientation, and/ or ethnicity, etc.  In order to develop these perspectives, we consider the examples of literary texts not just by white women, but by people of color and gender queer identities.

Throughout our journey through Baldwin and the examination of the Black (queer) male in American media, we will supplement our reading of Baldwin with a look at visual media like Lovecraft Country and We’re Here to expand our conversation to how the Black (queer) male is represented in American visual media. We end with conversations on the use of minstrelsy in reality television, a modern place where the Black Queer dream is allegedly fully realized (if we are to accept majority narratives about the show), by looking at RPDR’s false promises. This foray into American reality television is meant to highlight, in a “real” way that the other texts are unable, how the Black queer radical has “died,” instead opting to sell himself (and everyone else) to promote a dream deferred since the founding of America.