Dr. Stephan Flores (sflores@uidaho.edu)    
Class meets Spring 2019: TR 12:30pm-1:45pm Art & Architecture South 103
http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~sflores/                                                  English Department: 885-6156
Office hours: W 2:30pm-4:00 p.m. & by appt.                                             Office: Brink 125

ENGL 511 (s) Studies in Critical Theory: Gender & Sexuality—History, Theory, Literature, Film

T R 12:30pm-1:45pm Spring 2019
Stephan Flores / https://www.uidaho.edu/class/english/faculty-staff/stephan-flores / http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~sflores/

Course description: This course presents a selective/eclectic exploration of critical theories of gender and sexuality from the 17th century to the present.  Early in the semester we'll draw upon excerpts from Valerie Traub’s Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns and Melissa Sanchez’s Erotic Subjects: The Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature among other scholars to analyze several poems by male and female writers (as those sex and gender nominations become unsettled) of the mid-to-late 17th century, including glimpses of women’s alternative communities as well as depictions of libertine/rake sexual prowess and impotence, to Milton's introduction of Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost (Book Four). We proceed to Sarah Waters' novel Affinity (set in late 19th-c. England), consider several pieces of short fiction by Henry James (the novella In the Cage) before returning to contemporary fiction and film, including Sara Jaffe's relatively short novel Dryland (2015) and Todd Haynes' film Carol (2015).

Our primary focus shall remain on readings in theory; I am open to suggestions for other literary texts that members of the class may wish to work through and to write about but which can't quite be squeezed into our schedule for discussion, as inflected by the theoretical perspectives/reading we are studying and exploring, such as Justin Torres's We the Animals (2011).

Along with excerpts from Traub and Sanchez, our readings in theory include Lauren Berlant’s and Lee Edelman’s Sex, or the Unbearable (2014), with Mari Ruti’s The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory’s Defiant Subjects (2017) to examine “the opacities of eroticism,” (Traub), the ways that “early modern authors understand political subjection in sexual terms,” (Sanchez), and to see what Ruti’s adjudication between Edelman (antirelational negativity) and Berlant (relational reparativity) might produce when positioned in relation to contemporary texts and films.

As suggested above, our focus shall include Sarah Water’s novel Affinity and its critical reception: Claire O'Callaghan argues, for example, that this novel stages a debate between lesbian feminism and queer theory. Our primary readings also may include excerpts from Alison Bechdel's work, and we shall also engage with Maggie Nelson's genre bending, theory-inflected memoir The Argonauts (2015)--Nelson will be visiting UI this spring. As we go we'll sample the work of 'established' and 'emerging' theorists as Judith Butler, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Rachel Carroll, Lucy Nicholas, and Patrick Hogan (Sexual Identities: A Cognitive Literary Study, 2018). If I find room we may also sample (and I shall at least make available for your optional/additional reading, including as pieces for the Summary assignment) a selection of essays from Stacy Alaimo's and Susan Hekman's anthology Material Feminisms (2008) as well as Donald E. Hall's Reading Sexualities: Hermeneutic theory and the future of queer studies (2009).

Written work includes concise weekly Inquiry Starter responses to our reading, a Summary-&-Critical Reflection, Critical Analysis essay focused on theories of gender and sexuality, and a longer Term Analytic-Interpretive or Lyric Essay, on topics of your choice in the contexts of our studies, engaging with theory, and with options of including consideration of particular literary text(s) and/or film(s).

Note: this course may be used to fulfill the three credits in a theory course, required for the English M.A. degree.

Required texts (that you need to purchase/have access to):

Jaffe, Sara. Dryland. Portland, OR and Brooklyn, NY: Tin House Books, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-941040-13-3

Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts. Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-1-55597-735-1

Waters, Sarah. Affinity (1999). Riverhead Books, 2002. ISBN: 978-1-57322-873-2

Primary desired learning outcomes for this course:

1. To develop an understanding of selected theories of gender and sexuality with a range of literary texts from the 17th century to the present.

2. To develop critical reading and writing strengths suitable for graduate coursework in literary and cultural studies.

Login to Bblearn before our first class meeting by using your UIDAHO NetID. You can update your password at http://help.uidaho.edu/. If you haven't already, setup your NetID at www.vandalsetup.uidaho.edu. If you continue to experience problems accessing BbLearn after changing your password, please contact the ITS Help Desk by email helpdesk@uidaho.edu, or phone (208)885-HELP.
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1. Thirteen written Inquiry Starters (ISs): a combination of citation (summary-review) with thesis/problem--claim-driven response (at minimum 230 words each), due by 11:30 a.m. on your choice of either Tuesday or Thursday--aim to post some on Tuesdays and some on Thursdays. Each IS should demonstrate a reflective engagement with at least one of that week's substantial reading assignments, to include finding a couple of points of interest that enable you to take a stance, state a point of view about the text(s)/ideas--see several examples (PDF) in the 'Critical Theory' materials content area/folder in Bblearn. Typically the weekly reading includes 'theory' pieces, along with literary works. You may always bring in to your commentary other literature, theory, and films, including films that you may be watching 'on the side' via the folder of films in our Bblearn site.

Inquiry Starters present a means for you to share close critical analysis, enthusiasms and questions as you delve into the text’s significance, methods, and effects, and to learn from others' comments. No late entries —Inquiry Starters are due/posted on the Bblearn discussion thread no later than 11:30 a.m. and must address a scheduled text or relevant piece of theory/scholarship for that day (in other words, do not post about a Tuesday text on Thursday). See left side menu on Bblearn, click on that, then find appropriate thread for each IS to post an entry--provide a "title" for your entry. Entries posted any later than 11:30 a.m. will lose 3 points--that is, your semester point total will be reduced by 3.0 points for each late or missing Inquiry-Starter entry. Come to class prepared to talk about your ISs/ideas; each week we'll spotlight individual ISs to facilitate discussion. I attend to the ISs as part of my evaluation of your performance in the course--strive each week for a thoughtful entry. You have one opportunity at the end of the semester to post an Inquiry Starter on a piece of criticism/theory that will make up for a previous missing, insufficient, or late Inquiry Starter--see this in the list of IS discussion threads in the Bblearn folder.

2. Summary-&-Critical Reflection assignment (comprised of two parts, a Summary and a Critical Reflection Essay, each part 500-750 words, due by nooon/12pm Saturday February 23 (and no later than 8am Monday February 25, with minor 1.16 late penalty point deductions for each day late) uploaded to Bblearn, include your last name as part of the document title, such as Smith_511_SCR). Also attach your Summary (.doc as well in the Discussion thread designated for Summaries (do not post your Reflection essay in the class discussion thread).

Summary (500-750 words): Focus your summary to represent key aspects of one of the substantial theoretical articles/book chapters (PDFs) available in our Bblearn course site that is not listed on the course schedule for discussion--we shall divvy these up to avoid 'duplication.' Once you have determined your choice, send an email to me (sflores@uidaho.edu) to let me know which article/chapter you have selected, and perhaps a sentence or two about why you selected that piece. Also list a second choice article. I will update the webpage of articles to indicate who has 'already' claimed a particular piece to summarize, by adding the name in boldface on the left margin preceding the article entry.

Your summary should present a straightforward account of the scholarly essay's primary, most important or engaging ideas and points of argument and interpretation.

Process (for summary): After reading the scholarly essay closely, you might explore to what extent and how the argument/piece has influenced your views and understanding, to include determining points of agreement or doubt, significant questions, important ideas you "take away" from the reading, and by reflecting on what you might "say back" to the author in sharing your perspective on the essay and its claims.

As you write the summary, work from your sense of the theoretical essay's structure and content, (what each part of the essay "does" and "says," usually a response to an implicit question)—recognize that you will need to select among such points because your word limit will force you to choose what ideas and arguments to focus on.

Your summary should strive to be accurate, direct, and concise; aim for a fair, nonpartisan stance and tone, and except for concise quotes use your own words to express the author's ideas, use attributive tags (such as according to Smith or Smith argues that) to keep the reader informed that you are expressing another's ideas--focus the summary to produce a cohesive, coherent account. You might begin the summary by identifying a primary question or problem that the essay addresses, then state the essay's purpose or thesis and summarize its main argument or primary analysis. Put differently, a critical essay typically includes the following elements, and it may be helpful to keep this in mind--be on the 'lookout' for these elements--as you prepare your summary: (1) The issue; (2) the claim; (3) The supporting evidence; (4) The explanation that connects the evidence to the claim about the subject; (5) Rebuttals and qualifiers; (6) The explanation that connects these elements to the claim about the subject.

Critical Reflection essay (500-750 words): write a reflective, question -and problem-posing critical essay that explains and explores what you consider to be one of the most important/compelling/useful and/or problematic interpretative issues/ideas//theories under review thus far: that is, focus your critical reflection and inquiry on some aspect of what you have learned about exploring (a particular aspect of?) gender and sexuality. Given the brevity of this essay, you may find it useful to quote briefly from one or more passages from one or more scholar(s)/critic(s) in order to support your inquiry with a specific illustration. You also may find it effective to compose a thesis for your essay that maps out the significant points that you want to develop and discuss. Assume that your audience is familiar with what we have read and studied, and take care to articulate clearly your inquiry into the material, especially problems or contradictions that seem difficult to resolve. Also note that his concise critical reflection essay could serve as an initial exploration of what you might address in the Critical Analysis essay. See this weblink for additional concise advice on writing a critical essay or this weblink for fuller advice. Additional clarification: the Critical Reflection essay may or may not (your choice!) relate to or draw upon the ideas/content of the article that was the subject of your Summary.

3. Critical Analysis Essay uploaded to Bblearn no later than noon/12pm Sunday March 24 (or the essay will be counted late, and no later than Monday 11am for an absolute late deadline)--include your last name as part of the document title, such as Smith_511_Sp19_CA, also double-spaced 12 pt, Times New Roman, 1-inch margins, headers in upper right corner with last name and page number, and indicate on your first page that this is your Critical Analysis Essay, MLA format [see Bblearn folder "Advice on Writing Essays" and see this immediately prior & following highlighted weblink for fuller advice on writing critical essay(s)]; 1600 words/six pages for main body of essay, double-spaced, with reference to at least two pieces of theory-focused texts from our class Bblearn folders. For this essay assignment you are to define/frame an issue--a theoretical problem or question--about some aspect (critical method or key idea, for instance, such as intersectionality or performance of gender, etc.) of theories of gender and/or sexuality, that you explore and understand through engaging with two or more of our theoretical readings (articles, book chapters available via our folders in Bblearn). Think (back) for example, about how our initial readings from Warhol, Galvan, and Kruger, may have helped (us/you) to define specific premises and developments in/of feminist theory, and how the concepts of gender, identity, and sexuality have been made problematic, for example, by queer theory (or at least those aspects of queer theories that question the possiblities of connecting constructeed/performed gender identities to biologically-based definitions of sex, and how sexuality may be distinguished from gender and from sex/biology). If identity is not based on anything 'essential' but rather is contingent and fluid, can advocacy or social-political action be based upon categories of identity that seem relatively insubstantial? You may explore and illustrate and develop your inquiry and analysis via one or more works of literature: try, however, to keep the focus of your inquiry on the theoretical issues even as you may be interpreting and analyzing the literary work. You may draw upon/incorporate/revise one or more of your Inquiry Starters as a means to discover and to develop a topic, but you are not required or expected to do so. I encourage you to send to me by email a concise description of your provisional topic and 'thesis/perspective' in advance of the due date. The primary aims of this thesis-seeking/problem-posing exploratory essay assignment is to engage with one or more questions/problems and lines of inquiry about gender and sexuality and literary studies, so that you identify problems, develop claims and arguments, and enrich your literary understanding, interests, and commitments. I am not necessarily interested so much in whether your analysis is 'original' as I am in whether you address an interesting topic, explore interpretive/analytic issues productively, and demonstrate understanding that proceeds from your reading and research. As noted above, if you wish, you may draw upon--with revision--your critical reflection essay to inform this critical analysis essay. Use/learn Modern Language Association format for any notes or works cited (see, for instance, link to MLA format guidelines further below). See also University of Idaho Guidelines on Academic Dishonesty (including plagiarism). In accordance with the UI Student Code of Conduct, I report instances of academic dishonesty/plagiarism, to the office of the Dean of Students. A plagiarized assignment/essay will receive zero points, with no opportunity for revision or resubmitting a 'make up' essay. See rubric for evaluating the Critical Essay and the Term Essay, further below.

4. Term Critical Essay (analytic-interpretive essay on theory, or theory with literature/film) OR Term Lyric Essay (critically reflective/expressive 'hybrid' essay, modeled after Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts, and after Dicinoski's and Rendle-Short's essays), titled, uploaded to Bblearn, include your last name as part of the document title, such as Smith_511_Sp19_TE) ) due no later than 10am Monday May 6 double-spaced (12 pt, Times New Roman/Times font, 1-inch margins, headers in upper right corner with last name and page number, and indicate on your first page that this is your Term Essay, MLA format, approximately 9-11 or more pages for essay not counting Works Cited page), with significant reference to at least three scholarly theory articles/chapters (the minimum three scholarly sources are to be selected from folders on Bblearn, that include recent articles or book chapters. Also refer to book reviews or other theoretical work that informs your analysis). As part of this assignment, you are expected to give a concise presentation/talk (8-10 minutes) about your work/essay in class either Thursday May 2 or Monday December 6 (10:15am-12:15pm). Also, preferably by your presentation but no later than when you submit your completed essay, write/include a 200-250 word abstract of your paper: simply add/attach that as part of your essay, either up front or following your Works Cited. This weblink offers Advice on Conference Papers/Presentation/Abstracts but also may be useful to review for this concise presentation.

This critical term essay, whether in a more 'standard' analytic-interpretive form or in the form of a lyric-reflective mode, develops ideas prompted by our study and discussion of theories of gender and sexuality, and any related works of literature and/or film, by recent scholarship, and by your perspectives. I shall attend to the ways that you select, define, and engage questions and contradictions, and to the clarity, imagination, and grace that you demonstrate in presenting your topic, (hypo)thesis, and argument, and the extent to which your work engages with, explains, and contributes to the larger "conversation" of scholarship on the topic and any literary works under analysis. I do not always expect essays to conclude by "solving" such problems or by "proving" your thesis; I hope that you address interesting topics (questions for debate, interpretation, and analysis) in thoughtful and useful ways. Note: you may continue to explore/pursue your inquiries into a prior topic and line of analysis, but do not substantially repeat prior, specific analysis from your previous Critical Essay. Please feel invited to confer with me during the writing process, by office hours and email. See also general advice for critical essays similar to prior advice on the Critical Essay that may also to this term essay. See University of Idaho Guidelines on Academic Dishonesty (including plagiarism). In accordance with the UI Student Code of Conduct, I report instances of academic dishonesty/plagiarism, to the office of the Dean of Students.

Concise Advice for Analytic-Interpretive Essay: Work to present a clearly written argument and reasoned analysis about some question and line of inquiry regarding gender and/or sexuality, as framed by one or more of the theoretical works (essays/chapters) available in our course Bblearn folders. the meaning, power, or structure of the theoretical writings and perspectives that you analyze and explore--this essay may or may not include an analysis of or illustrate ideas from examples of literature and/or film. In other words, whereas the prior Critical Analysis Essay specifically directed you to explore and to remain focused on questions of 'theory,' you have the option in this Term Essay to analyze a work of literature or film, as you draw upon or 'deploy' theoretical perspectives that we have studied this semester. If you decide, for example, to write about a work such as Waters's Affinity, Jaffe's Dryland , Haynes's Carol, Etherege's The Man of Mode, or other works, aim to produce a narrative that offers an explanation for the effects of the text, particularly as it engages with issues of gender and sexuality—these effects, for instance, include (arguably) the ideas and feelings produced by the literary work. You will need to describe the evidence you are using, state your interpretations of this evidence, and bring those insights together into a claim (thesis) about the way the novel works, what it means, and how and why it has the effects that you claim (such as its emotional impact).  Such an argument aims to analyze examples in order to come to broader conclusions—your argument therefore should demonstrate inductive reasoning that moves logically and persuasively from particular pieces of compelling evidence to broader generalizations that advance, deepen, and enrich understanding. The evidence that you cite and analyze may include, for example, elements of narrative structure and techniques as well as attention to the work's narrative arc, including its representation of specific cultural, historical, ideological issues, identities, and relationships. The story of the work of literature or film typically engages with conflicts, contradictions, and questions or problems, and your analysis may consider to what degree the work seems to answer or to resolve such issues, and how it might open up new perspectives for understanding and experience.

Lyric Essay option: as mentioned above, keep in view what we've considered in discussing the associative, hybrid, meditative qualities, citational practices, "horizontal plane of action," and tendency to build "less of an argument and more a relational field" (Dicinoski 9) of Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts--a collage of "productive uncertainty" (Jamison qtd. Dicinoski). As Dicinoski suggests, the form of a lyric essay finds a different way to engage with and to perform the "character of thought itself: in how it leans, and with whom, and how it leaps and connects, and how it makes its wild associations" (11). And/or consider this quote from Francesca Rendle-Short's essay: "Essay (queer) elevates all that is tangential, oblique, unspoken, transitory, ambiguous, unsettled, peculiar, strange" (7). Regardless of the structure of your lyric essay, be sure--for the academic and assessment purposes of this class--to include clear citations (quotations as well as reflective-express engagement) to at least two of the 'theory' texts from our primary readings, as you explore some facets/questions/problems that you work to identify/articulate/explore in the lyric essay. In response to one student's question about how I plan to approach evaluating the lyric essay, here is what I wrote: "I think that our class conversations about The Argonauts, and about Dicinoski’s and Rendle-Short’s essay, may serve as instances of productive uncertainty, that is, uncertainty that typically arises out of different, to-some-degree contradictory or juxtaposed meanings and sentiments that may highlight the limits of what might be conveyed or expressed by a more traditional critical-analytic mode of argument, because some situating of one’s lived experience and expressive countercurrents of being are being evoked, but not in a way that is primarily associational without some selection, some pondering of meaning/significance, so that ‘uncertainty’ is made ‘productive’ because one is working through and to some extent maybe? working toward a taking stock, a putting together, a (narrative) accounting of why one is writing about such topics, worrying (gnawing on) particular issues/questions/problems though realizing that some final ‘proof’ is not an expected or even a desired outcome. I shall aim to evaluate such lyric essays in the spirit of the genre, by finding interest in how well/effectively/articulately the exploration and evocation takes shape, coheres (without holding up some ideal notion of wholeness or ‘coherence’), and this includes attention to the essay's language, structure, and your relational citations (how you situate your voice in relation to other voices/perspectives).

5. Participation: Please take advantage of opportunities to share your insights and to listen and reply to others' ideas. I hope that questions and discussions will enable you to move the class in directions you find most helpful, give you opportunities to develop critical skills through collaboration, and provide for a productive, interesting exchange of perspectives among the class. You may meet periodically in small groups in class primarily for sharing Inquiry-Starters and to prompt our class discussions. I expect you to contribute productively to class discussion, and I will make an effort to call on you directly, especially if you tend not (!) to pitch in to share your views and questions.What to aim for?: Come to class prepared; contribute readily to conversation, including taking turns so as to not dominate the time and topic; offer thoughtful contributions that advance the discussion; show interest in and respond with civility to others’ views. Note: once during the semester you will be directed to initiate and facilitate (minimum 20-25 minutes) of the opening class session, by preparing in advance with some lead off questions for conversation, by having read any Inquiry Starters posted for that day, and by having at hand some additional passages noted for that day's reading that may be cited for our attention, and/or by engaging us in learning/inquiry activities that you find productive for the day(such as small group work, role playing, whatever you find helpful). I will note your name on the schedule below once we have determined what day you are slated for.

6. All required work is due at the beginning of class on the due date—work turned in late will be graded accordingly. Required graded written work will be downgraded one notch (for example, B+ to B, converted to points for each assignment) for each weekday late (not just days classes meet but counting just one day for a weekend). Note, however, that the Critical Analysis Essay and the Term Essay cannot be turned in late. See assignments for deadlines for limits on late essays. I will grant short extensions for medical and family emergencies—but talk with me as soon as possible to request an extension. Always keep copies of your work.

7. Attendance: always attend class (unless you are sick). One to three absences will noted in Bblearn in a minimal way for recordkeeping (-.1 point for each of up to three absences, so for instance, -.2 means that I have noted two absences); a third absence will count more substantially (-3 pts) only if you have four or more absences; a three-point reduction for each absence starts with four absences (four absences=minus 6 points, five absences = minus 9 points); six or more absences is sufficient cause for you to receive a failing grade for the course, regardless of your semester point total. All absences will be counted—excused or not—if something extraordinary occurs, talk to me. Please try to schedule appointments with doctors or other commitments outside of class time.

Exceptional circumstances: Another category of absence has to due with conflicting university commitments that are academic/professional such as a trip to a regional conference or a conflict directly related to next steps in your professional life (such as a job interview etc.—that is, absences that are due to academic/professional conflicts, or to prolonged or recurring illness, or an extraordinary personal/family event/crisis. You may use this option for such make-up work up to three times. To make up for up to three such absences on an absence-by-absence basis in a timely fashion/time frame, choose a scholarly article or substantial headnote/chapter from our text(s) or from a Bblearn folder—select one that can be related in some way to the text under discussion for the day for which you will be absent due to a conflict.

Write a concise summary (275 words) of some main aspect of the scholarly article/source—such as the primary, most important or engaging idea(s) and point(s) of argument and interpretation—also include some brief reflection (75-100 words) on the article’s main ideas/argument: for example, what  you find most valuable or problematic. Strive to be accurate, direct, and concise in the summary; aim for a fair, nonpartisan stance and tone, and except for brief quotes use your own words to express the author's ideas, use attributive tags (such as according to Smith or Smith argues that) to keep the reader informed that you are expressing another's ideas, and focus the summary to produce a cohesive, coherent account. You might begin the summary by identifying the question or the problem that the essay addresses, then state the essay's purpose or thesis and summarize its argument or primary analysis.
Post your entry as an extra Inquiry Starter for that week (to be posted no later than a week following the missed class), and also send an email to me with the content of that post (sflores@uidaho.edu).

8. Grades: Summary & Critical Reflection Essay (35 pts.); Critical Analysis Essay (100 pts); Term Essay (135 pts) These required assignments add up to a maximum of 270 points. Thus 243-270 points equals an A, 216-242 equals a B, 189-215 equals a C, 162-188 equals a D, and anything below 162 receives an F. Reminder: Incomplete or missing Inquiry-Starter entries will be counted against your semester grade, with the loss of three points for each missing, or incomplete entry (too short, cursory). I update Bblearn with grades/points or deducted points as those accumulate. Be sure to keep track of your assigned work and points received, and especially by mid-semester review your point totals for the graded assignments and any accumulated penalty points to date for missing/late ISs and absences.

9. Office hours. I encourage you to confer with me—especially before assignments are due—to talk about your interests, intentions, and writing strategies. If you cannot make my regular hours (in Brink 125), we’ll arrange another time. I also welcome communicating with you by E-mail (sflores@uidaho.edu). If you know that you plan to stop by my office, please let me know in advance by email, and include the desired or likely time frame, and what you'd like to discuss.

10. Use of laptops, 'pads', and cell phones during class is reserved/permitted only for accessing course materials.

11. Do not submit work for this class that you have submitted or intend to submit for a grade in another course; as always, be careful to cite anyone else's work that you draw upon, this includes not only formal citation of secondary resources/scholarship for the primary, graded written assignments but also informal commentary, such as in the Inquiry Starters. See highlighted link on the class website to a useful guide to avoiding plagiarism, and a link to information on the university's policies regarding plagiarism. See also University of Idaho Guidelines on Academic Dishonesty (including plagiarism). In accordance with the UI Student Code of Conduct, I report instances of academic dishonesty/plagiarism, to the office of the Dean of Students.

12. Classroom Learning and Civility: To support learning and discovery in this course—as in any university course—it is essential that each member of the class feel as free and as safe as possible in his or her participation. To this end, we must collectively expect that everyone (students, professors, and guests) seek to be respectful and civil to one another in discussion, in action, in teaching, and in learning. Because knowledge and learning are constructed and construed through social inquiry and exchange, it is vital that course dialogue and debate encourage and expect a substantial range of reasoned, expressive, and impassioned articulation of diverse views in order to build a stronger understanding of the materials and of one another's ways of knowing. These practices strengthen our capacities for understanding and the production of (new) knowledge. As with the critical writing assignments for this class, our primary aims include engaging with texts and their varied critical interpretations by identifying problems, developing claims and arguments with supporting lines of evidence and explanation, and enriching our literary understanding, interests, and commitments.

Should you feel our classroom interactions do not reflect an environment of civility and respect, you are encouraged to meet with me during office hours to discuss your concern. Additional resources for expression of concern and avenues of support include the chair of the Department of English, Dr. Scott Slovic, the Dean of Students office and staff (5-6757), the UI Counseling & Testing Center’s confidential services (5-6716), or the UI Office of Human Rights, Access, & Inclusion (5-4285).

13. Disability Support Services: Reasonable accommodations are available for students who have documented temporary or permanent disabilities. All accommodations must be approved through Disability Support Services (885-6307; dss@uidaho.edu; www.uidaho.edu/dss) located in the Idaho Commons Building, Room 306 in order to notify your instructor(s) as soon as possible regarding accommodation(s) needed for the course.





Please (you are invited to!) introduce yourself to everyone via the designated discussion thread in Bblearn--plus, is there a work or two of literature and/or film that you have experienced as particularly engaging/compelling, ans also that comes to mind for you as as 'complementary' to the topic of gender & sexuality? What work--why, how so?

January 10th--first day of class! Let's discuss the following theory introduction with the two very short pieces by Chopin and Sarraute, and Freeman's short story.

Rivkin, Julie, and Michael Ryan. “Introduction: Feminist Paradigms/Gender Effects" (2017, PDF on Bblearn, in Critical Theory content area, pp. 893-900)--what are some of the main issues, claims, and lines of reasoning/inquiry in this introduction--what does reading this prompt you to think about and anticipate (hope) for our semester?

before class also read these two very short pieces:

Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour" (see also some questions and answers about different versions of this story) and

Nathalie Sarraute "Tropism XVIII" available in a PDF in the Literary Texts, with Criticism content area in Bblearn;

if you can manage it, also read this short story:

Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins. “The Revolt of Mother” (1890) from The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, Third edition, pp. 591-604 (see content folder for literature in Bblearn/Freeman folder, PDF)


Inquiry Starter (IS)1 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday (see PDF of several examples of ISs in the Bblearn content folder for Critical Theory materials--if you post for Tuesday, direct your critical reflections in response to Warhol and/or Galvan; if you post after Tuesday's class, then direct your attention to the reading for Thursday (Kruger);

two readings for Tuesday:

Warhol, Robyn. “Anglophone Feminisms.” Richter, David H., ed. A Companion to Literary Theory. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2018. 314-324.

Galvan, Margaret. “Gender Theory: Femininities and Masculinities.” Richter, David H., ed. A Companion to Literary Theory. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2018. 325-335.


Kruger, Steven. “Queer Theory.” Richter, David H., ed. A Companion to Literary Theory. Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2018. 336-347.

Start reading week-by-week Henry James's novella "In the Cage." Henry James: Selected Tales. Ed. John Lyon. London: Penguin Books, 2001. 27 sections (see PDF in Bblearn)--read closely two sections for each Thursday: I. 314-315; II. 316-317. We may not always talk about this each week--James's prose is sophisticated and elusive, and perhaps breaking the story up in this way may be productive and manageable--we'll see! In your ISs you may choose to comment from week to week on the sections from "In the Cage" but be sure to devote your primary commentary in your Inquiry Starter to the theory under discussion for that week/day.

Also we may find time to consider "The Revolt of Mother" because we didn't get to that last Thursday: Freeman, Mary E. Wilkins. “The Revolt of Mother” (1890) from The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, Third edition, pp. 591-604 (see content folder for literature in Bblearn/Freeman folder, PDF)


Note that for today we consider how several poems/poets in the "country-house" or "estate" house poetic genre offer ways to frame gender and sexual relations as modes of social production and reproduction for domestic and public/political relations/polities and communities. We'll focus on Marvell's "Upon Appleton House" (see Norton edition PDF in the Marvell folder in the literature content area) and Katie Kadue's essay on that poem; also read Lanyer's "The Description of Cookham" and Jonson's "To Penhurst" to see two precursors to Marvell. The Lanyer and Jonson poems are in a single PDF in the respective folders for these poets.

Inquiry Starter 2 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; Andrew Marvell, "Upon Appleton House" (1651); Kadue, Katie. “Sustaining Fiction: Preserving Patriarchy in Marvell’s Upon Appleton House.” Studies in Philology 114.3 (Summer 2017): 641-661.

Optional but fairly quick read(able) country estate poems: Aemilia Lanyer, from Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611): "The Description of Cookham"; "Eve's Apology in Defense of Women"; Ben Jonson, "To Penshurst"

Butler, Judith. "Performative Acts and Gender Constitution." Literary Theory: An Anthology. Second edition. Rivkin, Julie, and Michael Ryan, eds. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2004. 900-911.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “Gender Asymmetry and Erotic Triangles” (1985), 5pp.; Butler, Judith. “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990), 12 pp.—excerpts from Robert Parker’s Critical Theory anthology (2012)

Recommended: Alcoff, Linda. "Cultural Feminism Versus Post-Structuralism: The Identity Crisis in Feminist Theory." See also my dated summary of that article.

Henry James, "In the Cage." III. 318-319; IV. 320-323


Inquiry Starter 3 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; Paradise Lost, Book 4, especially ll. 1-828; focus on ll. 1-407, also include 1-130, 205-355, 356-393, 268 ff., 233 ff., 285ff., 288, 297, 307, 440-491, esp. 477, 345, 521; see Lecture 7 (adapted/condensed from John Rogers, in Bblearn folder on Milton); recommended if you wish to read further, one or more essays in Bblearn folder on Milton, particularly those that announce/focus on issues of gender, Eve's character, sexuality. FYI, you'll see in case you are interested, I've also included PDFs of Bks 1, 2, 3, and 5, as well as other lectures on Paradise Lost (start with Lecture 1 for instance!).

Sanchez, Melissa E. Erotic Subjects: The Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Ch. 8. "My Self / Before Me": The Erotics of Republicanism in Paradise Lost (207)

Sanchez, Melissa E. Erotic Subjects: The Sexuality of Politics in Early Modern English Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011. Introduction (pp. 1-10); Kit initiates/facilitates discussion today (20-25 mins).

Aphra Behn, "The Disappointment" and the Earl of Rochester, "The Imperfect Enjoyment" and "The Disabled Debauchee"; Zeitz, Lisa M. and Peter Thoms. "Power, Gender, and Identity in Aphra Behn's 'The Disappointment'." SEL 37 (1997): 501-516; also compare to Sir George Etherege's "The Imperfect Enjoyment" (Bblearn folder on Rochester and Behn)

Henry James, "In the Cage." V. 323-326; VI. 326-328

Optional: see also Behn, "Song: Love Armed" "Song: On Her Loving Two Equally" "To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me, Imagined More Than Woman" "On Desire: A Pindaric" " The Golden Age" and Rochester, "Upon Nothing" "A Satire Against Reason and Mankind"


Inquiry Starter 4 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; Corrin initiates/facilitates discussion today (20-25 mins.)

Halberstam, Judith. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Men, Women, and Masculinity. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Second edition. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: W. W. Norton, 2010. 2635-2653.
Jeffrey Williams' interview "Queer 2.0: Judith 'Jack' Halberstam Complicates Gender" The Chronicle of Higher Education (Jan. 1, 2012)

Puar, Jasbir. “’I Would Rather Be a Cyborg Than a Goddess’: Becoming Intersectional in Assemblage Theory.” Literary Theory: An Anthology, Third Edition. Ed. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2017. 1000-1013.

Nicholas, Lucy. Queer Post-Gender Ethics: The Shape of Selves to Come. Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Introduction (1-16): Queer theory -- Sex/gender/sexuality/difference -- Approach -- The argument and structure: deconstructing sexual difference, reconstructing ethical selves –

Henry James, "In the Cage." VII. 328-330; VIII. 330-331


Inquiry Starter 5 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday THIS WEEK OR NEXT WEEK

Traub, Valerie. Thinking Sex with the Early Moderns. Chapter 1. Thinking Sex: Knowledge, Opacity, History (pp. 1-34);

Moore, Lisa Jean. “When Is a Clitoris Like a Lesbian? A ‘Sociologist’ Considers Thinking Sex.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Volume 44, Numbers 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2016, pp. 328-331 (Review) ; Traub, Valerie. “A Response: Difficulty, Opacity, Disposition, Method.” WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Volume 44, Numbers 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2016, pp. 336-342.

Fisher, Kate, and Rebecca Langlands. "Scholars in Pursuit of Elusive Sexual Knowledge."WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Volume 44, Numbers 3 & 4, Fall/Winter 2016, pp. 324-327 (Review of Traub's Thinking Sex)

Now optional reading: if you want to look at a fuller example especially of the male rake/libertine figure, and a witty heroine: George Etherege, The Man of Mode; or, Sir Fopling Flutter (1676); see additional introduction to play via Bblearn folder on Etherege; if you become interested in writing about this play, see Jeremy Webster's chapter 4 from Performing Libertinism in Charles II's Court on The Man of Mode; if you can, you might also glance at Webster's opening chapter 1 from Performing Libertinism in Charles II's Court

Sara Jaffe, Dryland (2015), pp. 1-93. Courtney initiates/facilitates discussion today (20-25 mins.).

Henry James, "In the Cage." IX. 332-334; XI. 337-339


Inquiry Starter 5 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday THIS WEEK IF YOU DID NOT POST LAST WEEK; Hogan, Patrick Colm. Sexual Identities: A Cognitive Literary Study. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018. Introduction: Sexual Identities (1-46); continue reading Dryland

Dryland, pp. 93-216; Carroll, Rachel. Rereading Heterosexuality: Feminism, Queer Theory and Contemporary Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2012. [Introduction, pp. 1-19]; Marlan initiates/facilitates discussion today (20-25 mins.)

Henry James, "In the Cage." XII. 339-341; XIII. 341-343



Inquiry Starter 6 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; STEVEN PFAU initiates/facilitates discussion today: Nelson, Maggie. The Argonauts (2015) pp. 3-105; note also in the folder on Nelson other materials, including several weblinks to talks/interviews/panels;

Dicinoski, Michelle. “Wild Associations: Rebecca Solnit, Maggie Nelson and the Lyric Essay.” TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, no. [Supplement 39], 2017, pp. 1–12.

The Argonauts, pp. 106-143; Clare initiates/facilitates discussion today (20-25 mins.)

Rendle-Short, Francesca. Michelle. “Essay (queer). The. Essay. Queer. And. All. That.” TEXT: Journal of Writing and Writing Courses, no. [Supplement 39], 2017, pp. 1–12.

Henry James, "In the Cage." XIV. 344-346; XV. 347-349


Update notice: today's Tuesday class is canceled/will not meet. I had to go out of town on short notice--see my email message to the class.

Inquiry Starter 7 due by 11:30am, Thursday; Keene initiates/facilitates discussion today: Sarah Waters, Affinity (1-190); O'Callaghan, Claire. see her Introduction ‘Queer and Feminist Contexts of Sarah Waters’s Gender and Sexual Politics', in Sarah Waters : Gender and Sexual Politics. London: Oxford ; New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2017.

Henry James, "In the Cage." XVI. 350-352; XVII. 352-355


Inquiry Starter 8 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday;Affinity (190-280); Carroll, Rachel. Rereading Heterosexuality: Feminism, Queer Theory and Contemporary Fiction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 2012.[ch. 1 on Affinity, pp. 25-41]; Katie initiates/facilitates discussion today (20-25 mins.)

Affinity (285-352); Claire O'Callaghan, read chapter 2 from her book Sarah Waters: gender and sexual politics (2017), entitled "A Journal of Two Hearts? Lesbian Identities and Politics in Affinity" (47-72); Kendra initiates/facilitates discussion today (20-25 mins.)

Henry James, "In the Cage." XVIII. 355-357; XIX. 357-360



Inquiry Starter due 9 by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; Lauren Berlant and Lee Edelman, Preface and 1. Sex without Optimism, in Sex, or the Unbearable (vii-34, see folder in Bblearn/PDF); watch the film "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (2005, dir. Miranda July); Ricky will initiate/facilitate discussion (20-25 mins.)

watch the film Carol (2015) before class, and also read one of the reviews or articles on the film (such as Victoria Smith's Foucauldian analysis)--we'll discuss!

Henry James, "In the Cage." XX. 360-364; XXI. 364-366


Inquiry Starter 10 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; read one of these or both:

Hogan, Patrick Colm. Sexual Identities: A Cognitive Literary Study. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2018.
Chapter 1 The Cognitive Organization of Sex, Sexuality, and Gender Identities: Marlowe's Edward II and “The Newly Compiled Tale of the Golden Butterflies”

Nicholas, Lucy. Queer Post-Gender Ethics: The Shape of Selves to Come. Houndsmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014 1. [17-29] The Resilience of Bigenderism -- The omnirelevance of sex/gender identity -- The 'disembodied' nature of sex/gender -- The binary limits of trans identity politics

Berlant and Edelman, 2. What Survives, (35-61) and Lydia Davis, "Break It Down" (also in separate PDF) in Sex, or the Unbearable

Henry James, "In the Cage." XXII. 366-370; XXIII. 370-373


Inquiry Starter 11 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; Berlant and Edelman, 3. Living with Negativity, (63-117) and Afterwords (119-125) in Sex, or the Unbearable; Ruti, Mari. The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory's Defiant Subjects. New York: Columbia UP, 2017. Introduction (1-11)

Ruti, Mari. The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory's Defiant Subjects. Ch.1 Queer Theory and the Ethics of Opting Out, pp. 13-43

Henry James, "In the Cage." XXIV. 373-375; XXV. 375-378


Inquiry Starter 12 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; Ruti, Mari. The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory's Defiant Subjects. Ch. 2 From Butlerian Reiteration to Lacanian Defiance, pp. 44-86; Ch. 3 Why There Is Always a Future in the Future, pp. 87-129.

Henry James, "In the Cage." XXVI. 378-381; XXVII. 381-384; Rowe, John Carlos. "Working at Gender: In the Cage." Questioning the Master: Gender and Sexuality in Henry James's Writings. Ed. Peggy McCormack. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2000. 86-103 or Stevens, Hugh. "Queer Henry In the Cage." The Cambridge Companion to Henry James. Ed. Jonathan Freedman. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1998. 120-138.


Inquiry Starter 13 due by 11:30am, Tuesday or Thursday; Alaimo, Stacy, and Susan Hekman, editors. “Introduction: Emerging Models of Materiality in Feminist Theory" pp. 1–20. John will initiate/faciliate discussion (20-25 mins.). We'll also try to find time to 'return' to tracing Mari Ruti's argument/analyses in Chs. 2 and especially Ch. 3, from last Tuesday, and glance at the ending of James's In the Cage to note the arguably homoerotic tones/possibilities of moments when the telegraphist is trying to understand from Mrs. Jordan just what Mr. Drake's relation to Lord Rye might be.

Ruti, Mari. The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory's Defiant Subjects. Ch. 4 Beyond the Antisocial-Social Divide, pp. 130-168; see one or more of these poems (PDFs in literary texts in Bblearn), and with our guest Chris Lamb, we'll talk about them in view of our semester's readings/conversations

Three Short Poems: Wallace Stevens [“Anecdote of the Jar” (1919)], Robert Frost [“Ring Around” (1936)], Eve Wood [“Recognition” (1997)]

Candrilli, Kayleb Rae. "Expressing My Feelings to My Future Husband-Wife (Or, Ritual in Which Gender." (2018)

Craft, Dorsey. "The Pirate Anne Bonny Advises Jane Eyre." (2019)

4/30-5/2 Ruti, Mari. The Ethics of Opting Out: Queer Theory's Defiant Subjects. Ch. 5 The Uses and Misuses of Bad Feelings 169-214; Conclusion: A Dialogue on Silence with Jordan Mulder, pp. 215-233. Stephan will draw attention/remark upon several of Ruti's main points/critical moves in chapters three and four, and Jaime will faciliate discussion for Ruti's Ch. 5. Optional 'make-up Inquiry Starter on today's readings of Ruti, due today, for those who missed a prior IS.

In class ten-minute talks about and/or readings of end-of-term essays:

Ricky Baldridge, “Queer Family: Attachment Genealogy, Affective Histories, and Scholarly Unease”
Corrin Bond, “In the Future, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Will Hold My Hand And With Our Anger, We Will Pray”
Jaime Flagg, “Reinforcing Gender Roles: An Analysis of the female lead in Coffy”
Keene Short, "In Defense of the Ambivalent Confession: A Lyric Essay"
Marlan Smith, “The Female, The Logger, and the Quiet Man: Exploring the transgender experience through Glazer's Under the Skin”


Term Essay/Project due no later than Monday 10am uploaded to Bblearn; our final class meeting is Monday 10:15am-12:15pm (this is during the time frame reserved for a final exam)--in class presentations of final projects:

Katie Krahn, "Opting Out and Cruel Optimism in Sarah Water's Affinity"

John MacPhereson, “Performing Gender: ‘she-dicks’ in Leonard Merrick’s Mr Bazalgette’s Agent

Steven Pfau, “Notes Toward a Theory of Nephewing: Queer Tutelage and the Ethics of Avuncular Kinshi”

Kendra Waters, “An Affective Approach to the Queer Family Identity”

Kit Stokes, "Finding Truth Through Surreal Storytelling in Carmen Maria Machado's 'The Husband Stitch'”


All in One Summary/Overview of Perspectives in Critical Theory

Older links/summaries/resources, some of which I may (!) get around to revising:

New Historicisms

What Is Deconstruction

What Is Psychoanalytic Criticism

What Is Feminist Criticism

What Is Marxist Criticism


Mary Klages on Humanism and Literary Theory

Mary Klages on Bahktin

Mary Klages on Claude Lévi-Strauss

Mary Klages on Poststructuralism/Derrida

Mary Klages on Homi Bhaba/Race and Postcolonialism

Mary Klages on Postmodernism (via Sarup)

Mary Klages on Postmodernism II (via Lyotard/Baudrillard)

Purdue OWL workshop/guidelines on using MLA for citation

MLA Quick Guide to Works Cited/citation

How to Write An Abstract

Advice for Presenting Papers at Conferences and 'Conferencing'