Comparative Literature | Culture & Modern Experience: Androgynous Figures
C155 | 32710 | M. Flahault


3 cr
TR 4:00 -6:30 pm
Meets 2nd 8-weeks only
Carries IUB GenEd A&H, CASE A&H and CASE GCC Credit

Although you may think that you know what differentiates a man from
a woman on a biological basis, the boundary may not be as clear as
you think. In fact, the androgyn not only challenges traditional
biological categories, but also challenges traditional perspectives
on gender. Film directors, writers, musicians and performers have
taken on the notion of the "in-between sex" and through acts of
creation, these artists have been able to redefine gender and
imagine new forms of identity.

In this class, we will focus on instances of "the equivocal"
throughout the modern ages, i.e. cross-dressing and sexual
indeterminacy. We will also explore how this activity goes against
social norms, to what degree this behavior is acceptable and why
androgynous individuals are sometimes portrayed as monsters .
On the other side of the spectrum, however, androgyny has also been
endowed with the attributes of perfection and wholeness. This is a
fascinating issue, which perhaps speaks to our fantasy of what it
means to be an ideal human being. Yet the question of androgyny has
haunted disparate cultures for many generations, from the Greeks'
Tiresias and Hermaphrodite, to singers and performers such as David
Bowie.

Throughout the semester, our focus will be on the modern period,
from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night to the most recent instances of
androgyny as in Lady Gaga's performances. Course material will
include such documents as novels, films, critical articles,
classical music works, songs and music videos.