L389 1985 LOCHRIE
Feminist Literary and Cultural Criticism

5:45p-7:00p TR (30) 3 cr.

Does feminism have anything to say about sex? What does feminism have to do with history? These are two questions that will frame this course. We will begin with Gayle Rubin's important essay that questions whether feminism does have anything at all to say about sexuality, and we will read other contemporary feminist theorists such as Judith Butler, Biddy Martin, Judith Halberstam, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. We will also read queer theory that endeavors to distinguish between the domains of feminist and queer cultural critiques. We will then explore the intersections of gender and sexuality theory as they have been applied to the study of specific historical periods and texts to see how the questions that feminist literary and cultural criticism poses might compare from premodernity to postmodernity. We will begin our reading with the letters of Abelard and Heloise and the writings of medieval feminist scholars to determine what the issues of gender and sexuality are for premodernity. Then we will look at a Shakespearean text to see how gender and sexuality have been theorized for theatrical cross-dressing. We'll read Freud's essay on female sexuality next and then look at novels by Nella Larsen and Jeanette Winterson to consider the crisis of identity categories in twentieth-century literature. Finally, we will consider how the performance art of Karen Findlay disturbs most of the discussion of the course. Requirements for the course will include two papers and a final exam, as well as short response papers and group work.