Communication and Culture | Gender, Sexuality, and the Media (Topic: Introduction to Queer Representations in Popular U.S. Cinema)
C203 | 24068 | Mary L. Gray

MW, 9:30 AM -10:45AM, Location: TBA
Required film screenings Tuesdays 7:00 PM -10:00 PM

Fulfills COAS S&H Requirement

Professor: Mary L. Gray
Office: Mottier Hall 214
Phone: 855-4379

This course will introduce students to the history of “queer”
representations of sexuality and gender as they are entwined and
encoded in popular cinema in the United States. We will examine how
constructs of queer behavior and body type were later transformed into
modern notions of naturalized identity. We will also interrogate
commonly held and frequently unquestioned assumptions about race,
class, nationality, and ability that are associated with queer
representations. Students will carefully study gender and sexual norms
as they have been constructed in mainstream U.S. cinema from the turn
of the 20th century to the present. Using the lens of critical media
and cultural studies approaches, students will learn to read select
examples from this history to gain an understanding of the broader
political economies and cultural contexts that have shaped
contemporary understandings of sexuality and gender. Students will
also learn to analyze how past political and economic inequalities in
the culture industries might structure our current sense of what it
means to be a sexual and gendered person, especially what it means to
be “normal” and/or “queer.”

*Because this is a 200-level course, it will provide an introduction
and survey of current scholarship in the field.

*Course will be a mixture of lecture, small group discussion, and
required weekly film screenings; attendance will be taken daily and
will count toward final course evaluation.

*Authors studied will include Richard Barrios, Harry Benshoff,
Alexander Doty, Richard Dyer, Sean Griffin, Lisa Henderson, Judith
Halberstam, B. Ruby Rich, and Vito Russo.

*Continues themes and ideas presented in C205: Introduction to
Communication and Culture.

*Designed to improve students’ abilities to critically examine the
representation of sexuality and gender in the media and its
relationship to social discourses addressing these topics—particularly
as they relate to the notions of “queerness” in late modernity.

*Assignments will include regular written reading responses;
individual and group presentations with an associated paper
approximately 3-5 pages in length; a mid-term; and a comprehensive
take-home final.